Tips for using Instagram

Last month I went to the Boston Bloggers Style Summit where I met other fashion bloggers and attended sessions on various aspects of fashion blogging. One of those was hearing from local photographer, Smita of Hogger & Co., about getting the most out of Instagram. I didn’t really pay much attention to that network before, but since hearing these tips, I’ve come to really enjoy it.

1. Don’t feel like you need to center the focal point of your photos. Follow the “rule of thirds,” which is to divide the photo into 3 sections and place your focal point in one of the left or right thirds.

2. Use hashtags and comment on photos. It’s so easy to double tap and like photos, but like any social network, Instagram is a community so letting people know why you like their photo will help build a following. Using hashtags helps too.

3. It’s ok to only like a couple filters. If you find that you always gravitate towards a few of the Instagram filter options, that’s ok. Personally, I find myself using “rise” a lot.

Any other Instagram tips you have to share?

Here are some of the photos I’ve posted to @KristenD56 since the Style Summit:

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Let me know what your Instagram username is so I can follow you!

I’m back from Mexico

Those of you who follow me on TwitterFacebook or Instagram may have noticed that I was pretty quiet this past week. That’s because I was checked-out in Cozumel, Mexico with my fiancé (I’m still getting used to that word)! The trip was good..great to get away, especially at the time we did (early Saturday morning) and the weather was perfect, the sun felt so good, and the ocean water was warm.

The trip wasn’t great because the island was too touristy and we weren’t a fan of the all-inclusive deal. We had never done that before, but it was just wasn’t for us. This trip made us realize we like going somewhere where we can explore the culture and not be asked to buy things whenever we leave the resort. We also could not keep up with drinking as much as everyone else (50 year olds drinking 10AM-10PM) so we’d rather just buy beer at the local supermarket. It was fun though meeting people from Toronto, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Michigan.

Either way, it was definitely worth it to be away for a week..time to start to get back to reality today!

cozumel

You should read A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

a vintage affair

I don’t usually write about books I’m reading, but I just finished A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff and was realizing that anyone who likes this blog would probably like the book. It’s about a girl in her 30s who opens a vintage clothing store in London, so you get to experience what it’s like to open and run a vintage store, including trips to France to look for clothes to sell in the store! But the book is also about relationships, with parents, guys and friends. Thank you to my friend Jaime for recommending it to me!

Boston, you’re my home

I’m in shock at what has happened on this sunny, Boston Marathon day. This day is usually full of emotions of triumph, support, and cheerfulness.  The emotions we are all feeling after the tragic events of today are beyond words. I’m hearing that my friends, family and co-workers are safe. I hope yours are as well.

I’m so excited for Mad Men!

Besides Girls, Mad Men is the only real show on TV these days that I watch. Anything else I watch is reality TV crap. Pretty sad, huh? I’ve been a fan of Mad Men from the beginning (all 5 seasons!) It’s been fun to see the fashion evolve on the show as it’s moved from the 50s to the 60s. One of my favorite parts of last season was Megan Draper’s colorful 60′s outfits:

megan draper

billboard.com

megan draper 2

inspiredbydahlface.com

megan draper 3

portable.tv

megan draper 4

fabulousfemalesnetwork.wordpress.com

megan draper 5

inspiredbymelissa.blogspot.com

These outfits can totally inspire work outfits today. Don’t you think? 

The story of my blog

Blogging is a job that takes many hours, you don’t get paid (usually), and you often wonder why you’re even doing it. I’ve had this blog for 4 years. Over that time, the theme of the blog has changed a couple times, I’ve stopped and started it, learned a lot, met people online and in person.  I honestly feel like this little blog is a part of my life now – just like reading, running or any other hobby.

I started the clothing menu in January 2009 for 3 reasons:

  1. I was bored
  2. I’ve always liked fashion and wanted to get more involved in it
  3. I was working in advertising on print and TV campaigns and knew social media was becoming an important part of the industry, so I wanted to learn more about it

The great thing is I had no expectations for this blog, but it has totally paid off all of those reasons.

Right now, I spend about 5-10 hours per week working on this blog.  That includes coming up with new ideas, researching, writing the posts, putting together the images, taking photos, reading other blogs, tweeting and Facebook posting.  There was a time when I spent closer to 20 hours per week on it.  I was working for hours every night after work and on weekends.  It became a second job where I was feeling accountable for putting in all of those hours.  And that’s when I got burnt out and took a break from blogging for 6 months. It was really helpful to take that time off and realize there were other things outside of blogging that I liked doing after work and more importantly, that I like blogging and didn’t want to walk away from it forever.

So after those 6 months, I changed the theme of my blog to something that’s more closely related to my life (what to wear to work), making it easier to write about. (I started the blog about clothes from independent designers). I also told myself that it’s ok if I don’t publish 3 posts every week or get through all of the blogs in my Google Reader.  And I started an editorial calendar where every couple months I outline generally what I’m going to write about each week so I can be thinking about the actual posts and researching whenever I have downtime so when it’s time to write, I can get right to it.

In regards to the second reason I started this blog, I’ve definitely become more involved in fashion since I can’t go a day (or even a few hours) without checking my Twitter feed in addition to following a bunch of inspirational blogs and reading InStyle magazine every month.  The other unexpected part of this is that I’ve become more involved in the Boston fashion scene, which I’m not even sure existed when I started this blog. A goal of mine when I restarted this blog after my break was that I wanted to get out there and meet other bloggers, which I’m glad to say I’ve done throughout this year by attending conferences, blogger meet-ups and local fashion events. It’s felt really good to meet other people who have the same hobby as me. There are a lot of opportunities to meet other fashion bloggers in Boston and I’m not great at taking advantage of them all. I highly recommend for any other bloggers out there that you put yourself out there and meet fellow bloggers in real life when you can.

Finally, I don’t think I really need to get into how I learned about social media by starting a blog. But what I will share is that starting this blog played a part in getting the (paid) job I have now that I really like, which is working at an advertising agency as part of the social media team for a global brand. A couple years ago, this social media position at my work came up. My team was looking to hire someone internally and because my co-workers knew about my blog and how much I liked working it and in social media (along with other reasons), they recommended me for the position and I got it. I’ve been loving the position for the past 2 years I’ve been working in it!

So for anyone thinking about starting a blog, just realize that it will change over time and if taken seriously, it will affect your life (hopefully in a good way)!

Top 5 Pinterest pins of 2012

I love Pinterest. I think I use it the most for recipe ideas since I’m not a great cook and need help coming up with ideas for meals. I also like Pinterest for hair, nail polish and home design ideas.  And I of course have a what to wear to work board!  Here are the top 5 repinned outfits from that board:

Are you on Pinterest?  I’m always looking for new people to follow..so include a link to your boards in the comments!

Hope you had a good Christmas!

It has been a whirlwind these past few weeks! In the course of 2 weeks, I had 4 work-related holiday parties.  A couple yankee swaps, drinks, pot lucks. It was nice and all, but I’ll admit..I was a little burnt out from holiday parties with my co-workers by the end of it.  The Friday before Christmas, my office closed early and between company days-off and a couple vacation days I have left, I have a 12 day break from work!

Unfortunately, it didn’t start off well. Today is the first day since last Friday that I feel somewhat normal.  I’ve had an awful cold that has had me sneezing, coughing and sleeping pretty much non-stop for the past 4 days.  It even caused me to miss out on Christmas day yesterday with my aunts, uncles and cousins.  I was pretty sad, but I was thankful that I still got to enjoy Christmas Eve with my parents and sister and Christmas night with my boyfriend.  I received a good mix of gifts from jewelry to nail polish to household items to gift cards. My favorite is the jewelry because they each have a little story behind them:

These opal earrings were given to me by my sister.  They’re made by a local Boston artist, JoJo Loves You. My sister found out about JoJo Loves You at a Yankee swap with her friends.

My parent’s got my sister and I this hook bracelet on a recent trip they took to St. Croix.  The bracelet has a cute story behind it.  If you’re in a relationship, you’re supposed to wear the bracelet so the hook faces upwards towards your heart..

And these sapphire earrings I received from my boyfriend.  It’s become kind of a theme that he gets me jewelry with a blue stone for Christmas since blue is his favorite color and it reminds me of the color of his eyes..aw..

How was your Christmas? 

5 New Year’s Eve party dresses

I can’t believe Christmas is next week!  (That was so Shirt Girls Say.) I have next week off from work so 2 more days and I’m done for the year.  I can’t wait!  What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?  It will be low-key for me just going to a small house party, which is fine by me!  If you’re ringing in 2013 in style, here are a few dress options for you.  Just order soon so you get them delivered on time!

Kicking off the holiday party season!

This weekend kicked off the beginning of a busy month of holiday parties.  Saturday night friends of the bf and I had a party at their house.  It gave me a chance to make a festive holiday drink that I came across on Pinterest from the blog, We Are Not Martha.  These ingredients:

 Came together to create a delicious cranberry mojito!

I don’t normally drink mojitos, but the cranberries added just the right about of sweet to make it a refreshing drink.

The main part of the night was a Yankee swap.  I realized when I lived in New York, that Yankee swap is a New England thing.  In other parts of the country, it’s called names like White Elephant.  If you’re still not sure what it is, watch one of my favorites episodes of The Office when they have a Yankee swap. (NBC is charging to watch the episode..it’s worth the $2!)

I went into the Yankee swap with this:

 

 Which was some peppermint candies and two $5 scratch tickets. I came out of the Yankee swap with this:

 

 Not a bad exchange (especially since the people who got the scratch tickets I bought didn’t win anything), however I already have the card game versions of Uno and Apples to Apples.  So I’m thinking of giving these away to Toys for Tots.

All in all, it was a fun night with friends!  What’d you do this weekend?