Wednesday, December 28, 2016

January Content Marketing Idea: Soup Month


National Soup Month




Spotlight on: culinary artists, food/edibles sellers and shops, restaurateurs, housewares/kitchen oriented product sellers

Content to highlight: Feature a soup of the week series on your blog or in your newsletter. Write blog posts about soup etiquette, Write a piece discussing or reviewing soups famous in your region or state or even from around the world.

Socialize: Post pictures of your soup creations on your Facebook, Pinterest page and/or Instagram. Pick a soup brand (such as Campbell's or Progresso) and ask your followers to share their favorites on your Facebook page or Twitter; be sure to tag or include @ the brand name in the post to draw their attention. Participate in cooking forums or groups and get members talking about soup-making tips and secrets, or to share their favorite soup recipes Or, you could do this on your Facebook business page and offer a give-away such as a free soup mix sample for the best tip comment.  If you decide to run such a contest, be sure to first review Facebook contest guidelines and check out Shortstack's best practices for running FB contests too.

Extra touches: For every soup bowl or soup mug sale, send a free soup mix sample. Give away potholders or a soup ladle with every soup mix purchase over a certain dollar amount.

For reference: learn about the history of soup.






Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2 Tipsy For Tuesday: Engaging On Social Media

On Tuesdays, I will feature with two tips I've found to be particularly helpful and/or worthy of giving a try.  Tips may vary in their category and theme; some may be geared toward enhancing creativity, some will center on business or entrepreneurial topics, while others may be more generalized and fit under a "Life Hack-ish" umbrella.  In any case, my hope is these spark some thought and motivate you to try new things. :)

Today, its all about engagement in the social media world.

Tip #1: How To Improve Your Engagement

Whether you blog, post videos on YouTube, or run a Facebook page or group, don't simply throw up content for content's sake. I hear lots of complaints of lack of page views, too few email list subscribers, or stagnation in overall business growth. Its not enough to simply pump out content these days. You really need to engage your audience, regardless of your medium. Part of the process is honing in on what medium suits you best. You don't have to dominate every platform, but you do need to work with your strengths. Are you more skilled as a writer? Then blog, baby blog! Use Twitter to show off your wit and ability to communicate effectively with words. Or if the idea of staring at a blank page on your computer screen while trying to come up with just the right type of written content makes you get agita, share who you are and what you offer via video or Snapchat. But the work doesn't stop there either.  Use your medium to start a conversation. Explain how you've worked to solve a problem your target audience struggles with. Spend time participating in forums, groups, in other peoples blogs or channels and interact there too. Offer encouragement and share your experiences. People need to see you are a human being, just like they are, and they need to feel that you care about them.  This is how you build up your reputation and gain trust. This is how you form a community which will in turn, begin to see you as a go-to person. 


Tip #2: For Engagement Ideas That Get People Buzzing, Perv Top Brand Social Media Pages

Oh I feel your pain; sometimes its difficult to come up with creative, interesting and new post ideas for social media. You want material that will not only prompt "likes", but that also gets people talking and interacting with you/your brand. Have you ever spent some time perusing the Facebook pages of major brands? Check out what Coca Cola does to get their fans participating in one of their holiday campaigns:  



(Here is the full page view from their Facebook page)

What's important to note is the level of engagement prompted by a fun, creative and seasonally-appropriate contest. Contests are great ways to create a buzz and increase activity on a social media page. The tactic of encouraging fans to submit their photograph and tag about their gift-wrapping endeavors will likely keep the post relevant throughout the holiday season.  Also, look at how many views brought in by the Coca Cola video clip in the post! Videos shared on Facebook are excellent attention-getters. 

Understandably, most of us don't have the marketing budget that a major commercial brand name does, but don't let that steer you away from exploring different options and ideas.  Its not about copying the ideas of other companies, but rather to motivate your thought process on what might work for you. Poke around on some of the top brands Facebook pages and see what sparks your imagination for your own marketing campaigns and  use these as ways to come up with social media content boosters that work for you. 

Engagement is one of the most effective ways of promotion online. It may take time build confidence in the way you voice your brand, but in a sea of voices shouting and clamoring to be noticed, engagement will set you apart from the crowd. 

What are your thoughts on the engagement process? Are you having trouble coming up with the best voice for your brand? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Revive to Survive

It's time to revive this thing.

And by "this thing", I mean my quest to embody and embrace the Inner Creatrix that I've allowed to remain dormant for far too long. The past few years have been filled with changes galore, both personally and professionally. I've made some choices that while may have seemed to be the right ones at the onset, have undeniably led me right back to square one.  Now, I could be pessimistic and beat myself up for finding myself back at the beginning, but truth is, I find beginnings to be inspiring. Especially when my beginnings bring me to the place where instinctively I know I belong. There's got to be validation in that.

For example, I currently work in corporate health care as my day job. My job is extremely stressful and on a good day, I feel as though I was able to help a few people in spite of the broken system in which I operate.  But most days, it feels like something is missing.  Most days, I question whether the stress and negativity I encounter for a paycheck is actually worth it.  Beyond that, I've been having to ask myself a lot lately if the themes I value are being represented in the work I do. Time and time again, I have felt the pull toward endeavors that celebrate creativity, inspiration and a spirit of sharing. I know my why.  Its just taken me a while to piece together the how and the what.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been struggling on your path and find yourself longing to revisit familiar  themes of purpose and personal meaningfulness over and over again? Are you feeling a little lost and can't quite figure out how to fit those meaningful themes into your life? Let's be honest; we have to be practical. In an ideal world, we would have meaningfulness, love what we do and be compensated for what we do. But it doesn't happen automatically, that's for sure. And for a lot of folks, despite their best intentions, it just never happens at all.

I'm embarking on an experiment of sorts.  Its time to see if I can fit the meaning back into my life...the meaning which makes my soul sing:

Creativity. Collaboration. Celebration. My three C's.  My values.  The themes I want to embody and be the driving force in all I do and how I frame the rest of my days.

As I wrote at the top, its time for a revival.  Life is too short to stay stagnant.






Monday, November 7, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Allison, Paper Party In The House!


In this installment of Creatrix of the Moment, allow me to introduce you to Allison: outdoor addict, thrifting aficionado, paper craft queen, dog-mom, party consultant, loving wife, and entrepreneur extraordinaire!

Allison resides in Tennessee, along with her hubby and adorable fur-baby, Bailey. When she isn't doing outreach work at the Center for Civic Engagement or spending time with her family enjoying the great outdoors, she runs a wonderfully whimsical home and party decor shop on etsy called Hoopdaloop. Allison was so very kind to participate in the Creatrix series and I invite you to read along to learn more about this savvy, fun-loving, inspiring young woman!


Everyone loves a good party! If you could be asked to consult and provide the decor for any specific theme party right now, what would the theme be and why?

I would definitely go for a wedding and reception outdoors and then under a tent for the reception with a shabby chic, rustic vibe! I mostly feature custom paper garlands in my shop, but I would start with those and dream big (but affordable)! For my own wedding, I had a similar feel and spent many hours searching thrift stores for the perfect details and now that I'm older, I have even more ideas!

Do you usually decorate your home for various holidays? What are some of your favorite personal seasonal decorations?

Yes! Last Christmas was the first Christmas I shared with my husband and I spent a lot of time thrifting to find vintage wooden ornaments for the tree. I absolutely loved how it turned out! (Getting the idea that I dig thrift stores?!)


What is the difference between bunting and traditional paper garlands?

Well when people think of bunting, they probably think of fabric, but paper garlands are obviously made of paper. I love bunting, but I also love the versatility of paper garlands. For instance, I was consulting with a bride this past week on her wedding decor (that I am doing!) and was giving her a lot of ideas on how to decorate with her paper garlands. I loved the idea of taking large sticks or branches (think thin branches towards the ends of a tree limb) and putting them in a vase of jar and then draping paper garland over the limbs. You can't really do that with traditional bunting. This is also a great tactic for decorating Christmas trees!

Where do you find inspirations for the colors and patterns you use in your designs?

I have always been naturally drawn to colors. I think my brain unconsciously absorbs color palettes wherever I am whether it be shopping for clothes or taking a hike. I definitely love wild and crazy color combinations and natural hues. I spend a lot of time outdoors so it is definitely inspiring!

What do you love most about your work at the Outreach Center? What do you love most about creating items in your party decor shop?

I love working with kids and teaching them that they have a voice in their schools, communities, and world at large. For my shop, I love working with customers! I do lots of custom orders and my customers always have such great ideas and excited to make their event whether it be a family get together or a wedding special and unique.

Please share your philosophy or thoughts on your particular "creative process". What one thing about creativity/being creative in general holds true for you?

People often limit creativity to "art" or "crafts" and may not think themselves particularly artistically inclined. But creativity is used and can and should be used in so many ways! A great meal, a fun date, an imaginary game with your kids, the way you arrange your furniture or even just your pillows, making something instead of buying it, going on a walk and noticing the shapes of the trees... so many ways. I think creativity is something we should all intentionally foster in our lives and others. For me, I have an Etsy shop and a blog which are obvious outward expressions of my creativity, but I also love to look at the shapes of leaves, cook a good meal, or create crazy imaginary worlds with kids.


If you were to describe your personality in terms of a color, what color would you be and why?



Can I cheat and describe myself as one of my multicolor garlands? This means I choose a mixture of colors bright neons and neutrals and primaries and on and on. I don't think I am consistently just one color. Some days I'm chill and relaxed like a blue, other days I'm a hot pink, ready to get some stuff done! and so on and so on. I will say though that my favorite color is blue! Pretty much any shade!


Tell us what you enjoy doing when you're not working.

Being outside! I grew up on a farm out in the country and spent most days outside playing when I wasn't in school. Even when it rained, I would head outside to do a rain dance :) Out in the country, out in nature... that's where my heart is. I like being outside best when my husband and pup are outside. I also love spending time with my family and friends, reading, and learning new things.



What two or three traits or abilities do you feel are crucial for any business owner or entrepreneur?

Dedication- because it's a lot of work and not always easy. Ingenuity- a lot of times you have to do the best with what you have and know to succeed. Love- you really have to have a passion and love for what you are doing. If you don't, you will probably burn out and even if you don't it won't be worth it.

Not only is Allison a most gracious interviewee, she also is a generous soul. She has kindly offered a coupon for 15% off the total purchase for any items in her store for the readers of this blog. Simply enter the coupon code mizcreatixrox to apply for your discount at her store, Hoopdaloop.

Thank you to Allison, for taking the time to share and for being an inspiring example of what a being a Creatrix is all about!

Be sure to also check out Allison's blog, A Girl and Her Scout as well as her Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musing Monday: Audio Books, I Hardly Knew Ye...


Miz B over at Should Be Reading hosts a fun weekly blog event revolving around the wonderful world of books and reading. I've been making a serious effort to get back on the book-reading wagon over the past few months, and so far, I'm kinda proud of my progress. So...in an attempt to draw out the dusty, dormant bibliophile within, I thought it would be cool to start participating in these memes.

Today's topic:

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why, or why not?


For the life of me, I just cannot get into books on tape. I have tried on several occasions in the past, but to no avail. The first time I ventured into the realm of audio books, I borrowed one of the Patricia Cornwell novels in the Kay Scarpetta series. I thought it was an excellent selection in which to break my audio book cherry-y'know....murder-mystery, strong, smart female detective heroine--all the stuff that makes for an intense, gripping read.

Yeah, so I totally fell asleep within the first half hour of listening.

I even gave it another shot the next day. Same results. I thought maybe it was the novel itself...but I'd read other Cornwell books the old fashioned way and hadn't found myself bored by any means. But I didn't want to give up so quickly. I wondered if perhaps it was the *way* in which I was taking in the audiobook. Maybe lying on my bed while the book played on my headphone set was just asking for trouble.

Next time I would be wiser.

I tried an Amy Tan (The Kitchen God's Wife) novel for my second book-on-tape experiment. And this time, I put the tape on my stereo while I was cleaning my house. I figured, I hate house cleaning, but maybe by having an audio book playing while I was participating in my least favorite chores, I would be distracted enough so I wouldn't realize I was cleaning in the first place. I imagined time flying by and becoming completely engrossed in the story, and then hours later, I would reach literary nirvana AND have a sparkling clean house! I really believed I was on to something here.

The problem with that program was two-fold. Firstly, whenever I needed to move into a different room of the house, I had to really crank up the stereo or else strain to hear the audio book (my stereo was in the living room). Secondly, I learned that I am not all that successful at doing two fairly concentrated activities at the same time. Either my mind would wander while scrubbing the bathroom and I'd miss out on a portion of the novel, or I'd slow down my cleaning process to follow along with the story and end up taking twice as long to load the dishwasher. Also, vacuuming is not conducive to listening to an audiobook.

I even tried to listen to audiobooks while at the gym. Unfortunately, I found that this made my workouts go slower. Or at least that's how it felt to me. When I listen to music during a workout, I feel pumped up, energized and before I know it, I've done a half hour on the elliptical machine. Listening to a book-on-tape made me feel like I was moving in slow motion...and five minutes would go by like five HOURS!

I wouldn't even dare attempt to put a book on tape/CD while driving. Just see my track record above. Yeah, could be dangerous.

So, that's where I stand on audiobooks. Not a fan, never was and doubtful that I ever will be. They just don't mesh well with me. Throughout my life, I've never cared for being read aloud to...back in grammar school, "story time" left me feeling a little restless. Maybe the book-on-tape concept is lost on me due to some residual effect from my school days. I much rather prefer to take a book into my own hands and soak up every beautiful written word on the page in front of me.

What's your take on audiobooks? Do they work for you?

{Image Via: Bookworm}

Halloween Extravaganza




I want to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who have been visiting from Vanessa's Halloween Blog Party. I appreciate the kind comments and am so loving discovering all of your blogs as well! I am astounded at the diverse, unique and extraordinary creations I'm finding...you all simply knock my striped witchy socks off! In fact, I am so impressed with what I've seen at all of your fun, festive blog parties that I created a special Pinterest board to highlight the amazing things I've come across though Fanciful Twist blog hop. Come stop by to get a glimpse at all the Halloween happenings!



If I was able to grab the blog link left behind at Vanessa's original part post, I pulled a favorite photo or image from the participants blog. Below is a tiny taste of the Pinterest Fanciful Twist Party Board I've created...but it really doesn't do justice to the immense, incredible Halloween blog extravaganza that took place. So many amazing things to see...from handcrafted give-away items, to whimsical holiday creations; delicious and diabolical art to scrumptious feasts; haunting, silly stories to spooky, funky Halloween decor. Visit the board and follow along...you will find inspiration and an abundance of Halloween gloriousness!


Special thanks are in order for Vanessa for putting the blog party together...that woman is beyond magical! She personifies Creatrix to the nth degree! Vanessa, you are an inspiration more than you can ever know.

XOXO

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summoning The Creatrix




The time is drawing near. Soon, the Eve in which the magic and mystery of secrets, the spirits, beginnings, and endings will be upon us. While Samhain is a holiday of remembrance and honoring those who have passed on, it also a time for celebration...for feasting, fun, games, tricks and yes...even a few treats! Come join the festivities; all are welcome.

Now before we start the actual celebration; you have to pass a little "initiation". Oh, don't worry...it's no biggie. It's just something all the new kids have to do...think of it as a way to show you believe in the magic of the season. That doesn't sound so scary, right? Right! Come on then; take my hand and I will lead you to your initiation destination!

I'm sure you're wondering what this is all about and where we are going. You should probably wear something warm as it gets quite chilly at night this late in the autumn season around here. Oh I know it isn't quite nighttime yet....but you'll spending a little while at your initiation site and nightfall will arrive before you know it. Let's start walking, shall we? That wind is starting to pick up a bit, do you feel it? I've brought along some blankets and other items in my tote bag, so don't worry. Isn't it fascinating how at dusk, your eyes can play tricks on you--especially when the wind blows and the near-bare branches of the trees cast such creepy shadows?! For instance, just now it looks almost as though there is a long, bony arm reaching out beside us and motioning with a decrepit pointy finger! How bizarre!

We're almost there now. Just ahead...see that barren land beyond the path at the end of the street? Why yes, that is in fact the cemetery. Didn't I mention we were going there? Oh, I didn't, did I? That's right...it was supposed to be a surprise. Surprise!

Ok...now stop here. It's time for the initiation rite to begin. Yeah, I know...hanging around at night in a cemetery isn't really your gig, but trust me, this is tradition. And tradition is very important at the Creatrix Samhain Soiree. Help me spread the big fleecy blanket on the ground...right over there, in front of that tombstone.

Ok, now lie down upon the grave. Fold your arms across your chest just as though you were lying in a coffin. It's alright, there's nothing to be frightened about. What's that sound, you wonder? Ohh...it must be an owl! Yes, I'm sure that's what it is. I brought something that will help...let me rummage around in my tote bag...ah yes. Here we go. I'm going to place a candle right on top of the tombstone and you'll be able to see better. How's that? Better? See, *there* is the owl...he's just hanging out in the tree overhead. It's as though he's watching over us. That's a good omen. I assure you, it is!

All you have to do is lie quietly right where you are. This is the part of the initiation that might seem a little spooky, but as I said, it's tradition. You just need to remain silent and listen very carefully. What are you listening for? You'll know when you hear it...trust me. While you are listening, I am going to recite a little incantation...
When two or more are gathered on All Hallow's Eve,
A deed must be done for those who believe.
The dead have been silent for one whole year,
Now they must speak and the chosen one will hear.
Within the midnight hour you must walk with the dead,
Their graves of stone will mark their beds.
Carry a beacon to show you have come,
Call to them, "I am the chosen one."
Listen carefully for what you shall hear,
For it tells you your fortune for one full year.
Light one candle and leave it on a stone,
When the flame goes out, return to your home.
After the dead have spoken on All Hallows Eve,
They all shall visit your bed and your dreams.
Shhh....I hear something! Do you? I think the spirits are about to reveal your fortune for the next year! This is it...the moment we've been waiting for! What will the new year bring, I wonder?

The air really feels chilly now...oh wow! I have goosebumps all over my skin. The ghost woman hovering over us looks as though she's ready to speak now. So let's pay close attention to what she has to say.

"Do not fear, mere mortals be...
I've come to share good news, you see.
The year ahead will bring joy and mirth,
You will revel in the joys of the earth.
Nature's inspirations shall help you to see
The world around you offers so much beauty.
And when the days seem dark and stale,
Remember this night, this moment, if you will.
For you have all you need inside of yourself;
your gifts and the stories you have to tell--
can always be summoned and used to invigorate
and give you a myriad of reasons to...
CREATE
COLLABORATE AND CELEBRATE."


Such good news! There was really nothing to be afraid of...but sometimes we need to be startled a little in order to remember that there is much that we hold back from expressing on our Creatrix Journey. So as this Witches New Year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to remind us all that we need to think about what it is we wish to do with our creative prowess. We all have the ability to create, transform and inspire. But we also have a tendency to make excuses, and refrain from fully exploring our creative potential.





And now, for those of us who were a little spooked by the ritual, let's take a moment to calm our nerves...I brought something that might help.

Ok, so maybe libations aren't everyone's thing. Either way, I invite you to have a yummy beverage of your choice, think about your creative process and the things that sometimes scare you about it. What are you most frightened to express? What ways might you be able to deal with those fears and demons that can inhibit the creative process?

And when you're ready to join in the reveling and get into the spirit of the season, come on over to Vanessa's Fanciful Twist 2011 Halloween Party...you will surely find inspiration there! Be sure to scroll through the comments underneath her party post so you can stop by all of the other parties being held by the Creatrices who are taking part in the celebration!


{Samhain ritual components and incantation via: The Wiccan Book of Rites and Rituals, by Sister Moon}