Necessities For A Beach Trip (Warning, Weird)

So, normally, when you see what people pack for a beach trip you get the normal things: hat, sunscreen (NO REALLY? who knew I'd need SPF). But today I'm sharing my packing essentials. And they're a bit... eccentric. 

Yes, I do have the standard items:
Beach towel
Swimsuit (shocking y'all, I KNOW)
A good book (I'm on the last Harry Potter!)
Hat (this one is the best and so cheap)
Flip flops. Stop y'all, I know you've never thought to bring these before. Also, Chacos fo' LYFE.
Cover up aka a big t-shirt. 

Sunglasses (40% off!) // floppy hat // black wedges 

Most of this stuff is from Forever 21 and when you use code "EXTRA30" you get 30% off! Also, Nordstrom is also having a sale, with lots of stuff 40% off.

Okay, on to my weird ones:

Hair color chalk. The best thing about the beach is you don't care about your hair. It's wavy and messy and crazy. So put a little colored chalk in it.

Bose wireless speakers. How can you party on the beach without a wireless speaker? Answer: you can't. I also have a good playlist queued up. On deck? Lot's of electronic with a hint of hip hop and Miley. 

String. My sisters and I have been making string necklaces for forever and still haven't changed. It's the ultimate beach look to rock a Chinese staircase anklet. I usually make enough to cover a small island in jewelry.

A white button up shirt. Maybe this isn't that weird, but it's nice to have that on when it comes time to take pictures. And ever good beach trip needs a little photo shoot. Don't deny it. Bring a white shirt.

A big crazy float. Yes, y'all, all summer 16 (that's a Drake song reference). You need a big fun float for the beach this summer. These are super cheap and have a lot of different kinds (aka: pizza, flamingo, swan).

A great pair of headphones. With all my Harry Potter listening, I need a good pair of headphones. These gorgeous white and rose gold headphones from Sudio Sweden (bonus points for the company being named after a Phil Collins song, seriously read the reason they named them) and have the best quality sound out there. Use code "Helene15" for 15% off @sudiosweden headphones.

A ridiculous game. Michael asked for Slammo this year for his birthday and I rolled my eyes. But I love it. It's perfect for the beach. Slammo is like tennis plus volleyball but on a small scale.

Protect your tech. I have to have my phone on the beach so I can get some sweet sunset shots. (You know I'm going to be documenting on Instagram @heleneinbetween.) But I also don't want a bunch of sand and saltwater in it. This bag is inexpensive but does the trick.

So there you have it! Any weird things you have to have on vacations?
I'll be at my absolute favorite beach in the world with my family, Seaside Florida.  My younger twin sisters and I are going to cause mayhem. Watch out for our nutty-ness on Snapchat (username Helenesula). Maybe we'll do a Snap Q&A...

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14 Ridiculously Useful Tips Every Blogger Should Know

Whether you're a beginning blogger or an old pro, there are some tips that can really help your blog succeed. You want to hit the ground running so you can focus on what's important: writing and sharing your life. I've compiled 14 tips that I think are ridiculously useful that all bloggers should know.
14 Ridiculously Useful Tips Every Blogger Should Know

1. Get friendly with RSS.

RSS stands for "really simple syndication" and it's used to add your blog to directories such as Bloglovin or use it to update your Newsletter feed (some people have an email system set up and you can choose to receive their blog posts via email every time they post.) Basically, it's the way that your blog lets people know you've updated it.
Some problems can stem from RSS feed: your "reader" isn't updating (aka, Bloglovin isn't picking up the signal), images aren't displaying correctly, etc. So, learn a little bit about RSS so you're not confused. Here's a quick post on how to locate your RSS feed

2. Know some coding.

No one is expecting that you become a developer and suddenly know all there is to know about CSS and HTML. Afterall, it's like speaking a new language. But, having some understanding of some coding will really really help you with your blog. This post on HTML tips will help you sink your teeth into some blogging knowledge. 
Understanding the basics will help you whenever you come across a glitch or you need to further customize your blog or your posts. The tutorial I linked also shows you how to install blog buttons, essential for advertising!


3. Create a BRAND

Don't be frightened by the words branding or theme. What I think bloggers should focus on is being recognizable. A great way to stand out is when you have a brand or theme that people can identify and connect with. What that means is a similar color scheme, graphics, or images that your followers and readers will remember from you.

This doesn't just have to be with images or colors, it can also be with words. Find fonts that compliment each other, Type Genius is an excellent way to see how fonts pair together. I buy ALL my fonts from Creative Market

For example, I use a lot of pink and a similar font throughout my blog. If you need inspiration, Pinterest is an excellent place to get ideas. If you're stuck on what works or what colors go together, play around with a few websites:
- Coolors is a "cooler scheme generator" that helps you pair colors and see how they work together.
- Knowing the "hex" color (basically the name of the color) will help you identify the color so you can use it again and again. I use "Colorzilla" it's a plugin for Firefox and Chrome that tells you the color in ANY webpage! For example, the hex color of my lightest pink color in my blog is: #FEBBDE.

You can then use that Hex color in any photo editing tool like Canva, PicMonkey and Photoshop. Which brings me to my next point....

4. Know how to edit photos

Chances are if you're a blogger, you need to learn to edit your photos. Whether that's adding filters or changing the composition or overlaying text, you'll want to learn how to do that! Making sure your images are clear, easy to read, and crisp. Understanding a few editing strategies will make it easier for people to read your blog and you'll find quick ways to edit photos every time.  Check out this complete guide to editing photos without photoshop!

Check out, how to use PicMonkey for your blog - with step by step instructions.
You might also like, how to create a blog button for your blog or advertisements.

5. Make sure you can comment

Comments are an incredible and valuable way to connect online, so make sure you're comment system works! Every now and then, I comment on my own blog to make sure people can easily comment on my blog. Here's a great tutorial (especially for Blogger Blogs) on ensuring your comment system works. I seriously reference this post at least once a week. 

Ensure you can also comment on other blogs. Popular commenting systems like Disqus allow you to have an image and link to your blog, so make sure you have that set up.  
Related:  Why you NEED to reply to comments.


6. Get familiar with Analytics

Having a clear understanding of where your blog readers come from and how they act on your page can be hugely insightful. By far, the best measurement for most bloggers is Google Analytics. It can feel a bit overwhelming - there is SO much to look at. Take a look at this simple tutorial on using Google Analytics for your blog.  This will help you gauge where your blog is working and where you could improve, especially when it comes to social media.

7. Schedule Like a Boss

I swear, the only way I get everything done is because of my best friend, Hootsuite. This is a scheduling tool that allows me to schedule my social media posts so I don't have to constantly worry about them throughout the day.
Not only does this save time, it keeps the content fresh. If you write the post, chances are, the topic is more fresh in your mind, than hours later when you're trying to think up a clever tweet to get people to read your post. 
The most popular tools are Hootsuite, Buffer, and CoSchedule. Pick whichever one works best for you. I'm a Hootsuite girl, but you have to find what you like. 
Next, you'll need to know how to use them, so check out How to schedule blog Posts like a Boss

Related: How to Schedule your Instagram. 

8. Feature Bloglovin

Bloglovin, for many bloggers, is one of the biggest day to day resources of blog traffic. It's the largest blog "readers"- that means it connects with your RSS, and Bloglovin is updated with new posts. This is how I read blogs. I find it easy to organize and read posts here. So you should understand how to use it too! Here's my COMPLETE guide to using Bloglovin and how you can get more followers there, too

9. Never Run Out of Content

One of the best ways to keep people engaged and interested in your blog is with fresh, new content. We all get stuck with writer's block and have a hard time finding new post ideas. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about what to post. Here's a post on how to brainstorm ideas. But the best ways to think of new ideas are to search Pinterest, go outside and enjoy the world around you, and my personal fave: ASK! Don't be afraid to ask your readers for help.

Here are LOTS of blog post ideas:
75 Blog Post Ideas For Lifestyle Bloggers
30 DIFFERENT Blog Post Ideas
25 Holiday Blog Post Ideas
30 Summer Blog Post Ideas
30 Spring Blog Post Ideas
30 Winter Blog Post Ideas

10. Learn some SEO

For some reason, SEO seems frightening to many bloggers. But I PROMISE, you don't need to worry, I got you. Understanding some basic SEO can really take your blog up a level. I.E. more pageviews, your blog is found easier online, and will help you establish yourself online. This post on SEO will help you grasp some SEO techniques for your blog
Applying this to your blog will really help you and it will become easier over time, I promise.  

11. Harness the Power of Pinterest

Pinterest can be a serious game changer for bloggers. Giving you more pageviews and more viewers over time. Many of my most popular posts are because they've been pinned again and again on Pinterest. You want to make sure you're using it right. So, here is how to Utilize Pinterest for your blog and my favorite of all time game-changing Pinterest strategy.

12. Pick a Platform

The debate on which platform is right for you is totally up in the air. My personal opinion is this: I love them all, for different reasons. I really mean that. Blogger is easy to understand and manipulate. Wordpress is extremely customizable and has tons of features. Squarespace is easy and modern. Those three are the best, and I've used them all. For real. So my advice is to use one that works for you, there is no wrong answer! However, to help you decide here are some helpful posts:
Blogger Vs Wordpress
Why I Chose Squarespace
Blogger and Wordpress, Debate

13. Newsletters are your friend

I have said this so much, but before I had a newsletter my blog wasn't really monetized. Having a newsletter is extremely beneficial. It's a way for you to get in direct contact with your readers. It's a personal way to connect and it's a great way to really reach your followers. 

Here's how to create a newsletter for your blog. This is an in-depth look at how to create a newsletter using Convertkit as well as looking at Mailchimp. If you're wanting some ideas, check out the best newsletters for bloggers

14. Make it last

Want to make your blog last for years and something you want to come back to each and every day? Build a community. This is the best way to connect, to monetize, to gain readers, followers, friends, all of it! Building a community is essential and one of the best parts of starting a blog. Here's how to build and find a community for your blog, that lasts. 

Hope you liked this list! What do you think is a ridiculously useful tip?

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My Entire Makeup Routine (with Video!)

Doing something so so different today. I filmed a YouTube video for my makeup routine! After multiple requests on Snapchat and Instagram I decided to give it a go. I am (clearly) no expert. But I do get asked about my eyelashes a lot, so I thought what better way to show you then in video form!

I've listed all the products I've used below. Let me know what you think about this video. Kinda feel weird posting it. But life's about taking chances, right? YOLO. Just kidding. This is just a YouTube video about makeup. 


My skin care routine here

Hope you like the video. As always, let me know if you'd like to see any other videos!

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I'm Really Different

I was stalking Instagram the other day, like any normal day, and went down a rabbit hole. I started looking at all the "blogger bloggers." You know the ones. I am kind of one of them, and kind of not. The ones that talk about how to grow your blog and how to make money online. 

In a sense, that is me. I do want to help you do that. But I'm also not like them, at all. 

I was looking at their instagram photos and I laughed out loud. They all had pretty pictures of them in business clothes or sayings about their business. Their blogs (and social channels) all focus on... well... blogging. 

Then you have me. I have pictures of my dogs, ice cream, my desk, places I've traveled. Basically, it's actually what I have going on. 

Casually walking with flowers in my bag. Super normal and not strange at all...
As I was looking at these photos of these successful people I wondered: should I do it like this? Should I focus solely on blogging? Is that the way to success?

No. Not for me.

I'm different. I'm not only going to talk about how to grow your blog. What I like about blogging is the ability to get to tell you about myself and not just about business. Isn't that what blogging should be about? I want to share my travels and my feelings and anything that I think you might find interesting too. After all, I think that's how we connect.

Here's something I promise: I'll never be a blogger's blog. Yes, I'll have tips and tools to share. After all, this is my job and I worked in social media and marketing for years. But I also want to share my life. Because that's what I like in a blog. I like when I read something real and honest. I like when people share that they can't stand bro country music (come on, it's horrible) and that they love onions (they are my fav). 

I like to know the actual human. 

I hope you do too. So I'm making a promise to continue to be different. 

To round this off here are some things you probably didn't know about me.

- I follow some really weird people on Snapchat. Like Cameron Dallas. He's a vine star turned teen heart throb. Please do not ask me why.

- I haven't had a diet coke in 8 days. Which is the longest time in between diet cokes since age 16, probably.

- I love naming things: plants, inanimate objects, lizards that cross my path. 

- I am fairly proficient at rapping. No really.  

- I really don't care much about things. I'd much prefer life experiences and to just travel.

P.S. there are almost 200 people signed up for Blog Boss Babe. Shouldn't you be one of them?! Jump in NOW before the price goes up and get in on the first blog challenge!! (Starts tomorrow)

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