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#31PhotosInBetween Recap + Announcement: Official Instagram Hashtags

Today is a big day. Well, it was supposed to be the day I left for Nashville, but if you follow me on instagram, you know that's not happening until next weekend. The house wasn't "move in ready", and well...I think the people living there hadn't moved much. We're one to talk. We still have a lot to do. But that will all be taking place today and over the weekend. Then I'll be staying with my parents until then.

Today is also the LAST day of the July Instagram challenge #31PhotosInBetween. I don't know about you, but I had a blast. When I did a challenge back in April (#30PhotosInBetween)we had over 3,500 photos. This time we had over 4,300 photos!

So, since there are over 4,000 photos it's hard to go through them to  give you a peak at them all. So if you haven't, go scroll through the hashtag on instagram. I have been so inspired by you all. It's been hard to share my favorites, but here's a glimpse at what you'll find:

For those of you that participated: thank you! I had an absolute blast. While I would love to do one of these again, I need a break. Instead, I'm excited to announce official NEW HASHTAGS!

Hashtags are an incredible way to interact with others, find (and gain) followers, see beautiful and interesting pictures, and connect with people around the world. I fully intend to regram (and link!) to those that use the hashtags.

So here they are:

#PhotosInBetween - A general hashtag for any of your photos that you want! P.S. I've already started using this one.

#DogsInBetween - Because dogs need more love too. And everyone loves a photo of a dog, duh.

#ExploreInBetween- My favorite thing to do in life is to travel, so here is a hashtag to use while exploring, wandering, or just see something cool you want to share.

I hope you like them and use them! I have a note on my phone where I save all my hashtags (seriously a lifesaver) and I hope you'll use them. 


10 Tips For a Successful Garage Sale

Throwing a garage sale is hard work. You have to plan ahead of time, organize what can be hundreds of items, and stand in the heat the whole day. But it can also be totally worth it. We hosted a garage sale this past weekend and made way more money than we thought we would.

Michael is a garage virgin. His family had only one growing up, while I grew up having as many as three a year. This might also be because my Mom is a garage sale addict and we'd spend Saturdays hunting for something great at yard sale. Sometimes it'd be great, other times it went in our own garage sale pile to be sold the next time we decided to have one.

We didn't think we'd make much this go -round because we didn't have a lot of "big ticket" items. No electronics, not a lot of furniture, and nothing very expensive. We did sell a TV, valued at $75. But other than that it was knick-knacks and clothes. But our final tally yesterday was... (drumroll please): over $700!

Here's how we did it:

1. Collect your stuff.
We started a piling our stuff a few weeks ago. We cleared out the clutter and moved everything into the spare room to see what we were getting rid of. If we hadn't used it in the past year, it went in the pile. Unless it was a momento, it needed to go. Sorry neon cardigan that I thought would be so cute transitioning to Fall, you had to go.

2. Clean it up.
Making your stuff look presentable goes a long way. We got rid of some glasses that looked kind of scummy. They collected dust, so we ran them through the dishwasher. I also created a little display for clothes so people could easily sort through them and see what we had to offer.

3. Price Everything.
I know, it's a lot of work. But it's easier to haggle with people when they know the price you had in mind. I would group things together (i.e. shot glasses) on a able and use masking tape to put the price per item. I also did this with books, DVDs, glasses, and jewelry. So I didn't label every minute thing, but I tried to give people an idea of what we were asking for. If you're serious about a price and won't go lower, write "price firm". This is what I did with the TV.

4. Plan ahead.
Michael and I spent all of Friday setting up tables, organizing items into like categories, and making signs. We then woke up at 5 A.M. to set up the signs and be ready when our sale strated at 7 A.M. We posted an ad on craigslist and another site called Nextdoor. We listed some items people might be interested in (name brand clothes, the TV, dog house, a bike etc.)

5. Garage Sale Signs are Everything.
You can do all of the above but if you don't have a good, clear signs your sale won't be successful. We wrote on neon poster board as large as we could. We put up a total of 5 near our neighborhood with arrows directing them to our house.

6. Make it easy to see.
We set up multiple tables, hung racks of clothing, and organized items into similar piles. I wanted people to have easy access to everything and see it all. We put the TV and bike and furniture up front to draw people in. We hung the nicer clothes in the more visible areas. Sunglasses were set up in baskets and made it so it felt more like a pleasing aesthetic. Packaging sells, right?

7. Have Spare Change.
I went to the bank before and make sure I had enough 1's, 5's, 10's and some coins to give people change back.

8. Be ready for a long day.
A garage sale usually starts pretty early in the morning (7 A.M. for us) and can end around 5pm or even go on until the next day. I'm weird in that I get a rush out of a quick sale, but Michael got bored fast. Just know it's a one time thing, so push through it! Also, wear a fanny pack. Or maybe I just like to do that. But it's easy to carry all the cash.

9. Let it go.
At the end of the day slash your prices. We told people they could fit as much as they could in a bag for $10 the last hour of the sale. Stuff we thought we might need to just throw away got picked up. It was great because it ended up being less work for us and someone else wanted it. Also, if you're wanting to quit don't haggle as much with pricing. I had a dress priced at $3 and she wanted it for $1. I said sure. It probably wouldn't have sold otherwise.

10. Have drinks for sale.
This is a great way to make an extra few bucks. We had a cooler full of soft drinks and water with a sign that said $1 for a drink. It was so hot on Saturday that usually was the first thing to sell while people perused the tables.

I'm still proud of myself for making money and clearing the house out of junk. What are your garage sale tips?

P.S. Tomorrow I'm wrapping up the #31PhotosInBetween Challenge plus an ANNOUNCEMENT! 


How to Write A Killer Guest Post

Publishing a guest post on another blog is a great way to bring more traffic and gain actual readers to your blog. It not only establishes your presence online, but creates valuable SEO for your blog. These tips will bring you hits, obviously, but interested readers that want to follow your blog. 
How to Write a Killer Guest Post

- Write a post with the blogger's audience in mind. Bloggers don't often think about writing posts for a different audience when they guest post for another site. Take note of who their audience is and study what subjects they focus on. Notice how the author uses images and wording. Read what they write to get an idea of what you want to talk about. It doesn't have to be the same thing, obviously, but you want to make it relatable.

- Write your post in HTML. This is HUGE. Write your post in HTML then send it via HTML to the person or company you're working with. I can't tell you the number of times people send me things in Microsoft Word and it makes me want to pull my hair out. Especially with blogger, this messes up the coding and can actually hurt your blog. I learned this the hard way.
Need help with HTML? Check out HTML tips Every Blogger Needs to Know

- Write with purpose. What I mean by this is to give the readers of the guest post a reason to visit your blog. Will they find tips, a laugh, a similar struggle, or did you overcome something they can relate to? Make sure to direct them to that page, not just your homepage. This will help establish your credibility and help new readers identify with you.

- Make sure you publish something interesting that day. When those new readers are coming to your blog's homepage and you have a month old post or a post that sucks, they'll quickly click out of your site. Just like you need to write interesting content for the post, you need to make sure to keep others interested by writing compelling content on your own blog.

- Consider the keywords you link to. Like I mentioned above, writing guest posts is a great tool for SEO and building your brand/blog online. Including relevant links to your blog post is great, but link to the right thing. Don't link the words "this post", instead link something descriptive, for example, "The Best Time to post to Instagram." Saying it like this helps with your Google ranking.

- Edit your post. I know you're thinking, "uhh duh." But it has to be said. We all have errors on our blogs from time to time. But it's so obvious and such a big turn off for a reader when you're guest posting. (Make sure you're including high quality images too.)

Need more SEO help? Check out my quick guide on SEO for Bloggers.

- Share the post. If you're proud of what you've written it shouldn't be a problem for you to want to tweet it, facebook it, etc. This helps encourage others to see another side of your writing and give you credibility on the site. Plus, the blogger you are guest posting on will probably share about your post MORE since they feel you are proud of it.

What are your tips for writing a great guest post? Any blogs that you love guest posting on?

P.S. Want to guest post for me? Check out my options.


The European Way to Make Friends

I think I've been making friends all wrong. Surely, this will be my ticket to making friends in Nashville.

On Friday, I snuck out of the house and bought 25 items at Forever 21. I knew this would probably be my last opportunity for shopping at MY mall for a while, so I had to get it in while I can. Michael and I stayed up until 1 am pricing garage sale items and making signs. Saturday we were up and at 'em at 5 am to post the signs and get ready for the sale.

It was a hot, sticky Texas July summer day. I got burned on my nose and I wasn't even standing in the sun, it just knew it had to indirectly get me some how. From 7-3PM  we haggled prices and made deals. Then we called it quits and ate pizza at Olivella's for a reward. (This place was named best pizza in Dallas 2014, it was overpriced but delicious.)

During the sale, one of our neighbors drove by and asked if he could have the dog house we had for sale. We said sure. Later on, we were putting away the remnants to donate to Goodwill, and he came by to get the dog house. It's a 100 pound monster, so Michael helped him carry it over. 

An hour passed and I wondered what was going on. I hopped in the shower since we were having one last fling at our favorite bar In Dallas that night: Corner Bar.

Michael came home, flushed, "I can't believe we've never hung out with our neighbor before." 
"Why?" I asked through the shower curtain. 
"He cut my hair and we took a shot of whiskey together!"
"Huh?" I wondered what just happened.
"He told me this is how Europeans make friends. " (He's from Denmark) "He told me my hair would fall better if he trimmed it this way and then we drank!"

Saturday night we went to our favorite bar and drank Boone's farm, danced the night away, and took poorly lit iPhone pictures in the dark bar.

 Michael and I pretended it was Tomorrowland whenever the DJ dropped some EDM.

Even Sarah came out! Also, I know, I need a haircut.

On Sunday, we drove to Cameron, Texas to meet Michael's Dad and hand off our wedding china and some other knick knacks. Why we registered for china, I'll never know. We've used it ONCE. Michael dropped by the neighbor's house to see how the dog house was working. He came home with a shot of whiskey for me, a new leave-in hair conditioner and told me to go over anytime for a haircut.

I might have been nervous about leaving Dallas and leaving behind all my friends and family, but now I know the trick, just give them a shot and offer to cut their hair. I think I'll have no trouble in Nashville now.