Category Archives: Blogging

How to Empty Your Inbox When it’s Overwhelming.

How to Empty Your Inbox When it's OverwhelmingI was recently with a friend who cannot stand notifications on her phone. When she saw that I had over 50,000 emails, she flipped. I’ve known for awhile that my (three) inbox(es) were out of control. But when an inbox is so out of control? It can be so intimidating. How long is this going to take me? Where do I even star? My eyes are bleeding staring at this screen.

I finally put my foot down (also my friend threatened an intervention) and I truly believe that even the worst inboxes can be conquered in under an hour if you follow these steps. I was strategic and it paid off. Just before this post, I was down to 6k in a single inbox and was down to 0 in 20 minutes following these steps.

I’d heard that if your inbox is as bad as mine, you really have to start from scratch. I took that to heart and so “mark as read” and “archive” became my bosom buddies.

But if you need proof to take my word for it:IMG_6601

Here is how to empty your inbox when it’s overwhelming:

1. Goodbye Social and Promo Tabs (for Gmail)

If you’re using Gmail, delete (or if it makes you feel better, “mark as read” and “archive”) everything in the Promo and Social Tab. You don’t need it. You definitely don’t need to read that so-and-so liked something you tweeted a year ago. Like I said, it you don’t want to delete, just mark as read and archive. In Gmail after you select all on a single page, it will ask in small letters: do you want to select all 4,000 emails in this section? (as opposed to what you have selected on a single page). Use this. Love it. It is your best friend.

2. Look for emails you don’t care about but may have a lot of in terms of keywords. Divide your email by keywords. Find the biggest chunks in your inbox.

If your inbox was a pie chart, what would the biggest piece of pie be? Who from? What company? Is there something in the subject line in each of those emails that is the same and universal? Get rid of as many as these pieces of pie as possible.

So for example, I searched all the emails that contained the word “bloglovin'” and I marked as read and archived them in batches. The same is true with any email with the word “amazon” in the subject line. I looked for as many of these batches as possible before I got into the nitty gritty. I tried to decrease the number of emails I had to go through one by one in any way possible. As a blogger, or someone who comments on blogs, I had so many emails with “new comment” in the subject line, which was a bloggers response to my comment on their blog. Marked as read and archived because some of these are months and months and possibly years old.

3. Sign up for Unroll.me

You know all those emails you’ve subscribed to over the years? Let’s roll ’em up into one email a day. Unroll.me is a great service for this. Get on it.

4. Consider the emails you actually need to respond to or require action.

Everything else should be “marked as read” and “archived.” Remember, you aren’t deleting these and they are easy to search for. They are just out of your face. Do it. Your inbox is too out of control to be emotionally attached to this stuff. This is email. It’s hard enough to purge your actual belongings.

5. Finally, when I got down to about 1,000 emails, I had to delete or archive one by one.

All in all this took an hour and was well worth it. Get rid of the biggest chunks like those emails from Amazon or Bloglovin’ or here is a great one for bloggers “Disqus.” Are you really going to go back weeks or even days and read these? No. But from now on, with your inbox at zero, you can read it and discard it or decide to reply.

You now have a clean slate. After this, delete and archive your emails as you get them. That’s what I am doing now. And you know what? I feel like a grown up. Did I miss any tips?
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P.S. I’m really trying to practice a more organized life. I’ve always pinned a ton of cool things on a board called “Organized Chaos” and I am finally in a place where I can put these into action. The title may be in the running for my memoir (totally kidding!).

Follow Nina Bee’s board organized chaos. on Pinterest.

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#MoreThanAFrame

Have you heard about the Instagram community started by Cassie and Amber? It’s called #morethanaframe and the name kind of says it all–using instagram as more than just pictures and frames. In the month of May, Cassie and Amber provided a word for each week (I did miss one week, I believe) as well as an introduction so we could all get to know one another. And they are doing it again in July.

By the way, do you follow me on instagram? @nbwearsflowers

The reason I am sharing my #morethanaframe Instagram photos is because on IG I tend to keep it short with my captions. I consider this blog to be the place where I share my heart. Still, I was challenged by #morethanaframe and so I wanted to not only encourage you to all join in this month (for the prompts, check out Cassie’s blog or Amber’s) but share what I consider to be “mini blog posts” some of which are super vulnerable. We all know that’s something I’m working on so without further ado:

 

J O Y has been on my mind as I have studied 1 and 2 Thess with @butchersniche and @liz_tippy. I’m glad to talk about it with this community of #morethanaframe with @thatsageblog and @mrthomasandme and all of you. In the study, Beth Moore asked if we think of God as the God of Joy and the more I thought on it, the more I realized I did not live my life in light of this. Slowly but surely, as I purposefully focus on this, it is changing my life. Beth also shared something her pastor said: “Joy is happiness without moodiness.” For me, J O Y is doing the things God created us all to do (loving him and loving others) and doing the things he created ME specifically for (writing and all that comes along with that). When I am writing, the world makes sense and the joy is so fluid and complete that when I am finished, it’s like I am coming awake from a dream and my eyes are fuzzy with it. As a writer, I live to be creative in all things and think deep thoughts. Deep thoughts and observing the world and the people in it are a big part of me and my writing process and inspiration. On a recent trip, on a mostly deserted beach, with just the wind, and the sound of the waves, my mind was quieted from the chaos of everyday life and I was able to think some of those deep thoughts. It grounded me. It reminded me for all my recent (or maybe not so recent) restlessness, I have purpose and I know it: love God, love people, and write. This moment brought me immeasurable joy (and the immeasurable part is important because as a perfectionist, in thinking deep thoughts, I’ve realized perfectionism pushes joy out. There is no room for both). #nbcreativephoto #igersnorthcarolina #outerbanks #southport #NorthCarolina #amwriting #beach #joy #adventures #nbcreativeinc A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on

This week’s prompt for the #morethanaframe community is F E A R. and how we confront it with B R A V E R Y. This is a photograph of my beautiful mama, candids that weren’t as in vogue as they are now. I love them. She looks so happy and in love. My parents meant their vows and raised a family. They are good people. They tried and yet…when I was in high school, they divorced. I love these photos of my mother SO much. But when I think of these photos and what took place twenty years later, I feel so much #fear. My biggest fear in life is vulnerability in relationships, giving my whole heart to someone and living wholeheartedly with another person and in community in general. We were meant for community and I’ve been hiding parts of myself from it. There are no promises. I’ve seen failure and wounds in my life and in others. Recently, I’ve started to be honest about this fear to myself and on the blog. The latest entry talks about this. In the last few weeks, I have been confronting this fear with #bravery. First, I had to lay it all out there. God has met me as I have offered up this fear to him with honesty and openness. I’m also forcing myself to step out in faith and do one thing a day (at least) that scares me in the vulnerability department. I want to be married and have kids someday. I look a lot like my mom and someday I would like to look a lot like her in these photos with as much happiness and joy but there is no guarantee that I won’t be hurt (In fact, it’s a guarantee: people hurt each other. I’m talking a major wound. After experiencing my own, I have been hiding in fear of #vulnerability). In opening up, I’ve experienced INCREDIBLE support and resources and love. I’ve been reading so many books and listening to TED talks and sermons and I know I am not alone in my fear and I won’t be alone in choosing day by day, and sometimes, moment by moment, to be vulnerable and open to what God has for me. God always meets us where we are. And he sends people to meet us there too (people who recommend awesome things like the work of @brenebrown and lots of other things). Thanks to @thatsageblog and @mrthomasandme #morethanaframe #holdersnotfolders

A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on

I’ve been dealing with some stuff lately. This week’s #morethanaframe ‘s theme is A F F E C T I O N and I had no idea what I’d post until I got to hang out with my little sister over the weekend. There are more than 20 years between us. Years before she was born, I tried to control all the changes that were happening in my family. Every change meant, in my mind, I would be loved less. But when Ava was born and I saw the family fawn over her and love her and all the affection she received, not for accolades or awards or achievements, but for simply being a sweet babe in our family, I swore I would mentally bottle all of that affection for her…and for me. I pictured a glass jar and I became her memory keeper. And I realized that when I was that little, everyone showed me that same love and how over the years, living in this upside down world, and my own sin, I’d forgotten it. It was such an important reminder for me and I promised her silently as I held her in my arms that I would try my best, whenever needed, to unscrew the lid of that jar of love and let her bask in all the affection she was given for just being herself. I wondered back then, and still today as her memory keeper, how it would change how we lived and loved if we could remember the kind of love and affection given so freely just because we were ourselves? After all, God’s love for us has nothing to do with achievement or success and everything to do with Jesus. Let’s all unscrew the jar. A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is F R E E D O M. And we all, with U N V E I L E D face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being T R A N S F O R M E D into the same image from one degree of glory to another…” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18a :::: This must be my living T R U T H or I would be lost…In fact, I was. Without Jesus, I would not be here and that is the truth. God is good when life and people aren’t and we are being transformed even when it feels like the exact opposite. Faith is not a feeling and neither is truth. No matter how heavy the darkness, I have to hold on to this truth. Some days it is easier than others. But it’s always easier than going it alone. #morethanaframe #truth

A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on

for the #morethanaframe theme of #friend, I give you a metaphor. friends: the people who have not only seen your booty but may have added paint to it in a body art sesh that included naked butts, paint, canvases, and a mess one can clean up but memories (and canvases) which will last forever. #hypothetically Friends know where the bodies are buried, have seen the worst version of you and push you to grow, giggle with you, laugh at you when you forget how to laugh at yourself, and are real with you–not quite to the level that they would tell you if you had an ugly baby but almost. Friends comfort but also push you out of your comfort zone in the best, most healing ways. Friendship is given without expectation and returned in the same manner. It knows no distance, puts on no airs or pretenses, asks tough questions, loves unconditionally. Humans fail so that means friends do too but friendship does not fail because love does not fail. To my friends: here, there, and everywhere, new and old: I ya. A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on


I look forward to this month and the community and I know everyone would welcome you if you joined in.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me @nbwearsflowers!

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Anyway.

anyway mother teresaMother Teresa hung this in her room in Calcutta. It is based on something Kent M. Keith wrote.

A huge part of me wishes that I was sitting across from you, warming our hands with coffee or tea, on a small rickety table that leaned one way or the other, depending on whose elbow leaned where. Because I want to tell you the story about what happened a few days ago. I want you to be able to look you in the eyes and see my earnestness.

None of these things are possible and if they were, in the end, I would probably decide not to tell you anyway.

Here is why.

My first true experience with girl drama at the age when it really hurts, when we believe this is the worst pain we will ever feel was ongoing and difficult. Whatever the details, it was the first time I remember my mother telling me, “Be the bigger person.”

She said it to me everyday. Because everyday I wanted to shout it to the other girls, how this girl had hurt me. I needed to hear my mom say it everyday. When someone in the neighborhood spoke kindly of this girl or her parents (who were involved), I wanted to say: “But you don’t know the truth.” Instead, I heard my mother’s voice: be the bigger person, be the bigger person. I wanted to close up. I didn’t want to open myself to more pain, even then. Everyday as I readied for school, I heard my mother’s voice in my head. If I came and cried to her, she comforted me. But she always ended the conversation with: remember to be the bigger person. 

Now I know that this was my mother’s version of what Mother Teresa hung on her wall. This past year, the biggest thing I’ve learned has come from watching people and it has been illuminating.

I come from a very passionate and reactionary family. We argue a lot but then we have a high need to resolve the things we said in anger quickly. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just explaining it because for a long time this is how I operated in life–not just with my family (I thought everyone was like us…wrong).

In the past year, first because of the nature of my job, and then because it became of interest to me, I started to notice what happened when people reacted in emotion, in anger, in heat. For the first time, I was able to sit back and let emotions wash over me if I felt attacked or if there was an argument or if I was confronted. Before I would immediately defend and argue back.  For the first time, this past year, and especially the last six months, there were personal problems put on ice for twenty four hours because I knew my words would be kinder and truer then.

Once I had a counselor explain that when we are confronted, our adrenal glands start sending chemicals to our brains. It takes a minimum of 45 minutes for those chemical to dissipate, and that’s only if one were to take a walk, let’s say, for 45 minutes while thinking calmly about something else. If we seethe about that argument during our walk or as we read a book, those chemicals don’t dissipate.

I’m imperfect but if there is one thing I have learned this year it’s that most people react incredibly poorly when they are reactionary, acting out of sadness or anger or any emotion.

When this thing happened, that I can’t talk to you about, or the thing I am choosing not to talk about, even though it has to do with blogging, I told my close friend: This is how I feel right now but I know that I will feel differently in an hour and differently again in an another hour.

I was right.

I heard my mother’s voice: be the bigger person.

And then I remembered Mother Teresa’s prayer. I read it over and over again. In reality, what happened was a blip when I consider it now. At least for me. In the moment, it felt like this person was attacking my character, my integrity, my very insides.

The thing is blogging sometimes means sharing your soul and your heart and sometimes people will attack your words and therefore you soul and your heart. As long as you are being smart about it, share them anyway.

Back to the table where we share coffee, I would want to tell you about what someone in the blogging world did to me. But I wouldn’t. Because of my mother’s words. I would want to defend the words this person attacked. But if you gave me a second, or 45 minutes, I wouldn’t.

The thing is, anytime I post anything where I want to be positive I am writing exactly what I want to communicate, I have at least two people read it (except for one time when I pressed publish on accident but that was not the most recent time). Depending on the topic, I ask certain people. Most of the time, it’s two women I respect and admire. We have a lot and common but we are also different. They tell me when I have not communicated well. They tell me when my words don’t match my true feelings and intentions. They call me on my stuff, in essence, and that is so incredibly important.

So it’s not like I ever come on here and spew my feelings all over you. Forty five minutes have passed (figuratively speaking). It’s been proofed by people I trust and I don’t mean grammatically.

Anyway. Anyway. Anyway. It’s the word that been on my mind for days, since the incident. Knowing the ways I cope, a part of me wanted to withdraw, delete, and not share my point of view with you any longer.

But I’m continuing anyway.

People can be hateful and mean. They can choose unkindness over kindness. They can let their own unhappiness dictate their every word and action.

I will continue to conduct myself the way I was raised anyway. In being the bigger person, and someone my mom is proud of, I’ve learned that when that hate like this is aimed at me, it typically has very little to do with me.

It was never about me and them anyway.

I don’t answer to anyone but Him anyway. And when I read Mother Teresa’s words, I know that I reacted to this person with “an anyway” spirit. I know that I honored Him. That’s enough for me.

You wouldn’t want to read about the whole story anyway.

Love (for real),

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5 Ways to Use Your Current Content to Grow Your Blog.

5 Ways to Use Your Current Content to Grow Your BlogWhether you’ve been blogging for a couple of months or a couple of years, you’ve probably realized this simple truth: blogging ain’t no joke. It isn’t easy by any means (so much so that I felt the need to use the grammatically incorrect ain’t in a sentence). What I want to talk about today is getting the most out of the content you work so hard to create.

Here are 5 ways to use your current content to grow your blog:
1. You May Also Like…

Have you ever read a blog post that includes other posts you may enjoy based on the post you are currently reading? A few months ago, I installed a plugin to help with this (there are plenty out there). I realized I was missing a huge opportunity to use all the posts I’ve worked so hard on to increase traffic and your time on my blog. If you click on this post and scroll down, you’ll see four posts that relate to the one you’re reading. Chances are that some people are going to find something to click on there. I really recommend doing this if you haven’t already.

2. Syndicate Your Content with CoSchedule

(just so you know that is a referral link) What I love about CoSchedule is I can easily schedule posts to be promoted the day after a post is published: a day later, a week later, and a month later (or on a custom date). It’s so simple (and there is a trial) to syndicate your content when you schedule the post the first time so that it will be promoted throughout the next month. I was a bit skeptical but I did see an increase in page views during my trial so now CoSchedule and I are going steady.

3. Popular Posts

This is still a work in progress on my blog. But at the top of my blog menu, you will see something called Popular SeriesAs I said, it is a work in progress but it’s a place that readers–both new and old–can click on and find more posts. A lot of times when I go to a new blog, I want to find the heart of the blog and this is great place to go. I recommend creating an obvious place for your most popular posts or the posts that mean the most to you to live.

4. Posts Within Posts

This may be obvious but link to other posts within the post you are writing. Of course, I only link to something when it makes sense but remembering to do this is key. A new reader may want to know more about the story. An old reader may be just as curious. Recently, I wrote a post about my entryway reveal (see what I did there?) I mentioned my papa so I linked to a post about him. I also linked to a tutorial about how I made the deer–one of the things hanging in my entryway.

5. Easy Categories

I will be the first person to tell you that my blog does not have this right now. I am working on decreasing my number of categories. If you have super obvious categories about topics you are passionate about, I am likely to click on them to learn more about you and your blog. Whenever I redesign my blog (this is something I am only beginning to think about; it will be at least a year) this is something I want to work on.
contentDo you have more ideas? I am always open. Let’s share the knowledge. Also, just because I am feeling so much love for my fellow bloggers today, let’s do a sale on sponsorships. Use the code SPRINGSPRANG for 20% off any sponsorship. If you’re on the fence, read the testimonials or check out this post.

Xo,
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Blogging Basics: Choosing Where I Sponsor

Blogging Basics: Choosing Where I SponsorHere’s the thing. When you sponsor my blog, all that money is reinvested so that I can sponsor other blogs, bringing more readership in. When I started blogging, I quickly realized that sponsoring had the potential to grow my blog, if I did it correctly. I had to fail at sponsoring and make bad choices of where I chose to spend my money in order to learn what works and what doesn’t, what is worth the money and what isn’t, and what I need and look for in a host blog. The goal here is to help you better navigate which blogs to sponsor and also help us all be better hosts to the blogs who sponsor us. Sound good?

This is a actually a repost. Because the truth is. I needed to recalibrate some things in my own mind (plus I am sick!). Like I said, a lot of these tips come from learning the hard way. Maybe they weren’t awful experiences but I didn’t see a return on my investment or something just worked better. So here are my tips and tricks and the criteria I use when pulling the trigger and sponsoring another blog.

1. The Great Debate: Sidebar or Signature?

This was the first question I had when I started to sponsor blogs. Should I sponsor a smaller blog and be the signature post (which appears at the bottom of every post and usually comes with more benefits) or should I go to a huge blog where space is at a premium and I can only afford to be on the side bar? Here is the thing. There is a reason that the “signature sponsor spot” costs more. I will admit that it has depended on the blog and the host (more to come on that), but if I can, I always go with the signature spot. The return I see (and I do measure…see below) is just a lot greater and most of the time it is worth the extra money to be there.

There are exceptions to this rule. I have been on the sidebar and the blogger has tweeted out my content weekly. What a great deal! Also, it’s great if I am in the signature position and they post two times a week…not. That’s simply not worth the money.

Now…here is the cold hard truth. I have paid to be a signature sponsor and gotten nothing out of it. Nada! And yet, I’ve been on the sidebar and gotten plenty out of it. So, really, why is that?

2. How Much Work is the Blogger Willing to Put into Promoting Me and My Content?

Sometimes you don’t know the answer to that question until you are actually sponsoring a blog. But if you are a reader of the blog you are sponsoring (I recommend this for many reasons both relational and having to do with brand alignment) then you can get some idea of how much work a blogger puts into promoting their sponsors. When I decided to write this post, I didn’t want to call anyone out. But the thing is, if you just stick me on at the end of the month and ask me what my favorite song and book is and link back to me…No one is going to click on the link to read my blog. Not only do the numbers prove this, but just logically, as a reader, I am not compelled by that. Are you? Do you click to read those blogs?

Ask yourself if the blogger presents the sponsors in a compelling way. This is not a commercial for me and how I do it (I really want to focus on how I choose where I sponsor) but I really put a lot of thought in how I present my sponsors for the sidebar. I wanted it to be compelling and I think I have achieved that. I look for that in the blogs I sponsor for sure.

Just some other questions to ask yourself: if you tag them, do they retweet you? Do they promote your content on twitter and other places? Do they stay in touch with you? Do they comment on your blog? THIS is huge for me. I have paid people a good deal of money and they can’t even take the time to read my blog and leave a comment every now and then. If that’s the case, and depending on how I answer those other questions, I won’t sponsor there again because to me that says they really don’t care. I am just a banner they put up and money in their pocket.

That’s a reality you have to face. People only have so much time in their day and if they don’t have time for you (and this has been the case even with bloggers I adore as people and as blogs) then you need to take your money elsewhere because you are paying for a service…unless the lingo on their sponsor page just says I plant your image on my page for a month and do nothing else in which case, you get what you pay for. 🙂

3. Promo Codes

I use them. Most bloggers give them out and I use them.  (See the end of this post)

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4. Keep Track of the Success and Failures of Your Sponsorships

If you are sponsoring  through Passionfruit, you can see the number of times your ad has been clicked on and how often it has been viewed (which has to do with the page views the blog gets). Also watch where your traffic comes from. I have sponsored blogs and gotten ZERO traffic from them even though I am in the signature spot and they get plenty of page views. What’s the deal? It’s probably a combination of their readership and the blogger’s lack of promotion.

Relationally speaking, is communication open between the blogger I am sponsoring with? Does she tweet my content? I may not get solid numbers from those two questions but they are important to me.

5. Relationships: They Make the World Go Round

Again, I need to feel like a person. I gave you my money in good faith and I need to see, is this a simple transaction for you, the blogger (which is fine as long as you get me the results I paid for)? Does the blogger genuinely care about her sponsors? You have to think of these blogs as people you are doing business with. Is this someone you want to do business with? Are they genuine? Do they follow through? How is the organization? Everyone makes mistakes and I believe in grace, so much grace (goodness knows, I have needed it) but overall. This isn’t me trying to be touchy feely; I have noticed a correlation between the bloggers that genuinely care and the amount of promotion I get as a sponsor.

Also, I have worked with super organized people who could not give a rip about my blog and I didn’t see a return on my investment.

Even as a I write these, they are good reminders for me as a host of the bloggers who are willing to sponsor here. You get what you give. Treat others the way you would like to be treated and so I hope, or at least I try, to go above and beyond for my sponsors because when I spend money somewhere, I hope that person will go above and beyond for me and my blog. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten smarter as time has gone on about where I spend my money. But this is what I’ve learned and this is how I decide where I am going to go.choosing where I sponsor

And because I love my sponsors so much, there is currently a promo of 20% off any sponsorship with the code: BIRTHDAY

Was this helpful? Please let me know! If it was, I have other topics to cover later but what questions do you have? About anything–branding, marketing…That is my day job after all.
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