Posts tagged social media
7 Ways To (Sorta) Go Offline During Vacation

Confession. I went on a photography retreat and I didn't bring a laptop, Lightroom, Photoshop or any of the usual gear a photographer should bring on shoots and especially into a learning environment when your teacher specifically says BRING YOUR LAPTOP.

I remember packing to leave with my laptop ready to go and I intended to place it in my bag, but then I looked at it and instantly felt super stressed and a bit uncomfortable, my gut told me it would hold my creativity back. I remembered it was listed in our "things to bring" so our teacher and fellow students could look at our work each morning. Yet I still felt like I needed my journey to be without the machine that I've become so dependent on each day.

Can you believe I walked away to grab my shoes, looked right at my laptop, and without even thinking I walked away and drove to the airport? I didn't make a real decision to leave it, I just sorta flaked and started thinking about other things. In a way, my subconscious was giving the laptop the bird, like #FUlaptop, I'm outta here.

When I had to tell my teacher Dietlind Wolf, one of the top stylists and creative visual story tellers in the world that I forgot my laptop, I was so embarrassed. You know when your cheeks go red? I could feel the heat in them as I spoke. I felt like it wasn't even day one and I had failed my assignment. I didn't want to let down my teacher or make her feel as though I wasn't there to learn, just the opposite. But I also felt like having a laptop wasn't going to help me dig in and really immerse myself in the materials and exercises she had planned for us.

Dietlind's reaction wasn't one of panic or irritation. Thankfully. Quite the opposite, she was encouraging and gently explained that this was the way it needed to be, for whatever reason, and that we would find a work around.

And she was right. And we did find a work around which I will explain in a post tomorrow so stay tuned... It was so great easy!

But yeah, not using my laptop for 6 days, no iPad, just my iPhone... was amazing. Here's how I successfully took a sorta internet vacay for 6 days in case you want to give it a try this summer.

  1. FACEBOOK. I only logged onto Facebook once or maybe twice a day to post something quickly and then I bolted. I didn't linger. I avoided the negativity and rants that I usually come across each day. Plus, the Facebook app on the phone isn't as tempting to click around and end up someplace else. You can just post and run and be done with it.
  2. WHATSAPP. I checked my phone to see if my husband had left any messages about our little boy. But even that, I exercised great discipline. I only had brief Whatsapp conversations with 2 people. Not the usual 30 or more in the span of a week.
  3. BLOG. All blog posts that went up on decor8 were prepared in Wordpress and scheduled in advance. Didn't need my laptop to publish those...
  4. DAILY NEWS. I read the NYTimes app at night after dinner. Also, I have the app set to give me a quick alert on my phone in case of world catastrophe. The app lets me know breaking news that I would NEED to know. But other than that, I didn't spend my mornings scanning the news as I usually do. No one needs to know about all of the shit going on in the world every second of the day. It's true you guys. We don't need to be so informed, my god. And to read all of this first thing in the morning from bed, well, it's a terrible way to begin your day because rarely what makes the news is positive.
  5. PINTEREST. Didn't bother with my Pinterest. Why? I wasn't there to be inspired by others, I was there to be inspired and guided by my inner voice.
  6. INSTAGRAM. I love traveling and sharing with Instagram, it doesn't stress me out. You can be selfish. You can simply post and go. You don't feel the need or pressure to read, share, comment or even see other people's photos if you don't want to.
  7. EMAIL. I didn't check them. Period. If someone needed me they'd have to wait because I was there to put myself first and I was okay with that. I'm not doing a job that requires hostage negotiation or world peace. Few of us are so important that we need to be connected to everyone, everyday, every moment. It's hard for the ego to absorb that truth sometimes. We reason we are too important to log off. But it's total BS! The world, your career, none of it will fall apart if you don't read your email for a few days, even a week. Plus I have an amazing assistant, if it's big enough news she will get in touch with me anyway. Before I left, I told everyone that I was working on a project with that I'd be offline so I felt confident that I wasn't leaving anyone hanging anyway.

I hope these 7 ideas will help those of you with upcoming summer vacays to log off and enjoy the time away. YOU CAN DO IT. And you don't have to go cold turkey. Just be super selective and choose to connect in ways that don't stress you out. Sometimes we have to stop and realize that our joy and inspiration is often right inside of us or in a moment, we don't need Pinterest, the internet or anything else to find it or feel it. We just need to log off and tap in.

xo Holly

A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are

Call me dramatic but I believe this strongly -- your blog is only dead when you, your content, your zeal for it, dies. It's a strong statement but it's worth chatting about for a moment because there is lots of talk online about the future of blogs. I see many of my favorite blogs changing, stagnating or simply selling out (I define this as when a blogger does things for fame and/or money that others find questionable or that they hide because they know readers wouldn't support them). Due to some of these things, I often wonder if the practice of writing a blog purely out of pleasure has become a lost art. Other times I see certain bloggers who make me proud  - they are full of fire and life, they say what they want, their words aren't diluted or disingenuous so as to please sponsors and clients, they are unfeigned and they don't give a damn. Blog_decor8_Herbst2015

Those are the bloggers that convince me to carry on -- they astonish with words, ideas, photography - some or all.  I rely on their voices and go to them when I need a dose of humor, reality or to really think and feel something again. I don't look to Facebook updates or random photos posted here and there on apps and websites. These blogging voices remind me that having a blog can still be relevant, fresh and invigorating when the people authoring them are. Blogs can still electrify.

I've been busy and unfocused lately when it comes to blogging and truthfully, even ambivalent. A colleague told me that my blog has become boring over the past few months. I was mildly offended at first but then realized the truth in her words because it even bores me, which has lead to my highly irregular posts. Many bloggers are struggling currently, have you noticed? Content is boring, posts are few and far between, content is constantly sponsored, passionate opinions are few (or gone)... Many bloggers feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of social platforms that exist now. Others are struggling to make money since blog ads aren't pulling in the cash that they were years ago. How do you maintain a blog and find enough time to produce engaging content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn? How can you also make money blogging when the entire revenue structure has changed?

I guess this is why I'm writing this post. To say that all of us can fall into the boring rut but whether we remain in it is up to only us. And I have decided to get out, and I'm starting with this post because it's been awhile since I really said anything here.

It can be soul-crushing to stay fresh on every social channel while also trying to reply to those who want to network with you via these platforms, too. It can be hard to turn down a company with products that don't interest you when they're offering you thousands for a blog post. Blogging becomes all about survival, all about numbers - number of fans, number of dollars, number of page views, number of followers on other platforms. While some massive blogs thrive on numbers and love the push, the rest of us just don't function that way. I personally have to believe in and love a product before I'll take on a sponsored post but I have other ways to generate income that have nothing to do with my blog so I don't feel pushed to accept every offer I get. I can't judge those who do and who have families to support. I get it. But this all has changed blogging and how we once felt about it. .

Blogging, for many, gets pushed in the background because posts take time, in fact more time than posting a quick photo on IG or an update on Facebook. I loved blogging before massive online communities where everyone seems to throw out whatever pops into their mind without a single edit. All day you are bombarded with streaming random thoughts from "friends" which amounts to a lot of information that you really didn't need (or care) to know about.

Then there are places where you only post and share imagery. And those places end up just showing the most edited, perfect, beautiful scenes imaginable. And they are at first inspiring but later, end up making you feel like you have to pump out equal or better content and if you don't, you're lame. In my opinion, there are two negative extremes online within these communities -  unedited oversharing and massive role playing (portraying your life as perfect).

Okay, maybe there is another negative and it's called content overload. There is so much happening online making it impossible to focus and truly appreciate the hard work bloggers are pouring into their content. You find one great post and a second later, you're reading ten more or liking ten more and so on. Same goes for the beautiful photography produced and shared on Instagram and Pinterest. In this sense, staying in a constant state of feeling oversaturated can be negative since studies have proven that too much choice stamps out creativity, causes depression, creates family stress and even alters our personality - we go from being humble sharers to hungry attention seekers at the cost of even our very own family life.

Limitation breeds creativity. My husband says this often. Being selective in what we're taking in matters because it impacts our own work and voice. Which leads me to talk about this thing called power editing - not perfection, not role playing, not oversharing - power editing. Using a measure of self control in what we share to maintain both joy and sanity.

I sat in a bar recently in Amsterdam across from Leslie Shewring having a good chat. Her firm belief in power editing is quite inspirational. She believes that you have to power edit your life and not allow excuses or people or anything else to hold you back from doing what needs to get done. Leslie is all about power editing. And some of the book authors I read are into mindfulness, slow living and creating value. All good things.

With power editing, you ask yourself who are you the spending the most time with? Are they good for you? What are you doing for a living? Is it fulfilling you? Stuff like that. You really make your life choices intentional. For things that won't work for you, that drain you, that aren't rewarding - those are the deal breakers. You have to root them out or put your focus elsewhere if you can't make them go away. And as for blogging, maybe we can all work to do the same. Only share what is left over when you've filtered out the loads of content you have taken in during the day - share what mattered the most to you personally. It's a lesson in editing, that's for sure - a lesson in holding back, in having self control. But that's the good stuff and that's why I will continue reading blogs - if I can tap into gems like that.

Power editing is also about making better choices for yourself quicker and with less emotion attached to the process. We crave intimacy, a sense of belonging and the motivation that only others can give through sharing how they've navigated their own struggles. You don't get that by looking at pretty photos all day. You get that from conversations. You also don't get that from overthinking everything to the point of paralyzing yourself. Blogging could easily become more creative, meaningful and special again if we all worked on this approach. Even therapeutic for us and others.

Power editing isn't about being fake and presenting only the good, it's about being genuine and presenting what matters most to you personally even if it ruffles some feathers. In fact, that is the only way blogs have a future in my opinion - if we start blowing minds again. If we break ourselves off from what's comfortable, popular or trending... If we individually rise up and use our voice to create emotion, stir thoughts, stimulate creative thinking... Then blogs aren't dead at all because we are very much alive.

What do you think, has blogging lost value? Will blogs eventually fade and die? Do you still read blogs? How do you think power editing can apply to bloggers in general?

(photography: holly becker for decor8. That is my little boy in the top photo examining the mushroom he found last week. Isn't this something to do more as adults, to inspect what we are finding and value it? Maybe the same can be applied to the content our friends are sharing online. Take a moment to appreciate what treasures you find before you move quickly to the next thing.)

8 Ways To Brand Your Instagram Beautifully

I have 8 tips from a consumer side of the fence when it comes to how brands market themselves on Instagram, you know, what I like and what I find annoying. But first, ever since my little boy was born, I've been shopping Petit Bateau because I just love their clothes for little boys. And aside from their gorgeous clothes (my son has this sweater and this sweatshirt), and how well-made everything is, I find their Instagram account so cohesive, beautiful and helpful for when I want to peek in and see what they're up to whether it be a new outfit or a photo shoot. That's why I follow them - I love their product AND I love how they present themselves on IG. In fact, I have found so many brands on IG that really market themselves beautifully, you don't even feel as though you are being sold to because they present product in artistic and creative ways. For this blog tip, aside from my 8 tips, I want to open up the discussion to all of you because I'd love to know how you are marketing your brand on IG (leave your IG @name too in the comment) and if you have any tips on what is making it work for you OR if you are a consumer/fan of a brand and want to highlight some brands that you think do it right and most importantly, why. I'll weigh in with my thoughts below. IG_PB1 IGPB2

Brand Marketing Thoughts:

1) Cohesive photography - a must! 2) Natural lighting so I can see products as they really are (no fancy filters or altering colors, for instance) 3) Sharing behind-the-scenes in a cool way, not showing big messes and chaos or anything that may make me feel like you are just like me. I actually WANT to believe in the dream when I buy from a big brand. I want to believe they are a fairytale and everything is magical at their cool company. 4) Have some negative space in some photos, or in all. I like the focal point of the image to pop and I don't like cluttered photos where I don't know where to look. 5) Don't be too vague. I get so annoyed when brands sorta kinda reveal something underway but don't reveal enough to excite, just annoy, you. It's a balance but a good brand manager can figure out how to do a teaser without ticking people off. 6) Don't re-gram my photos simply because I'm wearing one of your products without asking me first. I just may not want my infant or my bad hair day to be seen by your 200K followers. 7) Don't post a lot of sales, giveaways and new products in boring ways. Get creative and make engaging with you fun and memorable. 8) Don't have too many IG takeovers. I know these takeovers are trending, but some brands pick the wrong people to take over their accounts and so many times I have unfollowed brands because I cannot stand the images that start funneling in from the guest IGer. Make sure your guest grammers are as good as you, or better, and share your aesthetic.

Okay that's all I can think of, what about you? Care to weigh in? #20blogtrends

(images: petit bateau)