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[ad] Today I am dreaming of Christmas parties. Anyone else? We’re only halfway through the month and we’ve already had more family gatherings than I can count with so many more to go. And Christmas parties in the Bartlett household means photos…lots of photos. But I just didn't feel very photo-ready thanks to my grays (and yes, I had A LOT of grays). So I picked up @zotosprofessional hair color at @sallybeauty and these days I'm feeling gorgeous, confident, and ready to take on the holiday photos. Today on the blog, I'm sharing how I get myself photo-ready as well as what I plan to wear to this year's Christmas party! #MyAgeBeautiful #sponsored #linkinbio
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[ad] Today I am dreaming...

I've been a bit MIA lately. Why you may ask? Well, because I've been half on the struggle bus and half working on a rather large project that I've had in draft mode for far too long. And I am SO excited about it. I literally woke up the other day and decided THAT was the day I'd get started on it and I've been hooked on it ever since. If you're a mom in Southern Maine, you won't want to miss this! So be sure to sign up for our email list via the link in my bio so you can be one of the first to know what's going on.
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I've been a bit MIA...

Well, it's officially the day Zack and I have been looking forward to for a couple of years now. While we've already unofficially been "moved on" from military life for a couple of months now, today it's official that Zack is no longer an Active Duty Marine and I am no longer a military spouse. The first big chapter of his adult life and our life together has officially ended. It's scary almost when you've been living with all the stability of a lifestyle for so long. A stable job, stable income, health benefits, a home. It's been a challenging couple of months as we get more settled here in Maine and figure out the next step for our little family. But I know we have so much to look forward to in the next year and it's refreshing to know we have the opportunity to start over. I am so proud of this guy and I can't wait to see what the next chapter of our life has in store for us. •
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Well, it's officially the day...

This mama is on the struggle bus today. This morning I spent over an hour searching for Allie's sippy cup of milk only to find it in the shower...where I looked 5+ times considering that's where she was playing while I got ready for the day. I then got the incorrect order from Dunkin and to make that even worse, it was pumpkin flavored...and if you know me, you know I cannot stand anything pumpkin flavored so I couldn't even suck it up and drink it (shoutout to @mwhited8195 for bringing me the correct drink order!). Nap time wasn't any better. A solid 40 minutes of crying before Allie finally went down...then she woke up 30 minutes later 🙄 And now I'm scrambling to get everything on my to-do list done so we can officially launch Blogmas tomorrow 😬 It's been a morning and I'm about ready for my own nap at this point. But at least it's Friday? 🤷🏻‍♀️😂
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This mama is on the...

It's yet another snow day here in Maine. The last winter I spent here was in 2015 and we maybe had three snow storms all winter. This year, we've had 3-5 just in the last couple of weeks 🙄 I'm already homesick for beautiful and warm North Carolina summers 😔 anyone else here who hates winter? If you need us, Allie and I will be curled up inside with some movies and a never-ending to-do list. #bloggerlife •
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It's yet another snow day...

Blogmas starts in T-5 days! I've been working so hard on producing awesome Blogmas content these past couple of months so I'm super excited to finally start sharing it with you all this weekend. Today on the blog I'm sharing a quick breakdown of Blogmas 2018, what you can look forward to on Mainely Keating, and 25 blog post ideas for those of you who want to participate in Blogmas as well! You can find the link to the full blog post in my bio! •
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#christmastime #christmassy #christmasinspiration #holidayinspiration #christmascountdown #letitsnow #happyholidays #giftgiving #holidaycheer #alliwantforchristmas #deckthehalls #blogmas2018 #newenglandblogger #maineblogger #mainelife #maine #bloggersofmaine #thewaylifeshouldbe #newenglandlife #newengland #southernmaine #maineinvitesyou #mainetourism #maineliving #newenglandliving #howyouglow #darlingdaily #bloggervibes #behindtheprettypicture #mommybloggers

Blogmas starts in T-5 days!...

8 Investments to Make In Your Blog This Year

*This post contains affiliate links.

8 Investments to Make In Your Blog This Year | KeatingBartlett.com

The new year is right around the corner which means it’s time to start thinking about updating our goals. In the new year, I plan to make a ton more investments in my blog. I’m one of those people who believe that you have to spend money in order to make money. I didn’t notice big changes in my traffic or income until I started investing my own time and money into my site and honestly, I feel that this is where a lot of bloggers get stuck. They’re not willing to invest. While there are a ton of amazing free resources out there for bloggers, not everything in life is free. Sometimes you have to spend a little to learn more and really grow as a blogger and business owner. So here are 8 investments to make in your blog in the new year.

A SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULER.

This saves soooo much time!! I remember the days where I would just post to social media in real-time and there were many days where this is all I’d end up doing. It was ridiculous and didn’t allow me much time to do anything else on my to do list like content creation and brainstorming and networking and everything else that goes into a successful blog. Social media was literally all I had time for. I had to change something so I invested in Buffer. This has saved me an insane amount of time each week.

I’m still in the process of setting up a good posting schedule for each platform, but Buffer makes it so much easier for me to schedule out my social media posts whether I’m sharing archived content or new content or content from others or my email list. Whatever it may be, I could schedule it out ahead of time and not have to worry about it. That then leaves me more time to actually engage with you all. I can respond to your shoutouts and share your content and random tidbits from throughout my day. I’m free to work on everything else that needs to be done. So if you’re not using a social media scheduler then I highly suggest finding one you love!

I use Buffer ($10/month) for sharing my content, archived content, content from others, my affiliates, email list etc on Twitter and Facebook. I then use Plann to schedule out posts for Instagram (I just recently got hooked on this and it’s amazing! It costs $9, but it’s been worth every penny, I swear!). And lastly, I use Tailwind ($10/month?) for Pinterest. Buffer will actually do all of this, but for some reason, I just don’t always use it for everything. Lastly, I use CoSchedule for scheduling out new content and the social media associated with that specific post. So onto CoSchedule now…

COSCHEUDLE.

CoSchedule ($30/month) is a super awesome tool for keeping your editorial calendar organized. It’s linked to your WordPress account and uses a drag and drop so you can easily move around your posts to different dates without having to go into each individual post and set the date yourself. You can even color code your content and schedule out your social media. I couldn’t imagine using any other method of scheduling my content. CoSchedule just makes it so easy and I love having  an overall visual of my month. So like I mentioned above, I use CoSchedule to schedule out new posts as well as the social media associated with those posts. So for today’s post, I used CoSchedule to schedule the actual post as well as all the social media to promote it. Like most blogging tools, CoSchedule offers a free trial* so you’re always able to try it out before committing!

A GREAT THEME.

The look and overall feel of your blog is so important, especially if you want to be making money from it. Your site should be neat, organized, have a great color scheme, and overall just have a professional look to it. Now I’m not saying you have to go out and spend thousands of dollars by hiring a designer. I completely understand that making investments in your blog can sometimes be a challenge if you just don’t have the money for it. A cheaper alternative that I always use is pre-made WordPress themes from Etsy. They have them for Blogger as well. There are so many amazing designers on there who sell themes for less than $50. Many are closer to $25-$35. So they’re super affordable!

Two of my favorite shops are 17th Avenue and Restored 316. Both have super pretty and easy to use themes. Restored 316’s designs are a bit more customizable so you have a ton of freedom in how you want to set up your site. My current theme is by Pipdig which I believed is based in Australia? Correct me if I’m wrong there. But I’m loving their themes a lot lately. They’re super basic, but very customizable. So take your time and look around for a theme that works for you. If needed, you can also look into hiring a designer as well, but that’s going to be a bit more pricey.

A HOST.

Being self-hosted gives you so much more freedom as a blogger. I ended up going self-hosted very early on and I haven’t regretted it for a second. It can be one of the larger investments depending on what host you use, but it’s so worth it if you’re wanting to turn your blog into a profitable business. Every host is going to have its pros and cons so be sure to ask around and do your research to find one that really works for you. Currently I am on Siteground which has always been a great host for me. I switched to them earlier this year when my last host completely screwed me over and so far they’ve been fantastic! Getting in touch with customer support is super quick and easy. Problems are always resolved instantly (on the rare occasion something happens and I have to contact them), their prices are low and affordable, and I just plain love working with them. So do your research and find one that works for you.

COURSES AND WORKSHOPS.

This is another larger investment for some, but I believe that education is so important in the blogging world. While there are so many helpful articles out there on Pinterest and other blogs, courses tend to take that information one step further and provide you with the tools and resources needed to really move forward. I have so many courses on my list of investments in 2017 and I am so excited about them. One being Melyssa Griffin’s Pinterest course*. I am horrible with Pinterest and I hear so many amazing things about this course. So I know it will be worth every penny. It can be hard to take the plunge, but be sure to keep educating yourself in any way you can.

Another great course I’m purchasing is Blog to Biz Hive* which is also by Melyssa Griffin. This helps you grow your online business through Pinterest, creating email lists, and creating products and services for your target audience. It helps a ton with narrowing down your audience and getting everything organized so you can take your business to the next level.

Other courses that Melyssa has are: Social Media Superhero* and List Surge*. Then she also has a great online community called Pursuit HQ. So definitely check these out as well!

AN EMAIL SERVICE.

Melyssa Griffin says it all the time that an email lists essential to growing your blog and directly connecting with your audience. I only wish that I had focused on this sooner. Now here I am, a couple of years into blogging and my email list is nowhere close to where I would like it to be, two years in. BUT I’m working on it. I just recently switched to MailerLite and absolutely love it. It’s super easy to use and very affordable. A lot of people also use (and love) ConvertKit and MailChimp as well. There are many options out there!

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY.

Your visuals are so important when it comes to blogging. Same with your social media posts (aka Instagram). So it’s good to invest in some good photography apps and equipment. Maybe even some courses on how to take amazing photos if you’re brand new to it all. Now I’m not saying you have to go out there and buy the most expensive camera and lens on the market. Let’s be real here, not everyone can afford that. We all have bills. But something as simple as finding a good editing app on your iPhone or downloading PhotoShop to your home computer. You could even buy a smaller digital camera that fits your budget or buy lenses to hook up to your phone. There are SO many options out there.

For my images, I use my Nikon as often as I can. I just upgraded to a Nikon d7000 this past May thanks to my amazing husband and the 4.0 I earned in undergrad. I also use my 35mm lens the most, but am looking into getting a 50mm as well. On Amazon, I bought these and another lens for around $800 which is MUCh less than it would be if I had purchased through a big retailer so I lucked out there. I started out with a Nikon d3000 and an 18-55mm lens which only cost me around $499 so that’s a bit more affordable for some. I then use PhotoShop and/or Lightroom to edit from my MacBook. I think I pay $20/month for both of these so it’s not too bad at all. You can also get discounts for being a student as well!

On my iPhone, I use PS Express and Lightroom to edit my images when needed. Sometimes I’ll send them to my MacBook to edit from the full versions of those applications, but if I’m not home then it’s obviously not an option. So these apps work super well and I’m pretty sure they were free? I could be wrong so don’t quote me there!

A GOOD COMPUTER.

Like your camera equipment, I’m not expecting you all to go out and buy the most expensive computer out there. I personally use a MacBook Pro and absolutely love it. I recommend it to everyone. It’s a 2012, I’ve had it since 2013 and it still works perfectly. It’s the only computer I’ve ever had that has lasted longer than a year so it’s crazy to me that it’s lasted three so far. And I’ve heard from a lot of people that they had their MacBooks for close to a decade before having to upgrade. So for me, that’s worth every penny! But again, if a MacBook doesn’t fit your budget, then don’t worry about it! It really just has to be reliable. There’s nothing worse than having a huge deadline coming up for a sponsored post only for your computer to break down…again. That stresses me out just thinking about it. So be sure to find a computer that’s reliable, but also work within your budget!

What investments will you make on your blog in the new year?

Last update: July 2017

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