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Aug 20, 2014 Blog With Purpose



call it cliche, but if you ask my why i blog, i'm going to tell you that it's because of the community.  the more this space grows, the more i find that i love meeting other bloggers!

when i first started blogging, i had no idea that there was even a blogging "community" out there!

i can't tell you how many times i've had those "friend crush" moments...when i've found another blogger who i identify with and just know that we'd be great friends, you know?  that's what it's all about for me, and i'm so blessed in the fact that i can say that i have some really great blogging friends out there who i regularly connect with!

1.  reach out // when you find another blogger that you really connect with, don't be afraid to shoot them an email to tell them that!  i can't tell you how much it means to me to get an email from someone telling me that something i wrote touched them in some way or that they enjoy my blog!  but you know what feels even better?  writing that email to someone else!  and what's just the best is when that initial email sparks a conversation.  you never know until you reach out to someone, and those bloggers that you connect with can turn into potential collaborators, mentors, and friends.  the same is true with bloggers that you want to work with...whether it be advertising with them, guest posting, or co-hosting a linkup or giveaway, you will never get a "yes!" from someone until you reach out.  just be sure to work on establishing a relationship before asking for big favors!

2.  be active // in order to get people stopping by your blog, you need to be active in the blogging community!  read and comment on other blogs (and be real with those comments!  don't just say "great post!"), respond to emails and comments that you receive, advertise on other blogs, and promote other bloggers!  i once read that you will get much more engagement when you promote others than when you promote yourself, and i totally believe that's true.

3.  join a group // this has to be one of the best pieces of advice that i can give you!  there are tons of facebook groups out there for bloggers, (in addition to other intentional communities like the influence network), and this is one of the easiest ways to actively engage in a community just for bloggers!  there are also a number of blogger networks for different genres of blogging and areas of the country!  i'm a member of the northeast blogger's network, where i'm able to connect with other bloggers in my area!  utilize these groups to grow your blog and network with other bloggers, but just like #2, remember that there's more to networking than just self-promotion!  ask questions, leave feedback, and be encouraging to other members!

4.  attend a conference or meet-up //  this is something that's on my personal blogging to-do list.  my friend natalie recently found this post that gives you a calendar of blogging conferences throughout the year!  meet-ups and conferences are a great way to meet other bloggers in person, network face-to-face, and really build relationships!  meet-ups tend to be much cheaper (sometimes even free!) compared to attending a conference, and can help you connect with other bloggers near you.  if you can't find one that's already in the works, consider starting your own!  another option to an in-person meet-up (because sometimes it can be hard to find other bloggers in your area) is to host a twitter party or google hangout.

5.  be authentic // if you're looking for organic, true community, then you need to be authentic on your blog.  this means that you need to break down the wall between you and your readers.  be vulnerable once in a while; let your readers in!  you don't need to overshare or give specifics about personal situations, but sharing your heart and letting your readers get to know you a little will create relationships.  think about some of your favorite bloggers...why are they a daily read?  chances are it's because you feel connected to them, and you probably feel that because they've let you into their lives.  even if you love reading a beauty blog or a diy blog, i'd be willing to bet that while 90% of their content might be focused on a certain topic, they still give you a peek into their personal lives the other 10% of the time!

no matter what you blog about, if you desire true community in the blogging world, you need to be you.  people want real...there are so many websites and blogs out there that it can be hard to get readers to stop by, let alone stick around!  if your main goal is to build up community around and through your blog, then you need to connect with your readers on a deeper level.

what do you think?  what are some of your best tips for engaging and building a community around your blog?

want more blogging tips?  check out some of the other posts in my blogging series here:

Aug 19, 2014 Guest Post // Mercer + James



i'm so excited to introduce this guest post to you today!  when elizabeth of mercer + james  approached me about posting on heavens to betsy, i immediately was on board, and with aj's birthday right around the corner in september, partnering with mercer + james is the perfect fit.  if you've ever struggled with needing a gift to get a guy in your life, definitely check out their stuff!

When the opportunity to do a guest post on Betsy’s blog came up, I was both over the moon about the opportunity, and also daunted by the decision of what to write about. After bouncing back and forth between skin care tips and gift roundups, I decided to wax poetic on a topic that countless people have been asking me lately. How do you go about starting a new design business?

1. Pick something you care about // Mercer + James evolved out of my hubby’s search for a really fantastic men’s shaving set. Easy enough, right? Wrong. The market was and is saturated with either junky quality from big-box stores that break quickly, or so-called “high-end” brands (we won’t name names… you can probably guess) that are good quality, but are marked up sky high to cover all their ads, stores, and other overhead. We concluded that if the right shaving set wasn’t in the marketplace, we’d design and make it for ourselves.  Soon thereafter, every surface of our apartment was covered with drawings and sample shaving supplies.  The point of this little tale is that men’s grooming is something we cared about and affected us personally, so all our decisions came from a place of personal experience and caring. If you want to design something, it should affect you personally because that will keep you on the right track and ring through in the quality of everything you design.

2. Start small, grow smart // This bit of advice will be brief, but very important. Some people get a business idea, and dive right into leasing out a location, purchasing expensive equipment, and other things that rocket their personal risk level sky-high. We personally love doing business online, through our website www.mercerandjames.com. Start out with a great online business, take part in events in your area to showcase your product, but test things out and refine your business before launching things in a big way.

3. Be better, don’t be “Me Too” // Being better is what drives every decision we make as we design new products or refine our classics. It would be easy to just purchase a collection of items that match what already exists in other stores, but we believe the whole point is to create a better shaving experience.  Our collection is a mix of custom-designed sets and classic hats, as well as carefully curated items like our straight razors from Thiers-Issard. If you want to start your own business, make sure that what you offer is something better, not more of the same.


Thiers-Issard Cocobolo straight razor, custom made for our collection

4. Evolve // What you start with won’t be what you offer even a year later – your designs, your knowledge, and your general approach should adapt over time. This is evolution, and this is how you get better. When we first launched our collection, we had already been designing and developing products for over a year. That doesn’t mean the job was done – our Cooper Street shaving brush is the perfect example of this. Recently, we redesigned the handle after finding that it didn’t fit some common generic stands on the market. The result is something that’s still amazing quality, but even better fit.


A comparison of our Cooper Street Shaving Brush, generations one and two

5. Have fun! // Any new business takes time. TONS of time. Make sure you’re working on something that makes you smile! I love designing new products with my husband, and we find any excuse to do little photo shoots around New York to promote our brand and show off our dapper wares. Finding tasks that are fun helps keep things fresh and interesting, and is a great way to show our designs off to the world!

Michael modeling our best-selling hat, Sweeney's Trilby

Aug 18, 2014 Getting Grateful this Morning



every monday, i like to link up with ember grey for her grateful heart monday link-up.  we post about things that we're grateful for that day, and it's an awesome way to start off your week.

here's what i'm grateful for today:
a great trip to nashville this past weekend
feeling inspired
3 weeks til my birthday!
that my dad has been feeling good lately (2nd round of chemo is this thursday...prayers appreciated!)
sunshine
a chill evening last night
the freedom that living in this country affords us
summer walks
italian ice
and ice cream...because i got to experience the magic of jeni's last week

so stop by the grateful heart link-up …i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!  if posting on a monday doesn't suit your blogging schedule, good news!  the link-up is open all week long!

what are you grateful for today?

Aug 15, 2014 A Summer Take on Jeans and a Tee



i work at a church where we're allowed to dress pretty casually during the week.  for me, that means a lot of jeans!  i'm a total jeans and tee kinda girl...i like looking cute, but i also need to feel comfortable.  that's often when i feel most confident.

this outfit is one that i love for the office for summer.  it's so comfortable, and it's a fun take on the jeans and a t-shirt classic.  plus, i picked up both the jeans and shirt on sale at gap, and you can't beat a pair of jeans for $13 (especially when they were originally $70)!  i also love my saltwater sandals, particularly when they're paired with jeans.  i ordered them last summer and they quickly became one of my favorite pairs of sandals!

one of the other things i'm attempting to do more is wear my glasses instead of my contacts.  i've been wearing glasses since i was in first grade, and contacts since i was in sixth, and i'm basically as blind as a bat.  i'm on a mission to fall in love with glasses again, so i ordered a fun pair from coastal.com (thanks to their first pair free program!) and i've been working on wearing them more often!



shirt // gap
cami // forever 21
jeans // gap
sandals // saltwaters
glasses // coastal.com

if you haven't yet, make sure to enter my august giveaway for your chance to win $100 to gap and $30 to starbucks!

Aug 14, 2014 Local Eats // Dosie Dough



it's no secret that i love coffee, and as much as i love starbucks, i also really like finding cute local places to grab a cup!  i've known about dosie dough for a while now, but its one of those spots that's just a little bit out of the way of my normal routes, so i always forget about it!  (for those in or around the reading area, it's down penn ave in wyomissing just before it the exit onto 222 towards lancaster)



it's a cute little spot, with some seating inside and outside, which was perfect for a summer morning.  my aunt and i made appointments for pedicures that morning, so we opted to grab breakfast at dosie dough beforehand.



they had a whole coffee bar inside...no crazy options in terms of flavor shots and lattes and things like that, but a good selection of four or five different brews (including a few flavored coffees), plus ice coffee and tea.  i had an iced coffee and my aunt had tea.



in terms of food, dosie dough is stocked with all kinds of pastries, from donuts to danishes, as well as bagels and rolls.  there is also the option to create your own breakfast sandwich, which i chose.  i decided on egg, cheese, and bacon on brioche (because who doesn't love a good brioche roll!)  it was delicious! (my aunt opted for a multigrain bagel and cream cheese)



i wish i had taken some photos of the inside (it was so cute! imagine a little bakery and pastry market...baskets of baked goods and little snacks that you can't find just anywhere), but sometimes i get awkward about taking photos inside of businesses...i never know if the owner is going to be mad!



dosie dough is a great little breakfast and coffee spot to spend a morning with a friend or on your own!  there was a decent amount of seating so you could definitely grab a spot and sit to do some work or reading, or just chat for a while.

my recommendation // a breakfast sandwich (so customizable!) and coffee, though i've heard their sour cream donuts are fantastic as well
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