Reading My Way Through 2016

My 2016 Erin Condren planner arrived in the mail two weeks ago. I’m not a huge New Year resolution girl, but in the spirit of my vision board, I am trying to set some realistic goals for the year.  One of them includes finding more time to read. I love reading, but far too often I find myself searching for a good book and end up aborting the mission. To remedy this, I’m joining the 2016 Paper & Glam Book Club  and adding a second book to my list each month of my choosing.
2016 Reading List - Donnicakelsey.com
It’s like joining a gym (which I should probably also consider joining in 2016) and having a workout partner. The membership itself should be motivation enough to get your workouts in, but sometimes you need someone that will hold you accountable to go to that spin or PureBarre class. So the lovely ladies of the Paper and Glam Book Club will keep me on schedule of exploring new and interesting literature.

2016 Reading List

The Paper and Glam book is listed first and my choice is second.
JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie)
SEPTEMBER
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER

Do you have any other suggestions for my 2016 reading list? What’s on your list? Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @donnicakelsey.

Holiday Hangover Giveaway: Nordstrom + Gold Mini iPad

Happy Monday, folks! The last few days have been amazing.  I got a few days of relaxation in and really enjoyed the holidays. I hope you all did as well. I can’t believe there are only three more days in 2015.  This year has really flown by and was full of exciting things for me including The Palmetto Peaches blog launch and a new job.

With Christmas behind us and New Year’s just a sneeze away, I’ve teamed up with a group of awesome bloggers to get you through your holiday hangover. Yes, a holiday hangover giveaway. Enter below for a chance to win a $500 Nordstrom Gift Card and gold mini iPad! Because what else what you need to kick off the new year besides shopping and a new iPad.

 

Holiday Hangover Giveaway - Donnicakelsey.com

HOLIDAY HANGOVER GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: $500 Nordstrom Gift Card + Gold Mini iPad

Co-hosts: Jenns Blah Blah Blog // Lavender’s Blush // Krystal’s Kitsch // Life is Poppin’ // The Mommyhood Mentor® // Beautiful Touches // Style Vanity // MommaDJane // A Good Hue // A Labour of Life // It’s Kristin

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck! (Please email becky@ohmygoshbeck.com with any questions.)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 1/15 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

If you win the gift card what would you buy?

Blogging 101 – My Journey

It’s hard to believe The Palmetto Peaches has been up and running for over seven months. When I made my first online portfolio/blog, Smalls.Talk, I didn’t even know there was a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org (other than one wasn’t free.) I’ve come a long way since then. I’m learning that besides content creation there is so much more to blogging. So I’ve pulled together a few of my takeaways so far in this blogging 101 post.

Create Quality ContentBlogging 101- Stories to tell

People have been saying it for years, and the saying still holds true. Content is king. Without well-written and engaging content, your blog isn’t going to go anywhere. Yes, your blog design and your marketing tactics are important, but they’re practically useless if you don’t have quality content. People may come because of the marketing, but they’ll stay when you deliver content they need or are interested in.

As a lifestyle blogger, it’s easy to just write about interesting entertainment focused pieces. However, I’m learning that people want to find people that they can relate to. While they will chuckle at my ramblings about which TV couples I love to love – they really connect when I open up. I wrote a post about my feelings about the Charleston shooting and the comments and feedback I got were really touching.

I still have yet to conquer my fear of writing more personal posts because in general, it’s hard to put yourself out there. Especially in the world of internet bullies, who quite enjoy judging others from their high horse on the other side of a monitor. However, people are going to have their opinions and for every negative comment, there will likely be a positive one. We all have stories to tell and as a blogger, I’m going to have to start sharing mine to encourage more people to return to the blog.

 

Editorial Calendar

My favorite tool is my blog planner paired with my Erin Condren Life Planner.  While I love my site stats and Google Analytics dashboard plugins on WP, I will forever be a paper and pen kind of gal. I use my blog planner to track blog traffic (daily and monthly page visits) and social media growth so that I have an overview of how the blog is growing. Having this all in one place is helpful to evaluate how and where we can improve the blog.

I use the monthly view as a quick look at all upcoming posts.  We plan all of our posts in advance and this editorial calendar keeps us on track and makes sure we posting regularly (something I have yet to do here one donnicakelsey.com). The weekly section of the planner is for more detailed lists. I write out what promotion tactics I plan to use, what days I’ll work on graphics and which are solely for writing.  I also keep a running list of post ideas in the planner, as well.

planning

My Favorite Plugins

Yoast SEO

Before launching The Palmetto Peaches, I had an elementary idea of what SEO consisted of. Essentially I associated SEO with just being higher up on Google’s search results page. That is part of it, but SEO  generates traffic to your website, makes your site friendly to search engines, and also markets the unique value of your site. Yoast SEO helps you do these things by analyzing the content of your pages and providing recommendations. It’s simple to use and even incorporates social media.

CommentLuv

To encourage more comments on your blog, you can reward your readers for leaving comments with commentluv. This plugin list your commenters last post alongside his/her comments, rewarding them with a link back to their blog.

Editorial Calendar

With Editorial Calendar, you can view the upcoming posts for that month,  schedule posts, move them around to different days in a drag and drop format.  You can also edit titles, change content, change scheduled times from the calendar.

Learning How to Self-Promote

Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams says, “If you build it, he will come“. Although that is often misquoted as “If you build it, they will come.”  Either way this does not ring true when it comes to blogging. While it would be nice to create content and with the help of some SEO, sit back and watch traffic pour in, it just doesn’t work that way. I’ve joined  Facebook groups, Twitter chats and blogging communities all in the name of self-promotion.  Commenting on other blogs (hello, commentluv) is another way  to self- promote.

That’s all I have for now, but I’m sure as I continue my blogging journey I’ll have more lessons to share.  I’d love to hear some lessons learned from other bloggers out there – leave a comment below or tweet me at @donnicakelsey.

Shop Around: Zara Giveaway

Topshop, Zara and Forever 21 are my go-to stores to pick up a few affordable seasonal items to spruce up my wardrobe. There are only three retail stores in the United States: San Francisco, NYC and thankfully there’s one here in Atlanta! However, I’d definitely suggest you check them out online.

They have great pieces for my fellow trendy young professionals. And before you’re add everything you like in your shopping cart be sure to enter the Zara giveaway I’m co-hosting with several amazing bloggers:

Donnicakelsey.com - Zara Giveaway

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: $200 Zara Gift Card

Co-hosts: In My 30s And It’s Time • 101 Things I Love • Lush to Blush • Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog • JK Style • Laura Jane Atelier • Life’s Cheap Thrills Bless Her Heart Y’all  Twenty-Something Blog Avec Amber Cameron Proffitt

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck! (Please email becky@ohmygoshbeck.com with any questions.)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 6/18 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m clearly in the giveaway spirit. If you didn’t know I’m co-hosting a $400 Nordstrom giveaway over @ The Palmetto Peaches. You have until June 4th to enter!

Until next time dolls and gents!!

#GirlBoss

The Palmetto Peaches have been featured on Her Hustle!  Acecily and I still have a lot to do and things we want to accomplish ( #GirlBoss), but I’m so proud of how the blog is growing.  Click the image below to check out the piece!

The Palmetto Peaches on HerHustle - #Girlboss

While I envision the blog as my full-time job in the future, I’m maintaining my current full-time position as the blog grows. I’m not naturally a patient person, but when it comes to this, I’m willing to put in the work and wait for our blog to do the great things I know it can.

 

I’m working on a post about the things I’ve learned so far – a “Blogging 101” if you will. However, I think one of my biggest takeaways so far has been to look at my blog as a business. Yes, I wanted a creative outlet, but I see the potential beyond just a “blog”.  I’m excited to use this blog to create a community. I think there are a lot of people out there that will connect with our stories.

 

#Girlboss

Everyone knows I usually travel with my Kindle, but with everything going on lately I haven’t set out time to just sit down and read.  I’ve jumped back on Goodreads and put several books on my reading list. I just finished The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. And next on my list is #Girlboss.

“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up. And prepare to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.”
Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

So with that being said, I’m creating my own opportunities and hope you do the same!

Until next time!
 

Blog Post Round-Up

Just in case you haven’t favorited palmsinatl.com, I thought I would give you a quick blog post round-up to show you what you’re missing.

50 Shades of Awful

50 Shades of Grey has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.To put that in perspective: Beyoncé has sold about 118 million albums worldwide, Taylor Swift is sitting around 110 million and the iconic Michael Jackson album, Thriller, has sold about 65 million copies. I posted a Facebook status about how awful the 50 Shades of Grey series is, and was pleasantly surprised about how many people agreed with me. Read the post by clicking the picture below.

50 Shades of Awful by Donni @ palmsinatl.com

 

Snow Day Essentials

Last year, Atlanta experienced a “Snowpocalypse” and the city looked like the title card from The Walking Dead. Last month, we had a few snow days that didn’t quite live up to the hype, but I pulled together your snow day essentials.

Snow Day Essentials - Donni's Blog Post Round-Up

Whisper Challenge

Over at palmsinatl.com, we heard about the Whisper Challenge that people are doing and thought it would be fun to give it a try. For those of you who may not know the Whisper Challenge works like this: One person wears headphones blaring loud music and tries to lip-read the phrase spoken by the other person. Blake Shelton and Jimmy Fallon were our inspirations, but there are so many funny videos out there. Watch our hilarious attempt below:

 

Empire vs. Scandal: Primetime’s Heavyweight Bout

Apparently there is an Empire vs. Scandal battle going on. My question is why do we have to choose? In this post I explore the importance of both of these primetime heavyweight contenders.

Blog Post Round-Up : Donni @ palmsinatl.com

You can find all my posts here: http://palmsinatl.com/author/donni/. And don’t forget to check out the all of the posts by my partner-in-crime, Ace.

Until next time, dolls and gents!

Alpha Phi Omega & Public Relations

Alpha Phi Omega - donnicakelsey.comMany of you may know that I’m a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the largest collegiate fraternity in the United States. Yes, I said fraternity. My amazing organization is a co-ed community service based fraternity that.  APO provides it members the chance to develop leadership skills through service projects on their campus, in their community and across the nation.
I pledged my junior year of college at the University of South Carolina (Iota Mu chapter). I was also lucky enough to be involved during graduate school at Florida State University (Iota Rho chapter). Alpha Phi Omega is one of those things I could never shake and I never want to. It becomes a part of you and I am still involved as an alumni volunteer.

I recently presented a workshop on utilizing public relations to brand chapters and increase awareness of the amazing things each chapter is doing at an Alpha Phi Omega sectional conference in Clemson, SC. I wanted to share that presentation here because I think other organizations could benefit from the information as well.

Alpha Phi Omega Section 76/77 Sectionals 2015: Public Relations

 

 

Alpha Phi Omega - donnicakelsey.com

#PalmsinATL

Back in November, I sent my friend Acecily a text asking her if she might be interested in starting a blog with me. I had a long pitch ready. However, before I could type it, she said yes. We’ve always wanted to collaborate on a project, but never really sat down to seriously discuss. Well this is different. After some productive (and some random, unhelpful) brainstorming sessions, The Palmetto Peaches was created. #PalmsinATL

Palmetto Peaches - #PalmsinATL

We’re launching our blog on Friday, February 13. The blog will be a medium for us to express our creativity and give an opportunity to work on a passion project (outside of our day jobs).  Expect fun Atlanta adventures, Pinterest fails, giveaways and my perfectly mischievous puppy will make some guest appearances.  Head over to PalmsinATL.com to sign up to be notified of our launch or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m really excited about this opportunity to express my creativity. I have videos to edit and posts to draft. Until next time, dolls and gents.

 

Blog Challenges?

Happy New Year, dolls and gents!

I had a really interesting conversation with a coworker last week about finding ways to express your creativity outside of the office. Not every job gives you the opportunity to be as creative as you want,  so it’s important to find ways to harness your energy into creative projects in your free time. Exploring other things you enjoy/love can lift your mood, making you happier and more productive.

I’m super excited about the new project I mentioned in last month’s blog. I can’t wait to share all the details.  However, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. My only hint is #PalmsinATL.

I’m in the process of deciding how I’ll be using this blog moving forward. I have a few ideas,  but will sit down with a chai tea, some colorful pens, my Life Planner and make a final decision.

In the meantime,  I wanted to ask you all to share any interesting blog challenges you either participate in/ or know of. I’d love to participate in a blog challenge with interesting or inspirational prompts.

image

Until next time!

Back in 2015

donnicakelsey.com - Back in 2015

I love blogging, but sometimes it’s hard to get inspired to write about the things I do from 9 a.m. – 6, 7 or whenever p.m. So I’m working on a new blog project where I’ll get to blog about some of my more creative endeavors. Expect my DIY projects, my Pinterest fails and a number of other fun and interesting topics.

Enjoy the holidays and finish 2014 strong, dolls and gents!

See you in 2015!