3 Ways to Optimize Pinterest to Get Noticed and Gain Followers

It’s a first here on the blog! Today we get the pleasure of a guest post from Carrie Waller of Dream Green DIY. In my efforts to provide more valuable content to you guys, I’m including some guest posts that will help you up your game on social media. With almost 50,000 Pinterest followers, Carrie is the best person I know to share about how to grow a following on Pinterest. Welcome, Carrie! 

Thanks for the warm welcome, Hilary! I'm thrilled to be here and to share a few quick and easy tips for maximizing your reach and influence on Pinterest. This social platform is one of my favorites for a number of reasons (beautiful room photos, cute cat pictures—oh, my!), and because of this, it has actually been one of the easiest for me to grow in the past five years. All it takes is a little bit of authentic passion—which, I imagine, most of you already have—and some strategic planning as you pin. Read on for my tried and true tricks, but I'm also curious to hear your perspective, so do share your own strategies in the comments!

1. Choose your board covers with care. 

Although some of my boards are group boards and I don’t have access to customizations like board covers, switching out those lead images can do wonders for the overall look of your account. I go in about once a month to change the cover images on my boards because I think it adds freshness to the overall look of my feed.

Take care to choose an image that crops well, and think about the overall color scheme you want to show off to your followers. I like to treat my Pinterest feed like my Instagram—I only pin images that match my bright white/bright colors aesthetic so that I can create that “branded” look whether you’re looking at my Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook profiles. To change your cover photos, click on “Edit” at the bottom center of each board, and then click the “Change” button next to “Cover.” Scroll through the options with the arrow, and then click “Save Changes.”

2. Fill your about section with useful information.

Another piece of your profile to pay close attention to and to keep updated over time is your “About” section. This is the first place that prospective followers will check to figure out who the heck you are, so make sure to include the big ticket items: your name, your job title and blog name (if applicable), other identifying titles and places where people can find you, and your location. You can add your URL in a separate box in the profile editor, so you don’t need to worry about including that in your “About” paragraph.

I include my name, my blog name, plus all of the places where I contribute my freelance writing, and then finish with my city, and state. I also just recently added my email and Snapchat handle to encourage more engagement there.

To edit your profile, just click on the “Edit Profile” button in the top right corner and enter your info in the window that pops up. I like to sync up my various profile copy between Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter so that my collective profile descriptions feel cohesive. Oh, and don’t forget to add a smiling headshot to your profile, too, so that people can put a face to your name!

3. Don’t forget to pin your own content.

Like most creative bloggers and content creators, Pinterest is my top referrer for new readers. This is where my projects have the best chance of going “viral” thanks to the huge following that Pinterest garners, not to mention the search-ability (which I’ll cover in the next bullet item). So, as you work to create original, high-quality content on your blog or website, don’t forget to pin it to your own Pinterest feed! By strategically adding your projects to the mix, you have the opportunity to share it with, really, the entire world.

I see the most success with this methodology when I pin to shared boards. These special group boards feature a whole slew of creatives with their own followings, which exponentially increases the likelihood of a viral pin.

If you aren’t part of any group boards, I would encourage you to put yourself out there and search around for a group board that fits your niche and style, and then try reaching out to the board leader (shown in the first circle on the left). My favorite group boards are BHG’s Best DIY Ideas, Blogger’s Best DIY Ideas, and DIY Bloggers in case you want to follow along or see examples of this.

Are you all about Pinterest? What are your favorite uses for Pinterest? 

For more great tips from Carrie on maximizing the opportunity of Pinterest, check out her blog and read the full post here! She’s also written extensively on Snapchat. Check it out here and here

Hilary's Social Media Tuesday Tip 001: Keep it PUFI!

This week I thought I'd experiment with sharing a short video blog. I'd love to hear your feedback on this new medium in the comments! It's so easy to go to social media to share when we want to vent our frustrations over something but so often we can creep into the land of oversharing, coming across critical or judgmental, or just plain boring.

Posting less often but keeping it within certain guidelines can ensure that when you have something to say on social media, you have friends and followers who are interested to hear it! See below for the 4 criteria for social media posts.

Do you try to keep it PUFI? Any other criteria you'd add to the list? 

Top 5 Memories of 2014 & HSL Around the Web: December

My Top 5 Memories of 2014
My Top 5 Memories of 2014

Wow, here I sit writing to you on the last day of 2014. What a year it has been! My top 5 highlights of 2014 that come to mind are: performing in Mary Poppins, attending the Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder after-Tony party with Spotco in Rockefeller Center, visiting Charleston for the first time, running the Virginia 4-Miler, and traveling to California in October.

Work has been incredible this year. I worked a lot of hours but I've seen really solid results. HSL Creative has grown and transformed and so have I. While reflecting on 2014 is fun, I'm way more jazzed about looking forward to 2015. This is a big year. I'll be focusing a lot of my efforts on working as a brand journalist with Pursuant, a fundraising agency. My goal with my work with Pursuant is to help the nonprofit clients we serve share their exciting and moving stories, whether it's through a video, a blog post, a magazine article or even a podcast.

My work with HSL Creative will continue in the form of consulting, strategy and workshops. Our first workshop of the year is Blogging for Business at Toolry on January 17. It's $50--a steal--for the knowledge and practical help you'll walk away with.

More on the excitement of 2015 in my next post. For now a look back on all the places I've been published around the web this month. Happy Holidays!!

The HSL Creative Blog
Announcing the HSL Creative Blogging Workshop
Gift Guide for the Entrepreneur
5 Reasons Every Artist Should Have Two Careers

The Clutch Guide Blog 6 Tips to Avoid Becoming the Grinch This Christmas

Forefront Blog A Leader's Mentor

Lynchburg Business 9 Secrets to Improving Your Website Content

The Digital Drip Pursuant Gives Back: Repairing Wells Through Global Aid Network
Happy Holidays from Pursuant

And I also launched a side project that brings fairytale and superhero characters to life for children's events and parties in Virginia: Enchanting Entertainment Company. Check it out!

Hilary is an entrepreneur, musical theatre performer, and a brand journalist with Pursuant. Connect with her on Twitter

On “The Internet of Things” and 10 other actionable items I heard at #ISUM14

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On "the Internet of Things" and 10 Other Actionable Items I Learned at #ISUM14
On "the Internet of Things" and 10 Other Actionable Items I Learned at #ISUM14

Last week I got to attend the Internet Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina where I got two days chock full of the latest in digital strategies, content marketing, social media, SEO, email marketing, and analytics. A week later and my mind is still spinning with all the awesome advice I heard and all the ideas I’m ready to implement. Today I want to share with you ten of the best actionable items I heard.

1. Since Google Authorship went away, use Linkedin publishing for credibility & thought leadership. -Cara Rousseau, Duke University (Tweet that!

2. Find someone like me, tell about how you solved a problem like mine, I’ll trust you. -Chris Moody, Oracle (Tweet that!)

3. Websites that blog receive 55% more traffic than those that don’t. -Matthew Capala, Search Decoder (Tweet that!)

4. You have to be as good on social media as Amazon, Walmart ,etc—that’s where your customers are. -Heidi Cohen (Tweet that!)

5. Instead of making it about you, make it about your audience and your customers and what they care about. -Leigh George, PhD (Tweet that!)

6. 80% of people delete an email if it doesn’t look good on their mobile device. -Jodi Wearn, SilverPop (Tweet that!)

7. Asking for and getting money from customers is the best form of feedback on an idea! -Eric Morrow, Google (Tweet that!)

8. 80% of people who open your email are only scanning it. Capture the big idea of your email with a bold image and strong headline. -Christopher Lester, Emma (Tweet that!)

9. The average consumer unlocks their phone 110 times a day. -Robin Wheeler (Tweet that!)

10. The “Internet of Things” is where technology is going. Every item in your home will be connected to the Internet. Your printer will be able to order its own paper. Your car will drive itself. Autonomous everything. -David Pogue, Yahoo (Tweet that!)

11. “What motivates you to do your best? Being personally excited and motivated internally.” -Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder (Tweet that!)

Guys, this was only a portion of the great information I received last week. I’m so energized to implement this stuff for all of my HSL Creative clients.

Be honest with me—have you heard of “The Internet of Things” before this post?

My Top 12 Posts in Honor of HSL Creative's First Birthday

My 2nd birthday.
My 2nd birthday.

I’ve had a stunning revelation: HSL Creative, in its most recent incarnation, is officially ONE year old!

Cue the streamers, candles, and of course cake (my favorite.) In honor of our first birthday I thought I would share a countdown of the 12 most popular blog posts from the last year. (Get it? 1 for each month?)

Over the past year I’ve shared observations on social media trends, productivity hacks, career advice, information about our services, and even personal reflections about not living in a major city or overextending myself. So I give you the top 12 posts of our first year as voted by your clicks. So take a look, check out the ones you may have missed. And thank you, thank you, thank you for coming on the journey.

CHOCOLATE CAKE ALL AROUND, I SAY!

Here’s to year 2. Cheers.

12. Finding Margin: Confessions of a Wayward Blogger Whether you're an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, or an employee of a giant corporation, there are always priorities and choices to make. And sometimes we have to say "no" to good things in order to say "yes" to great things.

11. 7 Hacks for Shaking off the Blahs and Getting Out of ProcrastiNation I have a war within me: lazy person vs. driven person. That conflict can easily manifest itself in procrastination. Here's some ways I combat it.

10. How to Launch Dual Careers I'm a passionate advocate of kicking the status quo in the face. If you are a soon to be college graduate, an early career professional, or just know in your gut it's time for a change, this post gives you the first steps to making the move to dual careers.

9. 10 Secrets to Getting Started in Freelance Writing If you've wanted to get started freelance writing but you're not sure where to begin, this post gives you tips on how to get paid to write.

8. 6 Reasons Someone You know Did the #ALSIceBucketChallenge Why the heck did the Ice Bucket Challenge raise over $100 million? How did that happen? Here's some reasons it worked amazingly well.

7. 10 Social Media Resolutions to Adopt This Year Need a cheat sheet for social media etiquette and smart habits (like knowing your privacy settings)? Here ya go.

6. 10 Ways I've Made Life Easier for Other Businesses, And How I Can Help You Too Don't really know what all we do here? Here are some of the most practical ways that organizations and individuals have used HSL Creative services in recent months.

5. 9 Surprising Things I Learned When I Met a Client in Person Bottom line: in this incredible digital age where I (and many other people!) make a living by never seeing anyone in person--the face-to-face communication remains irreplaceable.

4. The #1 Reason I Feel Ok Even Though I Don't Live in a Major City My industries are media and the arts. Of COURSE, I have a desire to be in a major city where patrons and potential clients flock. But here's why I think this small city life has been GREAT for me and my career.

3. 6 Ways Grad School Launched Me into the Career of My Dreams Grad school gets a lot of flack in creative fields. "It's not worth the money," they say. "You're avoiding the real world," they say. Well, I say it was the exact right move for me. Here's why.

2. Will You Do Anything Social Media Free This Year? Do you ever feel like you've become a little too attached to your technology? Do you twitch when you accidentally leave your phone in your car? Have you never left your phone in your car because you always make certain it's on your person? This one's for you.

And drumroll please...the most popular post of the last year is....

1. 5 Lessons We Can Learn from the Most Retweeted Selfie of All Time Did you retweet it? Do you know exactly which one I'm talking about? What makes us take part in viral activity online? These are a few of my observations from both academically and professionally studying people and their social media habits.

There ya have it! My 12 most read posts of the 1st year of HSL Creative. Do me a huge favor and comment here or on Facebook or Twitter with some feedback on what kind of posts you'd like to see more of in the future. I'm listening!

5 Tips to Maximize the Discipline of Creativity

“The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they all have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.” -Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is one of my favorite books. Even in the title, it lets you in on a little secret: creativity does not come in bursts of inspiration, it comes in daily discipline and habits.

Today I want to focus on five tips I learned on the preparation and inspiration of creativity from Tharp’s book.

5 Tips to Maximize the Discipline of Creativity

1. Learn from the greats. 

Mozart said: “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Read biographies of people who you'd like emulate. What are they reading? What are the trends in your industry? Pay attention to the work of people you admire.

2. Implement a morning ritual that you can count on to ignite your creativity and focus. 

“Although he was not physically fit, Beethoven would start each day with the same ritual: a morning walk during which he would scribble into a pocket sketchbook the first rough notes of whatever musical idea inevitably entered his head. Having done that, having limbered up his mind and transported himself into his version of a trance zone during the walk, he would return to his room and get to work.”

What do you need to do to maximize your creativity each day? Eat breakfast before you work? Listen to a certain style of music? Take a quick stroll around the block? Determine what you need to do to focus and open your mind to what you need to create today.

3. Keep a notebook with you (or the notes app on your iPhone) to jot down ideas when they come to you.

“I’m often asked, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ This happens to anyone who is willing to stand in front of an audience and talk about his or her work. The short answer is: everywhere. It’s like asking 'Where do you find the air you breathe?' Ideas are all around you.”

Always be ready for new ideas to come together. And never trust your memory. Write it down, write it down, write it down.

4. Prepare daily. And make peace with your lack of control.

"Habitually creative people are, in E.B. White’s phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' The keywords here are 'prepared' and 'lucky.' They’re inseparable. You don’t get lucky without preparation, and there’s no sense in being prepared if you’re not open to the possibility of a glorious accident...Some people resent the idea of luck. Accepting the role of chance in our lives suggests that our creations and triumphs are not entirely our own, and that in some way we’re undeserving of our success. I say, Get over it. This is how the world works. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Tharp said this on trusting too much in planning every detail:

“There’s an emotional lie to overplanning; it creates a security blanket that lets you assume you have things under control, that you are further along than you really are, that you’re home free when you haven’t even walked out the door yet.”

5. Put in the work every day.

“80% of success in show business is showing up.” -Woody Allen

The same is true in all creative fields. Put the time in. Do your due diligence. Wrack up your 10,000 hours. Be consistent and the reward will come.

Have you received any advice on creativity and work that has stuck with you? Share it in the comments.

Be sure to subscribe to weekly updates and I'll send you the Blogger's Editorial Calendar Cheat Sheet. 

5 Best Practices to Increase Your Happiness on Twitter

Twitter is but one of several social networks that are used by millions of people every day. If you’ve ever started to get bored with Twitter, were ready to delete your account, or wondered why people used the 140-character tool in the first place, check out these five tips for enjoying Twitter 1. Determine how you want to use it. My favorite social network is Twitter. Why? Because I follow a mix of friends, family, and thought leaders that post interesting, engaging content that is useful to me. A follow list without purpose could you leave you bored and annoyed on Twitter. But following your favorite author, magazine, or athlete could make it very exciting.

2. Utilize a source like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to make sure you don’t miss important posts. As a social media professional I use Tweetdeck to schedule posts and to follow several lists from each accounts I manage. It helps me stay organized and keep track of the content that I know our readers would want to see. Using Twitter without other applications almost guarantees that you'll be overwhelmed and that you'll miss the good stuff.

3. Utilize Buffer. This fantastic tool let’s you skip a step when it comes to scheduling posts. You can set up a schedule for when you want posts to drop and Buffer slides each post into a slot. With the Buffer button in my tool bar it’s so easy to keep the content flowing without having to stop and decide exactly what time it’s going out. Buffer is also awesome because it gives me an analytics report that tells me how each post is working. I can find out number of clicks, favorites, retweets, shares, etc.

4. Favorite tweets that you want to return to. When I’ve got a little down time and I'm scrolling through Twitter on my iPhone I don’t usually want to click away from my feed. I’d rather read a full-length article on my iPad or laptop. I primarily use my favorites as a bookmarking tool where I can go back and locate content that piqued my interest. Sometimes it’s a quote I want to recycle, sometimes it’s just a tweet that I find funny, but often it’s a link to an article that I want to read later. Favoriting an item is the way I “save for later” and it works great.

5. Interact with others. Connecting with friends, colleagues, thought leaders, and people who you admire, is one of the hands down best aspects of Twitter. Last week I had a tweet exchange with Dr. Karen Prior, the woman who wrote my favorite book of the year. I began an email exchange with Howard Sherman, the former Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, because I engaged with him on Twitter. Twitter is no replacement for eye contact and a firm handshake but it is an unprecedented mode of connecting with people. Maximizing that opportunity is by far Twitter’s coolest feature.

What is your favorite use for Twitter? Do you find other social networks to be more useful?

7 Tips for Being Your Own Publicist Online

Secret's out: we are not all celebrities and big shots that have a Samantha Jones-esque worldly wise publicist looking out for the messages we are sending out into the universe. Today your social media personality contributes heavily to client and colleague and even potential employer perceptions of you. Here are seven best practices for keeping a positive image online.

1. Vent somewhere else. Feeling the need to let off a little steam? Text a friend, write in your journal, or share it with your spouse. Don't type a status update. Venting via social media may have more negative repercussions than positive ones. You may come across as someone who has poor judgment or looks as if they have no one to talk to in the real world. It's bad press all the way around. Don't do it.

2. Keep away from unpleasantries. Whether it's photos of dead animals, oversharing about your morning hygiene routine or the details of your illness--think about your queasiest friend. Would she want to hear about it? If not, then just don't mention it.

3. Don't treat social media like a megaphone. Engage with others! Respond, comment, like. Don't waste hours of your day, of course, but the truly adept social networker finds that happy balance between sharing with his or her tribe and engaging with them. It's just rude to constantly post messages online and not respond to anyone else. Online manners FTW.

4. Avoid potentially offensive or polarizing statements. You probably know someone who is relatively meek in person and then seems to be an angry confrontational jerk on Facebook, amiright? Chances are, your perception of him has been affected by what he posts. There's nothing like logging on and realizing that former quiet, coworker is a little bit racist. Avoid off color jokes, criticizing others, and making sweeping statements regarding current events. Whatever you post can and could be used against you. So, just keep it classy.

5. Balance out that self-promotion. Social media provides an incredible venue to promote work that excites you. There's no reason not to let the world know when your album drops, you have a big art show, or are speaking at a conference. Just make sure you don't only turn to the interwebs when you have something to promote. Experts say self-promotion should be 10% or less of what you post. Adhering to that rule is a good idea.

6. Observe the Grandma Rule. Great question to ask yourself before posting anything: would I want Grandma to see this post? If yes, then go ahead and post it. If no, just skip it.

7. When in doubt, less is more. People can't twist the words you never say (or, type).  Don't feel the need to post something every day. Click "send" when you have something to contribute. Our words are our legacy.

What do you think? Do you have any rules to live by as you use social media? Do you have any tips for what to avoid? Post em in the comments!