Branding

And I’m Back…

I didn’t think this would happen, and I was in denial about it for a while. I’m back and with two rebranding-complete overhaul-blogger-to-wordpress-transfer-subscription-revamps, and a couple of social media strategy clients under my belt .

And Im Back Faithfully Social

I decided to shut down my blogging and social media site, delete my email list (such a no no) and work on my crafting instead. My love of hand embroidery and weaving knows no bounds and I am still actively pursing it and blogging about the journey. During that time, people sought me out to help with their blogging and social media strategy.

Those clients referred me to others and I didn’t have a “home” to send them to. So, here we are. I have to work on my own social media presence. I got rid of all the @faithfullysocial handles (again another no no) and have to research whether I can get them back, or have to start fresh, or heck, just combine my @cristinamakes handles. I moved from Squarespace back to WordPress (not fun) and have to clean up my site as I juggle client work, my Etsy shop, school, kids, marriage and a pup!

Just know, that I’m back and will be blogging as much as I can about the reintroduction process. As in, when you’ve pulled the plug, how do you plug back in? Because that’s what I’m going through right now and you know how much I love to share. In the meantime, check out these two launches I am SO very proud of (that are still a work in progress, but sometimes, you gotta hit publish!).

KCrossWriting

Katie Cross Rebrand by Cristina at Faithfully Social

Mary Lenaburg

Mary Lenaburg Rebrand by Cristina at Faithfully Social

So glad to be back, and thank you for bearing with me (and thanks to Katie, Mary and Colleen for having so much faith in me). Sometimes we close the door on something that we should really leave a crack open, because you never know.

Lesson learned.

The Art of Saying No or How Not to Burn Bridges

In an earlier video post, I talked about how when you say no to opportunities, you’re really saying yes to yourself. In the video post, I shared how there’s an art to saying no that honors the person sharing the opportunity with you, while also honoring yourself. You certainly don’t want to burn bridges. You never know when that person will come around again, so while you don’t have to grovel, you do have to mind yourself when you respond. 

I love to share goodies, tips and tricks like the ones I am about to share with you. Be sure to sign up for my VIP list to receive exclusive tips that I don’t share with anyone else (or anywhere else, for that matter). You’ll also receive my top 7 tips for creating a successful online community, just for signing up! So many tips! 

Maria, from Collecting Moments had a few questions and while I’ve already responded to her offline, I thought I would share the exchange with you because we’re a sharing bunch around here. Let’s get started!

The Art of Saying No to Opportunities where you can honor the person who is offering the opportunity, we don't want to burn bridges as a blogger. We also want to walk away feeling empowered. Check out these email scripts you can tailor to your blogging situation. @faithfulsocial

Maria writes: 

I just read through your blog and listened to your Vlog about saying no to an opportunity. I absolutely loved it! I can relate. As a new blogger, there’s a few opportunities that have come my way, and sometimes it’s hard to say no. I’m fairly fresh (my blog is only a year old) and I would think that every opportunity lends itself to more doors being opened–whether it’s monetary or just exposure…I do have a question, however.

You mention on your vlog that there’s an art to saying no to opportunities, that we should do it in a way that honors both the person that’s presenting the opportunity and us as well. How does one phrase that without sounding dismissive or just plain, “no thanks, I’m not interested.” I would assume that burning bridges is the last thing we want when we say no (because who knows there might be other projects that fit our criteria from that same company in the future).

I guess what I’m trying to say is how do I say thank you, but no, without cutting ties with the person/company that offered it in the first place? 

Here’s how I do it: 

Dear Sir Smiles,

Thank you so much for thinking of me for [insert this opportunity here]. I am flattered that you thought of my blog as an avenue to promote [insert promotion here].

In reviewing your offer, I don’t feel it’s a fit for me at this time. I do have a solid [insert your industry here] friend/s in mind and am happy to make the connection for you if you’re interested. Her/His name is [insert name here]. She/He blogs about [insert relevant topic here]. 

While this particular collaboration wasn’t in the stars, I look forward to others you think may be a fit in the future.

[However you sign off in an email]
Cristina

You’ll notice that I created a “Graceful No” sandwich. Can you see? 

  • Bread aka Flattery: Thank you so much for thinking of me for [insert this opportunity here]. I am flattered that you thought of my blog as an avenue to promote [insert promotion here].  
  • Meat aka Your Graceful No: In reviewing your offer, I don’t feel it’s a fit for me at this time. I do have a solid [insert your industry here] friend/s in mind and am happy to make the connection for you if you’re interested. Her/His name is [insert name here]. She/He blogs about [insert relevant topic here]. 
  • Bread aka Gracious Ending: While this particular collaboration wasn’t in the stars, I look forward to others you think may be a fit in the future.

This kind of email, honors you by sticking to your boundaries, and honors the person offering you the opportunity because you are sincerely trying to help them find a match. The caveat to this is, if the person offering the opportunity to you is difficult or shady, you don’t want to refer them to anyone.

I experienced this recently and paused before I responded. I thought that there must be someone I could refer. I remembered that my community is just as important to me as honoring this person offering the opportunity.  I removed the “meat” part of my email sandwich and pressed send.

You don’t want to damage the relationships you’ve cultivated with people in your industry by referring nonsense to them. Trust me, they won’t appreciate it. 

Maria continues to write:

I’ve been getting many inquiries for product reviews lately. All of which have compensated me for the product and the shipping free of charge. Like I said, my blog is still small, so I’m not expecting monetary compensation for these. The fact that they send me products for free is good enough for me for now.

With that said, I still want some compensation for my work (as you know, it takes great time and effort to craft a worthy post, and I put 110% in it every time.) I’m not asking for much, mainly it’s in terms of networking or exposure (a retweet/mention on twitter, a shout out on instagram, a link of my post on their blog).

There’s been a few instances where I’d have trouble communicating that to my clients. The fact that my blog is still so small gives me a bit of a complex, and I don’t quite know how to word  that I appreciate the opportunity, but would like some networking and exposure in return. 

Any insights? Should I even ask for this or just let it go and appreciate the fact that they even reached out to me? 

I got’chu. First of all, don’t don’t let being small give you a complex. Just as you don’t want to burn bridges with bigger bloggers, they shouldn’t want to burn bridges with you either. With hard work, you will be the next big blogger that they wish they were nicer to back in the day. #firsthandexperience

I think this question was around asking for social media promotion/networking instead of monetary gain? For now, that makes TOTAL sense. Sometimes, you just gotta ask for stuff, you know? In this case, here’s what I would say:

Dear Ms. Fancy Pants,

I was so excited to receive your product in the mail for review. The post about [insert product] is about to go live tomorrow. To help make this a complete success for your brand, I would appreciate any social media shout outs that you could give of the blog post review.

To make this easy for you, please see the pinnable images, pre-crafted tweets/FB updates and the permalink to the post. All you have to do is copy, paste and share!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all. I can’t wait to share [insert product] with my audience!

[However you sign off in an email]
Cristina

In any working relationship, remember to make it easy for the other person always, and in all ways. 

Appreciate that they reached out to you, but don’t forget that they reached out to you. You are providing a service (and value) to them. You are sharing an audience you nurtured with them. They wouldn’t have access to your people without YOU. 

Always know that you are inherently worth it. Every.single.time.

So let’s all follow Maria on all the things. She’s at @MBette827 on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! 

I have created a secret Pinterest board for The Art of Saying No with inspirational quotes to keep you on track. If you’re interested in having access, just shoot me an email at faithfullysocial@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up. I feel like we should start a revolution? Come on! Don’t say no to this one!

How would you have responded to Maria? Help a sista out in the comments! Remember, if you have any questions for me, please reach out. I would love to share the answer as a blog post along with the social platform/s of your choice!

Did you love this? Sign up to receive exclusive tips like these right in your inbox every Friday!

The Art of Saying No to Opportunities where you can honor the person who is offering the opportunity, we don't want to burn bridges as a blogger. We also want to walk away feeling empowered. Check out these email scripts you can tailor to your blogging situation. @faithfulsocial

Be Your Brand

If we ever met me in real life, I’d be just as I am in the following video.

If we ever met in real life, I would be encouraging, talking about others who have inspired me that I think you should check out. 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

If we ever met in real life, I would take you to my favorite ice cream shop where they serve up Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

If we ever met in real life, I would have a smile on from ear to ear, just like that picture of me on the right.

If we ever met in real life I would listen to you, ask questions and make you laugh your face off. I’m funny. Even this chick thinks so, and she’s a hilarious humor blogger that has written for HuffPo, Scary Mommy and others.

If we ever met in real life, you’d get that I am no different online than I am in real life (except maybe that funny part. I think my funny doesn’t translate as well in the written word. You need all the theatrics because I’m 4’11”).

Be Your Brand. Be who you are and own it. 

In today’s video post, I talk about being the same person on line that you are in real life. It should be an equal blend. If not, what’s the point? I talk about a person I met over the weekend who embodied this perfectly. It blew me away. 

Take a peek…

Remember that the profiles you are connecting with online, are real people.

People want to feel like they are being heard, because deep down we all want to matter. 

To stand out, all you have to do is remember that in every interaction you make. Ask yourself, how can I make this person feel heard? And act on it.  

The book I referenced is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

And here is Uncustomary Art (Mary), on Facebook so her birthday present of 2,000 fans will be realized!

Here is the Instagram quote I referenced that was the inspiration for this post

I’m going on vacation next week. I’m authentically being my brand and taking a break, for realsies! I am not just doing it in real life and pretending that I’m on with automated tweets and shares. In real life, we need time to recharge, refresh and spend time with our families. But, you can go on vacation with me! Wouldn’t that be fun! We can share caramel lattes and glazed donuts on the lake and talk about that time I thought cutting my hair short was a great idea (The Karate Kid circa 1984 is not a good look for me).

I am sending an email to my VIP subscribers telling them how to spend a week with me in the Adirondacks (along with an exclusive social media tip of the week, per usual). 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible

Being authentic is something I preach on the daily. In social media, it’s easy to get lost in the cacophony of constant @replies, “buy this now”, “check out my book it’s on sale!” and hashtags. As a social media marketing fanatic, that’s not lost on me. I get how overwhelming it can get.

I make it a point to instill the following tips in my personal strategy, and know it will help you to be irresistible to your audience as well. You’ll see, that a lot of it is living the Golden Rule. If you’re here from The SITS Girls, you’re already 8 tips in! Bravo for wanting to grab a few more!

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible Actionable tips to engage your readers and keep them coming back for more! @faithfulsocial

 

1. Get to know that new follower 

When someone follows you on social media, don’t just automatically follow back. That’s phoning it in and not being intentional about the relationship your forming and trying to cultivate. Automatically following back without checking the person out shows that you don’t care about relationships, you only care about numbers.

Do this instead: when someone follows you, friends you or adds you to one of their circles, check out their profile. Find something you can relate to, and then follow them back with that relatable nugget of information. 

There’s always something you can connect with someone on. If they’re a Yankee fan, tell them you love the Mets and shame on them! With a smiley face of course. Even if it’s just to say that you love the flowers in their header. It shows that you took a beat to check them out.

Bottom line, you don’t have to wait for the other person to start the conversation and you shouldn’t. Be the “real-ational” social media user and cultivate your community. It starts with finding common ground just like in real life.

2. Be helpful

In my latest exclusive VIP weekly email, I shared how to listen in on conversations on Facebook, like a ninja. You know, stealth mode style. I listen in on conversations going on in over 30 groups on Facebook alone! I do it to keep my finger on the pulse of what other bloggers needs are and to help in brainstorming blog topics. But mostly, to help them out. 

Genuinely sharing your awesome, expecting nothing in return is just good business. You’ll instantly become the one people go to when they need help.

Blogging and social media takes a lot of knowledge about a myriad of subjects to really pull off. If you can help a fellow blogger who is frazzled, stressed or tapped out, why wouldn’t you?

3. Use first names

Use first names when you can. I use first names when I reply to tweets, craft emails replies or respond to comments. Your readers aren’t just handles, they’re people. Showing that you took some time to find out what their name was, and personalize a response just to them? That sets you apart, my friend.

Those touches make people feel special. It’s done so rarely that you will look like a diamond amidst coal. Ok, maybe not that dramatic. But you get my drift.  If their mother saw fit to give them a name, you should use it. 

4. Reply via email to new subscribers

I know what you’re thinking: “Cristina, I don’t have time to reply to email subscribers!” Yes, you do. Think about it, do you have swarms of people flocking to your subscription list (If you do, let’s talk)?

How much time does it really take to respond and say thank you for subscribing to an email list? Yes. I still hear you. “But Cristina, doesn’t my subscription service do that automatically?” Yes, it does. What I am doing here is an automation disrupt! 

Don’t know what I mean, here’s a sample of what I write:

Dear Real Name that I took a moment to include 😉

This isn’t an automated e-mail. I received a little note saying that you signed up to receive my emails in your inbox and wanted to personally say thank you.

I don’t give out my email to just anyone, and I’m sure you don’t either. So thank you. 

I can’t wait for the weekend! Heading to NYC! Hope you have a good one.

Warmly,

Cristina

Is that hard? How would you feel sending something like that? You’d feel like you were connecting with a friend. I rest my case.

5. Mention your readers in your blog posts

I love doing this. I take comments that readers leave and respond to them in full on blog posts. Like this and this. One of them even went viral (I didn’t plan that part). I did learn something, taking the pain points of your readers and fleshing that out into a blog post shows your readers you really listen and care. More often than not, it’s not just the one reader who has that particular question (as was the case with the viral post) but a whole slew of other people are looking for the same information.

Lately, I have been leaving a call-to-action in my posts that give them the opportunity to ask questions and in return, I include that I will link to a social platform of their choice. 

Do what works for you, but remember that blogging isn’t a one way street, a monologue or a solo dance number, you get my drift.

6. Give ’em a peek.

Everyone wants to know everyone else’s business. Don’t believe me? What posts are you most interested in? How to’s with pictures of how they got this amazing thing done, right? Lifehacks, tips, tricks and listicles. Or maybe you like personal reflections sharing how someone overcame a terrible time in their lives?

Regardless, people want a peek behind the scenes. We want to know the real you, so don’t hide behind your laptop. Share your process, share your wins but share them in a way that you’re teaching your readers how to replicate the win for themselves.

Winning alone isn’t really fun. Right?

Did you want more? Head over to read the other 8 tips I shared on this very subject over at The SITS Girls. Read Social Networking and Blogging: How to Authentically Connect With Readers.

In the meantime, get out there and start delighting your audience. They’re waiting for ya!

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible Actionable tips to engage your readers and keep them coming back for more! @faithfulsocial

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes?

We’re changing things up a bit for June. I am guest posting for The SITS Girls this Friday and upcoming Monday. When I post there, I share a sister or “pivot” post here. What I mean by that is, I volunteer for a topic at The SITS Girls  and then shift my focus slightly and take another angle and write about that here.  

Video posts are usually on Thursdays but, since this week is a little different, I thought we can get away with a video post a day early, right? Let’s do this!

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes? by @faithfulsocial

I really do think that opportunities come the harder you work. I don’t think they just fall out of thin air because of your inherent greatness. Doing the work is everything. That said, just because an opportunity comes your way doesn’t mean you have to say yes. 

As I mention in this video, I have qualifiers that the potential opportunity has to meet before I say yes. The opportunity can be anything from guest posts to sponsored posts to collaboration with others. These qualifiers are:

It has to help solidify your brand. I don’t think it would make sense for me to take on a sponsored post opportunity for Drake’s Cakes, even though I love them (Coffee Cake? YUM!) but that’s not the brand I’m building is it? If it doesn’t align with the brand that you are trying to create, sorry Charlie, don’t do it. You don’t want to dilute what you’ve worked so hard to build up.

Money or “The Grand Exchange”. This isn’t because we’re money hungry. If you spend time away from your family or loved ones and work on your next best thing, you should be compensated for it. Know your worth. The caveat here is, let’s say the opportunity checks all your boxes, but there’s no money. There is something to be exchanged though, expertise, knowledge, networking and building up that portfolio of work. Sometimes, that trumps the almighty dollar, right? 

You have to feel at home doing it. If you feel like you are putting on sunblock when you’re creating doing something, you’re readers are going to know it. Putting on sunblock, for me anyway, makes me feel like I am sheathed in plastic wrap. Whenever you create anything, you should feel like you doing it, or it’s not worth your time.

That said, if it scares you, that’s different.

Always say yes to what scares you.

Every opportunity is an opportunity to solidify your boundaries, highlight who you are and what you’re about – whether that’s a yes or a no.

When you say no, you’re saying yes to yourself.

You have to walk away from the declined opportunity with your head held high. Honor the person who thought of you in the first place and feel genuinely flattered that they thought of you because that means you’re doing something right. You’re getting noticed because you’re doing the work.

Friday, expect a post on how to delight your audience in a really authentic way (that ties into my post over at The SITS Girls) and my VIP email subscribers will get the 411 on a hashtag strategy that I am loving. Over the weekend, I’m heading to BlogU to get my learn on in Baltimore. While I can’t party on Saturday night, I am taking advantage of all the awesome they have going on Friday and Sunday. 

On Monday, you’ll get another post from me about coming up with fresh blog post ideas with another post on how to get from idea to great blog post over at The SITS Girls too!

Lastly, this month I am hosting some Twitter chats this month for The SITS Girls too. I am still working out the topics we’ll talk about, but would love it if you were able to join in the fun. Those dates are: 

  • June 8th, June 22nd and June 29th at 8PM 
  • June 27th at 10AM
  • All times ET
  • Use #sitsblogging

So, talk to me. What are your qualifiers? Have you said yes to an opportunity and regretted it? I want all the deets!!

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes? by @faithfulsocial