Graziella has a fashion and family blog out at Sweet Pea, Apple of My Eye. Having seen a couple of my comments out at Ramona Chrisstea’s blog, she flattered me with a request to review and critique her work. Looking at her most recent post, I found myself thinking that any mom that can get kids to participate like they do must have a really constructive relationship with them. I was also impressed by the thoughts she shared on Father’s Day.
This captures our conversation back and forth up to this point, and creates a space for us to continue to dialog:
I love your insightfullness! Maybe you can look over some of my posts and give me your honest, constructive opinion of them?
Thanks for the compliment, Graziella. I’ll be happy to take a look after I have lunch!
Sure no problemo! Take your time!
Lol. We’re chasing each other’s responses around.
I didn’t know whether to post this on your home page, as it brings some criticism – hopefully constructive, as you requested.
OK – first off, you have a beautiful family, and the affection and bonds are really evident. Congratulations and GOOD JOB!
I’d recommend being a little more selective with the shots, and trying to work the text around them. Your experience of the environment would also be a plus, particularly when it involves elements that are unique or personal . For example, the rusty smiley face in the last post with your children, or the horse farm in “A Little Country, a Little Rock and Roll.”
As a example, you might look at Ramona Crisstea’s blog (ramonacrisstea.com). What comes from her writing is a sense that she’s sharing a journey with others. I think that you and Ramona have different stories at this point, and so you might gain a lot without risk of becoming “me-too.”
Your post on father’s day reveals that capacity. I’d like more of that! While not everybody can look as adorable as your family does, there are a lot of fashion blogs. The ones that spark my interest are those that relate fashion to the life journey.
So, for example – how did your little boy react to having a daddy tie put on him?
Thanks for the follow. If this is helpful, let me know and I’ll follow back to see how things develop.
THANK YOU. And you know what, I actually found you on Ramona’s blog. I saw your comment and figured you’re the guy I need to talk to. You are so right. I have been battling with myself trying to incorporate my first love, which is writing and my intellectual side, all while hosting a fashion blog. All the advice I’ve gotten in the past was to keep it short and simple, a fashion blog is one thing and a journal is another. But I felt confined! After seeing her blog I saw how you can add pieces of your mind and your own two cents along the way without it becoming too much or boring, and without the risk of losing the reader’s attention. What a fantastic idea to incorporate more of the experience of the surroundings, that’ll be easy to do. I was also thinking maybe write under some photos as if it’s a story book (similar to hers). I love the handwriting quotes, I love expressing my unique view and beliefs of the world, but I didn’t know how to incorporate Fashion, Parenting, & Writing all in one without losing a direct focus or target audience. Like you said, my family and my babies is the one thing that separates me from all the other fashion bloggers. I’ve been told to drop the kid fashion stuff and just stick with me, but that’s ridiculous too. Why can’t I be a fashionable woman, a mother, and a writer all at once? I love my kids so much and even in my about me page it says I’m doing this all for them, and it’s true so I could never think about NOT having them involved in my blog. I only just started on Oct 1st so people and advice like you REALLY help. Thanks a million, I hope we can keep in touch and you can see if I improve as time progresses 😊
It’s the exploration of fashion as expressive symbolism that is the key, as I value it. It’s a hard call, because ultimately it’s about selling things, but here’s an anecdote for you: After my sons saw Fast and Furious 6, I asked whether there was any character development. They stopped and thought, and said “Hey, now that you mention it, there was! Wow, that was different!” Which elicited my observation, “I guess that the producers have brought the audience along far enough that they can handle it.” So don’t worry about fitting into a box.
Absolutely. And I was hoping to express the same ideal in the future posts I have with my daughter where a lot of what I’m wearing has nothing to do with fashion per say at all, but with being in tune and in love with her as she serves as an inspiration to me. For example, there’s some necklaces I have that are pastel colored and have hot air balloons on them. I only bought that because of my daughter, it reminded me of her. And the story and pictures that I envision came to mind immediately as soon as I saw the necklace. Because it reminded me of her, and through her all these thoughts and motivations were born, as it always is constantly in every aspect of my life, not just fashion.
And there’s a lot that you might be able to do in the way of relating fashion to the preparation of your children for their life transitions, or for parenting them through their joys and traumas. In other words, making it about dressing them in what they need, rather than dressing them to please us.
Not that they shouldn’t look adorable. And, being the kid that wore stripes and checks to school, not that I have much real-life experience in the matter…
An administrative detail: I may try to relocate this conversation to a new blog post (“Meeting Graziella”), just so it doesn’t distract from the topic of this post, which was really important to me.
Ok you do that or let me know where I can respond back because I really like your thoughts and wanted to not only thank you again but chip in and elaborate a little further and see what you think 😊
Oh – and BTW – one of the interesting things about Ramona’s blog has been the evolution of the comment pool. It used to be heavily dominated by women. Most of the comments were gushing of one sort of the other – about her skin and the clothes, just little one-line throw-aways. Though there are fewer respondents now (or maybe I just am getting in earlier – I’d love to get anything close to her number of likes), there’s more of a gender balance now with some serious reflection on the thoughts that she presents. I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss that with her. I wonder how she’d respond to my putting up a conversation page for her?
I think she’d appreciate the acknowledgement and appreciation of attention towards the thoughts she presents, whatever fashion it may come in. On the principles of my blog displaying the journey through childhood in addition to mine and my own personal style, that’s exactly what I was aiming at however was trying to keep it short and simple because of all of the reasons I mentioned beforehand. And ironically enough, bringing her comment pool into consideration proves just what I’m struggling with. I don’t want a bunch of “cute” and “adorbs!” as comments. However I can’t complain because it’s not like I have my writings up there to contrast with it. But for example, my Father’s Day post. That was one of the old ones when I used to do more of a journal style thing and wrote a lot and I had NO response. Nothing. I felt like no one out there appreciated an opinion on the matter. And when I started fashion blogging on the first, I had and still have, many goals I hope to attain through the use of this blog. One of the ultimate, end goals is to eventually use my platform and (by-then) known ability to write and express the thoughts of the universe and life to become a speaker and contributor to “The Secret” team. I want to share with he whole world that THAT is how I made it, and it’s how everyone can make it, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re basket weaving, if you want to make it to where you think you’ll never be able to go, THAT IS HOW. I hope to convince more people that it’s not all just mumbo jumbo and in fact the very true reality in which our world, and lives operate on.
There is a delicate balance. I did a total this weekend and found that I had posted 200,000 words in the last year. 200,000! That’s a lot for anybody to read, and the density of my writing is no laughing matter.
So I’m not the best example. My advice would be to mix it up. Again, Ramona tends to scatter the personal thoughts through the photos, creating a sense of narrative, then posts the fashionista stuff at the end. This gives the reader control over their engagement with the material.
In part, that’s why I suggested being more selective with the photos. There was just a lot of scrolling, and the differences from photo to photo was not always compelling.
I don’t know if you’re doing your own photography, or are sharing the work with a friend/husband. That’s important as well. I get the sense that Ramona’s photographer sees her as a muse. It’s not just taking a picture – it’s manifesting his admiration of her. That’s another delicate balance, between celebration of the fashion and celebration of you. In your case, that also becomes even more complex, because you’re also celebrating your relationships.
So you might write the long essay on fatherhood, but pick out only the key thoughts, using the photos to express emotion and intimacy. And maybe there comes a day that the words contain something that no photograph can express, and you do without the pictures.
Now you see my struggle! Lol! My photographer is my husband, and he even said the same thing as far as having too many similar photos. I find it very fortunate to have him as a photographer vs a stranger, there is a lot of benefits and one being like you mentioned, the way he has an aim to capture me the way he sees me, which is full of love. So who is Ramona’s photographer? From the photos, I’d assume it was a boyfriend or husband as well because I can tell she can be direct with him/her and get the shot she wants in order to tell the story she wants or go specifically with the caption she already has written in her head before she even drafts a post. To me, each post is like a project. It’s not just an “outfit of the day” and to have statement shots like that means she’s already outlined the whole thing in her mind before even considering what to wear. Ah, again I gotta get going. My kids are still up and driving me coo-coo lol
Oh and one more thing, so far I’ve balanced it by celebrating only one thing per post, and I think paying a little more attention to that detail in itself may help me group together my varied blogging interests without seeming scattered. So maybe instead of having some of my posts listed under both Style & Parenting, I should only have one or the other to make it more specific, but I can still be in the photographs with the children, maybe just a lot less and the pictures not focused on me at all. So I can touch on and celebrate as you say (good choice of word) parenthood one day, then do the same for the love and enjoyment of my own personal style the other but have no kids in those pics or if they are, have them not in focus like before but vice versa. Make sense? Here I am supposed to be signing off for the night but you’ve sparked so much more thoughts, lol. That’s a good thing and I thank ya for that!
Because until I do, everyone will still think I’m a nut. Lol.
Lel, indeed – because that’s one of the things that’s really unique about the book reviewed in the original post that spawned this conversation. Sera is really direct and upfront about her “jaw dropping” experiences, profusely apologizing for them until she thinks that we’ve either adjusted to her point of view or wrapped the book in lead and buried it somewhere.
As I see it, the “hole” in the secret “doughnut” is resource limitations. Once everybody starts working the system, we discover that we can’t avoid negotiating. What’s important about the experience of the secret is getting us to the point of recognizing that it’s not just people that we have to negotiate with. When we learn to navigate those halls, the resource limitations that we struggle with now are replaced by a whole new set of opportunities and challenges.
As a Christian, I have found that the wisdom of Jesus is really relevant: live for others, and when they learn to reciprocate, you’ll find that things come out just fine in the end.
Raising children is one of the great testaments to that experience of life. I am so blessed by my sons.
I love chatting with you! I’d reply back in more depth but right now I have to get my little rascals to bed. We’ll continue tomorrow!
Hi! I just had a look at your blog, and I’m wondering: have you tried to network with photography folks? Your blog looks a bit like many photography blogs I’ve seen before, and I think you may find your niche in the art circles. Also, it looks like a great fit for promoting on Pinterest. Just a thought.
Hi! I actually haven’t but my husband has and he’s been getting a lot more engagement than me because his work is being considered as “catalog photography”? So you’re right! However the dilemma lies in not exactly knowing how to network the right way, if there even is a way. I just started blogging this month and I’m trying to figure out how to get out in front of others but cant shake the feeling that I know I’m doing it all the wrong way, lol. As far as Pinterest, that’s what my main task is as far as fashion blogging! However yet again, another thing is WordPress makes it difficult for me to figure out how to install their software and add the pin it plugin. So I’ve been manually uploading my pins but once again, can’t figure out how to get them out on the news feeds of people’s computers across the country instead of just on my friends and couple hundred random people whom don’t seem to provide any kind of response. If you have any other tips I’d love to hear, thank you for chipping in!
Have you looked at your widget customization feature? It’s very handy. You can set it up to connect to various social media platforms, and under the sharing tab in the general settings section, you can set your blog to publish to various platforms automatically, as well. Let me know if you need help getting there. I’ve been blogging for about a year, but I’m pretty tech-savvy. Maybe you can send me screen shots of what your screen looks like on your end, and I can figure out how to guide you where you need to be for the best customization to link to other social media.
Ok, thank you!! Do you have an email address? Because my confusion can sometimes be lengthy, lol. So as far as the widgets, I think I did all I can under the regular .com WordPress, EVEN though I paid for the premium .org back in Feb! But it’s transferring and all that stuff I just couldn’t understand and i was too scared to mess anything up. I know whenever I post, it automatically posts to my Facebook page for me and I also am connected to my Twitter and if you click the pin it button on the very bottom of every post, it’ll show a bunch of pics you can chose to pin but I wanted that pin it button on each pic like most people have. Now if there is anyway to have WordPress work with my Pinterest to do anything automatically for me, I need to know!! Lol. Pinterest is supposed to be my main source of incoming traffic, at least once I can determine how to grow and expand my reach on Pinterest as well, so ANY help would be HIGHLY appreciated 😊 Thank you so much for your offer to help, even just talking with you and others is a relief. Here is my email address: Graziella@SweetPeaAppleOfmyEye.com 😃
Yep. I’ll e-mail you from “firstname.lastname@example.org” (It’s an account I set up for a film I want to make that’s not gotten much traction, so far.) 🙂
Hey Brian! I just posted a brand new post called Trick or Treat, and took your advice. See if it seems a little more “my style” now!
Wow, Graziella! Good job.
Couple of suggestions: emotional pacing might be improved by resizing and/or cropping some of the photos with presentation as a montage.
You writing also tends to my style: complex thoughts crammed into sentences that can be a little too long. My struggle is always to step back and ask, “OK, what are all the elements in the dog pile?” The finally product usually benefits when I figure out how to group them together into smaller piles. The intervention of the pictures can makes this even more important, as the paragraphs are widely separated.
Also remember that you’re going to have a lot of opportunities for personal expression over the years. You don’t have to let it out all at once – it may be that certain thoughts, while essential to understanding of your experience of parenting, distract from the theme, and so break up the flow.
I got ya! I’m trying to figure out the image sizing too because I myself think they are way too big. They only thing is when I set it to the next size smaller, they’re too tiny. However I’m having some confusion between the desktop version and phone version, as I am always on my phone. When I opened the post up on the desktop I was like “WOW THATS HUGE!” Lol. So I will work on that. And as far as my over verbiage and run on sentences, I know what you mean! I’ve always had a hard time limiting it and cutting words out, just like the pictures before lol. You’d be proud of me, I didn’t post about 10 images I normally would have but after your suggestion I think it looks way more focused your way. You know when you have to type something and you’re only given a certain amount of characters to use? Never once in my life have I not struggled, cut, copied & pasted a billion times to try and squeeze it all in, that’s why I don’t like Twitter lol! But I guess if I step back and take a look at what I’m trying to say and the feeling I’m trying to evoke overall like you suggested, it might be a whole lot easier! Thank you for your help!!
What are you using for image editing? You might try paint.net. It’s a free download (though I made a maintenance contribution). I was successful in resizing the images for my books on my front page, which started out as 9×5 covers. It did take a couple of tries, as the WordPress does its own thing with layout.
Wait. More importantly, you’ve formatted a book with illustrations? I need your help! I want to publish my first children’s book, it’s ready to go I just need my husband to finish up some drawings. I was going to print one out using shutterfly just to have a hard copy in my hand then go from there and research, maybe you can tell me where I can go to self publish with someone other than a photo book company?? Ps I use Lightroom and photoshop, but my husband emails them to me and once they’re on my phone I’m stuck with just the “small-med-large” WordPress offers me.
Hold the phone! You’re getting ahead of me. No, I don’t do much with illustrations. I’ve done all my publishing through Trafford, which resulted in great quality but is a little pricey.
I think that with the quality and number of photos you have, you’d do well to composit them on your desktop and upload them as panels for the final layout. That would allow you to limit the redundancy in image backgrounds, focusing on the unique aspects of each vis a vis postures, expressions and fashion elements.
No I understand all that, the pictures in my blog have nothing to do with my book. I got the illustrations taken care of myself, after all that is done what I don’t know is how to self publish. When you self published, where did you sell your books? And with Trafford, is there a minimum order? Also do they have the program where all you have to do it upload and arrange your pictures and text and they print it out and do the rest for you? See I’m so new and have no one I know personally who’s ever ventured this far on their own on the Internet, so I’m sure there’s plenty of places where I can print out some of my own copies and they’d print and send out more to anyone who orders through them online, but every time I google it all I get is a bunch of scam websites that want to rip you off because as self publishers, we don’t know any better. And I talked to my husband, he’s going to start saving them a certain size before even sending them to me that way I don’t even have to bother with wordpress’ settings 😊 Have you tried looking at my post on a phone? You see, that’s how I’d like for it to look on a computer, too. So you can imagine my horror when this whole time I thought it looked uniform and cohesive on my phone only to open up a post on a real computer and see all that! You can’t even see the whole picture and appreciate it because they’re so huge! And I’m sorry if you’ve already posted about your publications and such on your blog, I just haven’t had time to go through it and look yet. But I do hope you know I appreciate all the time and input you’re giving me, it’s great to have another set of eyes and analytical mind like mine to overlook things and point out what could use improvement. Remember I’m new! Only started on the 1st! So I have a lot to learn, but am grateful anytime I encounter someone like you who helps guide me along the way. I’m so surprised at how many nice people I’ve met through this blogging experience so far, how sad is it that I’ve met nicer people online than I have in real life? Lol.
As I said, I published through Trafford. May Brown was my sales rep, and I had a wonderful experience with the production staff. The challenges are in marketing and sales. Despite significant investments, the only copies of the books that I’ve sold have been through direct face-to-face sales.
I went with a print-on-demand publisher, and so didn’t have to make a minimum order, and actually would have been fine with only the copies that came with the production order. I did buy a 100 personal copies on my first two books, and still have them all.
Self-publishing is really attractive because of the low cost and accessibility of professional production packages. What is hard to accept is that very few people actually want to buy books any more, and so there are correspondingly limited retail outlets for an independent to put their wares in front of the public. Most successful self-publishers already have name recognition through other aspects of their life.
This is beginning to affect even the online communities once used by authors to build recognition for quality – places like Good Reads. There’s simply a huge amount of material coming on the market. Face-to-face writer’s groups seem really important, but I live in a really sleepy neck of the woods, and so didn’t connect to a vibrant community of original thinkers, which is what my writing requires of readers.
So my advice is to do it only as a labor of love. If can take years to build a readership, which I continue to try to do here. If you are doing it because you love doing it, it can generate enormous rewards over the long term, but you’ve got to be willing to let it grow.
Yes this is exactly that, a labor of love. I’ve researched and learned a long time ago the obstacles in being an author, which is why I never went that route. My goal is to simple have the books for my kids to have, and also to start going to story time classes and day care centers to read to the kids and if they want to buy one while they are there, great. That’s why I’d only self publish, and why I was fine settling with a photo book from shutterfly. I know I have no hopes of making it on the shelves of B&N, lol but I just want to do it because I feel I have to, it’s a shame to have them left in my notebook with no one but my kids to hear.
What you may find at some point is that one of the kids talks about the books to a parent working into the publishing industry. That’s actually the most direct route to the B&N bookshelves. So don’t be discouraged!
Hey there’s an idea! Now all I have to do is choose my reading groups carefully 😜. There is a local children’s author who lives by me and she always goes to readings and signings at B&N by my house. My plan was to cozy on up to her to pick her brain and hopefully have her guide me in the right direction. But with everything going on as it is, the book may be a few months to a year down the road depending on if we move to another state or not. My husband’s father just passed so we’re thinking about moving up to TN to be by his mom. Couple that with two rambunctious babies and I’m going crazy as it is, but I enjoy this aspect of my life (blogging & writing) so much so that it actually serves as an escape for me! Sometimes I get tunnel vision though and don’t pay attention to what’s going on around me when I’m working, that’s the only down side. Like we said originally, delicate balance! That, plus practice makes perfect, and who knows maybe you’re new pal over here is going places sooner than we thought.
It’s a good thing that you have two. They learn to support each other after a while. And I can sympathize with your situation – while it’s not quite like a conversation, blogging doesn’t require that you be available instantaneously to have a meaningful interaction. That’s what I hated about Facebook – people thought that I was a troll because I wasn’t online all the time to engage in dialog. Well, shoot, I work. In the blogosphere, people invest time in putting something up. It’s not just a few throw-away sentences. So they don’t mind when people take time to think about things before they respond.
Yes I’m right in the same boat! I deleted my account and everyone thought I was majorly depressed or in hiding or something, lol. Exactly the opposite!
Also – I’m glad you’re calling attention to Etsy. I think that it’s a great innovation.
You’re two are doing a great job with the photography. The latest post (“Trouble”) makes good use of close-ups and geometry, as well as a nice variety of personal expression. (One of the dangers of personal fashion blogs is a repetition of pose.)
One of the things that I enjoy about blogging is the sense of personal story. You do a great job of tying your relationships into your posts – whether it be your family or personal experience. I’m wondering whether you might add the extra element of story boarding in the location as well. You’re making great use of setting for framing of the shots, but the sequence can sometimes feel disconnected.
It was very different in the posts with your children – there was a clear progression. You can do the same in your individual layouts, imagining a context with motion that guides the viewer through the space, conveying a sense of purpose. Unique details of the place itself also add interest for me, and reveal something about your personalities. This could add an element of engagement for those of us not focused on the fashion itself.
Or present a transition of personal style, in the current case spanning across friendly warmth to gypsy reserve, which might also be intriguing to those imagining how they can use fashion elements to “put on personality.” I think that story boarding the transition would go really well with the theme of the writing, heralding the transition from warm to chilly weather.