Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Open an Online Shop

Have you thought about opening an online shop to sell handmade products? In this guest post, my dear friend Chrystina talks about her recent experience diving in and opening an online greeting card shop. She'll walk you through the business and marketing aspects as well as help you think critically through some parts that can be overlooked. Enjoy!



I’ve wanted to own a greeting card shop since I was 15-years-old. I’ve always been a crafter, but it started out in scrapbooking. Once I became completely overwhelmed with scrapbooking, I ended up with a lot of supplies that I realized could be used to make greeting cards. I fell in love with designing cards for people including cards with inside jokes, cards to fit personalities, and cards to commemorate special (but atypical) situations. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Then I went to college, graduated with a degree in architectural engineering (long story), and got a job as a construction consultant. It was around then that I realized how far away I was from my greeting card shop dreams. That’s when I started my blog, Chrystina Noel.

It became a place to share greeting cards, discuss party hosting tips (that I usually learned the hard way). For years, whenever I gave a card to someone people in the room would inevitably ask do you sell these? And the answer was always no. And every time I answered no I got sad. Three years later, I decided it was about time to do something about it.

There were two things that finally pushed me over the edge.

One - I ordered a set of postcards to use as belated birthday cards for myself. When I opened the package and showed them to my co-worker, she immediately asked (a little bit frustrated at this point) why they weren’t available for purchase anywhere. I think that’s what happens when you sit and talk about how you want to open a greeting card shop for three years in front of someone.

Two – I’ve been listening to Elise Blaha’s podcast. It’s about blogging, small business inspiration, and creativity. The amount of time I heard her say things like – nothing’s ever going to be perfect, you’ll figure it out as you go, you just need to jump in – finally clicked. It was one thing for everybody in my personal life (with no blog and no online shop) to tell me to just jump in, but it was another thing to hear it from someone who has been there, done that.

Alright, so you (finally) know you want to open a shop, now what? Here are my 9 steps to opening a shop.

Start running numbers


Make sure that you can produce your product at a reasonable cost and sell it at a price capable of giving you a reasonable profit. Get as detailed as you can – take a sample product to the post office to find out how much it’s going to cost to ship, decide what packaging you are going to use, and figure out what your own hourly rate is. (Listen to this podcast for help with pricing.) If you can’t convince yourself the numbers are going to work, you might need to brainstorm your product line one more time.

Develop your products


How to Open an Online Shop - Develop Your Products

This is an ongoing process, but in order to talk about your business, it’s easiest to have a sample or prototype. Also, if you start making and designing early, you may learn that you actually priced your product too low.

The most important part of this is to really think about what people want. For example, yes, I’m making greeting cards – and I love cards for random occasions, like promotions and thank you for the tomatoes, and yay you bought a new car; however that’s not how people think. Right off the bat people wanted to know if I had birthday cards and Christmas cards in the shop, and I didn’t really, so that’s something I am going to be stocking up on in the future.

Talk to an accountant


This was a big one for me. This was probably the biggest thing holding me back from starting a shop. I finally realized that all I need some help and all it was going to take was sending an email to learn more about it. I did a little bit of google and yelp searching and found an accountant in my area who works with a lot of creative businesses. I emailed her, told her what my plans were and asked her for some guidance. She helped me set up an account to pay sales tax (you need to pay quarterly taxes when you own a small business) and explained how to go about doing that. She's also going to help me out when filing my 2014 taxes.

While I still don't know anything about taxes, I feel much better knowing that I have somebody on call that can help. Not only that, but the whole thing turned out to be way more reasonably priced than I thought.

Make a mailing list & advertise


Start getting people excited about what you’re going to do. Talk about it with your friends and family, post it on your personal Facebook page, tweet about it, write a blog post about it, get your friends to write a blog post about it – put it anywhere and everywhere.

Also, most importantly, start developing a mailing list – a way to get and stay in touch with people just as excited about your new venture as you are. Yes, I put a link to the mailing list on my blog, but I also blasted out an email to everybody in my gmail contacts and everybody that I’ve ever met at my office to see if they wanted to be on the mailing list. This isn’t something I’ve ever done before (and probably won't again), but I decided the best place to start getting followers was going to be the network of people around me that I’ve worked so hard to build already.

Develop your branding


Yes, I’m talking about developing a logo and creating a name for your venture, but I’m also talking about figuring out how to tell your story. Why is this product important to you? Why should it be important to others? It’s this story that people are going to be able to connect with.

Also, if you don't have a twitter, instagram, or pinterest account, now would be the time to sign up. On twitter you can connect with current and future customers, on instagram you can share a look at the behind-the-scenes product making, and on pinterest you can post your products once they are available in your shop as rich pins.

Take product photos


How to Open an Online Shop - Take Product Photos

Take pictures of your products. This is something I’m not an expert on yet, but there are plenty of tutorials around the internet. And clearly, this is important because this is how potential customers are going to view (and hopefully fall in love with) your product.

Choose a platform


There are so many options if you want to open an online store. From the very beginning I told everybody I was going to be launching an Etsy shop. Most people at this point are familiar with Etsy and it was the easiest way to explain it. About 15 days before my store launch I decided to go on Etsy and play around with building my shop so I wouldn’t feel rushed the day before launching. I got all the way through the process and then found out that I couldn’t view the shop before I launched it. As a little bit of a control freak, this gave me severe agita. Then I tried to find somebody to contact at Etsy to discuss it with and I couldn’t find a customer help email address. The only way I could figure out how to contact them was through Twitter. Never did 140 characters ever seem so small. I was stressed out, man.

It was at this point I started looking into other alternatives. I found this blog post. (Which is formatted horribly, the content is great though.)

I narrowed it down to Etsy & StorEnvy. Here was a bit of my thought process. StorEnvy doesn't charge you to post or sell your products, Etsy charges a 3.5% fee on sales and $0.20 per item you post. Etsy gives you access to the Etsy Marketplace. StorEnvy is more customizable if I ever decided I wanted to get extra crafty.

So I decided to build my entire shop again using StorEnvy just to see how it went. I got to the end of the StorEnvy design and found out that I could view the store without launching it, which made me feel more at ease. Then on top of it, when I had a question about how to set up no shipping fees for local deliveries I found an email address to contact. A nice man named Michael answered my email by greeting me warmly and providing me with a link to my answer. I emailed him back immediately feeling incredibly grateful to tell him that he had just helped me make up my mind about which platform to choose. He responded with another thoughtful email in return. For somebody who is moderately OCD and addicted to email, both of these things sold me to StorEnvy.

The only thing I'm bummed about is the lack of Etsy marketplace visibility. We'll see as time goes on if I made the right decision, and hey, I can always switch later, right?

Launch your shop


How to Open an Online Shop - Launch Your Shop

Now, I figure I should tell you this now. This was approximately the most anticlimactic part of this entire process for me. I clicked a button and the shop opened, and then I realized my next job was waiting (and marketing and product development and better blog content creation, but none of those things had deadlines).

Once I realized how anticlimactic it was, I laughed at myself with a sigh of relief. Now that the "hard part" was over, I was going to be able to focus much more on creating new products, getting customer feedback, and making my branding more cohesive between my blog and the shop. I also launched my first newsletter using mailchimp on the day the shop opened, which is where I put a bit more of the story behind the greeting cards and was able to connect with the people on my mailing list.


I only launched my shop with 13 handmade cards in it, an option for custom cards, and a large batch of postcards. That was enough to make it feel like I had something to show for myself and plenty of room for growth.

In my first month so far I've gotten 7 sales, and I'm really excited to move into the holiday season. I always like to leave people with my to-do list going forward, especially with something like this because things are always changing and you're never going to have everything perfect. Here are some other things on my radar:

  • Figuring out the best way to keep track of inventory (especially with so many one-of-a-kind cards)
  • Continuing to make my branding more cohesive between my blog and shop
  • Creating more products (and doing it more efficiently)
  • Finding a local printer to work with
  • Doing a survey among friends and family to find out what types of products would sell best
  • Applying to sell my products at craft fair locally



Chrystina is a greeting card designer, party hostess, photographer, and blogger in Philadelphia, PA. She loves sending snail mail, meeting new people, drinking chai lattes, creating photo albums, and queso. You can follow her at Chrystina Noel, as well as on instagram, twitter, and pinterest.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Make Your Blog Load Faster: Image and Photo Trick

In the process of switching this blog from self-hosted WordPress to Blogger (I know… who does that, right?) I also fixed some of the images as I went along.

After a couple of years of blogging, I noticed that my site was loading slow. Simultaneously I learned about SFW. That isn't Safe For Work. It's Save For Web.

In Photoshop, there's a magical and quick way to prep your images so they load fast and don't bog down your site.

JPG vs PNG




First let's talk about JPEG images versus PNG images. There's a lot of technical aspects behind the different file types, but I'm going to cut through that to get to the takeaway information so you know how to apply it to your blog.

Most basically, you want to save your images as JPG files if they're photos or if there's a lot of "stuff" going on in them.

The PNG file type should be reserved for when you need to save something with a transparent background.

A great example is the logo at the top of my site: while it has a complex and textured background of the speech bubble, the area surrounding the image at the corners is transparent so it will lie nicely on the textured background without having a white border.

You can also use PNG for illustrative work, like simpler line drawings and flat design work (meaning no gradients).

What if I'm Not Sure on JPG vs PNG?


The great news is that Photoshop's Save For Web dialog box will help you make decisions on those tough images where it's hard to decide whether the PNG or JPG file type would be better.

Here's a great example from my Heart and Arrow design feature. Because most of the image is a screenshot of a blog design, wouldn't it make sense that PNG would be better since it's a flat image? No: because of the high resolution rendering of the Macbook combined with the images within the screenshot, it's a very complex image.

This image was originally saved as a 442KB png file. Here it is as a PNG:

sparkle social blog design by heart and arrow saved as a PNG

And here it is as a Saved-For-Web JPG, at 73KB.

sparkle social blog design by heart and arrow saved as a JPG for web

Not much difference, huh? And I've saved 369KB by saving this image for web.

How to Save For Web in Photoshop


So how do you work your magic?

Within Photoshop, open your image file.

Go to File → Save For Web…. (Or if you're feeling shortcut-ey, type Command+Option+Shift+C on a mac or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+C on a PC.)

Within the dialog box, choose JPEG as the File Type and Very High as the Compression Quality.

save for web dialog box in photoshop

The key points to look at are the preview box to see if you're losing quality, but also the file size directly underneath the preview box. When you're changing settings on the right, you can see the file size grow or shrink. The goal is to get the best quality image at the lowest file size.

how to save for web in photoshop for your blog

You can also play around with the other settings, as it'll show you the preview within the dialog box. If the colors look off, try playing around with the Preview drop down.

This is also a great time to resize your images. In this example, I don't need the file to be 1024 PX, so I can save a lot of file size by resizing it to be 700px wide. Photoshop will automatically calculate the image height so it stays within the same aspect ratio.

save for web dialog box in photoshop change image size to size needed

Notice the drastically reduced file size!

And again, here is the image as a 442KB png file:

sparkle social blog design by heart and arrow saved as a PNG

And here it is as a Saved-For-Web JPG, at 73KB, with a savings of 369KB.

sparkle social blog design by heart and arrow saved as a JPG for web

Conclusion


Your blog will load tons faster if your images are Saved For Web. This includes not only your blog content images, but also the images used on every page of your blog:

  • Header image
  • Sidebar images, including your bio photo
  • Social media buttons
  • Any other images that appears in the Header, Sidebar, or Footer of your blog

Do your blog a favor and help it to load faster by Saving For Web within Photoshop. It'll make your readers happier and will also help you look more like a professional blogger with a fast load time.

Go ahead: clean up your blog and save your images for web moving forward.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Look Like a Professional Blogger: 6 Quick Tips

Your blog is your baby. It's your creative outlet and your way to express yourself. It's important to look professional on your blog. There are a few quick functional and aesthetic fixes and checks to do just this:

how to look like a professional blogger
Bunn wants to look like a professional blogger.

  1. Don't have any broken images - Images can make or break a blog, but broken images are empty boxes of sadness. Broken images are promises that weren't kept. Showing other people's images? Download their image onto your server and host it on your site (and credit the source!). Do not rely on other sites to host their images for you. URL's change and break all the time, and you don't want that to reflect poorly on your site.
  2. Don't have any broken links - Once a year or so, plan to run your site through a broken link checker. External links aren't always possible to keep up with, but links within your site should work. Getting a 404 on your own page will cause your audience to lose trust in you, whether that is a conscious loss in trust or not.
  3. Have an about and contact page - As a blogger, you're putting yourself out there. People want to learn more about you as a person, and they also want to be able to contact you. Whether these critical blog components are mushed together in one page or are on separate pages, just make sure they're there, updated, and easily found.
  4. Have readable text - Standard web fonts do exist for a reason. These classic fonts have been around so long and have survived the onslaught of thousands of new fonts for a few reasons, but the most important being they're readable. People are on your blog to read. If your text is cursive, all caps, as wide as the browser, ├╝ber tiny, very light grey, etc, your text won't be readable. Stay up on the typography trends and model your text after that. New, highly read sites like Medium use very large serif fonts. Web designer? Don't fall into the trap of using a super light grey, tiny font. It may look cool, but it's very hard to read. Trust me. Also, Open Sans is the devil for body text.
  5. Have comprehensive aesthetics - What does this mean? Use no more than two fonts. No more than 2 or 3 colors. Use a repeated motif or theme throughout your design. Use your best judgement, download a premade template, or hire a designer. You probably spend money and time on your own appearance because you want to look like a functional person. Spend some money and/or time on your blog theme, as it's somewhat an extension of yourself.
  6. Write good. - edit, edit, edit. No one's perfect, but at least give it your best shot.

What are some blogger no-no's that make you cringe?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Be More Productive By Focusing on What You've Already Done

Forget the To-Do list.


Productivity and happiness heavily influence each other.

I spend a lot of time thinking about productivity and happiness. Together or separate, one heavily influences the other. If you're not productive, your happiness may dwindle. And if you're not happy, you may not feel like being productive. In a lot of ways, happiness is derived from your perceived self-worth and sense of purpose, so if you're not producing anything meaningful, you will end up feeling schlumpy or bored.

As someone who works from home for my full-time gig and also is constantly working at other passion projects, whether it's helping clients, practicing lettering, slicing a blog template, or furthering my doodling ventures, I often feel like I'm not doing enough. Which when I think about it, is an insane thought. As a creative, there's a high chance you feel the same way.

The Short To-Do List Hack


Keeping a short handwritten to-do list will help you be focused.

I came across a to do list hack twice in the past couple of weeks. First, I read in Tim Ferriss's book The 4 Hour Workweek that having a short and handwritten to-do list at your desk every morning was going to help you be most productive. If you make this list at the end of each day, you can come to your desk the following morning and know exactly where you need to put your focus. By limiting yourself to two projects, there's a much higher chance you'll complete your list since there's less choice. We all know how more choice leads to more procrastination, fidgeting and angst.

So, I'm about a week into practicing this short to do list method and it's got me feeling kind of unfulfilled. My productivity is still high and I'm still working in time chunks to be able to hit different items on my passion project list every day. But I've still felt meh at the end of the day.

The short to-do list productivity hack came up again in listening to one of Sean McCabe's earlier podcasts about productivity and Guilt-Free Free Time. Sean is the type of person who is always working on something awesome and allows himself very little true down time, and I fully relate to that. (“True down time” meaning spending time on something that absolutely does not further you in your interests or as a person in any way.)

I was running this morning and listening to this podcast. Sean mentioned a very intriguing approach to to-do lists. I can't remember what he called it, but I'm going to call it The Done List.

The Done List is exactly what it sounds like: it's a running list of things that you've completed.

Boost your motivation by keeping a Done List.

By keeping a complete list of your accomplishments, you're giving yourself a pat on the back and are keeping a record of the really great things you've done that day. The 3pm-time-for-coffee-or-nap slump can easily be cured by taking a look at your Done List.

Sound familiar? That's because it's really important to recognize positive things in your life, daily.

How to Keep a Done List


The Done List: A way to celebrate your accomplishments and boost productivity

Grab a small notebook and a pen. Using actual pen and paper will feel much more cemented than typing a list. Then you can keep this notebook on the corner of your desk.

As you accomplish things throughout the day, write it down. Title each day something awesome, like:

  • Reasons why I kicked butt today:
  • I got all of this stuff done today:
  • I rock because today I:
  • Look at everything I did today:

You get the idea.

I certainly get a rush of adrenaline when I think about everything I've accomplished in a day or a week, rather than focusing on everything I want to accomplish.

Staying Balanced and Productive as a Creative and Ambitious Person


This also lends itself to the “Live in the moment” life philosophy. A list of goals is the future. Short actionable to-do lists are the present. And Done Lists are the past. While you do need all three to be a productive and ambitious person, the Done List can help you keep a healthy balance of all three by helping you recognize your accomplishments.

If you feel like you're too hard on yourself, give The Done List method a shot and let me know how it goes.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Set Up a Self Hosted WordPress Blog in 4 Easy Steps

When talking about choosing a blogging platform, I recommend Self Hosted WordPress as the way to go. Because of its flexibility and power, a self hosted WordPress blog help you achieve your blogging goals and can give you room for growth and change with a relatively small investment.

Recently I've talked a lot about how to choose a blogging platform (things like what a blogging platform is, what you need to think about before choosing a blogging platform, the ins and outs of Tumblr and Blogger, and WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

This post is a quick start guide of how to get your Self Hosted WordPress blog up and running in a matter of minutes.

I'll walk you through the technical details step by step so you can follow along, get set up, and move on with more fun blogging endeavors.

While there are multiple ways to get your WordPress blog up and running, these are the steps that I use whenever I set up a blog for a client. I choose to use services like GoDaddy and HostGator because of their unparalleled customer service and helpful documentation.

self-hosted-wordpress

Follow along with my video or with the step by step guide below. The tutorial below may look long but as evidenced by my 10 minute walkthrough video, getting set up with your own self hosted WordPress blog won't take long at all.



Register for a domain with GoDaddy


I choose to register for domains with GoDaddy because of their great customer service and simply because they're an industry standard.

  • GoDaddy.com .
  • Search for your desired domain name.
  • If it's available, add it to your cart.
  • I recommend signing up for Privacy Protection so your name, address and phone number will be protected.
  • Enter your billing information and sign up.

Sign Up for Web Hosting with HostGator


I use HostGator for all of my WordPress blogs and have been using them since 2010. I highly recommend HostGator to anyone signing up for web hosting for WordPress. **Update - I personally am using Blogger now to save money, but still build all client sites on WordPress**

  • Go to HostGator.
  • Click on the “View Web Hosting Plans” button.
  • Choose your plan. I recommend Hatchling if you're only going to have one domain name, and Baby if you plan on having multiple websites.
  • In the Order Wizard, choose “I already own this domain” since you registered for a domain with GoDaddy.
  • Enter in your domain name.
  • Choose your hosting package information and Billing Cycle.
  • Enter your preferred username and password.
  • Enter your billing information and credit card or Paypal info.
  • Uncheck the Hosting Addons if you choose.
  • Check Accept terms and conditions and then click Create Account.

Within a few minutes you'll get your welcome email from HostGator. This email contains a lot of important information, like your logins and passwords for HostGator billing and HostGator Control Panel (aka CPanel). This email also contains your Nameservers, which is pertinent for the next step.

Point Your Domain to HostGator by Changing Settings in GoDaddy


Now you just need to make a small change to your domain in GoDaddy so that your domain name points to your HostGator web hosting plan.

  • Log into GoDaddy.
  • Click on Visit Your Account and navigate to your domains. Next to the domain you wish to edit, click Launch.
  • Under the Settings tab, find Nameservers. Click on Manage.
  • Click on Custom nameservers, then click Enter Custom Nameservers.
  • Paste in the two nameservers from the HostGator welcome email in each row. They look like this: nsXXXX.hostgator.com
  • Click OK.

Install WordPress


This is the last step! You'll need to go back to your HostGator welcome email and click on the Control Panel link. Log in with the username and password provided in the HostGator welcome email.

Once you're logged into HostGator's Control Panel:

  • Locate and open QuickInstall (under Software/Services or by using the Find search bar.
  • In QuickInstall, click WordPress under Blog Software.
  • Click Continue.
  • Choose where you want your WordPress installation to occur. If you want it at the top level of your domain, leave the first field blank. If you want it under “blog”, enter blog after the domain.
  • Enter your admin email, blog title, admin username (choose something other than “admin” for security purposes), and your first and last name.
  • Click Install Now.

WordPress will install instantly. When it's finished, the QuickInstall page will refresh and you'll get your WordPress login URL (something like http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin) as well as your login username and password.

From here, I recommend that you bookmark your wp-admin login page, log into WordPress and immediately change your password under Users as shown in the video.

That's it! You've now installed your self hosted WordPress blog. Now get blogging!

I hope this tutorial was helpful - as always, please leave questions in the comments.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WordPress for beginner bloggers: General Settings and Branding

When you're getting started with WordPress versus other blogging platforms, the settings available can feel overwhelming because of the sheer quantity of choice.

bunny thinking of starting a wordpress blog
Bunn dreams of starting a blog. -Sour Bunnies

Within the Settings menu, there are five major categories for settings that should be looked at first, before starting to blog. Some of these settings are important to get right the first time because they are harder to change further down the blogging road. Other settings can be forgotten; this post series will be a good reminder to comb through these settings again if your WordPress blog is already set up.

general

First up is Title, Tagline, and other General settings. This post is meant to be for absolute WordPress beginners or for anyone looking to improve their blog's first-glance branding.

General


Within the General Settings, there fields for the name and description of your blog, time and timezone, and your language.

Site Title


The Site Title blog is important. This doesn't affect the URL of your blog which displays in the browser's address bar, but it will show up in a lot of important places. For example:

  • The top of your blog design
  • In the title of the browser tab
  • In search results

So, be sure to use proper formatting when entering your Site Title. Proper spelling and capitalization are important here.

For reference, the official Site Title of my blog is Hello Brio Studio.

Tagline


Your blog's Tagline is your blog's short description, and defaults to “Just Another WordPress Blog” when you're getting started. So make sure to change this right away!

On my blog, my current Tagline is “Design. Blogging. Creativity.” Your Tagline can encompass what your blog is about, what your mission statement is, and more. In the past, I've had Taglines like this:

  • A creative lifestyle blog
  • A creative lifestyle blog with posts about blogging and design.

Taglines sometimes display underneath the Site Title on your blog's design, but it really depends on your blog's theme.

The Title and Tagline partnership


Writing taglines is an art within itself. Between your blog's Site Title and Tagline, your site needs to be close to self-explanatory.

When new visitors come across your blog, it's important for them to be able to tell what your blog is about within seconds. If they come across a blog that is titled “Mary's Blog” where the tagline is “A place where I share the stuff I love”, there's a chance people will quickly skip over your site.

But say you're Mary, and you write a blog on really awesome and alternative knitting patterns. You may consider this pairing:

  • Title: Knitting Mary
  • Tagline: Kickass knitting pattern reviews for cool chicks

This pairing not only introduces the blog's main topic, but it also helps incorporate a bit of Mary's personality and niche within the knitting community.

Again, crafting the perfect Title and Tagline combo is a process. Revisit these items periodically while you're blogging, and make sure your blog is still well-represented in your Title and Tagline.

Now, some quick boring things before we move on:

Time, Timezone, and a quick note on some “mystery” WordPress settings


While some of these settings may seem pointless to choose now, they are important to choose now and keep in mind for later because the settings may take into effect when you switch your WordPress blog's theme (i.e. Timezone, Date Format, Time Format, Week Starts on, and Language).

When designers make themes, they can choose what is shown and what isn't. So for example: while a certain time format (as set in General Settings) may not be applicable for one theme, it can be for another.

On Timezone: because WordPress likes to use UTC timezones, it can be a bit confusing. Not sure what timezone you're in? Google it! I've googled Philadelphia time zone and Google spit back:

Eastern Time Zone (UTC-05:00)
Philadelphia, Time zone

General Settings complete!


That's all I've got for you here.

Just remember that your Title and Tagline is an important work in progress, and to keep it in the back of your mind for periodic improvements.

Questions about WordPress settings? Comment below.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Change scenery for a new perspective

There's something to be said for changing your scenery in order to help you get more done, feel more creative, and become inspired.

Living in center city Philadelphia, I can leave my apartment any time and park myself at a coffee shop so I can get more work done. If I'm really feeling bold, I can do the coffee-shop-hop and grab a large cup of house drip at each place I go until the day is done.

plenty rittenhouse coffee shop
Photo via Hello Brio Photo

There's no question in my mind that I thrive best in the city. The thrill of being able to walk anywhere at any given time is a freeing feeling. I feel like 90% of everything I need can be reached by walking.

However, any city person can start to get wrapped up in a bubble pretty quickly. Sometimes it's necessary to hop in a car and take a long drive in order to gain a new perspective on what you want and how you want to achieve it.

Choose your destination - Chevy Volt
Choose your destination.

Driving through the Hershey area this past weekend let me do just that. Escape the congestion and boxed-in feeling that comes along with living in the city by zooming between farms that stretch as far as you can see.

farm roads in hershey pa

No matter where you're from or where you live, seeing new sights and not getting stuck in your routine surroundings can help open your mind and help you gain clarity.

That's why travel is so popular for so many people. But an expensive vacation doesn't always have to be the answer: you can relax your mind enough sometimes just by taking a drive.

How do you change scenery to help gain clarity and creative inspiration?
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