Posts in Business
The One e-course You Need To Take in 2018

Hello everyone! As the snow hammers down on many of us, let's talk about something really positive and exciting for a moment, shall we? If there is one you need this year, it's the one we'll teach in March/April. I know that sounds a little arrogant to say, but I'm so confident about this class because I've teamed up with my friend, Agata Dimmich, a stylist living in Milan from , and together we will deliver for the first time.

This class promises to be inspirational, educational and lots of fun. We will show you lots of tricks and great ways (and challenging ones too, but that's good!) to pull together beautiful content for your blog and social media platforms. We have SO MANY new ideas to talk to you about in class! Weeee.!

If you register now, you will pay only $79! The class will be $99 soon, but for now, we are keeping it very, very affordable so those of you who may be a little short on $$$ can still afford to take it and be inspired and encouraged.

Agata Dimmich

From March 23 - April 9th, you will learn :

  • How to find your focus and plan your photos in advance
  • How to set up a space for styling a scene and how to style interiors
  • How to style and shoot flatlays
  • How to create a consistency between your visuals
  • How to style yourself (and friends) into photos
  • Camera tips and tricks for bright and sharp photos (though this isn't a photography class, one lesson will cover photography)
  • Product styling for companies
  • How to edit photos using Lightroom and your Smartphone
  • Case studies of stylists and what we can learn from them
  • And more about how to create gorgeous content for your portfolio, Instagram, blog, etc.

We will teach you through a balanced mix of:

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Written materials
  • Live video chats
  • Questions you can ask us and fellow students in the forum

Plus the $79 fee includes:

  • A brief professional evaluation of your final project by Holly Becker
  • 2 week free class extension until Monday, April 23, 2018 at 5:00 PM CET.
  • Full access to our student-only forum where you can meet and talk to us and other students
  • Lifetime access to our private Facebook page with 2,500 student members
  • AND you can download everything (except the two live chats)

Some of our testimonials:

We hope to see you in our class, it will be so nice to welcome you and a great time of the year to get started - before all of the sunshine and beautiful weather arrives... We will get you ready for the months to come so you're able to rock your blogs and social media platforms. We will teach you simple techniques that can really transform your visual identity online and how you feel about your work - it doesn't have to be hard or time consuming - let Agata and I show you how!

(Photos: Agata Dimmich and Holly Becker)

19 Ways To Grow Your Pinterest Account Fast + Easy for 2018

Hello friends and a very happy new year to all of you! I am so glad to be here writing again, it's been a few weeks but I'm happy to be back on the blog. I have a million posts to write, a lot to tell you about and share, but first I thought since lots of you are thinking about your business and goals for the year at the moment, I'd post this great file in my shop - but I warn you, it's very expensive. It's ONE DOLLAR.

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This one page PDF is the ultimate cheat sheet for anyone looking to grow their PINTEREST account. All of these tips are fresh and current for 2018 and have allowed me to increase my followers to nearly 370,000 with 5.9 MILLION monthly views. You will definitely learn a lot, quickly, that you can apply to your Pinterest account TODAY.

This PDF will definitely be a big help to your Pinterest account and for only $1.00, it's cheaper than any book, class or the time that it would take for you to learn these 19 tips through trial and error as I have. Thank you in advance for your purchase!

I want to get back to posting some good solid business tips for my fellow entrepreneurs and those of you also using social media daily like me so this is my first attempt at getting some business posts back on the blog again that can be helpful to others like me who are working hard online each and every day (it can be so exhausting!).

I wish you all a wonderful new year, I'm back to blogging again weekly starting now and will begin to share all of my news, travel highlights, trends for 2018, home tours, posts from my contributors, with you starting now. Time to get back to blogging for 2018!

Love,

Holly

P.S. I'm on Martha Stewart giving mood board advice! .

Picture This: Photo + Storytelling e-course

If you want your photos to be liked, shared and commented on - in other words, if you want to be SEEN in this great, big online world - you have to put a story or a feeling behind the s that go deeper than the words you write beneath them. The photo has to say something!

Picture This: Photos + Storytelling e-course

And so, it's a great honor for me to tell you that, for the first time in over 8 years of running the backbone and builder of the site, the co-founder, who is also my husband, will be teaching his with a special focus on photography and story telling for bloggers, influencers, writers, online shop owners, designers, book authors and anyone else (even experienced photographers) who is creative or curious and wants to learn exactly how to craft a beautiful photo from the heart.

And I have a small, but very great, confession to make. My first anniversary gift from my husband was a beautiful Canon camera that he bought for me with money he saved up because he knew how much I loved to take photos. And 16 years later, because of his support and encouragement, his patience, and his help in developing my skills in photography, I am finally shooting with confidence. I take photos for clients globally, I travel to events and fairs to take photos, and most of the posts on my blog that I write are filled with my own photos. I also am taking photos for my own books now, and for the books of other authors!

If you don't believe me I want to show you something. These are examples of the photos that I took for cattledogs when I first started blogging nearly 11 years ago HERE and HERE. They make me laugh and cringe but they also make me SO PROUD. Because now I am taking photos like THIS and THIS and those are not even my best work. So when I say Thorsten has helped me, well, I mean it.

And now he can help you too.

Thorsten is a tech-savvy genius and knows computers from software to hardware to code, inside out - but also cameras and photography, photo editing and every gadget and app and THING you could possibly use to not only take photos but to take the best photos. On the flipside, he also is a poet and writer, and has an impressive talent to see the beauty in the mundane, to pull it out, and to share it through his photos and writing. With a teaching background for many years in Boston, he has worked in classrooms for years helping to develop skill and talent in his adult students. 

Picture This!

Thorsten will and I will step back and be his co-teacher and assistant, while he leads you through a 3 week intensive course called AND it wraps up with YOU (if you wish to) submitting a photo project and Thorsten will look at it and give you feedback and ideas.

How Many Weeks?

This is how it works. Class starts Friday, November 3, 2017 and will run for two full weeks. Then, students will take a short pause and spend the entire month of December putting what was learned into motion. Then, for one final week in January, from the 8th-15th, each student will share via Milanote (free downloadable app), their photos from December - the "story" they wish to tell. Then, Thorsten and I will look at ALL of the student projects and offer our feedback as part of the class, and all students are welcome to look at and review all projects, too to see what we've said.

What Will Be Taught?

You will learn the principles of visual storytelling: composition... From contrast and affinity to the rule of thirds, golden ratio, deep space, flat space and limited space. Next, you will learn how focal length affects composition, crop factor, ISO tips, using glass filters to control lighting, and the 4 different shot types. Finally, you'll learn how to plan a shoot day for your blog and how to plan a shoot day for a client.

Do I Need An Expensive Camera?

Please note that you will need to own or have access to a DSLR or mirrorless camera (any camera where you can change lenses) as some of the topics cannot be followed with a smartphone camera. A compact camera with a zoom is also a possible option.

How Are Classes Taught?

For this class, mostly video and screencasts along with some written lessons will be pre-recorded especially for this course and posted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week - you can view them whenever you wish during class, day or night. All materials can be downloaded and saved. We will also have live chats with students so questions can be asked in real time. And of course, questions can be asked in the forum from November 3 until January 15th, except for Christmas week and New Years Eve and New Year's Day.

We will only register a small group for this class since it includes student feedback on the photograph project - register today so you don't miss a spot!

We hope to see you in class because you will truly love it and learn more than you ever imagined!

(Photography: Thorsten Becker)

 

 

How To Create Content Online To Reach Your Audience

Hello dear friends, I hope that you are doing good and are having a nice week. I'm busy with my little boy and of course, working on my business and preparing for my upcoming trip to Finland and also for my e-course. I've planned a for all of you, something that will uplift bloggers, content creators, influencers... All of us.

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Blogging and social media are changing every day. The internet feels very full right now, have you you noticed? Yet honestly, who cares what is changing and how fast it's all going and how many people are sharing and posting and talking... Because in the end, if we know how to create great content and share in a way that gets seen (and heard), then we always have the ability to reach out online regardless of the platform or medium we choose. Everyone has a chance to rise and shine.

That's why this class is for everyone really, all who wish to be seen, heard, understood and felt in this very big, often complicated, online world.

Please join the class with me because I believe a lot of you need it right now. I know I do. I need to talk to you about content and what I've learned and am still learning about what works and most importantly, what doesn't.

 

 

 

will focus on creating content that people respond to. How many times have you posted something on Instagram and it just sat there, with very few likes, and your heart just sorta felt like it was sliding down your chest, making its way to your leg, until completely falling out onto the floor. Plunk! I've felt this before, like my heart dropped, because I was so sad that so very few responded to my words and photos.

Have you ever felt this way?

It happens to us all, so this class will be primarily to educate you on what makes content "sticky" and interesting to others, but also to hold a very open discussion around what we as content providers can do to ensure a better track record for our content. We create to be seen after all, right? I believe everyone creative has a sensitive soul, whether they'll admit it or not. Sensitive people want to be seen, but also wish to be heard and felt and understood. We want to know we matter. We are a complex bunch.

This is also why when you partner social media and blogging with sensitive, creative people, you will see lots of hearts on the floor and sad eyes when a post doesn't "perform" well or an Instagram photo is a bust. We aren't being dramatic or immature, we are human. We feel. I want my class to show you how to make your content meaningful and valuable but also how to create content that you actually are excited to make.

 

Seats are limited, so if you are interested please do not delay.

 

Note: Class starts a week from Friday, on September 15th, and only 100 people will be able to take it so we keep it small and special compared to our 500+ classes normally. I wish to really dive into content creation and general content sharing issues lots of us face, and hold some good, solid discussions around all of this.

We'll have an open chat live with me on two Fridays and I'll be active in the forum and in the comments section beneath each lesson I post so you can directly interact with me on the spot. The class is only two weeks long, but what I will share will last your entire lifetime and give you amazing advantage for your career, I promise you that. After class, you'll have an extra month to review materials and download everything.

Meet you in class!

Love,

Holly

Going To Helsinki and Speaking at Habitare!

Hello friends. I've been wanting to tell you the good news for months, but I'm giving a lecture at Finland's largest design show, . I can't wait. If you plan to attend, please sit in on my discussion which will focus on creating content for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and your blog. My lecture is at 11:30 am on Thursday, September 14, 2017. You can find more information about it . If you need tickets, you can get them . I'm also part of a jury who will be selecting favorite designs from the show, which will be a lot of fun. I can't wait to visit this fair!

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Do you have any tips for me with things to do in Helsinki? I will have a day off, so all suggestions are welcome. I love shopping for pretty clothes and shoes, great home interiors products, ceramics, drinking great coffee in pretty cafes, and definitely going somewhere to relax and take some photos - like a botanical garden, greenhouse or park. I'll be in Helsinki from 12-17 of September. I already know I am eating with a group at n, have you been? These photos in this post are from their website. It looks FANTASTIC.

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I can't wait to post again when I'm back with a list of all of the things I did and saw and to tell you about the people I met. I'll make sure to take lots of photos but also, please remember to follow me on because I'll do live Insta Stories from the fair and I'll post photos of the fantastic design I'm seeing. I'll even take you with me on Instagram while I'm hopping around the city, so please do come along! If you are based in Finland, please visit my lecture and introduce yourself - I'd love to meet you!

I also can't wait to hang out with my blogger colleagues also invited on this trip like , , and .

I am so excited to have been invited by Habitare and would like to thank my good friend Desiree from for helping me get this fabulous opportunity (she went last year and referred me) so thanks Desiree!

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Visit my lecture at

Habitare on September 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

So design junkies, any tips for my first trip to Finland?

Holly

(Photographs: Grön)

Notes About Our Move From Wordpress To Squarespace

Hi everyone! It's time to talk about the tech side of our move to . With over 11 years of posts and 100,000 comments, it was definitely more involved than simply starting a blog for the first time or moving a blog with only a few years of content over... Yet, it was surprisingly very straight forward and the results exceeded our expectations. 

To continue in the conversation about this move from my previous two posts (here and here), today we're going to get into the nitty gritty behind the move from a more technical standpoint. I've asked my husband, Thorsten Becker, who has a background in the tech industry, to tell you more about how the move panned out because he's the one who worked on this for me. Hopefully you will walk away with some knowledge that you may be able to apply to your own blog and if you decide to do so, please consider because they’ve definitely earned my respect.

The following is written by :

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

Back in 2003, I was looking for an easier way to maintain a content-focused site with frequent updates. Up until then I had written everything on my own site in HTML, which was quite laborious – write the content, paste into the HTML code, code check, upload, verify, fix any mess-ups. 

I eventually talked about content management system with a local entrepreneur who was starting his own hosting business. We were both trying out a few, Drupal and WordPress amongst them. We agreed that WordPress seemed to be the most promising. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for a small hosting package with him and installed WordPress for the first time. It was a revelation. Writing and publishing online had become a lot more enjoyable for me. I also started posting more regularly as I didn’t have to deal with tedious coding tasks anymore.

DECOR8 WAS BORN

In January 2006, Holly started blogging, creating what has since become one of the most influential design blogs worldwide. I had shown her a few things I was doing on my Wordpress site and how easy it was to publish content for a global audience (up until then she had mostly posted on design forums, which are generally closed environments, and had her own Yahoo Groups page). However, since she already had a Blogger account which she'd created in 2005, she used that to get cattledogs started.

DECOR8 LEFT BLOGGER

Blogger.com was fun for Holly to use at first (she still uses it to write her expat blog, ), but over time it became somewhat limiting. Customizing the site was difficult because it often required coding, and new features simply couldn’t be added. If we wanted a custom template we had to get it properly coded. If we wanted to customize it ourselves afterwards, we had to write code. Also, extending functionality wasn’t possible at all and the options that Blogger offered back then were rather few and limited. So, while writing on it was fun, the rest really wasn’t.

THE MOVE TO WORDPRESS

In July of 2008, Holly and I decided to move cattledogs to WordPress, which we hosted ourselves. I took on the administrative tasks of maintaining the server and the Wordpress back end. Initially, Holly was quite happy with the decision and all the new possibilities available -- easily extending functionality with plugins was great. Installing new templates was a breeze, just upload, activate and tweak a bit. Done. Everything seemed to be better than before.

 WHAT DIDN'T WORK

Maintenance began to increase dramatically. Traffic on the site grew rapidly and we started running into server resource issues which led to cattledogs not being available for stretches of time. We upgraded the package several times until we eventually took on a VPS, a Virtual Private Server. That, however, led to an increased workload on my side. I now had to manage the server infrastructure myself, including security-related tasks. Also, with each update WordPress became more and more resource hungry. I constantly needed to optimize server settings to keep the site running smoothly while also fending off several large-scale attacks directed at it.

This is where WordPress turned troublesome. While we had a lot of flexibility – at one point using close to 40 different plugins, it came at the cost of constant monitoring, tweaking, hardening, etc. We also needed to replace plugins frequently as developers decided to no longer update them. WordPress’ open source environment with its myriad of plugins and templates and modifications, which once looked so attractive, caused a lot of headaches. In addition, many of the commercial plugins we once bought started employing year-over-year paid update and support schemes, increasing site expenses.

Redesigns, of which we did a few, never went without a hitch. At one point, I had to create a separate staging site to ensure the next redesign didn’t take the site offline. Some WordPress templates even had gaping security holes that could be exploited by hackers – unbeknownst to us. 

WHY SQUARESPACE?

After some consideration and deliberation, I set out trying to find a better blogging solution, one that didn’t require maintaining a server. The only real alternative, at least for us, turned out to be . Holly already had an account which I used to put the interface through some tests. I instantly found it to be very intuitive, easy to use and most of all fun to write on. Pages and posts can be composed in a similar fashion to using DTP software – add a text block, add image blocks, add text and image blocks, mix and match, expand, decrease, remove. It simply made sense and felt familiar.

FROM WORDPRESS TO SQUARESPACE

I tried some sample imports, bringing a few cattledogs posts and comments in to a test site on . That, too, worked flawlessly. However, to bring a large site like ours over, some planning was needed. Over 6,000 posts and over 100,000 comments had to be transferred. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it in one go. Again, WordPress got in the way. A full export of all data kept timing out. Our server team tried to assist by increasing all timeouts values in the server environment – to no avail. I decided to do partial exports instead. That initially didn’t work either. There is a long-standing bug in WordPress that excludes featured images from posts if a partial export is done. To rectify this a plugin is needed. That plugin led to timeouts again. I was going around in circles.

Eventually I created one, large partial export for all posts from 2006 to 2014, knowing that featured images would be missing (though we hadn’t started using them until about 2013). For 2015 to 2017, I then created monthly exports with featured images. In some cases, I had to break it down even further, creating two or three export files for a single month. Once done, the files imported flawlessly into . It was worth the effort.

THE WRONG INTERFACE CAN AFFECT YOUR WRITING

Holly is a prolific writer. She can turn out a book in a week if she wants to. But after moving from Blogger to Wordpress I noticed that she was writing less and less on cattledogs. By 2010 she was posting about half of what she used to on Blogger. While she was rather busy with new projects, including her books and , the real reason might surprise you - Wordpress' interface. While I had really liked using Wordpress and had convinced Holly to switch, her experience was quite different from mine. 

She was simply not having fun using Wordpress, silently struggling with it for 7 years, finding it to be quite confusing and even stressful. She had voiced her frustration on several occasions but no matter what we tried, it just wouldn't make it enjoyable. However, as soon as I had tried Squarespace I was certain she would really enjoy using it. Everyone's different but in general I find Wordpress geared more towards technical minded users. Squarespace on the other hand is clearly aimed at design oriented users such as Holly.

As soon as the move was done and Holly was writing her first post she had a big smile beaming across her face. She explained that she loved writing again because it's so easy and intuitive to put together a post on Squarespace. Adding photos and creating various layouts is fun for her now.  Within a few days she's learned the entire interface and has no issues navigating it. Not even a week later she is posting regularly once more and she can't wait to get her next post up. She’s excited again to blog and is going full speed ahead. 

THE VERDICT

Almost 12 years of cattledogs content is with now and we are very pleased. Moreover, blogging is fun again for Holly. She really enjoys the interface and the options available to compose her posts – and any auxiliary content as well.

I once was an eager proponent of WordPress, advocating it and recommending it to almost everyone interested in blogging due to its flexibility and extensibility. This, however, turned to be its biggest downside for us. It just wasn’t working for cattledogs anymore. With Squarespace, we have found a platform that works and that's made blogging fun again.

Want to make the switch the which offers ? Sign up for a 14-day free trial. When you're ready to subscribe be sure to use code 'DECOR8' for 10% off your first purchase.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Squarespace. All words and opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep cattledogs blogging for over 11 years.

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