January 2017 Reading Wrap Up

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For the first month of 2017, I read 16 books, AKA, 57% of my total Goodreads goal for the entire year.

Yeah, I may need to up that challenge.

Without further ado, here are the books I read in January 2017:

  1. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
  2. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
  3. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
  4. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
  5. Body and Soul by Bethany Hamilton
  6. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  7. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  8. Today Will be Different by Maria Semple
  9. Blubber by Judy Blume
  10. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
  11. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  12. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
  13. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  14. Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
  15. I Don’t Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer
  16. Night by Elie Wiesel

January’s reads were as wide ranging in my ratings as they were in styles. While some books I could hardly finish (I won’t say any names…), some books I wished would never end (I’m looking at you, Lilac Girls). After these great weeks of reading, I’m looking forward to what February has in store.

Check out my full thoughts on these books and what I’m currently reading by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!

3 Ways to Increase SEO

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Search Engine Optimization is a digital media strategy that helps your business become visible on the web. Potential customers are more likely to find you and purchase your product if your SEO is in good standing for your market. 

While it sounds complicated, your SEO ranking can improve with just three simple steps. 

Create Quality Content
The best, most worthwhile way to increase your SEO ranking is to consistently publish relevant content to your industry. Blog about any new developments, company milestones, or even simply the products you sell. By posting content that is relevant and helpful for consumers, your SEO ranking will organically increase, helping you to create a lasting, valued online presence. 

Go Mobile
With most of consumer America glued to their smartphones, it is no surprise that businesses are seeing a major increase in mobile traffic to their sites. When you create a mobile friendly online space, more people are likely to visit and take action on your site, which helps to increase your overall statistics and consumer return rates. 

Embrace Keywords
Keywords are the way search engines evaluate the relevancy of your content, directly affecting your SEO. Strategically use strong, smart keywords on your site and in the content you publish to help search engines pick up your work, and take notice. Blogs are a great way to do this, since every word you use is considered a keyword, and when written correctly, can boost your ranking in a very short amount of time. 

Your business’s SEO strategy is vital to online relationships and success. By tweaking just a few aspects of your digital media practices, your ranking will soar, and so will consumer interest. 

6 Tips for Finding Digital Balance

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In the world of Digital Media, the only constant is change. New platforms are emerging every day, and existing platforms are always coming out with innovative features.  

So how do you find the right balance when it comes to social? 

Vary Content
While we all know that visuals perform better than plain text, make sure your content is a good mix of pictures, videos, slideshows, infographics, and other creative pieces. Varying the type of content you post will open your business up to a wide range of new audiences. 

80/20 Rule
As a rule of thumb, 80% of your content should be news, tips, entertainment (including memes or other viral shares), and relevant articles, while 20% posted on your company’s platforms should be promotional pieces. Consumers follow your platform to be entertained, and often find it all too easy to unfollow when all they are shown are sales motivated campaigns. 

Respond to Negativity
It can be tempting to delete negative comments, but that won’t help you build your brand. Instead, respond timely to negativity by offering solutions to problems consumers may be facing. By tackling trouble head-on in a public setting, your company will gain the trust of consumers. 

Tag Wisely
Hashtags are a great way to build your audience, but using too many or too few can be detrimental and unprofessional. For example, on Twitter 1-3 hashtags is best, Instagram performs well with 11+, and Facebook favors posts with no hashtags at all. 

Allow Influence
Sure, no one knows your business better than you, but handing over your platform for a day to a social influencer (like Aspyn Ovard or Ellie and Jared), can help your brand to reach millions of new viewers, and get the social facelift it needs to get your business to the next digital level. 

Be Flexible
Digital media is always changing, and you need to be willing to change with it. Not all campaigns will be successful, and not every post will render a great ROI. Be willing to tweak your campaigns as they are implemented, and take what you learn from this ever changing industry to boost your brand online. 

What are some of the best ways your business stays balanced digitally? 

Your Business Needs to Blog

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If your business is not blogging, then it is behind in major marketing efforts. Blogging is vital to the online presence of any business, and by skipping this digital medium, you are throwing away an entire world of customers and opportunity.

Not convinced that blogging is for you? Here are 5 ways that blogging will help better your business today:

Higher Rate of Customers
Businesses who blog have a 60% larger customer base than those who do not. By ignoring the idea of blogging, you are also ignoring a large percentage of potential customers from ever even knowing that your company exists.

Opportunity for Personality
Today’s consumers want to interact with companies that have their own voice and unique purpose for conducting business. Consumers want to know the people behind the products they are buying, and blogging gives you the opportunity to do just that. By highlighting your business’ personality through blogging, you build strong consumer relationships that are vital to the health of your organization.

Cost Effective
A blog is one of the most cost effective marketing strategies in digital media. With just a few hundred thoughtfully written words, your business can reach consumers all over the globe, driving attention to your call-to-action, and increasing your return on investment almost instantly.

Consumer Insight
Having a blog and tracking where your clicks are coming from, and what those clicks are doing, gives you valuable insight into your consumer database. Are most of your clicks coming from the Midwest? Are only a third of your readers moving forward and continuing to another action on your site? Tracking the data from a blog will help you tweak your overall marketing efforts to create an even better, more fulfilling online atmosphere that matches your consumers’ wants and needs.

Fuel for SEO
Your blog is the backbone of your company’s SEO strategy. Search engines love quality content that is valuable to consumers, and thus will rank your site higher than others who are not taking full advantage of blogging. The content that you put on your blog directly affects SEO, so the better you blog, the better this key marketing factor will be for your business.

Starting a blog for your business is a simple way to get the most out of your digital marketing strategy. What are you waiting for?

22 Things from My 22nd Year

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While many are celebrating the ringing in of 2017, I am busy getting ready to turn another year older on the 8th. In honor of my 23rd birthday tomorrow, here are 22 things that happened during my 22nd year:

  1. Lived a full year in Nashville, TN.
  2. Wrote hundreds of songs.
  3. Started my own freelance business.
  4. Started a new job.
  5. Saw Eric Church play Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop from the front row.
  6. Read 90 books.
  7. Visited Kansas City 4 times.
  8. Attended the CMT Awards.
  9. Cut my hair…once.
  10. Discovered the magic of the Nutribullet.
  11. Saw The Wild Feathers play the Ryman.
  12. Watched every possible Sporting KC Game.
  13. Became a little too obsessed with Sporting KC.
  14. Saw needtobreathe play Starlight Theatre.
  15. Cooked a Thanksgiving dinner.
  16. Had my apartment flooded.
  17. Started a blog.
  18. Took an hour long Uber ride when my car broke down.
  19. Saw both of my songwriting heroes (Brandy Clark and Holly Williams) in the same day.
  20. Was disappointed by Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
  21. Wrote even more songs.
  22. Gained clarity on what 23 would hold.

All in all, 22 was a great year. I learned a lot, grew a lot, and figured out the next steps to make 23 even better. So here’s to the last 365 days, and the obscene amount of gluten free funfetti cupcakes I am going to eat this weekend.

5 Things to Do in Nashville this Winter

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Winter is in full swing in Nashville, TN, and if the snow on this southern ground is any indication, it isn’t going anywhere.

While Nashville is typically thought of as a summer getaway (CMA Fest, anyone?), winter in Music City is still a great time to visit or even just explore as a local. So what are the best places to see and things to do during these bitter months ahead? Here are 5 of the best:

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The Grand Ole Opry
Whether at the Ryman during the first part of the year, or back at the Opryhouse a few weeks later, The Grand Ole Opry is a must whether you are a Nashville tourist or resident. Always a mix of the classics and newcomers, the Opry never disappoints, and will leave you wishing you knew how to pick a guitar like The Rocky Top X-Press.

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Pinewood Social
Feeling competitive? Check out Pinewood Social, an upscale bowling alley just off of First Avenue in downtown. Knock over a few pins with friends, and chow down on some of the most legendary appetizers in the South.

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Nashville Repertory Theatre
Housed in the ever popular Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Nashville Repertory Theatre has productions playing from now through the beginning of spring. Performed by local professionals, these shows are the perfect mix of modern artistry and classic craftmanship.

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Country Music Hall of Fame
Be a shameless tourist for a day and take a walk around the Country Music Hall of Fame. The CMHOF tells the story of Nashville, and how it came to be the flashy city it is today. Starting from its humble roots, the exhibits will walk you through time as Hee Haw turns to Reba and Reba turns to Brad Paisley. Plus, you’ll get to check out Elvis Presley’s historic gold Cadillac. Who doesn’t want to see that?

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Nashville Predators
While not the main draw to Music City, snatch a seat to a Nashville Predators game in Bridgestone Arena while the hockey team is in town. Not only is there sure to be a good game, but you will also get to see Mr. Carrie Underwood in action.

Music City is the perfect place to visit, no matter the season. Start planning your trip today, and jump headfirst into the adventure that awaits.