2012 Photo Review and a Look Ahead to 2013

Purple wildflowers
Wild Purple Phlox – Summer 2012

I picked the image above to represent this post because the summer of 2012 was when I became an official writer/photographer.

In the coming months, I might actually do a lot more teaching, but then I’ll be living all my dreams: to have time to do my art/photography/writing, teach Spanish and be more or less autonomous.

Oh, I have LOTS more dreams, but those are the current ones I’m trying to realize.

What does that mean for this blog?  Nothing but excitement!

I wrote a goals post the other day, but I also wanted to do a “look ahead” post to see what’s in store for 2013.

Now that I have the new theme and a lot of related changes done, I’m focusing on a slight change of direction for this blog.

So what’s in store?

  • Photo challenges that everyone can participate in and I’ll feature them here.
  • Continue to build my Zazzle store and share my photography with you.
  • Incorporate more of my regular artwork into this blog and have a separate gallery for it – these will be my paintings/drawings.
  • Participation in photo challenges.
  • Find more writers/photographers to blog hop with.
  • Have at least 1-2 guest posts per month.
  • Figure out once and for all how to do affiliate links on WordPress.  It was no problem on Blogger, but for some reason it seems a lot more complicated on WP.
  • Incorporate lots of vlogs.
  • Manage my posts and sharing with Hootsuite.  Yeah, I have an account with them but the last email I got from them was entitled, “Have you been eaten by alligators?”
  • Increase my visibility with ad campaigns.
  • Do a lot more travelling which will be conducive to a lot more pictures.
  • Continue to build my Zazzle store, write a LOT more Hubs and have this website serve as the go-to point for my online presence.
  • Branch out and do a lot more Spanish (yes, Spanish) teaching videos and put those on HubPages, but provide links here.
  • Have thematic posts: like Flashback Fridays, Monochromatic Mondays, Wordless or Water Wednesdays and more.
  • Focus on boosting my rankings on sites like BlogHer, BlogNation and Blogaholics.  PS – if you like my site, will you vote for me?  Click on the badge below and you can cast your vote…pretty please?

Photography Blogshttp://www.blognation.com/bn/widget/bnscript.js?yHSltd4aytbZw0XZ2FrYog

So there you have it.  I’ll be posting a January photo challenge very soon, but until then, Happy New Year!

Enjoy my year-in-review photo vlog (sorry, the captions uploaded a little weirdly; they were fine when I clicked “save movie” so who knows, haha):

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Using Zazzle: Products and Making Money–

Glass Christmas Angels Greeting Card
Browse other Glass angels Labels

 

I recently created these Zazzle products.

I have gotten a few questions about using Zazzle and making money with it.

I thought I’d answer a few of those questions.

  • Do you actually make money with Zazzle?
     -Yes, but you get out of it what you put into it.  If you write for sites like Squidoo or HubPages, you’ll know that you need quality content, time and increasing quantity to make money with it.  The same goes for Zazzle.  The more products you have, the better.  You can expect to make decent money with thousands – yes, thousands – of products.  Sure, you can make money with less than that and it happens.  But it’s a bit of luck combined with quality products. 
  • How long does it take to make money with Zazzle?

-Again, time is probably the most important factor.  You need to expect that having 100 products might make you a few cents if you’ve only been at it a few months.  The longer you’re on the site and if you update your subdomain and products regularly, you can expect your earnings to increase over time.

  • What sorts of products do well?

-It depends, actually.  I think it’s more dependent upon how well you market your product.  You have to stay true to what you’re good at and, in time, people will look for your products because they’re uniquely you.  For example, if you’re a photographer, and you suddenly start doing cartoon-like products, you might actually want to open a different store.  Having all sorts of different types of genres of products can be counter-productive because people might not know what to expect.  No, this isn’t a hard and fast rule.  However, I personally have two stores: one where I create fractals and one where I feature my photography, and even one that has my paintings-turned-into-pictures.  That last one doesn’t do well, though, because it’s hard to churn out new paintings all the time.

  • Should you have more than one store?

-If you have vastly different products, it’s a good idea to have different stores.  But, it’s not a hard and fast rule.

I am really enjoying Zazzle.  It allows me to use my photography to create beautiful and artistic products.

Goals, Changes, Reflections and Wrapping up the Photo Project

Glass Christmas Angels

After a nice little Christmas-day break, I’m ready to go back to it.

However, I’ve been thinking about the direction of this blog for the past several weeks and I’m definitely going to incorporate some changes for 2013.

Changes

  • First will be a theme-change to highlight my articles and photography.  I haven’t done it yet because I want to make sure I get around the possibility of losing my data as I change themes.
  • My posts are going to become less personal in nature.  It’s because of much research with regard to the direction I need and want to go.  Sure, I’ll include some personal stuff, but it’ll all center around photo tips, tricks, and other how to’s.
  • My posts will also include products I’m working on with Zazzle, favorite photos, photo edits, and summaries to articles I’m working on.
  • A new home page that will be easier to navigate.

Goals for 2013

I’m glad I’ve waited to write this post with regard to goals.  I admit I have clear goals, but sometimes I get a little side-tracked.

  • I want this blog to serve as a “hub” for my online activity.  That means am going to write a lot more Hub articles for HubPages, post a lot more Zazzle products and I want to use this site to direct traffic to those sites.
  • Continue to do themed-photography but take photos that are conducive to building Zazzle products.
  • Write 3 posts per week (okay, maybe more).  While the themes will vary, I’ll have a once-weekly how-to post, photo-review posts, Zazzle posts, stuff I learn with regard to photography, and summary/follow up/looking more in-depth to the things I publish on HubPages.  Thus I will not be posting here every single day like I have been.
  • Pre-schedule all my posts.  That means I have each one ready by 8am on M, W, F.
  • Include a LOT of photo-tip sort of stuff that I learn along the way.
  • Include inspirational posts relating to writing/photography.
Sure, I want to grow this blog, and the articles here will be different than what I post to other sites.  But, I feel like I’ll do better by explaining what I do, and how to do it.  Plus, I think it’ll be great to do more vlogging.
As for the photo above, it is the last in the Christmas Photo Project series.  I wanted to do that project to get some great close-up pictures of things that are related to Christmas – and I learned so many things along the way.  I can’t wait to share that.

 

Merry Christmas and Kisses

Christmas Hersheys Kisses

It’s Christmas Eve and though I’ve made more of my handmade rolls, Mexican wedding cakes and pumpkin cheese dump cake, I still need to make apple coffee cake and green bean casserole.

“Food” is a big part of my Christmas gift to my family this year.

I love it because actually, not a single person likes to shop and we all decided instead of gifts, we’d do food – like many people do in Mexico.

Perfect.  I.can.do.food.

I’m sending you and yours a Merry Christmas filled with love and hugs and…Kisses!  Don’t eat too many, though.  It’s barely 8 a.m. and I’ve already eaten three with my tea.

 

Christmas Piano – Day 23

Piano at Christmas

I should be baking.  Instead I’m enabling my blogging addiction.  I promise to bake, and then share pictures and recipes.

Yesterday we tried to go look at the gingerbread houses that were at the National Gingerbread Competition.  However, with hundreds and hundreds of people lined up in their cars about a mile before the entrance AND a newly-imposed $10 parking fee, I decided that it wasn’t going to happen this year.

Every year before this, seeing the gingerbread houses has been free.  I think I was mostly discouraged that the Grove Park Inn is a very posh hotel and I felt slighted by the fact that they suddenly charge for the priviledge of parking there when they never had before.  We were actually going to support them by maybe stopping to get drinks and I would have taken some fantastic pictures that would have touted their resort, but they missed out.  Not that they care, but still.

So, we decided to go over to a place called the “Grove Arcade” in Asheville and I snapped a few shots of Christmas joy in their halls.

Pianos always catch my eye.  I played for seven years, but didn’t practice nearly enough.  I loved creating beautiful music, but it was so hard for my creative-minded brain to read music and get good at keeping time.  I’d always ask my teachers to play a beautiful song for me before they gave me the music to read.  I’d memorize the sounds and then play it by ear.  It would get to the point where my teachers wouldn’t play a song to force me to read the music.

My favorite song to play to this day is “Leaves on the Seine.”  I can still play it, along with a host of other songs that I memorized and loved to play over and over.

Funny, I know lots of people who hate to listen to songs over and over or watch a movie more than once.  But for me, I’m the kind of person who loves doing that.  It’s sort of like looking at photographs of family members.  I can do it for hours.  Listening to songs over and over or watching a movie again and again evokes the same emotions for me as when I heard or watched them for the first time.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the movie “While You Were Sleeping.”  I love to watch it at Christmas.  It always reminds me of when I met my first love, or Christmases of yesteryear where I would stay up watching all the twinkling Christmas lights on Christmas Eve or how I just love seeing how love and family come together.  These things always bring me back to earlier times where I relive moments – good or bad – and remember lessons, feelings and sentiments.

Of course, I’m reminded of how much of a sap I am, but I already admitted I was yesterday.

Enjoy your holidays.

 

Christmas Tag and Day 22 of the Christmas Photo Project

Green Christmas Kisses
Green Kisses for Day 22 of the Christmas Photo Project

I was going to write a post on goals for next year, but I figure a little Christmas tag is more fun.

I’ve been happily tagged by FIVE people: Amy, Julie, Michelle, Janine, and Melanie.

I figured I’d better start tagging back or else I was going to be “IT” for way too long.  Ha!

Melanie was the first to tag me.  If you haven’t been to her blog, she’s a brilliant writer and I’m loving her new vlog series.  She’s always got such wonderful things to say and I love learning about life in Cape Town.  It makes me really, REALLY want to go there sometime.

Michelle tagged me second.  I love reading her stories, poems and sonnets.  That girl has a gift!  Her stories always seem to have such an awesome twist that you’re riveted until the end – like every time!

Janine tagged me next.  She’s an incredible blogger and I can’t believe how much she’s accomplished in just a few short months: she’s already one of the top 100 Mommy Blogs!  Not only that, she’s got a magical wand for commenting on other people’s blogs – she’s always there to comment – first! – and I can’t thank her enough.

Julie got me next.  Can I tell you what a positive influence this woman has been to me and to the blogosphere?  She has over 900 followers to her blog and for good reason: she’s amazing with some witty and intelligent writing that I can’t wait to read.

And Amy.  How I love Amy’s blog about her life with her family and children. She’s so real and I feel like somehow through cyber space we are kindred spirits.  Plus, she gives the coolest birthday parties, ever.  When I read that they were doing the Hunger Games with a Cornucopia, I was like: coolest mom, ever.

Now on to the tagging questions.  Okay, I’m going to attempt to answer them…ALL.  Here goes.

What makes Christmas such a special holiday for you and your family?

We always celebrate with family.  I’m a sucker for family holidays and I love baking and cooking for the occasion.  The fact that I have family to spend it with – whether it’s my husband’s or my own – is such a gift.

Were you told the truth about Santa by your parents or did you find out another way?

I found out from a neighborhood kid in third grade.  We never liked each other much – it was one of those things where we both knew we wouldn’t “click” and she made fun of me for still believing in Santa.  I tried to justify it, but then I realized she was probably right.  I don’t remember talking to my parents about it, though.  Needless to say, the last time I ever talked to that girl, I tried riding her ten-speed and crashed into her dad’s car when I was trying to stop before sailing into the street and a car was coming.  Then, I ran off.  Yup, I sure did.

Do you open presents on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, or both? 

At my family’s house: Christmas Eve.  At my husband’s family’s house: Christmas Day.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie to watch? Or favorite Christmas song?

Movie?  While You Were Sleeping.  Starting in high school, this would always come on and I am such a freakin’ sap, and I’d stay up all hours of the night watching it over and over.

Song?  O Holy Night.  I get chills when I hear this song, but only if it’s sung right.  Neil Diamond?  Awesome.  Cartman?  Awesome, but I don’t get the chills.  I went searching for a good video and I found one by “Celtic Woman” – it moved me to tears, especially at 2:53.

I might have to start actually watching their stuff now.

What makes Christmas such a special holiday for you and your family?

The fact that I get to be with family on Christmas, hands down.  I have passed up jobs before if there was even the remote possibility of having to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I will.be.with.family.on.those.days.

Real tree or fake?

Virtual.  Ha!  We don’t usually get a tree because we are never home at our house for Christmas.  We decorate, but we don’t get a tree…because my own mom gets like seven of them and my husband’s mom usually has us decorate hers.

If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

You know, I go through moods on this.  I desperately want to be with family as I said, so the top two choices are Waynesville and Colorado Springs.  But, if given the chance for the entire family to pick a place?  I think I’d like to try about five different places: Vienna, Austria (because of the quaint village-style goings-on and the snow!), New York City (I hear the ice skating is really fun), Breckenridge (ooh, a ski in-ski out Christmas would be awesome), Key West (they have really cool sunset celebrations and have really cool stories about Christmas ghosts) and the Outer Banks (I have heard about some insanely cool Christmas traditions there).

Do you eat Christmas lunch or dinner, or both?

It’s like Christmas “lupper” – we eat around 3 in the afternoon because if we say it’s going to be 12, it ends up being 3.  If we’re at my parents’ house, though, if we eat at 12, we really eat at 12 – my dad was a military man.

What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

This is one area of my life where I have been really blessed.  I have received so many wonderful, thoughtful and symbolic presents over the years.

What’s the coolest stocking gift you’ve ever received?

Ya know, my own family never did stockings.  My husband’s family did when all the kids were younger.

Do you prefer to wrap gifts or use gift bags? 

I wrap them, of course.  I like to take it a step further and draw designs on them, make interesting bows, add glitter…I’m sort of crazy like that.

What’s the weirdest ornament on your tree?

Since I don’t have a tree, I’ll go with my mother-in-law’s tree: a cardinal that the cat attacked over and over and more feathers fall out of it every time you touch it.

What are your thoughts on re-gifting?

I’m a firm believer in the “thought that counts” principle: if it’s something beautiful that I will never use, I’ll pass it on for someone else to enjoy.

Describe the best Christmas morning you’ve ever had.

This one is tough, but when I was about five, we were at my granma’s house in Santa Fe, NM.  When I woke up, there were no presents under the tree.  I ran and told my mom that Santa must have forgotten that we traveled to Grandma’s house.  She said she was going to see if Santa didn’t leave the presents on the doorstep because there was no chimney.  We opened the door and in a big bag were LOTS of presents for everyone.

I think those are all the questions, so now I’m going to tag people and pass on the Christmas joy:

Vikki

Aprille

Clark

Richard

Cari

Katherine

Bill

Tag.  YOU’RE IT!

Christmas Berries – Christmas Photo Project Day 21

Red Christmas Berries

December 21st.  We made it. You didn’t really think the world would end, did you?

These berries characterize the poignancy of the season.  I actually shot this photo earlier in December, but I had to think about what I wanted to do with it.

It originally had lots more color, but I really wanted the red to stand out.

Here’s the original:Full Color Christmas Berries

The picture itself was all right, I thought.  Really, I wanted to emphasize the red color, though.

Sure, it’s prominent in the original already, but I was thinking  wanted the “reds” to dance around in the foreground and the background.  So, I desaturated most of the colors.

In the first photo, you’ll notice yellow tones.  I left the yellow as-is, too, because it works with the red to create red-orange hues.  Then, I super-saturated the red in the first photo to make it pop.

Here’s the question: which do you like better?  The winner will become a Zazzle product.

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