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Every winter it seems I find this “go-to” drink that becomes my must-have- favourite drink of the season. Ok I lie, I find a different favourite drink every season; but since this is winter, I think the must, is it needs to be warm. After lots of experimenting, I couldn’t seem to get just what I wanted. Previous years, I wanted a mulled hot apple cider, and last year it was all about the chaga chia latte. But this year, I couldn’t just quite put my finger on it.

Lemon Ginger and Honey Tea by You and Mee

Then one night we were at a friends house, and our friend Paul, who is a bartender and has the knack for creating and making drinks, asked if he could make us one.  I think my husband opted in for some type of brandy, but I wanted something warm and soothing. So instead of brushing Mee off, Paul then asked Mee the most in-depth drink questions I had been asked before. Things like, what temperature does your tongue like, do you prefer tannins in tea, dairy, creamy, how sweet, fruity, citrus, strong, black, light, airy…etc. It was actually quite amazing. For one that he would ask those questions, listen, and two that he would know what to do with the answers.

And this was the recipe that he ended up with.

 

Ginger Lemon Hot Winter by You and Mee

Hot Lemon, Ginger Honey Delight:

1 tsp of freshly grated Ginger
1 Tbsp of freshly squeezed Lemon juice
1 Tbsp of Raw Honey (or more to your tastes)
1 cup boiling hot Water
Let steep for 3-5 min depending on how strong you like your ginger and then just add more honey if you need it.

Wake up Energy Delight:
The same as above, except add a dash of Cayenne Pepper.  It wakes Mee up and gives Mee a boost of energy. It’s like Lemon Water you are supposed to drink when you wake up, except (I was going to say steroids), even better.

Other Variations:
Add a stick of Cinnamon, or a pinch of ground up
Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
Orange Juice, or Orange Peels
Cranberries
Peppermint Tea, or try another herbal tea.
Or turn into David Wolf’s Golden Tumeric Milk

Mee Fav Drink Winter Lemons
Now for the Adult, evening version. This is why this drink is so versatile, you can drink it when you first wake up in the morning, during the day, when your belly needs settling, when you have eaten too much junk food, this takes your acidic belly and puts more alkaline in to balance it out.  Or one of my favourites, the adult evening version. This is just like a hot toddy, but you customize it to your taste buds. Please drink responsibly.

Hot Winter Evening Delight:
1 1/2 ounce brown liquor such as Brandy, Whiskey or Rum (or you could try with a peach or citrus Vodka)
1 tsp of freshly grated Ginger
1 Tbsp of freshly squeezed Lemon juice
1 Tbsp of Raw Honey (or more to your tastes)
1 cup boiling hot Water
Let steep for 3-5 min depending on how strong you like your ginger, add more honey if you need it, then add the alcohol of your choice.

Healthy Winter Evening Delight:
Same as above, except add an herbal tincture you need or the herbal brew you have been making.

I have been told that this was the original reason you would drink a Hot Toddy because you would be drinking your herbs or your bitters, and they get into your system faster if you have a little alcohol to go with it. So in the olden days, people would drink their medicine with this recipe and it would be cozy, warm and enjoyable.

Lemons and Honey Tea by You and Mee

Hope this hits the spot, and works wonders to warm you right up on cold mornings, evenings or days that you need a sigh and some warmth!
Cheerio, Mee xoxo

Mee photographing a set up

“Every good girl does fine”….says the jump rope rhythmic poem. This post is ‘a year in the making,’ looking back over 2015, being honest and yet growing from what was inspired. Every good girl, to do fine, she must face those big questions that are hiding in her closet, and maybe even what’s scarier, follow the leading of her heart. How come that isn’t the next line in the jump rope poem? Well for us, dear friends it might be.
I started the year with the biggest heartbreak I thought I could ever face, I decided to leave my local business mastermind, a group full of not only friends but the business ear I had relied so much upon, the ones I ran to when I needed help, or brainstorming, or even just an ear to listen to. After lots of painful events happened, I decided it was time to leave. It was a big decision, and I thought if I left, everything would just clear up, sparkle and shine.
I fell flat on my face after that, it was like my confidence left the room, no wait, my entire universe. It was months of tears, months of getting back up on “my feet” but not knowing where my feet were to begin with. I feel like I had let those women become part of my confidence, and when they were gone, I had to find confidence on my own, it was big-girl-panty-pull up and face life, kind of hard.
 
But in the midst of pain, I did something, I didn’t even know I had the bravery to do. You know how in our very darkest moments, we somehow find this incredible strength inside of us? Well, that’s what it felt like.
 
I sat down and said if this is my business, then who do I want to serve and who isn’t a good match for Mee? I looked hard, I made a pro and con list.
Then I made appointments with 40 clients over coffee, and I explained to them face-to-face how I wasn’t a good fit for them. I fired 40 of my clients. The hardest thing I have had to do (including labor of my three babies). I was hoping to end up with 5, but in the end, I think I only had 2 from my original list. But I was following the leads.
 
I was scared. I came home from the last meeting and instead of being excited, I threw up. WHAT HAD I DONE? At that point, I was doing social media for small businesses and I thought, “don’t I need lots of businesses to prove I am good at this for other businesses?” Backward thinking. AND It stinking hurt. But my heart was speaking, and I listened, I knew I needed to have done it.
 
It was at this point that I heard of The Irresistables, an in-depth course on branding, and finding your business why, and took the class. When taking the course, I realized I had been right on track and I needed to keep going. It was the first time I had hope, and I actually stopped being nauseous and frozen, from fear.
 
But it wasn’t easy, in order to get the most out of the course, our teachers pushed us hard to go beyond the standard things we told everyone we wanted to do. Go to where our hearts actually where and maybe even face those dark skeletons in my closet, that I had been putting off.
 
Looking back from the end of the year now, I didn’t know at that time, that the “job” I wanted wasn’t yet invented. That’s why it was so hard to get there because I was making my own path.
I loved helping entrepreneurs with their social media, but then the very next question I heard was, “yeah but if I’m creating content, then what about the photos? I need good photographs.”
 
I was a photographer and I almost sold my camera and gear. I felt deeply wounded and scared, from past skeletons in my closet. So the skeleton came out, and I faced it. I didn’t want to photograph anymore, but I needed to.
 
I’m crying now as I write this because taking photos lights my soul up, it lights Mee up, lights a Fire inside of Mee, gives Mee extreme Joy and most importantly, Love. I came so close to kissing something that meant so much to Mee goodbye, and I didn’t even know it. All I knew was that it was painful and I didn’t want to touch that pain. But I did.
 
As soon as I said, “ok let’s do this photography thing, and do it well” I realized that I had only taken photos of weddings, family and women, all portraits. I knew that would come in handy when I photographed entrepreneurs for their portraits, but what about when I wanted to photograph their “stuff” like their products? I felt like I didn’t know how to style anything, and you need to be able to style when it comes to products. But I wanted to learn. I was open and willing. So soon after, I found a course online how to photograph and style products. I didn’t stop when I saw the price tag, I just whispered to myself, “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” I wrote about it on my business page, and soon after I had a couple different local businesses contact Mee and tell Mee that the course was sponsored, fully paid for.
Wow, that was proof, I was on the right track. After that, pieces just started falling into place.
 
My second love is blogging, but I didn’t know how helping female entrepreneurs + photography + blogging would fit together. I am still finding that out, but that is what 2016 is for, now that I have the puzzle pieces, putting them together.
Each thing I faced has turned out to be this beautiful masterpiece.
 
My word for 2015 was Onward. It felt so despairing, but I wanted to keep going and not get stuck. I wanted so badly to find my way.
 
This year, my 2016 word is Color, because I want to color my world with joy, adventure, love, and celebration. It will be quite a different year, pursuing the “yes!” Finding the “joys” and embracing coloring out of the lines. So that at the end of 2016, I can look back and see the most gorgeous painting work, ever.
My mantra for this year is, “Follow the leads. No matter how big or small, follow the leads.”
 
The photo of Mee is one that was taken a couple weeks ago, I am photographing a local entrepreneur’s natural beauty products, I styled and photographed and did social media and blogged all of it. YES to following the leading of heart.

On a Quest to find what makes your heart alive. Ok and mine too.  I want Mee heart to sing and be ALIVE, feeling like what I do matters and has huge meaning.  Part one and Part two.

Last week we were talking about leads.  I have this life mantra right now, “Follow the lead, no matter how large or how small, follow the lead.” It’s all about pursuing that thing you know you are supposed to be pursuing.

Nini at the beach with MeeI love saying it to myself, especially when I think I am going crazy for pursuing it. “Follow the lead.” I say to myself, “follow the lead, follow the lead, follow the lead.” Say it with Mee, out loud, where ever you are, even if people are around you, it will help you remember it when you need it the most: “Follow the lead, follow the lead, follow the lead.”

I’ll give you some examples so you know they don’t have to be the biggest things in the world to feel like they are important enough to give it all you have, because, as you will find out, following the leads takes time, energy, patience and resources.  But their value is like gold. Remember they are like stepping stones.

Nini at the beach log with MeeSo I am taking a shower, and all of a sudden I get this thought, “Go see Janet, have tea, and tell her about your photos.” I almost slipped on soap because I was so stunned at that idea.  I was figuratively stuck, in the middle of trying to figure out what I should focus on in my photography business. I had, what I thought, absolutely no inklings at all.  I felt like I was at a dead end. “Yeah right, follow the lead. This isn’t a lead, this is a dead end, this will lead Mee nowhere.” So I didn’t, I didn’t follow it, and yep sure enough, my “well of inspiration” dried up.

You know when you are at a dried up intersection.  You had an idea, or a thought, and you didn’t follow it, because it seemed “lame” or “wasn’t a good idea” or worst yet (these are mine) you couldn’t predict how on earth this one thing would actually lead you somewhere. Yeah I know, even just typing it out seems lame, but it happens all the time.  It’s the stories we tell ourselves, that this “one thing” isn’t good enough.  So BADA BOOM BADA BING! Like magic, your inspiration dries up.  Usually I go to my computer, to work, or to type something in, and WALA, nothing. Nothing I look at makes sense, I find myself wasting all my time and energy, I look up at the clock and something like 4 hours had gone by and nothing had gotten done, I leave saying, “well that was a waste!” It’s a sign, that lead was actually trying to take you somewhere, and where you are heading now isn’t the fork in the road you should be on.

Untitled_0023So, I do it, I message my friend Janet and say, “Are you up for Mee popping by?” And of course to my surprise (I mean really, am I surprised here, really? lol) She is like, “come over immediately, my schedule just cleared up and oh yeah, by the way I was just thinking of you!” So I go over to her house, she has tea ready (surprise again, right?) And GULP, here is the part where I am supposed to tell her about my photo plan.  Except that, I don’t have one and have been stuck here, because I don’t know what to be doing. Not just stuck, but I feel like I have been going in circles.
But I avoid bring it up. So we are talking, having a great time (with Mee squirming in my seat) and low and behold, she asks Mee, ‘out of the blue’ “So tell Mee about what’s really going on lately.”
So I go for it, I mean what have I got to loose (except all that time at the computer I wasted right?)  I open my mouth and the only words I can think of are, “Photo plan…”

Untitled_0014And to my utter surprise, she cuts Mee off and tells Mee what she envisions.

I’ll tell you, because this actually plays into what You and Mee blog is going to start doing, hopefully in the new year.

I am sitting in Janet’s garden, on a beautiful sunny day, there are butterflies and bees humming around us, lots of highly colorful, let alone stunningly gorgeous flowers all around us, as we are comfortably sipping tea, while I am rocking in a rocking chair.  I felt like I was in a painting and my heart was bursting at the seams with happiness.  (way better than wasting my energy trying to get stuff done on a computer screen) She starts to tell Mee this idea she has about Mee going to visit women.  She can see Mee photographing them and blogging about it, telling their stories from a very authentic point of view.

Mee by Nini at the beachShe tells Mee that one of my giftings is being able to see what someone else’s gem’s are, what makes them unique.  “You are a quick study, Mee, you can be with someone and almost immediately know who they are and what make’s them shine. You just get people, you understand them, at a heart level, and you should show them and the world, what they were put on the earth to be.”  She continued telling Mee she could envision Mee spending the day with a woman, photographing her life, her work, her creativity and putting it all together in a story form.

Mee feet with NiNi at the beach by MeeI had goose bumps.  I didn’t understand everything. It needed to sink in, in fact, it wouldn’t really become one of the puzzle pieces to my gigantic puzzle dream, until many months later.  But that is what gems are, they shine more brightly when they are loved and have aged.

I thought it was so funny that I didn’t have to say anything, except two words, “photo plan…” and the rest came about.  That is what following a lead is like. It’s honest and gusty, but following it feels much MUCH better than not following.

here we are at the beach with nini girl by MeeCheerio,
Mee xoxo

Ihave-a-dream-part-one-by-Mee   I-have-a-dream-part-2-by-Mee   I-have-a-dream-part-three-by-Mee

On a Quest to find that which makes your heart come alive. I have a dream, and I want to feel ALIVE, creative and dynamic. *PLEASE NOTE, I decided to be completely open and honest in this story, I feel vulnerable a little, but I wanted to really share what happened with Mee. Anything I write, I do it for the hope that this will help you somehow, someway. So I hope it does.

When I last talked with you, I was telling you a story of how I was finally feeling alive.  I left you after a conversation I had with my mother-in-law that shifted my perspective.  Let’s continue…

Soaring high at the beach lake by MeeFast forward 10 years, and I was going through another one of those questioning life seasons, as I was going to have my 3rd baby. I was laying in bed late at night, and all of a sudden I could see these massive figures at the foot of my bed, all I knew to describe them, is to say they were angels.

Untitled_0007One spoke to Mee and said, “Why are you not blogging?” (At the time I was, and I had been since 1999) I didn’t know what to say back, except stutter under my blankets and replied in a mouse-like-squeak “I am blogging.” To my horror (and delight,) the angel kept going as if I hadn’t said anything and as if to make a point. “Why are you not blogging? You need to blog.  You will give a voice to those who don’t have one, you will inspire and motivate women to become who they are meant to be. You need to be blogging.” The angel went on to tell Mee I had the help of 6 other angels to help Mee with my blog, I only needed to tell them what to do.

Untitled_0010Yes…. I know what you might be thinking. Angels. in my room. Telling Mee to blog.

All very well and good. But, F*^$K! If an angel appears in your bedroom and tells you to blog, WHAT SUBJECT IS GOOD enough to blog about? The answer, UM none?
I am laughing as I am writing this, because, for the next several years, I put myself basically through ridiculous hell, researching, starting certain blogging topics, to abandon them, because, what was good enough? Little to say, I had a really hard time finding something to specialize in.  Nothing seemed worthy, or good enough.

That experience really puzzled Mee. I joined a mastermind with some pretty intelligent women, I took up 5 different blogging schools, I entered a hardcore 6-month branding school hoping it would steer Mee in the right direction. They all helped, but I was really for the first time in my life, feeling like I had a giant question mark over my head.

Untitled_0011I didn’t always have the answers, in fact, remember I said I had been searching like a quest for that thing that made Mee come alive, but at least, I would put one foot out in front of the other and start walking.  This time, it felt like I just stopped walking all together and sat down with a big huff and puff of feeling sorry for myself.

I learned a really important lesson here. It’s now one of my current life mantras: “Follow the lead, no matter how small or large it might be, follow the lead.” I realized when I came to an altogether halt and had absolutely no sense of direction, the way to get moving again was to feel my way through it. But feeling your way through it isn’t a verb that you can put step1,2,3 directions to, so the direction became, “Follow the lead.”

It seemed that out of nowhere a lead would come. A lead is anything from an inkling, an idea, to someone saying exactly what you felt you were supposed to do in the first place. I thought they were random, and I also thought they were nothing. In my head, I would cancel it out by saying, “Mee, this is ridiculous! This is nothing, don’t even bother.” But then those times that I DID do something about it, they always “LEAD MEE” to the next step. They became stepping stones.

Untitled_0012Next week I’ll give some examples of some of the leads that happened to Mee. I hope this stirred something up inside of you, to follow the leads in your own life. They are there, you just have to look, I mean, pay attention.

Cheerio,
Mee xoxo

Ihave-a-dream-part-one-by-Mee  I-have-a-dream-part-2-by-Mee  I-have-a-dream-part-three-by-Mee

Hello friend, this blog post is going to be a little different, because I am going to tell you a story over several blog posts. I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. Well, at least a couple parts have become clear. It’s not all clear, but instead of waiting for the fog to completely lift, I am going to put my foot out in front of the other and go for it.

Instead of writing out my mission statement for you (uhh boring-if you don’t know the history behind it) and thought, instead of doing a corporate line, I think I should showcase the reason my heart has been alive lately. Dear friend, my heart has finally been singing and dancing and laughing. I have found that sweet spot. But, I am getting ahead of myself….

It all started when I was pregnant with my first child; I went through a series of questioning: “what it was that I wanted to do with my life?” I questioned everything. My inner world was rocking. Like a boat out to sea, I didn’t know which direction was North.

Searching for North Beach Day by Mee

My good friend Kaitlin Brown, a child development and growth specialist, told Mee just a couple years ago, that when a woman is pregnant, she goes through a series of challenges directed towards herself, questioning everything she has been doing, and everything she wants to do in the future. It’s similar to “nesting” to get ready for the baby, “every mother goes through a period where she needs to expand her vision of her life, to dream big enough, there is pressure on it, because now she isn’t just dreaming for herself, she has motivation that her dreams need to be big enough – beyond herself.  It’s one of the only periods in our lives that such a radical time of self-evaluation takes place. We finally give ourselves opportunities to pursue our dreams. And children help us to do that. It is different for each woman, but it lasts from the moment a woman feels her glow start to rise from child until the child walks and becomes independent on their own, around 2 or 3 years of age. It’s enough time for our dreams to start to mature and become strong.”

When my friend Kaitlin told Mee that concept, I could see a pattern beginning when I had my first son, and then continued on each time I had my beautiful children. For Mee at least, every time I had a baby, my questioning became stronger, and more intense.

Untitled_0003
It’s been 13 years since I was first pregnant, and I don’t remember very many in-depth details from when my two oldest kids were young, a lot of it is a blur.  But one memory is very vivid.

I was expressively talking with my mother-in-law at her house, she must have been sweeping, because I remember following her from room to room (she is a good listener) and having this in-depth conversation with her that I was not doing “what I was meant to do in this world, I knew I was born for more….but what?” We were brainstorming all the things I could do.  We were talking over the idea of Mee being a gift basket creator (of all things) and talking through how that would satisfy my creativity and business model ideas for gift basket making.  Our conversation kind of shook Mee to my core.

 

Untitled_0005

It was the first moment in a really long time that I knew that I was sitting on Mee hands, just waiting for life to waft by.  That was the first time it registered in Mee that you could be “full of life  or saped of it” and that following your heart yearnings actually brought Mee that life fullfillment. I knew this because I was feeling saped, I knew there was something missing from my life and I knew my whole heart was just exploding to do it. I didn’t know what, but I knew that I needed to go on a quest to find it.

And soon after that conversation, my mother-in-law bravely enrolled back into nursing school after being out for nearly 30 years. I know by looking back, that conversation had a big spark on our lives. It was one of those milestones I can look back at.

Untitled_0006

 

I think in all of our lives, one of the most worthiest things is to go on a quest to find what our hearts really want to do, that thing that sets our hearts on fire.

I want to dedicate this blog to helping women on their quest find what that thing they are searching for, that makes them come alive, is. Welcome to the quest. It’s a fun crazy adventure out here.

Untitled_0004

Cheerio,
-Mee xoxo

Ihave-a-dream-part-one-by-Mee  I-have-a-dream-part-2-by-Mee   I-have-a-dream-part-three-by-Mee

This is part of a Blog Challenge #weblogrock Day 1, a preview for November’s Blog Challenge:

As with every good story, the very best place to start is at the beginning.  Well let’s not throw up from boredom already, lets just begin with the parts that will fascinate & be meaningful to you.

Mee shooting on the side of a Peace River Rolling Hillside-Behind the Scenes

Hi, I’m Melissa E Earle, aka Mee. I feel most alive when I am brainstorming with other Creatives, or Creating something magical with value. It might not look like it here but in this photo I am sitting on the side of a rolling hill, my feet are gripping the side to help Mee not slide down. I was photographing a dream client of mine, getting some images for her web site. We had decided the fall colors would be perfect for her brand, so we found this hill landscape and loved the wind. Behind the Scenes is always fun!

My hope is that You + Mee will start a really great relationship together.  No lying, here’s why:

Last year I did a 6 day live in person workshop, (you know the kind, where real people are present?) where we pinpointed what our Core Values were, and then created a plan to live from them.  The point is when you know/identify *cough in my case, accept, what your values are, and then create a plan to do them more regularly, you will live YOUR VERSION OF SUCCESS  = the meaning of a successful life

And I am all about success here-living it, and helping you live it.
So after those 6 days, I finally accepted what my top 5 values were, here are 3

  • Creativity
  • Accomplishments
  • Collaboration

The reason why they are so meaningful to you, is because I get my kicks from Collaborating and seeing things Accomplished with other Creatives.  If you are a maker, a creator, a blogger, a biz owner, a brand owner, and you need someone to help you with branding, social media, communication, Visual Content, Photography, then I am your girl, because I get Mee kicks from brainstorming and Accomplishing great things with other Creatives.

That is why I have stuck with the name You and Mee, because together, we can accomplish something meaningful and full of value.  You and Mee baby, you had Mee at hello. 

We were going around the room, saying one thing nice about the other person that we liked.  It was some strangers and some family, good mix of awkward laughs.  Then it came around to my sister-in-law and she was supposed to say something about Mee.  She looked away, and I thought she was just going to laugh and say something silly.
But then she faced Mee, looked deep into my eyes and said this, “My favourite thing about you, is that you make every single person who spends time with you, feel like they can do anything they want.  No dream is too big, or too small.  I watch and they always leave feeling empowered and like they can do it. I know because you have also done this for Mee.”
Of course I cried, I mean I am not going to lie in my introduction post.  But it was true, it struck a cord in Mee.

I do believe in YOU. I believe (with all my heart) that you are destined for BIG things.  You can do whatever you want to achieve.  The world is your oyster, and whatever you find as a pearl, I know you can get. You just have to take a leap of faith to get it, and there’s some work and hustle involved in following your dreams, but if you can wake up every single day and get so motivated you fire yourself right up, out of bed to become those GREAT BIG THINGS you know you are going to be? This is the place where we believe in YOU. 

Let’s work together, and if you want it to, then message Mee.

Here are the ways we can work together-you know, get some of that cool creative shit accomplished, so that you can sleep well at night.

Are you Local

  • Brand Sizzle, photos for creating your brand (see examples of ideas here of Re-Brand images)
  • Content Buzz, photos and strategy for content.  Engaging your audience and making money online. It’s about your goals here, and creating a business online. Not just sucking your life, but actually making money for you and your family.
  • Event Goodness, photos and strategy to get people excited and engaged in your next (or last event) that you had.  I love to apply something called “The Launch” to events, and I have seen it work really well with lots of entrepreneurs and bloggers.
  • ShowThem, photos for your Portfolio, Website, Homepage, Email Signup, you know those signature images that you need to use time and time again, where people begin to trust you.  Not by you telling them, but by you showing them.  #ShowThem

Are you Online

  • Brainstorming, you need someone to coach you through what images you need.  You don’t need random images, you need your vision and your brand and the thing that is in your head that you really really want to do.  But how? Let’s brainstorm together about it.
  • Analytics, Boring I know to look at facts, numbers and figures.  But that’s why I am here, for you, to not make it claw my eyes out dull, but instead -make you more money. By figuring out what has been working for you, doing more of that genius thing(s), creating a schedule so that you, or a virtual assistant can do more of what is really working for you, brings in the most money and it helps you feel really amazing.  But what is it? Let’s get to get to the bottom and see your numbers, where people are coming from and what they are doing (or not doing) on your site or your posts. What’s working?
  • Who are you talking to? If you are talking to everyone, then you are not talking to anyone. You need to know what your ideal person you want to work with, who the heck are they? Then let’s get you more of that person.
  • And Mee personal favorite:
  • Let’s put on a party! Yes even from far away, I’ll be your Art Director, and create something for you that will blow their socks off.  A photo party, an open house, an event, a fashion show, a live workshop.  You imagine and we get her done! #ShowThem you rock.

I believe in you. I do believe, I do believe, I do.

Cheerio, Mee

PS Thanks for sticking around to listen to the introduction.
Are you doing a Blog Challenge with Mee? Please paste in the comments your introduction link so that we can get to know each other.  For more information on the blogging challenge, find out about it here!

Know you need to have a blog? It’s been on your list, you just haven’t done it yet? Having a really hard time knowing what to post about on a Blog? Want to post, but coming up with the ideas hurt? You’ve been slacking, and you’re ready to get into the blogging game? Keeping accountable rocks your boat? Want some friends to do it with you? Sounds like you need a blog challenge!

Why I’m Posting this:
I teach every semester at the local Adult Learning Centre,  and one of the classes is a Blogging Class, for local businesses to get their business online.  Mee Students have all asked for a guide, something with accountability.  So this is what I came up with for us to do together.  This month, I have decided to do it with them, with a spin, twist based on my own business. I looked online for my biggest inspiration, compiled ideas from others+my own brainstorming+what I have done with Mee clients+what Mee Students love and came up with this.  Tried to make it fun, but so that our audience would get a lot of value over the course of a month. 3 Cheers for us! I hope you do this with us, so posted this for you to be able to share, do it with us and follow along!

The rules are that you post every day for 30 or 31 days, whatever month you choose to start.  You can do this anytime you choose, but just be consistent and don’t give up, stick it out to the end, because if someone starts to follow, you might want to end but they won’t.  Apply this to your business or brand, take this and create your own spin or twist with the idea that speaks your language plus the language of your ideal audience.  Don’t create posts that take you hours to create, think short and sweet, so that you will come back and do it the next day!
And lastly, that you tell us you are doing it too, so we can join in and support you!

BlogPhoto Black and Moody and White on White by You and Mee

Day 1: Introduce yourself, however, you like! Pics, vlog, slideshow, your choice
Day 2: Describe your ideal day. A Day in the life of you!. Where would you go and what would you do?
Day 3: Create a collage or inspiration/mood board that describes your blog.
Day 4: Create a Survey for us, your audience to take.  Ask us questions, that will help serve you and your brand better.  Create a form from Typeform, Google Forms, or SurveyMonkey. Help: The WonderForest in blog post and on YouTube Video, Amy Porterfield has an entire Podcast devoted to this, Liz Lockard has an indepth article on this Tip: Be brief and keep it simple, think under 20 questions (that’s alot!)
Day 5: Write about your creative process.  Readers love to find out how you do what you do, so highlight each step of a project in a blog post and walk them through your process. This is helpful for readers who are in a similar field and for potential clients and customers.
Day 6: Share your style. What fashion trends, or office stuff  you love, frequent, or avoid, must haves? Create a Mood board and add where we can buy these items. Idea: create an amazon affiliate store so we can purchase through you.
Day 7: Tell us about your blog name. Where did it come from? How does it fit in? Photos please!
Day 8: Q&A: In-depth answers to reader questions (take a question and make a whole post/series from it) Tip: Listen to your dream clients, and write down any questions through your day you have heard them ask. Include your thought process too.
Day 9: Write a letter to sixteen-year-old you. Any advice or funny stories? Make a list of things you wish you had known when … Hindsight is 20/20 and we all have the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes. Share a handful of things you wish you had known when you first started blogging, writing, designing, doing calligraphy, photographing weddings, etc. Example: Elle
Day 10: Testimonials/Client Achievement Videos. Customer Showcase, unique ways clients are using your tools, exciting customer achievements.  Tell us a good story about what happened with you and a customer.
Day 11: Your Why, the really big thing you do and love.  Like if you die, you want to be known for _______. Awareness, Calls to Action, Cause Posts and how can people jump in with you to work with you? Give us that call to action.
Day 12: What are you up to currently? Lay out the story for us.  Use the example of  The Painted Picture (Click here to download the free chapter pdf-which explains “The Painted Picture) You don’t have to do all of it, just add some of yours. Or do a mind map and post the photo.
Day 13: Grab a guest post. Recruit a friend or fellow blogger to share on your space for the day. Coffee Date example
Day 14: The 5 books that have impacted your life the most and why. (links to your amazon store?)
Day 15: What’s in your bag? Pick up your purse and peruse its contents, then share with us!
Day 16: Behind the scenes with you-photos of you doing your thing + the results of your survey from your audience (day4) And example: The Blogging Brew Reader Survey Results
Day 17: Create a worksheet for your audience and tie it into a recent conversation you’ve had with a dream client. The point is to give us something we can have physically from you. And streches you a little.
Day 18: Record a VLOG! It can be about anything you’d like!
Day 19: Tell us about one of the best days of your life.
Day 20: How To Solve Your (Insert Whatever Your Audience Wants) Problems.  Examples: 10 No-Fail Outfit Combinations, How To Look Expensive, How To Choose a Seamstress, How To Get Your Clothes Customized, but tailored to your audience (pun intended)
Day 21: A favorite quote/expression and how it has impacted you.
Day 22: Get creative! Sketch, paint, dance, play music, use a different form of Multi Media, experiment with it and show us, your audience.  Play with it in the direction of getting your message out to us. For example, if you only use graphics, add in photos, or slideshows. Examples of Multi-Media: Art, Photos, Graphics, Visuals, Writing, Words, Video, Slideshows, SlideShares, Music…etc.
Day 23: Grab a guest post. Recruit a friend or fellow blogger to share on your space for the day.
Day 24: Shout out five of your favorite bloggers. Who are your regular reads?
Day 25: Your “it” woman.  You know how every year, some magazines have the magazine woman of the year? You have a blog woman of the month.  Who is she? What does she stand for? Hire a photographer to photograph a day in her life, have a podcast with her, interview her in Q&A form.  Showcase her life to show that “she” really exists, because what you focus on, you get more of.
Day 26: Answer this week’s Questions from your peers. Instead of listening in person you are going to virtually listen. Tip, get these questions from forums, facebook groups, other blog comments.  You don’t have to look far.  You are posting the question and then answering it.
Day 27: What’s on your wish list? Be sure to include links so we can shop too 😉
Day 28: Expert Roundtables, Roundups, Panels. Ask experts in your field to comment on a certain topic and collect their responses to create one helpful, seamless article.  Idea: Think of 5 questions, and ask 5 experts, the same questions.
Day 29: Your products or service or event, or resources you’ve created. We want to see what you do.  Show us in pictures your service and then explain it.
Day 30: Tips and Tricks for your audience.  For example, Re-brand yourself with a white couch photo shoot
Day 31: A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you’d like a prompt: how did the Blog-WeBlogRock Challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?
Bonus Day: Host a Give away.  Readers love getting free things, whether it’s content, entertainment, or goodies. Create excitement around your blog and reward your readers for following along with you by hosting a giveaway! Giveaways are also great marketing tools for your blog.
Use this bonus to create buzz about your month of blogging, add it in as a second post for the day, or use your highly toned blogging muscle to keep blogging now that the month is over.  Keep going with this blog thing, you have totally got it!

This list is Mee own, but so inspired from the following: BraveLoveBlog, Elle Blog, Girl Next Door Blogger, The Fashion is Mine, CoupDose, byRegina, LauraJ

And now the invitation. Won’t you join Mee for the #weblogrock challenge?  I know the idea of posting every day can seem overwhelming, but with a little planning it can be totally manageable. Feel free to follow one of the prompts, all of the prompts, or none of them. Some have followed the challenge Monday through Friday, taking weekends off, but do whatever you like! The main goal is to get us all writing together, and we may as well learn more about our favorite bloggers and get to know new ones while we do it!

The great thing about blog posts is that you can post-date them, which means you write a blog post and decide on a date that has already gone by, any day in the past will work.  The point: so that when someone hits your blog from Pinterest, they will love you, and you will have archives for them to dig into and sign up for the future posts and goodness you are going to create.  Or you can schedule your dates for the future.  Write them all when you have time and then schedule them for different times to go public.  Example: My friend Bree Hester from Baked Bree, sits down on Sunday night and writes out all her blog posts and social media posts, either for the week or the entire month, depending on how much she has on her plate, and how busy she is.  The point: So it get’s done.

There really are no rules to this except for the three above.  If you share your posts on Twitter or Instagram, be sure to hashtag #weblogrock so we can all follow along! If you’re in, let your readers know what’s coming up and give them the opportunity to join in as well.

And here are some blogging tools you might need:

Report back here on Day 1, with your first update! Let’s Start Nov 1st together, shall we?
Cheerio, Mee

 

 

I recently changed Mee headshot, I’ll show you the old one, and let you pick Mee brain as why I changed it.  And insider’s look to a photography brain.

And why you should consider doing the same.

Melissa E Earle by Monique Thomas

This is my old headshot.  My sister (an amazing photographer) took it while we were on vacation in the mountains.  I used it because a.) I had a great tan b.) it was in my fav place in the mountains c.) every time I look at this picture I am drawn back to that peace & d.) because I feel like I am really looking at the camera, looking at myself with no apologies, no non-sense, just Mee and being so comfortable, I am looking right into your (aka my/Mee soul)

Before I show you my new one that I posted, let’s talk about what goes into a headshot-especially if it represents your message, your future and your brand.  Think Re-Brand.

Mee on a Red Wall in Winter

Love this photo-shows I have style, and that even though I live in the country, I have city in my blood still. But it doesn’t work for a headshot, because it is too far away, it would be used in one season only -winter- and unless I tell you I love red walls and I was in the city for this photo, you would have to guess why I posted it. If It was my red wall along my office, home or place I did my thing all the time, then yes, brand.

What NOT to do

Let’s say we just met in a forum, I have been reading what you wrote and I am really excited about working with you-based on our engagement.  But what if you didn’t write anything, what if we aren’t in the same group, and what if I don’t go to your house every week and I don’t know the behind the scenes you? That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, (You know we will probably be BFF 4vr very soon) I will still probably want to buy from you, be friends with you and also share your heart messages.  Hello. Your personal facebook and social media photos matter.

So, I am trying to be friends with you, but like I said above, I have a little bit of information to go by, I like what you post, we met somewhere online, and maybe we even grabbed a coffee or two together.  We want to be friends on facebook.  But then I go to try and find you….

Mee with my pet Bear. Yes this is a bear that was being skinned. Cool profile image? I think not, because it is so small and no one would know what that was. This is a see 1 or 10 kind of times image, not every darn time you open up your mobile phone or laptop.

Mee with my pet Bear. Yes this is a bear that was being skinned. Cool profile image? I think not, because it is so small and no one would know what that was. This is a see 1 or 10 kind of times image, not every darn time you open up your mobile phone or laptop.

“Wait.  Does she have a dog? No is that a cat? I don’t know…On our coffee date, you might have mentioned a dog?”
-Your Profile photo is of your fav pet.  Great! Print it out, set it next to your desk.  Actually!! Make a gigantic poster of it and give it out as Christmas gifts, but DO NOT HAVE IT AS YOUR PROFILE PICTURE.  Period. I am not in love with your pet, I don’t even know your pet.  And, unless I come over to your house every day, I probably don’t even know you have one.  Why would I search your name and know it was you if you have a pet as your photo?

Tip: Be in the photo with your pet.  Let that love shine, but make sure we know and see You.

Mee with Little man

This is my favorite photo of myself. Because I had dreamed for 7 years of taking this photo, and finally, I was taking it. I was having a good hair day and my little man was smiling. It is perfect. FOR MEE. Not for Mee Profile image & not for a Headshot. It would be good in About Mee section where I show some photos of my family, maybe strategically for Mee branding. But print it out already, put it on the wall next to my desk. End of discussion.

Her and Mee- this was 6 or 7 years ago. YES BUT this is such a great memory! Just because it is a great memory for Mee, doesn't mean it was for you! Heck! You probably weren't even there!

Her and Mee- this was 6 or 7 years ago. YES BUT this is such a great memory! Just because it is a great memory for Mee, doesn’t mean it was for you! Heck! You probably weren’t even there!

“Wait…does she have kids? Awww those faces are so cute. But we met, she told Mee to help her with her website online, and there are 300 Sarah’s.  All I see here are little kids. I think I met her kids once…Squint eyes to think…tilt head…yes but how many did she have? Were they boys or girls? Ahhh I don’t know… This must not be her.”
-Your photo is of your kids.  Maybe it was of your kids when they were little EVEN HARDER since I probably didn’t know you when they were little.  Now I am trying to find you based on your kids that I don’t really remember, and add in years previous.  Tell a librarian without a computer searching software, to find something that was older and with no real description.  Watch her cry.  Trying to find a needle in a haystack when you do that to your friends.  We love how cute your kids are, just not when we are trying to find you, or take you SERIOUS when reading your comments in a common facebook group we both share.

Who am I going to take serious? The one with the Headshot of her and her work, or the children laughing, whom I probably don’t know, wasn’t there for the moment and don’t get the inside joke or emotion.

There are some exceptions to this rule.  You with your kids.  The key is YOU. But they are not in focus, you are, and we can really clearly tell who you are.  They are besides you, behind you, heck! climbing on top of you, but you are the main focus.  Tip: double check to see if we can see tell it’s you when you are micro facebook commenting size. 

IMG_1176

Cute photo of us. But if I was using this as a profile photo, would you know who was speaking? Let him have his photo, and Mee have mine. Clarity sells in a second. Make it count

“Is that her tongue down his throat? I can’t even see her face, all I can see is her and him making out, watch Mee cringe.  I give up, I don’t want to see this, I should cover my own eyes.”
-Your profile photo is of you and your lover.  This is the number one profile picture I see.  This is hard because I love my lover too.  We make a really great couple.  But what am I trying to PROVE to you by showcasing our love? Am I trying to convince you of my own personal love connection? Or am I trying to create a friendship with you? I think this would be Dale Carnigie 101 if he were still alive.  The photo needs to say “hello, let’s be friends, start fresh.”

Unless you have a brand where it is 110% comprised of the two of you in your business working together, don’t have photos taken of you both.  Like Duzy, they are super cute together, but they planned every step of the way. And Hey Sweet Pea, but they specifically planned their social media posts and their online classes to have both of them as the focus, so it’s NATURAL for them both to be in the photos together.

Tip: Ask yourself, will that new friend, within seconds know which one of us is posting? If they don’t know Mee yet, maybe they don’t know I am guy or a girl.  I want to stand out and be remembered.  Clarity wins you sales. Use photos of you and your partner for Social Media content.

So what do you want your photos to be of then? Great, so glad you asked!

What TO DO

Contemporary Glamour Portraiture with You and Mee

Examples of Headshots I have taken. Clean backgrounds, you can see faces clearly. But don’t end here. Let’s move on to Branding photos

I was in a group where Hey Sweet Pea was asking all of us why we had the profile headshot images we had, what was our thinking behind that image? WHY did we post THAT ONE?  Then they challenged us to go further and see what the “feeling” was when looking at through another’s perspective. If it didn’t have that feeling, then change it.

Q: How do you want people to feel when they see your headshot?  Go beyond having just a good picture, get creative, think about what is it doing for your brand!

How to change your photo, a couple of quick tips:

a.)Take it yourself. Think glorified selfie.  You can do this if you want, but you are going to have to keep in mind your body shapes, your face, your hands, your posture, are you moving on camera a way that will look good? I am here to encourage you, it might take 400 images, but you could do it to at least give you something, a start.

b.)Work with a pro.  And maybe a team of pros.
Here are some quick tips to working with Pros to get you what you want! That look! Fabulous YOU!
Tips for working with pros…here are some things to think through

  1. Makeup and Hair.  Please, even if you are a hippy, or a naturalist (read Natasha’s 2014 must Organic Natural make up here)Put on makeup for the day.  Rule for Makeup, always more for Photos and TV.  The line above eye and eyebrows are the most important makeup piece on your face, because it draws the viewer to your eye and not other places.
    Hair, bigger hair is best. I can apply makeup after the photo shoot on your photos, and so can a good editor (think blemishes be gone!) but hair is something that I just can’t do well in Photoshop.  Bigger hair, like you think you are going to fly away or get your hair stuck going through the door (ok maybe not that dramatic, but I would love to see that!) the better. Flat hair = flat looking photos.
  2. White on White.  I always get asked to take photos outside.  I say, sure, but in a really controlled white wall environment, I can give you even better looking images.  Nature is amazing, but controlling the elements is not, think: my time and yours is very precious.  Also, if you get photos on a white wall you get to cut yourself out and paste it in like your: header, email, sign up list, book, ebook, pdf, contract..etc.  If you are that kind of person.  Just keep this in mind, most brands go well with white. You can change you wardrobe and accessories easier, so that way it’s not so busy.  Clean, simple and to the point.  Then you can apply graphics, inspiration…etc on top of those bad puppies
  3. Style your clothes so that they match your branding.  The worst idea ever was when I dressed up for a photoshoot in a blue blazer and it didn’t go with the look of the comfy brand I had taken those images for.  It was too dressed up.  Then there was the time I got my photos taken in a neon orange shirt, for a very VERY pastel website.  I had to turn all the photos black and white or edit them like crazy, so it would match.  After spending days in photoshop matching everything, I learned, do it first! Think about outfit, it matters!
  4. When you are being photographed, don’t just pose, also PRETHINK what do I do on a regular work day? What are my specialties? Do I make things, do I have a podcast, do I edit photos, to I create graphics, do I draw? Those are the things we REALLY REALLY want to see photos of.

I love this last tip so much I created a couple of examples for you to see.  Now where I don’t think these are good for profile photos, these go with your brand.  Show your audience you doing that thing that you do best, that thing that you have a passion for.  If you could choose 1-5 of those things, what is it? Then get your photos taken doing those things!

Makers be making

Mee Collage Headshots inspiration

Click on Makers Re-branding in Pinterest to see all these images and where the great biz and makers are from and befriend them!

Mee Collage a Headshots Makers Inspirational

We want to see you doing your thing.  We want an inside look at who you are and what you are about.  That builds trust

People buy from other people.  Show us

One of my favorite examples of social media is the image above of the girl drawing the large photo of the girl and painting her lips.  It has been shared on Pinterest, twitter, Tumblr and facebook over 14million times.  I went and looked at the actual photo she drew, the one of the girl, only a couple hundred times.  The point: Show us you

Ok now for My latest image, I said I would share.

Be In Photos

Be In Photos

This was taken by Mee.  Will it be the last image? No. And secret-it was taken with my cell phone.

Why I changed my image. I have a pro photo session scheduled, but I decided it was time to change it before that, and the main reasons were because:
I am in 5 facebook groups that really matter to Mee that people get to know Mee, trust and can see who and what is going on in the photo.  To Mee the most important thing is to be able to create connections and relationships.
Also, I have been noticing that my facebook photo is connected to ALOT of things.  My contact on other people’s phones, my birthday on people’s calendars, my email, social media, and again, I want people to remember who I am.
I just signed up for an event that is taking place in a couple of weeks in person, and to do that I registered online.  The coolest thing ever? We could see who else is registered and take the same classes as our friends.  I have been meeting people all over my local province because of this great new registration software (If you need to create an event, I would recommend Picatic!)

And guess what else the registration needed?

A photo of Mee.  Was I scrambling? Nope. Uploaded and sighed contently.

Decide what you want out of a photo.  What do you want it to convey, what are the feelings about it? Decide then create, experiment.  BE IN PHOTOS. #ShowThem

5 Steps to get you that gorgeous Re-Brand Photoshoot you want to have.  So many Famous, Celebrities, Designers, Biz Owners all get their photos taken on couches, sofas, chairs.  It’s about time you did too. Here’s how, I’ll walk you through the thought process of a Photographer + Stylist.

White couch sofa Re-Brand Photo for Your Biz, Design, Maker's Web Site, social media and Content rebrandStep One: You
You need just as much thought as the sofa and styling pieces do. Think, hair, makeup and really make sure your outfit matches the colors, the style the FEELING your brand is.  If you don’t have a brand? Perfect, start here.  What colors do you like? When you look at clothes, do you want to look good, stylish, important, laid back, chic, bohemian?  You need to know.  Just ask yourself and look through your closet.  If you don’t have, call up some girlfriends and ask to borrow.  Don’t spend lots of money on this, be smart, aware and think through these steps.

Accessories.  Please think through your jewelry.  Not necessarily your favourite pieces to wear every day, think again, color; does it match my branding colors, the feel of my website?  Your earrings really make a difference!

See, even this image, where this gorgeous “maker” is in a comfortable sitting position, she has an apron on, comfortable clothing, but the earrings say, “Yes I know what I am doing, my craft is magic” I want to get to know this woman more.  And it’s because of the colorful earrings (ok ok and her smile, and the lighting, and the posing…you get the point)

Step Two: Couch, Sofa, Chair

What color do you want the mood to be? Do you want a white couch or sofa so that you stand out? Do you want the color to be artsy and colorful? Can you rent one for the day? Can you contact a moving company, stylist in your city and find out if they have sofas? Do you want it staged inside or outside?

I personally love white.  Oh I dream and ooh and aww over those beautiful white couches that I know will not stay clean in my home, but would work best for my office or meeting place.  Lean in for a secret: Chalene Johnson just re-did her office, and everything is full of white couches.  She needs to have a photoshoot in that office with those white couches.  Maybe we can call her, ask her on her periscope if we can crash her office for the day and take some photos in there-you down? Ok perfect.  Secret is between you and Mee.

White-Couch-Sofa-ReBrand-Inspiration-by-You-and-Mee-a

In searching this white couch, sofa idea, I came across lots and lots of celebrities and artists who have been photographed on a white chair or sofa. Lara Conrad loves white sofas so much, she even was photographed with all her girls, on her wedding day on one.  Oh yeah, not only does Lara loves white couches, but Royalty do as well.

Royal Family on white couch

Here the Royal family, welcoming their new little one into the world, decides to have their photos on a white couch.  Or do they say, “sofa?”

Or maybe instead of white, you want alot of personally, so I would think about going with a color couch

White-Couch-Sofa-ReBrand-Inspiration-by-You-and-Mee

Like these gorgeous couch colors.

Step Three: Background
When you are thinking of having your photos taken on the couch, it isn’t just you and the couch my dear, please please think about what is behind the couch.  The photo set up can be the messiest in the world, but around where the camera’s eyes will be, that needs to be clutter clean.  So box up the clutter, remove it.  Everything.  Only leave what you want, styled. Remove everything else.

Now let’s talk walls.  What do you want to be displayed on the walls? I love everything to be clean and removed and then add back in your favorite pieces.  Frames, artwork other photographs, think, “What does this say in my photograph? Is it helping or taking away from the focus?”

Inside or Out? If you are inside, you really need to make sure there is enough light.  Artificial light can be brought in, but if you are DIY or working with a photographer that specializes in Natural light, maybe you want to move your couch to a window or an open door.  Want more nature? yes please! Then take your couch outside! That’s right.  All the beautiful ones are doing it. I love a good couch outside photo, really it’s a thing, google it.

Step Four: Props and Action!
Remember when I said that I like to remove and then bring back in? Do that.  Carefully select each and every piece, like a designer would.  This needs to look like a painting, a piece of art.  Can it fit into your Instagram? Does it work with your Blog header? Think props and style everything.

Action.  Recently I heard a friend who was being styled in her office for a Re-Branding Photo shoot say after the fact that she would have rather the photographer (yes I wasn’t taking the photos, but I was on scope chatting with her about her experience, and asking her what she loved and would have done differently,) and her pre-planned some actions.  Instead of just posing, what if she was drawing, reading a book, using a magnifying glass, twirling her hair, kissing her dogs, bringing her kids in and tickling them.  Think small, very small actions that you can pause for the photographer.  But something that shows YOU DOING YOUR THING.  Break you doing your thing down into visual steps, and do it.

Step Five: Pose
“The best photographer will direct you” – Monique Thomas.  These are words right out of my baby sister’s mouth, after she left a whole month of photographing with Mee as the model, and shortly thereafter was snagged up by a modeling agency in the Eastern States.  She said that after working with Mee it was so hard to find a good photographer, because most of them never pose you, never tell you what they are thinking from that camera.  She has worked with some amazing photographers around the world, literally, and she said most of them don’t direct, they just capture.

So take it from a model, and a photographer right now.  Learn to pose yourself, since you aren’t guaranteed to get a photographer who will.  You can look for one, and if you work with Mee, I LOVE styling women (so there) I’ll make you work, and stretch and elongate, but in the end you will love it. But aside from Mee, you need to see what you look like in the mirror.  Think triangles, think shapes, thing long neck and Sue Bryce’s rule:

CHIN OUT AND DOWN. Always, it’s a rule.  Only break if you are a supermodel and the photographer tells you.  CHIN OUT AND DOWN, every other time. The more dramatic it looks, the better.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 3.50.21 PMClick here to see where all these images are from, who the amazing photographers are, and where to buy and purchase these items, here on Mee Pinterest Gallery.  And please follow Mee, I would love to know you are a human and we can be friends!

I have so many couch ideas, darling please take a look and brainstorm, collaborate with Mee.  And above all, get your photo taken on a couch! Tag Mee in it, I must see.  And if you are local, let’s find a beautiful couch and make beautiful images, You and Mee

Mwa! Cheerio darling, Melissa E Earle aka Mee

LucyBookQuotebyMee (1 of 21)

 

To Lucy Barfield

 

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books.  As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.  But same day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.  You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it.  I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be

 

your affectionate Godfather,

 

C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia

 

LucyBookQuotebyMee (6 of 21)

 

Here Here! 3 cheers to “when you will be old enough to start reading (believing in) fairy tales again!”

When my son read this aloud to Mee tonight, I just cried.  He looked at Mee with a glimmer in his eye and asked, “Mom are you crying? Why does this make you so sad?”

“It doesn’t make Mee sad son.

 

It makes Mee feel like there is still a chance for legacy, there’s a hope that dreams and sparks bigger than Mee will live on.”

 

Fairy Tales have gone on and on for a long time.  They have left their legacy.

 

I wonder why.

I wonder if it has anything to do with them being true.

 

LucyBookQuotebyMee (18 of 21)

Hope you are old enough to start believing in fairy tales again

Cheerio Darling,

-Mee xoxo

You-and-Mee-Magnify-it-Come-On

Tired of having your voice get lost online? I’m not going to leave you in dead space, keep reading for Ideas Checklist below.

After working with lots and lots of small biz owners, I would hear the same question come up all the time.  We would sit down, brainstorm content ideas for their facebook page, instagram, blog posts and how to gain attention to their work.  Product, Service, Experience (you insert what you have here). We would be so giddy with delight that finally they had a plan, written out, doable and step by step when to get ‘er done, and then I would hear the question.

 “Yes but Melissa! How do I get the photos?”

“I need photos of what I do to post online, I need photos for those facebook ads, photos for those blog posts and photos for those Pinterest searches! How do I do that?”

If this is something that has stopped you in the past, is this is totally where you are at? Then keep reading.

You-and-Mee-White-Magnify-It-already

 

Today I watched a “Scope” by Caitlin Bacher from Little Farm Media where she talked about being heard online.
I loved it so much I had to share it and my thoughts behind it too.

  1. Style
    Consider how to style your images.  Your brand is made up of other’s being able to easily take notice and recognize you.  Say, “OH hey! That’s Mee image, I can tell because it so looks like her! I have gotta click, I love everything she says. I just want it all.” You want them to say that about you too. 

    How to do it, easy tip: Get a white background, or a coloured one and shoot down and around on it.  White is so the thing these days, especially on Instagram.Here’s WHY: Because it simplifies and makes your message easy to get. Quick to pick it up. Easy Peasy. Simple.Example: check out this rocking chick on Instagram, Violet Tinder  who has an undeniably unique look. You know it’s her when you see her stuff. Her instagram has it, her web site has it, her etsy shop has it, heck, even her mail sign up page has it, PS it’s called “Party Mail.”
    She got that look and feel you know is hers.

    Thought: What’s your look? Your signature look if you could choose one?

    How to get it: If you are online, baby practice and join Mee for lots of behind the scenes I’ll keep sharing my heart out, for you, yes I will. If you are local, let’s work together and get you those images. We will brainstorm together, and then I’ll photograph your vision. If you want to work with Mee and not DIY, then mail Mee those products of yours, I’ll style them and photograph them for you. If you want to photograph them still but need help, let’s set up a skype date and we will brainstorm.

    PS: Keep reading I have done some brainstorming and came up with a list for you. All you have to do is download it (for FREE! let’s call it your sweet candy for today) and check off what you want to do.

    Why do I do this? Find out my why I love helping you

  2.  Voice
    Violet is totally geared towards her target audience.  Elise from Hey Sweet Pea, calls them your dream clients (she hones in so much on your dreamies, that she even has a course on it) Chalene Johnson calls them her Lifers, because this is for life, ya’ll! You are not a fly by the seat of your panties kind of person, you are a, I am in this with you, kind of person, I know.  So show your lifers that too.Why you got this voice thing: People want to buy “it” from you. Because of your style, and your voice. They want to listen to you. They are gonna get used to the way you say it.  Because you say it so good, you know like butta.  And they know they can get something similar elsewhere, but they like the way you say it. So speak up. Let them hear you.

    IMG_8105violettinder on InstagramCaitlin from the Scope said do it by: Creating a “Curated Look.” more styled.  And more styled means simply that you get to plan what goes out to represent you.HOld up the Phone: I personally know that in order for you to get that curated look, you kinda need to get into the habbit of brainstorming what you are going to create and then get into the zone with you and your bad self, + your photographer + your stylist.
    It doesn’t come naturally, it comes with a little bitta what I like to call “hustle”
    But if you want help, I’m thinking about writing a blog post on tips to get into that zone and create that.  If you want that, tell Mee, YES please. I gotta hear you ask.

    Inspirational Moment:
    One of the ways we find our Voice is by speaking up and using our voice.

    It’s not about finding your Voice as much as it is, using your Voice.

    Bonus: a really awesome interview on how to do stuff that creative stuff that doesn’t come naturally. And yes, your welcome.

Magnify your Message

The whole point is to be heard.

Remember: you get to choose what you want magnified online, and in your marketing.  What should be magnified and looked at.  Maybe it’s something through your eye balls.

Here’s a list for you to download and check off ideas you want to try:

Magnify your view what you want others to see

Magnify your perspective
When you post something that is inspired, tag Mee in it, I want to see!

Cheers Darling!
-Mee xoxo

Been thinking about who my Dream Client is.  I CRAVE, eat, wake, sleep, copy paste and repeat, working with my Dream Client.

I had written this on my about page, when I was photographing women a couple years ago. This is the type of woman I wanted, and want now to serve.
I have been noticing something really interesting about her lately; I have been attracting 2 kind of people, women at 2 different stages of their lives, to work with Mee.

1) The lady who wants this, craves this, desires to be: a beautiful free (to let her natural wild creative beauty out) woman

2) The woman who already is this. Funny thing about this 2nd stage that I have noticed. When you go through process 1, and embrace yourself, then you recognize that you really have something in this world to say and to do.

Women from Stage 2 have something they are passionate about and need to say.

So they come to Mee for help.

Since seeing this (duhhh! It seems like it has taken Mee forever!)I have decided I should help get women’s messages out. To be heard, give them a voice or the ability to have a voice.

So I am rebuilding the way I do things so I can help.

Web sites, Blogs, Social Media, Content, Creating things, Photography, Styling, Writing, Making Money Online, Creating an Online Storefront, Understanding the different platforms of Social Media, Email Newsletters, Systems, Time Management, Making a Plan for Marketing, Thinking of your Client and Speaking their Language.

If you find yourself in place 1 or 2, lets chat. Send Mee a Message.

If you are in town, let’s go for coffee. I am pretty sure we need to meet because you have something powerful to say and do, and I would like to help.

 

About Mee, my dream Client, I love to work with, You and Mee, Confident woman

-Mee xoxo

Choosing what you really want with You and Mee

Deep breath Mee.  You can do this, you can write this post. Here I am, writing about a block I have been having and how I think I can get over this one.  “Help Please!” this should be tagged with.

Instead of just thinking this in my head, or writing it out in my paper journal, I decided to use blogging for one way I think it still should be remembered for.  Current, real, “Ahh Ha” moments.  Not all blog posts need to be written from an expert status, but a living in the trenches, showing how real you actually are; this is one way you build authenticity with your brand and connection with your readers.

Mee Block:
I have wanted to blog for such a long time now.  I was a very successful blogger, and have been since 1999.  I know that I know that I know that I want to do this.  In fact, I teach other businesses and people how and why to blog.  So why can’t I live my words too? Why the hard time now? This week it hit Mee in the face why I have been having such a hard time.

◭My focus and messaged has changed, grown and evolved.
I have been blogging as a photographer, showcasing my work.  Mostly my Wedding, some Family Sessions, and also the Beautiful Women Glamour Photography I was so enthralled with. But my work focus has changed. And my brain thinking, planning and blogging didn’t change with it.
They say to only post what you want to attract more of.  So if I am posting family photography sessions, guess what I am going to get inquiries about? Yes you got it, more mom’s facebook messaging Mee, saying “I saw your recent posts, I really loved that, I wish we could have those images of our family too…” and then the booking and the Mee feeling bad because that isn’t the work focus I want to do right now.  (BTW if you are looking for Family Photos in Peace River, I would recommend Photography by Stacey, but don’t wait, because she fills up really fast.)

What I want to be doing, is posting work that is moving forward with Mee and where I am going, while giving myself a chance to reflect, look back and tell the reader what I have learned or gained from that experience.
The point is, if my work focus has changed, then my blogging and my branding should reflect that change; I should be posting what I want to attract more of.  Everyone, and every brand should change, grow and evolve, over time, but then your creations and also your message should reflect the new found clarity, in a simplistic way, in a way that is easy to move, flow and grow with you for your readers. 

Creating Content and Multi Media is really important for Mee, I teach on this subject, and this is where my love for↟Creativity,↟Photo Styling and↟My Love of Photography comes in.  I don’t want to kill these passions with my new found paths, in fact, growing and evolving has helped Mee to focus MORE on what I love, by getting specific, deeper, shifting out the stuff that doesn’t belong, and really getting what I love to do, clearer. Like mining for gold, you don’t want or need all the dirt, but you do sift through alot to get to the treasure you’ve been looking for. This leads Mee to my next point, I have passions I want to keep around Mee, now that they are more like treasures I want to use them instead of sit them on a dusty shelf somewhere.

◭I need photos still, photos are a must for blog posts, at least for Mee it is.
My issue really came to surface here.  How am I going to write blog posts if I need photos, what I used to blog about was full of weddings, and portraits and personal projects? How do I grow a blog, focusing on this new path, that doesn’t really focus on weddings or family pictures at all?  Insert whatever you are going through yourself.  Did you used to have a mommy blog, or run an ebay store, or sell lots of designs on etsy? Those would be similar to my “weddings and portrait images” I am focusing away from.  It is what you were doing, not what you want to focus on now.

This block was a huge one for Mee.  It was so big, like a mountain that I actually didn’t examine it, didn’t look around it, didn’t allow myself to have fresh eyes, and look at the problem with the glasses on that look for the solution-instead of just staring at the problem. “Obstacles be gone!” I kept stoping at this one thought, “But what am I going to blog about.”
It actually went like this in my train of thought:

“What am I going to blog about?”
Nothing….

“No really, what should I say?”
There is nothing you can say right now-(that negative voice)

“Well let’s go back to what blogging is then, because I still want to blog, even though I feel stuck at this.”
Well, you are not going to be able to blog. You are stuck.

“To Mee this is what a blog post is…”
Ohhh here we go now, are you really an expert on this? You didn’t invent it did you? You don’t know something, unless you invented it. -My “BRule” I realized I believed about myself and teaching or blogging on subjects.

“A Blog Post is:
A) A photo, then more photos later.
You want several similar, but different images for social media.  One for Pinterest, another one if you can for Facebook and for your email newsletter reference. A photo is worth a thousand words.
B) Words.  Think Wordsmithing + combined with Taglines + Headlines; words are the languages we communicate.  You can have all the Videos, plus Photos you want, but if they are not combined with words it might not work.  One reason is for google, because search results pull up what people type out... and also because in today’s world, people consume content, each differently.  Some might like video, where others cannot stand video for sake of time, and will read the words that are associated next to the video.  Don’t limit yourself here by slapping up some images and calling it a day, do the thoughtful work and think about what you can actually type out that is related and explains what you want to say.
C) Links to what I am giving examples of, Pingbacks (a way to send people to other pages on your site, like reading another post I created on Are you Your Own Decision Maker? OR by sending readers to other blogger’s pages, Like my Farmer Blogger Friend Sherrie Graham sends you to another person’s site.  You will get notified if you blog through WordPress if this happens and you can see who is talking about you.) Links are important in the worlds of Google, and in creating community.
D) Call to Actions, what do I want my readers to take away from, how can they grow and learn with Mee? It might be a button, or an email sign up list, it is whatever call to action goes along with what I was writing about.  Kind of like homework that matters for blog posts.
E) Social Links and Comments, because engaging and creating relationships is really important to Mee and is probably why I do this in the first place.
This is what is important to Mee in a blog post”

You don’t have any photos, step one, or A) is cancelled; I told you that you couldn’t do this.
“I know.” ….and that is where I would stop. Even before I would think through what a Blog Post was to Mee, I would just stop and not think about it again, with the condescending negative winning.
But this past week, I went further.  I challenged myself and dug deeper, yes it takes guts, fresh perspective and a little bit of muscles to wrestle through this stuff sometimes, but it is SO WORTH IT.

“What are some examples of people I admire that are blogging and I really appreciate what they are doing?” Was the start of the next though.  “Hmmm…Sue Bryce, Jasmine Star, Promise Tangeman, Lara Casey, and a whole lot of foodie bloggers that are just genius, like Sarah Britton and Nourished Kitchen and my friend Baked Bree.”

So, I went and looked at what they were doing to get inspiration, not copycatting, but seeing if there was anything as a life line to help pull myself out of being stuck.  It’s really important to follow your industry leaders to see and follow changes and the challenges they face, as long as you can continue to be inspired and create on your own niche and part of the world. 

This is what I noticed….

They all had something similar going on with their blogs, their voice and their photos. They did it very well, craftfully, as if we were having a great conversation in their kitchen with a bottle of wine, while chopping up veggies for dinner.  Our conversation was not about veggies, or what we were currently doing (chopping local seasonal veggies with really awesome knives on a wood cutting block that we paused to take photos with our iPhones of), but about whatever topic was most important, customized to us, our tastes and our likings. Just imaging those veggies and that conversation, makes Mee think about being happy and satisfied with who ever was in that picture with Mee, (as long as we could take photos with our iPhones of what we were doing, oh yes! And laugh a whole bunch while weaving in and between important deep topics-totally iPhone worthy)

I think you could take each blogger and put them in the same dinner prepping template/ style. Let Mee explain.  Yes their voices and the way they wrote are unique to them, their subject and their readers.  But aside from these, they had similar ways of doing things.

With Sue Bryce, it doesn’t matter what she is writing about, she is probably in most cases, not even mentioning what or who the photo session is of.  Important! She is talking about whatever she is deeply thinking, out loud.  Her expertise, what she does, is photographing women, so that the types of photos that get inserted, but she talks about many things.  Marketing, blogging, connecting with your customer, loosing weight, creating confidence, how to be beautiful, not having such a big ego and letting go of your big head to serve that person in front of you.  I have learned some of the greatest life lessons because Sue Bryce ranted and raved and swerved from just talking about the woman in the portrait.  If she had always stuck with talking about the woman viewed, I would have left as a reader long ago, because I wouldn’t have seen how it applied to Mee. But she did, she always brought it back to “Mee.”

Jasmine Star puts in wedding photos, but she weaves and she waggles her way through stories and experiences and learnings.  Baked Bree has photos of food, but shows where her life is turning, improving and growing. Nourished Kitchen just glows about the importance of lifestyle changes. Lara Casey talks about bettering her marriage and Making Things Happen, not just photos about her wedding magazine. This is life, life blogging.
That is where I had missed the point.  The photos fit whatever the weaving and woving of my life’s message is taking shape, not the other way around. These women would write about whatever they wanted to share, that fit in with their life, their why, but the photos are specific to their niche. 

My realization:  I can post photos of practically anything.  Trees, food, pretty faces (because I believe every woman is beauty) set ups, stylized sessions, books, journalling photos, gardens, farms.  But what these women did was to use photos of what they wanted to attract more of.  The same people who would be interested in the food, the foodies, would grow from reading the blog posts. Niche grows like craving minds of niches.

So this is my strategy.  I am going to keep growing.  Because creating is so important to Mee, and one of my gifts is the very visual side of Mee, I want to keep that concept, by using photos. But instead of purchasing random stock photos that don’t fit Mee, I’ll use ones that do “say Mee!” And write about the growing, the weaving the “Ahh ha” + learning moments.

So the next step in my searching:
-My Why, diving into my Niche, what makes Mee happy and also focusing more on it.
-Stylizing photo shoots, or taking opportunities to take pictures of specific things that fit into my niche.
-Using those photos in blog posts.
-Engaging with the people that matter to Mee and with those who are apart of my tribe.  Seth Godin says those are people who have shared ideas and values.
-Evaluating, seeing what works, keeping those, and moving on from the rest.
-Copy, rinse and repeat (ok I was just looking for a place to say “rinse and repeat”)

No more getting stuck on blocks, especially around blogging, but instead working through it, kind of like the thought process above.  My strategy is to take the opportunities to photograph (that makes Mee feel alive, but you could work with someone else who comes alive by working and styling photos, and you would then share in that and the passion would flow into other areas of your work and life) and then expand on what I am thinking, or things I have been asked questions about that I want to answer/ muse over.

What do you think about that strategy?
What kind of strategies do you have for your blog posts? I would love to hear more about how you do it.

Even if you get stuck, there are ways to get out of the mud.  Pay attention to what you are paying attention to, tuning into that conversation in your head might actually save you from heart aches, and maybe even years, if you listen in and make a different game plan.

 

 

I first met Lisa Lundgard as she was passionately telling someone at a fair about the importance of soil quality and nutrients.  She was selling shares for her Veggie Patch, which is a CSA community supported agriculture initiative, but not just any farm or produce, she was passionately talking about how nutritious and mouth watering her veggies are, after the soil has been brought back to life and cared for.  I knew I wanted to know more, I liked her instantly.

Lisa has a smile that just warms you from the inside out, and her passion spreads so easily.  I never knew anything about soil before I met her, and now I think I am almost just as passionate about it as she is. But that is probably up for a rock, paper, scissors game to see who really is more passionate about it.   I knew after hearing her speak at a conference, that I wanted to help this farmer spread her passion about soil, healthy growing and eating almost from the start.  When she asked Mee to help her with her online presence, I  jumped at the chance.

We still have a little ways to go, but we wanted to get a web site started before growing season really kicks off, and starting next week, it will kick in high gear, so I am glad we were able to work on this project together.

I loved working and designing the Veggie Patch’s Web Site:

Lisa-Lundgard-Veggie-Patch-by-Melissa-E-Earle-Mee-brandingboard

Lisa Lundgard with the Veggie Patch has her CSA shares open now, (starting March 10th), if you are interested in purchasing local amazing, drool worthy vegetables, visit Lisa Lundgard’s Veggie patch web site.

We should surround ourselves with “growers” and those who’s life is passionate and always full of vibrance. We become the culmination of the 5 people we hang out with.  Make it count. Why not someone who is a life grower? Live full.  Live with vibrance. Oh yes, and don’t forget to put your head back and have a good laugh.

-Cheerio
Mee xoxo