Were you BORN to blog: Part 5

Hey there! I don’t have much time today so I am actually multi-tasking! Reading my chapters and creating this post. I have to be completely honest…I am actually going to be skipping over a few chapters of Born to Blog. I was reading over the weekend and something suddenly wasn’t clicking. As I was reading I had no idea how I wanted to write about it…

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It’s funny because the next two chapters from where I left off last week are about YOUR business & BLOGGING. Hmmm kinda does seem like a priority don’t ya think? Sometimes you just nees to step back, take a different direction, & learn to NOT overcomplicate things. Funny thing is that is what the next chapter of Born to Blog is about: Keeping your blog at a minimum! I loved this chapter so much.
It is not unusual to want every detail laid out for perfection BUT keep in mind it is also okay to change your direction. As long as you stay consistent (which I am working on being better at) & hook your readers you can keep it as simple as possible!

Let me give you a little personal and honest insight: My blog is pretty bare and basic at this point. Why have I kept it this way? I feel as though I am still going through a “test run” period if that makes sense. I wanna make sure this is where I want my time and effort to be going. I know that sounds like I lack confidence but before I put MORE time and any money I want to be able to keep up with my weekly minimum. And I am having a blast because I have learned SO much from all of the new friends I have made from the blogging scene. But before I slowed sown a bit and created my own post calendar I did some rapid publishing, which I highly recommend. What I mean by this is posting as many posts as possible during a short amount of time to gain quick experience & exposure. This way right from the beginning you can receive feedback from readers so you can have a good idea of what they like and want to see more of! I did this through the Alex Beadon Feel Good Challenge!

This is pretty much the jist of this chapter. Feel out what kind of content you wanna produce, how much content you wanna produce, your audience, your platform, etc. Identify YOUR blogging skills: Remember there were 5! There is a quiz to find out what you are. (I will leave details on how to receive that below) As you start out you want to begin to build momemtum! How can you so this? Do not be afraid to post links back to your blog on Facebook or Instagram: I do all the time! Your audience is more then the bloggers on the same platform as you. Some of your readers may not be bloggers at all! My Mom told me she is always reading my content ๐Ÿ™‚

So my biggest and best advice I have learned through both business and blogging is: KISS!

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P.S. If you are interested in taking a look at the quiz to see what YOUR blogging characteristics may be feel free to email me (brookeashley0319@gmail.com) OR message me on Facebook (Brooke Ducati)

Much love,
Brooke Ashley xoxox

And so the planning begins!

Good morning everyone! It’s Monday and I think I am finally able to get myself back on blogging track! I was a little MIA last week so today I am bringing you a mix of 2 things. I am going to share some things I have compiled so far for my wedding & share a belated “Thrifty Thursday” featuring a couple snapshots from my engagement shoot!

Last week I started to put together a binder to help keep me organized through this process! It is helping me stay calm and as least stressed as possible during the wedding planning (my maid of honor is doing a pretty good job at that too)! Within the last week or so Aaron & I have started to create our guest list. It’s A LOT bigger then we imagined haha, I guess that’s what you get from having a large family & you become friends with everyone you meet! Along with a guest list (which bores me after awhile, although it needs to be done) I started filling in the pages a bit.

This past week I chose a few hairstyles:


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Picked out a few dresses for inspiration: (AND made my first visit to David’s Bridal to try a few on!)

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Made a finally decision on a cranberry/burgundy & gray bridal party:

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Chose a few DIY projects for the BIG day:

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& as a surprise I received this awesome book from a couple at our church:

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I have been wanting a book like this to go along with my planner. I am in love with this one for the reason that every chapter starts with Bible verses and words of inspiration to keep you in the right state of mind. Because through all of this keeping God number one is the biggest priority. PLUS, having this book as a guideline gives me more to share with you all!

OKAY so now a little sneak peak into our engagement shoot featuring my “Thrifty Thursday” Pinterest inspired outfit of choice ๐Ÿ˜‰

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It was a perfect fall day so we kept it simple with our colors. I didn’t need a handbag but I could of used a cup of Starbucks which the girl has in her pic! I took the inspiration from the shirt/dress and military green jacket with leggings & swapped the flats for leather boots & added a statement necklace ๐Ÿ™‚

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OH, and I forgot to mention…I did not spend a dime on this outfit, just an added bonus!

That’s a wrap! See you guys tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

Much love,

Brooke Ashley xoxox

Were you BORN to blog: Part 4

Hellooooo bloggers! I am a day behind (I’m sorry!) Been a little hectic but I am here with the next 2 characteristics of what it takes to be a GOOD blogger. Now remember ANYONE CAN BE A BLOGGER. It’s just a matter of how you implement the 5 traits! Last week I discussed storytelling, dreaming, & persuading. Tonight I am gonna touch on teaching & curation! And if you don’t know what curating is that is okay because I didn’t know either until I read! Sooo let’s go!

We are teaching every single day whether we know it or not. Through blogging we are teaching. It may be a lesson, sharing motivational/inspirational expertise, how to, or tutorial! In the book Born to Blog there are 3 different types of teaching encounters: Teaching by doing, conversation, and coaching & mentoring. The method that usually gets looked over (but I connect with the most) is coaching & mentoring! I have a natural feel for this method. People who have a knack for creating lists or how to scenarios can be considered a “coach” or a “mentor.” You are coaching someone through a task or project. Although it gets looked over a lot, people enjoy this type of style because it is pre-organized right in front of them. They are given a set of “rules” or check points on how to do a particular task. It may not come off as a formal mentor per-say but it does kinda make it seem like you know what your doing ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like I said we are ALL teaching everyday whether we know it or not. EMBRACE it, even if you don’t think your the best at it. As long as you bring the energy and passion for whatever it is your discussing people will be attracted to your writing! Teaching is only natural in all of us.

Sooooo now I can tie in the last and final part of the 5 characteristics of a GOOD blogger- curation. Hmmm seems tricky! Curation is about collecting and bringing information all together. Even further then that curation is about bringing together the best info about a subject. Mark and Stanford say ” think of your blog as the gallery and the blogger as the gallery owner.”ย 

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PINTEREST! Isn’t it crazy how much Pinterest comes into play with blogging? I LOVE it. Pinterest is a perfect way to wrap up and better explain curation. Also, I didn’t just think this up….this is the example the authors use ๐Ÿ˜‰ Pinterest is a unique way for people to share there story and experiences through pictures & links (kinda like Instagram!) You are creating boards to express your personality and categorize your your passions and hobbies…which can then further lead to blog posts! If you are able to create collections of a particular themes to discuss different topics on your blog you will be able to connect with those of similar passion. BONUS: If you learn how to curate properly it could definitely save you time! It will be useful if you are not the greatest at coming up with original content…BUT if you do this always remember to give credit where needed ๐Ÿ˜‰ I would teach you how to properly curate & apply all these other characteristics BUT it’s all a learning experience that you will have to read for yourself! Next week I will be shifting into a little bit of different direction as we take these skills and talk about if you have a business WHY you SHOULD be blogging!

I apologize again for the late post!

Much love,

Brooke Ashley

xoxox

All because 2 people fell in LOVE :)

What a perfect Monday to write a post! It’s raining and I am cozy on the couch watching a Lifetime movie with a hot cup of coffee! I am really excited about this next series I am going to start sharing starting now! Any guesses?

I hear wedding bells! That’s right you are all invited to join me over the next few months to get the inside scoop on #SimpkinsDucatiWedding! Consider yourselves VIP!

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I decided over the weekend I was going to start this series because I really think all of you will enjoy seeing a full blown Pinterest wedding come to life & you will all help keep me sane so I don’t turn into a “bridezilla”ย (bonus for me!) So let’s get into it!

Today I am going to keep it short and sweet and start with my organization. Weddings are all fun and beautiful when a little 10 year old girl designs it inside and out in her head…then all the sudden IT GETS REAL. Well in that case I figured a good starting point would be to get a binder. Let me just ramble for a second…I feel bad for ANYONE who got married before Pinterest was invented. Enough said, moving on.

I have been reading some great blogs to get a layout of what I need to begin getting together. So far I have made a mini list which looks as follows:

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Today I just focused on making the main tabs (which I made myself) from post it notes! Over the next few weeks you will all join me in filling in the pages ๐Ÿ™‚

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All of my ideas whether I plan to use them or not will be here! Before I go let me share my FAVORITE part of this binder that I created over the weekend. I looked up some bible verses about love and marriage, wrote them out on index cards, & then taped them to the inside cover. I did this for one main reason. Anytime over these next few months when I feel stressed or overwhelmed because something didn’t go right (which will happen) I can look back here and remember what this day is really about & that is me marrying my best friend.

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I am really looking forward to sharing this experience with you all! If you miss any posts search category:

Simpkins Ducati Wedding and they will be grouped together!

Much love,

Brooke Ashley

xoxox

P.S. Did you guys catch my super cute bridal party hangers? Thank you PINTEREST!

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P.S.S. If you have any recommendations for bridal blogs PLEASE leave them below ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Did that Pinterest board just come to life? Week 4!

Hey my blogging friends! Happy Thursday! What a crazy week it has been! Super busy but guess what…I found time to go shopping for this weeks “Thrifty Thursday!” This week was a challenge. The past 2 weeks I have left a picture of the following weeks outfit. I did that for 2 main reasons: the first being that it keeps me in check and not wasting hours aimlessly looking to gather together a full outfit under $20 (so far so good!). The second reason is for you guys! It’s nice to have a visual and know what to look forward too! (Or not look forward too if it’s not your style)

Oh yes, so about it being a challenge…here is why. Last week when I left the picture for this week it was actually 4 different outfits all with similar taste but I was at a lost. So I asked you all to vote and pick one for me! The vote was fairly even with these outfits:

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Both are extremely adorable! And well if it were up to me I would have bought all four…my bank account would not have liked me so much. I finally made up my mind and I went with the first outfit, THEN it was sooooo hard for me to find a cardigan (that I actually liked and would wear again!) SO I improvised! I took a couple things from each outfit and created something new! I found a shirt that was the mustard yellow,ย  which was super hard for me & not my fav color, a pair of jeans (which were desparetely needed), a purse, cream cardigan, & the cutest boots! The point of the pics is for a guideline…your allowed to break the rules here! So enough of me rambling here it is!

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Aren’t those boots so cute?! They were $4! My total cost this week was $20 EXACTLY!

Much love,
Brooke Ashley xoxox

P.S. I don’t have an outfit picked yet because I will begin preparing for my engagement pictures soon and I have not made up my mind! Color suggestions???

Were you BORN to blog: Part 3

Hey hey blogging friends! I almost didn’t write this post today because I am EXHAUSTED but I knew I had to do it! I was just not in a reading mood today and I was extremely blah…But once I picked up the book and got my brain going I made it!

So refresher: I am currently reading Born to Blog. Last week I discussed “Can you blog?” And the easy answer to that question was ANYONE CAN BLOG! This week I started to dive into the characteristics of a good blogger. This week I am going to share 3 of the 5 and what I learned from them: Storytelling, Dreaming, & Persuading!

Hmmmm storytelling…never was my forte. But what can we learn from being a storyteller? I will tell you what MORE people will be attracted to you as a storyteller and NOT a salesperson. Especially when you are using your blog for business. Nobody, not even me wants to be “SOLD” on a product. The authors of this book said it perfectly “People won’t spend a second with an advertisement, but they’ll spend 30 minutes with a great story.”ย We cannot help but pay attention to stories. Being open and willing to share your thoughts, opinions, and perspectives makes a great blogger…and any of us can achieve that!

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Begin to pay attention to how many stories you tell during the day. If you are intriguing your real life audience MAYBE it will reel in your online audience as well! Your stories you share with others during the day could help spark a post about your business or product. You will be able to share in a “non-salesperson” way. I wanna tie in persuasion with storytelling. The only important detail I think you need to know about being a persuasive writer in blogging is this:

Find common ground, build relationships, & make your case for your values and what you believe in!

How can you do this to relate with your readers and customers? Don’t try so hard. Just simply discover how you can chat about your everyday life BUT appear professional to share your business & service. Does this make sense?

The third characteristic and by far my favorite is DREAMING! We as humans are meant to dream and not enough of us do it. Dreaming is super essential. Dreams are probably the reason your here. Am I right? What inspired you to blog? You probably had a vision and you wanted to make it come to life. I know for me I kinda woke up one day and said “How can I share my passion and business of cosmetics, fashion, my everyday story, & life AND inspire people as an entrepreneur?” I then said to myself I will start a blog! My mind went stir crazy. I started to watch videos and read articles and started posting all my ideas with post it notes on my bedroom walls. I had a dream!

Let me just clarify one tiny detail. In the book a part was mentioned where people label others as either visionaries or dreamers. I never really knew there was a difference. Apparently a visionary is someone who makes the money & a dreamer is when your plans never happen or they don’t happen the way you want. Don’t let this label catch you! It’s only a label. Next week I will be diving into teaching and curation in blogging!

Much love,

Brooke Ashley xoxox

Love is patient, love is kind.

WOW! I have no idea where to start! This was hands down one of the best weekends of my life. About 2 weeks or so ago I was planning my posts for the month and for this day specifically (Monday November 10th) the spot was blank. I had no idea what I was going to write about and was hoping something would come to mind. I had the opportunity to attend a concert last night and my first thought was “I will write about that!” & then realized how extremely boring that would actually be….So now what?

Well then something great happened….

I GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!ย 

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What?! Yeah I got engaged to my bestest friend in the entire world on Friday afternoon! I am still on cloud 9. I saw it coming within the next few months but he got me good. So let me share for all your sappy romantics ๐Ÿ˜‰

First let me tell you I was up in New York visiting my Mom, Stepdad, & my 6 brothers and sisters. It was Friday afternoon, kids were at school, & my Stepdad John was at work. Aaron had asked if I wanted to do a mini photoshoot for our brand True Strength. Well nothing out of the ordinary, of course I said yes! The three of us went outside and he asked my Mom to be the photographer. Before I go forward let me give you a little insight of my Mother…she is one of the most emotional people you will ever meet, it’s adorable. The day before we left Aaron told me he went to talk to my Dad and ask for his blessing and Aaron had asked him whether to tell my Mom beforehand or not. He said NO!ย 

I think back to Friday and in those moments before Aaron had asked for my hand in marriage and seeing how calm my Mother was during this entire thing. I quickly knew that she had just about as much of an idea this was happening as me. So pictures and pictures later as my Mom was still snapping away Aaron turns to me and asks how I feel about forever. Within seconds I lost it. Next thing I knew he was pulling out a ring. My Mom and I starred at each other crying and looking like deers in headlights.

Of course the last two days have been unbelievable. We are extremely blessed with such wonderful friends and family. Aaron actually provedthat he listens to me when I speak! (hahah, harsh I know) I say that because the proposal was as far away from cliche as possible (No rings in my chocolate cake & wine please!), my ring was absolutely perfect and everything I always dreamed of, & the most beautiful thing of all was my Mom was there to witness it all. That above anything else felt so magical.

Within the last 72 hours there have been so many signs that say to me that this was meant to happen this weekend. When you put your trust in God’s timing (especially with your relationships) He will make great things happen. I am so happy to share this milestone in my life with you all! So get ready for some DIY wedding planning ideas with me in the near future!

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Happy Monday all!

Much love,

Brooke Ashley xoxox

Did that Pinterest board just come to life? Week 3!

Well hello bloggers & readers! Welcome to an early edition of Thrifty Thursday! Why a day early you ask? Well I am headed up North this weekend (tomorrow!) & I was planning on bringing my new outfit with me! Sooooo I figured I would share today…PLUS I will barely have any service so better I do this today!

*** Please don’t mind any silly placement for I am doing this on my phone because my computer was acting up***

If you are just joining me be sure to search under category “Thrifty Thursday” to see both of the past looks I have created! Both from Pinterest & last weeks being my Halloween costume! Also, remember I am creating these outfits in $20 or LESS!

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This week I spent $13! Keep in mind I already had the boots, leggings, & scarf! Spool I bought my sweater from Plato’s closet for $12 AND git an awesome deal for this adorable wristlet & bracelets for a total of $1 ๐Ÿ˜‰ What a great shopping adventure it was! Of course ONCE AGAIN…after taking pictures I realized I missed a minor detail…the sunglasses. Luckily I already had a pair of those too!

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I had the HARDEST time finding a floral wrestler in my budget. I thought this one was adorable! It's my new makeup purse ๐Ÿ™‚

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Keeping it short and sweet this week because I gotta get packing! See you all Monday! Enjoy your week & weekend!

P.S. Which outfit should I put together for next week?! Leave your choice below!

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Much love,
Brooke Ashley xoxox

Were you BORN to blog: Part 2


If you can dream… —> Then you can blog.

If you can tell a story… —> Then you can blog.

If you have opinions & passion… —> Then you can blog.

If you can answer your readers questions… —> Then you can blog.

(Were almost there!)

If you enjoy categorizing, critiquing, creating & managing…guess what? —> Your ready to blog!


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Well here we in week 2 of my first book series. Just to refresh I have started to read the book: Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer & Standford Smith. I received tons of great feedback from last week & it made me very anxious to share what I have read over the past few days! This week I read chapters 3 & 4. Now remember I am not going to share everything that was discussed and written (that is for YOU to do on your own time!) I will be sharing what I thought was most important or what MY biggest take away was. So what was it?

If you couldn’t already tell from above, this week was all about “Can you blog?” Well there is a simple…YES anyone can blog! That’s it. Post over.

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Kidding your not getting away that easy. There is a good chance you are sitting here right now and still have no idea what your purpose is OR if this whole blogging thing is even for you. Well let me tell ya something, ANYONE is capable of having power on the web. Mark & Standford even used those exact words in chapter 3.

Anyone can produce posts & be a blogger. Whether we are good at it or not every single one of usย ย have theย capability to create writing material. BUT the number one thing that sets you apart (or at least in my opinion) from everyone else is PERSONALITY. You need to find your voice. No matter what you are discussing (business, recipes, DIY projects, makeup, fashion, etc) you want other bloggers & readers admire what you are talking about so they will want to come back for more!


Who are you?

Who are you at this moment in time?

People wanna know YOU.

The web is crowded and YOU need to stand out.

Can you do that?


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When writing your next post DO THIS simple task. Always, always, always relate whatever it is your discussing to a personal or unique experience. It can be difficult but adding a personal touch sets you apart from the other person who may be writing about the same exact thing. Someone may connect with you over the John Doe. make sense?

P.S. If you couldn’t already tell PERSONALITY means everything to me and my writing! ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S.S. Please keep your book recommendations coming! See ya next Tuesday!ย 

Much love,

Brooke Ashley xoxox

Life is good, because God is great.

Happy Monday! I am so excited to share with you all a highlight from over my weekend. I already knew that today I was going to be talking about it…and now that it is over I can share the details! This past Saturday was a great day for our business…bad day for weather. But we did not let that discourage us. Recently over the past couple years races have become more and more common. By races I mean Color Run, Spartan Race, Mudderella, Savage Race, etc…they are everywhere & we heard once you do one your hooked! Well this past weekend we participated in the Goliathon. By participating we were one of the sponsors for the event.

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What a blessing it was to be able to be apart of this opportunity! For those of you who do not know, one of my 2 business ventures is an apparel line: True Strength Apparel. It was started by my better half Aaron through his passions and desire to share the word of the Lord through Philippians 4:13.

” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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We arrived at the Fairgrounds in Mullica Hill, NJ around 7:00 Saturday morning and packed up around 3:00 that afternoon. The weather was absolutely HORRIBLE! And of course the day before (Halloween) was gorgeous & so was yesterday..cold but not down-pouring, but we made it happen! Our end goal was not about how much money we could make through our merchandise. Our goal for Saturday was to begin to build our following with a potential customer base. I would say we succeeded! Plus a bonus of being able to spend the day with friends & cheer them on while they actually participated in the race & wearing our merch ๐Ÿ™‚

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So real quick…what is Goliathon?

“It’s not a race, it’s a mission.”

It is about a 4-5 mile course made up of various obstacles to challenge your speed, agility, strength, &ย athleticism.

Like I mentioned before there are countless races out there that have recently been started to help raise money for non-profits.What really stuck out to me about this event was that the profits were going to those in need. In this case the creators of Goliathon have partnered with a charity to help raise money for those in need of clean water. Something so simple and something we are sometimes so careless about. I personally fell in love with the concept of the event & was so blessed that our business was able to take its first step for exposure and be apart of it. There next race is May 16th & we as a team cannot wait to be involved! Maybe I will even start training to actually take part ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe…maybe!

Visit www.Goliathon.com for more info on the event, cause, purpose, & obstacles ๐Ÿ™‚

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram: @TrueStrengthApparelย Facebook-Instagram-logo2

Shop with us: www.TrueStrengthApparel.comย logo

Much love,

Brooke Ashley xoxox

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