Blogger Takeover: Blog First Impressions (Ft. Annie @ Blossoms and Bullet Journals!)

What Makes Me Want to Keep Reading Your Blog?

Followers. If you’re a blogger, you probably want them, but sometimes getting people to follow your blog is harder than simply creating a well-written blog post. There are so many other factors that contribute to whether or not someone decides to follow your blog, and it’s so important to make sure that your blog is set up in a way that will make readers want to keep scrolling and actually read your posts. 

Different readers definitely value different things in the blogs that they follow, but in this post, I’ll be sharing my expectations for the blogs that I read. Hopefully this post will give you some insight on ways to improve your blog so that you can gain some more followers!

I’m Annie by the way, and I blog at Blossoms and Bullet Journals about books and planning. Thank you so much to Saege for hosting me! I’m so excited to be here today to be sharing the top five things that I value in a blog’s first impression.

1. Good blog design

I don’t mean this to sound shallow, but the way that a blog looks is probably the #1 factor in whether or not I decide to keep reading. I want the blogs that I follow to be visually pleasing, and I think this is a reality (if a bit harsh) for most readers of blogs.

Think about it—before anyone actually reads anything that you have to say, the very first thing that they see when they open your blog is the design—the logo, colors, and photos all contribute to the first impression that a reader gets immediately after visiting your blog, before they even read any of the words that you’ve written.

This definitely doesn’t mean that you need to spend money on getting a fancy blog design or anything like that—simple blog designs can be totally aesthetically pleasing and effective. Here are some easy ways to make your blog look nice:

  • Be consistent with your color palette, fonts, etc, and pick colors/fonts that work well together.
  • Make a nice blog header. You can use fancier tools if you want, but I do all of my design with Canva, which is completely free!
  • Use good photos (meaning they have good lighting, aren’t blurry, etc.) in your posts. If photography isn’t your thing, consider using free stock images from sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, or Pexels—just make sure you follow a site’s rules about giving credit to the photographer. (Side note: I would not recommend taking images off the internet from sites like Instagram, Pinterest, etc. without explicit permission from the owners of those images. This gets into copyright issues and it’s definitely safer to stick with stock photo websites like the ones I mentioned earlier!)
  • Don’t use a dark-colored background for your text. Personally, I just really don’t think that white text on a black background is pleasing to the eye.

2. Interesting Topics

So you have your blog design ready to go. That’s great! If a blog’s visuals are nice, I’ll probably stay and continue looking around. 

If I’m considering following a blog, the next thing I usually take into consideration is the types of posts that the blogger writes. If I scroll down a homepage and see a nice variety of posts that interest me, that will make me more likely to hit the follow button. On the flip side, if all of the post titles seem similar and boring, I probably won’t want to read the posts.

This is kind of difficult I guess, because topics are so subjective—what’s interesting to one person could completely bore someone else. What I would recommend though is to try to have a bit of variety in your posts so you can attract lots of people who are interested in reading about different things. 

I’m not saying that you need to write within multiple different niches necessarily, but a bit of variety is probably good—for example, if I’m scrolling through a book blog and there aren’t any lists or tags or anything else besides regular book reviews, I might not be as interested in the blog. This isn’t because I don’t like book reviews, it’s just that I probably won’t want to be reading the exact same type of post all the time.

3. Formatting

Good formatting is another element that’s important to me as a blog reader. If the setup of your posts are nice, it makes them easier to read. I think that one of the most important parts of this is making sure that you don’t have huge chunks of text—make sure to break up your posts to make them more digestible.

The most obvious way to do this is breaking your writing up into shorter paragraphs of course, but I also like it when bloggers use visual elements like photos, graphics, or gifs to make their posts easier to read.

4. Easy Navigation

Make sure that your blog is set up in a way that’s easy to navigate. This means easy access to a search bar, a way for readers to filter your posts by category, and most importantly, an easily accessible follow button. If it’s too difficult to find a follow button, readers will probably give up and decide just not to follow.

5. Grammar

Everyone has typos sometimes, but I find it really difficult to read posts that are littered with grammatical errors. Some readers are more likely to be bothered by grammar mistakes than others, but it can never hurt to proofread a post before you publish it.

One tip for this that I’ve learned from school is to read a piece of writing out loud to yourself before submitting it—this will usually make it easier for you to spot any errors that you might have made.

And those are the top five things that I look for when I’m reading blogs! I hope this was helpful, and thanks so much again to Saege for having me. If you’d like to check out any of my other posts, you can find my blog here.

Annie

My Fall Favorites!

To me, I consider October to be the core of the fall season.

I’m excited for the coming winter months, and all that they bring, but at the same time it’s bittersweet because I really love fall-time!

As this month’s October recap, I’m going to be compiling a list of my favorite fall activities! Technically fall goes until mid-December, but after Thanksgiving I consider it winter. Anyone else agree with me?

So let’s cue the cozy drinks and fuzzy socks, shall we?

Apple Cider

Every year my family buys a huge jug of apple cider from our local pumpkin patch/farm, and it is fantastic! I usually add a little sprinkle of cinnamon to the apple cider, which I would definitely recommend trying! It’s like all things fall in a mug!

Knit Sweaters

Knit sweaters are universal for fall and winter, but I included them in this list because I’m OBSESSED with sweaters! Give me a chunky sweater, a pair of leggings, some boots, and a scarf, and I’ll wear it all season!

Hot Caramel Macchiatos

I’ve never been too keen on Pumpkin Spice drinks, so instead I substitute with Caramel Macchiatos! I don’t go to Starbucks very often, but if you do go, I recommend trying their Caramel Macchiato!

Corn Mazes

My local farm has the COOLEST corn mazes! They have different levels of maze difficulty depending on how long each maze takes. Within each maze there are different “keys” you need to find , and if you get them all you can get a free treat like a cup of warm apple cider!

Leaf piles

I will probably always be a kid at heart. My sister and I try to make different “settings” out of the leaf piles. One year we made a leaf pile swimming pool and tried to swim through them. Another year we made a campfire scene, which turned into quite an interesting role-play game. Let’s just say we were creative children…

Pumpkin Decorating

Something about picking pumpkins and decorating them with my family has always been one of my favorite fall traditions. My sister and I watched an old home video not too long ago where I REFUSED to stick my hand into the pumpkin to pull out the goop and seeds. What can I say? I was a very sassy 1-year-old.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

If you ever roast pumpkin seeds, try seasoning them with butter and ranch powder. It sounds kinda strange, but it’s really quite delicious!

Halloween Costumes

My family “half-celebrates” Halloween, as I call it. We don’t celebrate the Satanic aspect of Halloween, but we still dress up in cute costumes and go Trick-or-Treating with my cousins. Our rule for costumes is, “If it’s not God-honoring, don’t wear it”. This year my sister and I are going to do a partner costume together! 😀

Homemade Chili

Every Halloween my mom makes the best Crockpot chili when we go Trick-or-Treating with our cousins! We call it the “Crockpot holiday” because everyone who comes to my cousin’s Halloween party usually brings a Crockpot soup or treat to share!

Cozy Reading

My ideal fall afternoon would include a big chunky blanket, a good book or Bible study, and a mug of hot apple cider!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know some of your favorite things about fall in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

How I Plan My Blog Posts

Every blogger has their own process for creating blog posts.

Today I’m going to be showing you how I plan my blog posts! Whether you’re here for some motivation to write, or you’re just curious about my process, I hope this post will in some way help you to make the most of your time when blogging!

During this post I’m going to be planning and working on the post that’ll be up next week, so definitely continue reading if you want a sneak peek for next week’s post!

Step 1: Concept

The first step in my process is coming up with the post concept. First, I come up with inspiration for the post. I keep a log of all the potential posts I want to do in my bullet journal so I never forget a post idea.

For the post I’ll be writing today, the concept is “Day in the Life:Fall Edition”. I’ve really been loving “Day in the Life” posts recently and I figured since fall is finally upon us, why not?

Step 2: Make a Post Outline

Being the super organizer I am, I always have to write out an outline for my posts. I’ve found that it really helps me think clearly and work efficiently when I’m planning.

For this post’s outline, I’ve listed what I want to include in the post, as well as listed what photos I will need to take throughout the day. I made my notes very vague and basic, but with enough detail that I remember what I was talking about when I go to start writing.

For this outline I basically just wrote down a bunch of the fall inspired activities I wanted to do in the day. I also wrote down some extra activities to do just in case the post becomes too short or I run out of things to do!

Later on, I will go through my notes and edit them. I probably won’t end up doing everything on the list, but I like to over-figure just in case.

Step 3: Take photos

So for this post in particular, I went about my day following the basic outline in my notebook, and took pictures of pretty much everything I noted. I’m not going to be sharing any photos from my process because you’ll have to wait til’ next week to see!

Step 4: Write out post

Typically I write my post before taking pictures, but this post is an exception!

I like to write my post out in a notebook so I can make edits much easier. I’ve also found that I’m more productive in writing posts when I physically write them versus typing them for some odd reason. *shrugs*

Step 5: Make Edits

Once the post is completely written out, I go through and proof-read for any errors. Most times, I don’t have to make any major edits other than a subtle re-arranging here and there, and some grammatical corrections, so this step is fairly easy.

Step 6: Type up the post

Next, I type up the post into my WordPress Block Editor. During this step, I can really find any of the errors I’ve missed during editing and figure out if I need to move around anything around.

Step 7: Add graphics and photos

This is one of my favorite steps and probably the most difficult! For each post I make sure I have designed a featured image, and a divider image (for between paragraphs when needed). I use Befunky for all of my post designs.

This is also the step where I add any photos I’ve taken into their appropriate paragraph.

Step 8: Schedule

The final step in my post-making process is scheduling the post! I try to write my posts a few weeks in advance so I have plenty of time to get it edited and scheduled.

I schedule all of my posts on Saturdays, so check back every week for a new post! (Shameless plug, what can I say?)

And that’s how I plan my posts! I hope you enjoyed this post! Check back next Saturday to see the “Day in the Life:Fall Edition” post you saw me plan today!

Yours truly,

Background vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

My Travel Bucket List

Life is a crazy adventure.

I was thinking the other day, what if our lives were written as a story? What would you want written in your story? What would you want to have accomplished?

Deep, I know.

If I could choose the genre to my life, I’d want it to be adventure. In many ways, life takes us on crazy journeys, teaching things we never knew before. There are so many things I want to do in my life- so many things I want written in my story.

So in light of the whole adventure theme, I compiled a list of the places I want to travel to and explore. After all, an adventure story isn’t complete with a little exploration, is it?

First stop: Paris, France

  • The Eiffel Tower
  • French cafes and bakeries
  • Luxembourg Gardens (ahh they look absolutely gorgeous)
  • The Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Macaroons
  • Croissants
  • French cheese

Canada

  • Niagara Falls
  • Banff National Park
  • Toronto
  • Old Montreal
  • Maple taffy (did you honestly think I wouldn’t mention something maple related?)
  • Butter tart
  • Poutine

Italy

  • Leaning Tower of Pizza Pisa
  • Venice
  • The Colosseum
  • Rome
  • The Pantheon
  • St. Mark’s Square
  • Pizza the authentic
  • Coffee (Okay this one sounds kinda odd, but I’ve heard that Italian coffee is really good!)
  • Gelato
  • Pastaaaaaa

Tokyo, Japan

  • Senso-ji
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Tokyo Disneyland
  • Japanese zoo
  • Sushi
  • Steamed buns
  • Tempura
  • Mochi
  • Rolled ice cream
  • Japanese candy
  • Buy stationary
  • Learn to make sushi
  • See some pandas
  • See the city lights at night

Hawaii

  • Honolulu
  • Oahu
  • The beach!!!
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Waikiki Beach
  • Shave ice
  • Hawaiian coconut
  • Poke
  • Go snorkeling
  • See some sea turtles
  • Visit the ocean

Germany

I’m currently taking German for my foreign language, so I think it would be really cool to get to visit Germany someday.

  • Dresden
  • Munich
  • Berlin
  • Berlin Wall Memorial
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Schnitzel
  • Flammkuchen (It looks like the German version of pizza? Correct me if I’m wrong.)
  • Rote grutze (Red fruit pudding.)

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what your travel bucket list is! I’d love to chat in the comments below!

Until next time!

What’s in my backpack?

I have officially survived 15 days in school…

Just barely! I’m exhausted and my brain is totally fried, but I’m hanging in there.

My schedule is pretty stinking crazy this year, so I always have to be prepared. Packing and organizing is an essential part of my life now.

All dramatics aside, today I’m going to be sharing “What’s in my Backpack” in light of back to school. I’ve seen this trend going around especially on the Youtube platform, so even though I’m really late to this trend (honestly Saege we aren’t surprised) I’m going to do it anyway. >:)

This is my backpack. I’m not exactly sure what brand it is, but I do know that I got it from Target. I really love that it has so many pockets and compartments so I can keep all of my textbooks and supplies organized.

This first pocket doesn’t have anything in it at the moment. It’s too small for me to put anything in it, but if I do I’ll usually put a little snack in there.

In this second front pouch I keep my index card organizer and earbuds. In my index card organizer I store all of my vocabulary study words and science definitions.

On the other side there’s another small pouch where I put my wallet.

(A brief interruption from a very sleepy doggo.)

You may resume.

Above these three smaller pouches there’s another small pocket where I keep my colored pencils, sticky notes, and a book. Right now I’m reading Beowulf for my Literature reading.

Behind this pouch there is a bigger space where I keep my binders, notebooks, and ruler.

In the final pouch I keep my textbooks and pencil case. These aren’t all of my textbooks in my backpack, but I wasn’t able to fit them all in the picture.

I hope you enjoyed this tour through my back pack! Let me know what you keep in your backpack in the comments below!

Until next time!

My favorite bookish friendships!

Get ready for a post full of squealing, flailing, and gifs.

I could name a long list of bookish friendships I adore, but today I’m going to be listing my all-time favorites. In my opinion, bookish friendships strengthen our real-life friendships and teach us how to build long-lasting relationships and memories.

Before I start gushing, let’s get onto the flailing. 😉

The Golden Trio

Did you honestly think I wasn’t going to mention this fluffy trio? I honestly feel like I’ve grown up with these characters (kinda true). I’ve always admired how close they are and how they always come back together like magnets despite the trials they face. Gosh I sound so mushy.

I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THE PRECIOUS LITTLE BEANS! Momma Saege is so proud. :’)

The Black Swan Gang

This friend group is definitely a close second to the Golden Trio. I love these character’s hilarious banter throughout the books. They’re always challenging each other to be better and as the series goes on you can really see how closely they are connected and how each of them have changed for the better through their relationships.

I love how different each character’s personality is and how it perfectly balances the group. Let’s just take a quick look at each character’s personality:

Sophie: The leader of the group who doesn’t understand the extent of how powerful she is.

Keefe: The prankster of the group. Doesn’t take anything seriously (most of the time.)

Fitz: The love interest with anger issues.

Dex: The underrated genius.

Biana: The not-so delicate flower who can kick your butt.

Tam: The emo with a soft side.

Linh: The peaceful one.

The Olympian Three

It’s hard to explain why I’m so drawn to this group. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but maybe it’s because they have such history together? I dunno, but this gif is going to be forever in my heart XD.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know down below what some of your favorite bookish friend groups are!

Until next time,


My Fall Skincare Routine (Morning and Evening!!)

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for awhile now!

I’ve been trying to figure out little ways I could squeeze it into my schedule , and I thought what better time than back to school season, when everyone’s getting back into a routine.

This time I’m going to be a “fall edition” although my skincare routine essentially stays the same, I just use different products sometimes.

So without further ado…

*disclaimer*

This post is not sponsored. Any opinions made on the products mentioned are simply my own.

Morning Routine

The first thing I do in my routine is cleanse my face. I have two different cleansers, so I use this Pacifica Pineapple Cleanser in the morning, and the other you will see later in this post. I really like this cleanser because its fit for oily skin like mine and helps to reduce the oil build-up in my pores.

After cleansing my face, I moisturize with this First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. I have combination skin so my T zone and chin is very oily, but my cheeks are very dry. I’ve found that this moisturizer has helped to balance both aspects of my skin.

Every tells me I put my moisturizer on weirdly, so I thought I’d see if anyone else does this. I take my moisturizer and put dots of it on my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin with my finger and then massage it in rather than rubbing it in my hands and smearing it on. Anyone else do this or is that just me? XD

Once I’m moisturized I use the Pacifica Slay Oil spritz. I spray a little bit all over my face and it helps to keep my face less oily throughout the day! Sometimes I spray my face again if I find my face getting greasy again, but usually I don’t have to.

Evening Routine

For my evening cleanser I use the St. Ive’s Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub. I just started using this recently so I haven’t seen any immediate changes, but it has a nice cooling and exfoliating effect.

After I cleanse I exfoliate my face with this homemade scrub my sister made for me! I usually only use this 2-3 times a week and I’ve laid back on using it since my new cleanser has some exfoliating beads in it. I can’t remember what all is in the scrub but I do recall that she used coconut oil, sugar, and peppermint oil. This scrub always leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft, so I really enjoy using it!

I do this step usually on the weekends, but occasionally on days that I’ve sweat a lot. I use two different masks interchangeably: Fomo Jelly Mask by Lush and Queen Helene’s Mint Julip Clay Mask. I’ve pretty much used up all of the Fomo mask, but I really like the use of rose in the mask. It really helps to lessen the redness in my face and smells so so good!!

As you can tell from the picture above, the Mint Julip mask looks really old and disgusting, but it’s lasted me a long time and I like how it helps reduce my pores especially on my nose.

I moisturize before this step, but I’ve already explained my process so I don’t feel the need to reiterate things. Lastly, I put a little bit of this Clean and Clear Acne Spot Treatment on any problem spots on my face. I’ve been using this for awhile now and quite honestly I haven’t been that impressed with it. It hasn’t had any effect on any acne spots I may have and I’ve found it actually makes it worse sometimes. :/

Thankfully God blessed me with skin that isn’t very prone to break-outs or acne, so I don’t really need to use this step.

a brief interruption from alien Saege 😉

Before I end this post I wanted to share a few Bible verses related to self-care and beauty. I feel like a lot of teenage girls these days go through skincare routines to try to “perfect” their faces or try to look a certain way. Now, I’m not saying skincare is a bad thing, because it’s definitely not! God want us to take care of our bodies because they are temples of the Holy Spirit, so taking good care of your skin is a way of glorifying Him. It’s all in the right mindset!

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

“Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4 NIV)

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2 NIV)

Until next time!

What do you do for your skincare routine?

Do you have a product recommendation?