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Send Me Back to Palm Springs!

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One of the highlights of my career so far was most definitely getting to be part of the Alt Summit conference in March 2019. I was a roundtable speaker at the same conference where Joanna Gaines spoke. Life. Made! You definitely want to check out Alt Summit if you’re an entrepreneur/blogger (or aspire to be)!

As you can see from the photo above, Palm Springs just brings out my most extra self and I’m dying to get back there for Alt Summit in 2020. Here’s where I could really use YOUR help! I sent a pitch to try to speak on 3 different topics, and I’d love if you would throw me a vote (or 3)! Voting ends 9/25. Thank you! Send me a DM on Instagram if you’re also submitting to speak so I can vote for you, too.

Click any of these photos to vote:

Alt is just the most magical conference and is taking place March 1-6, 2020. Right now tickets are $699 and they will likely keep going up each month. At this year’s conference I learned a ton about Pinterest, marketing, & more- plus we met some amazing women from around the country! Hope to see you there, and thank you so much for helping me out with your vote!

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Weekender Workshop: Pinterest 101

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Weekender Workshop: Pinterest 101

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The only regret I have when it comes to my business is that I didn’t spend a little less effort on Instagram and a little more on other platforms along the way. If I had been putting more of my energy into growing my blog traffic, my newsletter audience, or my Pinterest reach this whole time, I wouldn’t have so much riding on my Instagram!

Well, there’s no time like the present to make a change, so lately I’ve been working on upping my game on Pinterest. The platform just went public, so it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon! I’ve rounded up some of the best of the best of the pinners I know & asked them to share some of their top tips that have brought them success on Pinterest. I’ve outlined each person’s follower count, but also their monthly views, so you can see that you don’t have to have a ton of followers to get a good amount of Pinterest traffic (which could equate to more traffic for your blog or your online shop)!

This post contains links that will earn me affiliate commission on Tailwind, the Pinterest helper I swear by! As soon as you sign up for Tailwind, you can apply to be an affiliate, too.


Pinner: Charleston Weekender (that’s me!)

Pinterest Followers: 1,079

Monthly Pinterest Traffic: ~150,000 views

My Top Tip: Start Using Tailwind & Join Group Boards

I’ve always heard that daily pinning is the key to Pinterest success. Well, who has time for that?! My assistant and I have been using Tailwind to schedule out posts, and it only takes us about an hour to schedule a month’s worth of posts to Pinterest! Tailwind is basically just an easy scheduling tool that let’s you schedule pins from your own blog or any other websites on the internet, and it gives you very valuable analytics about which boards & pins are getting the most traffic. Give Tailwind a try here (it has an Instagram scheduling component, too!). Read on for more on Tailwind “Tribes” in a few…

Another thing I’ve always heard is to try to join group boards. This allows you to exponentially expands your potential reach. For instance, a group board I’m on has 14,000 followers (because each of our followers are now following that board). My pins I pin to that board get SO many more views than they would if I was only pinning to my own board. I have a few group boards that you can join, just request to do so here!


Pinner Extraordinaire: Marianne of Basil and Bubbly

Pinterest Followers: 22,371

Monthly Pinterest Traffic: 2.3 million views!

We asked Marianne: What are the two most important things you should do to set yourself up for success on the platform? Below she’ll share about verifying your website on pinterest & setting up rich pins.


Verifying Your Website on Pinterest

Verifying your website on Pinterest is an important way to indicate to pinners and Pinterest alike that you are a serious content creator, plus it gives you access to great analytics on how your account is performing and who your audience on Pinterest is.

  1. If you don't already have a business account, go to your Settings and upgrade your account (there should be a big red button for you to click to do this). 

  2. Once you've set up your business account, go back to the Settings page and click the link on the lefthand menu that says "Claim Website."

  3. Enter your website in the text input, and click the "Claim Website" button.

  4. Select "Add HTML Tag".  Copy the tag and then paste it into the <HEAD> section of your website.  Your web developer can do this for you, or if your blog is on a WordPress site, you can use the "Insert Headers and Footers" plugin to drop the code in yourself under the plugin Settings, in the "Scripts in Headers" section.

  5. Go back to the Pinterest website where you got the HTML tag, and click "Next", followed by "Submit" to submit your site for verification.

It will take about 24 hours for Pinterest to validate your site, but once they do, you should see a checkbox in your settings next to your website address, and have access to all the analytics! 

How to Get Rich Pins

Rich Pins are an important part of a robust Pinterest strategy. They entice users to click through to your site, by giving them information pulled directly from your site right on the pin, teasing them to get the rest of the article directly from the source. 

If your site is using SquareSpace or Shopify, great news! You already have everything you need to set up Rich Pins, simply enter your site into the Rich Pin Validator and click Validate. Once you receive the success message, click "Apply".  Note: It might take several days for your blog to be approved, but Pinterest will be in touch as soon as they have finished the process.

If your site is using WordPress, you'll need to make sure the Open Graph tags needed for Rich Pins are added to your posts and pages.  If you use Yoast SEO, they have some great tutorials on their website for how to do this with their plugin ( you can find them here .)  If you don't use Yoast but are a recipe blogger, your recipe card plugin should handle these tags for you. Once you've added the Open Graph tags, you can follow the same process as SquareSpace/Shopify users by entering our site into the Rich Pin Validator, and then applying for Rich Pins.

As a last resort, you can add them manually into your <HEAD> code of each individual page, and update the information for each post.  This is painful, and I highly recommend choosing one of the aforementioned options instead, but if you insist, the code can be found on Pinterest's website.

Find Marianne’s blog here!


Pinner Extraordinaire: Laura Leigh of Louella Reese

Pinterest Followers: 3,767

Monthly Pinterest Traffic: 1 million views!

We asked Laura: How many pins a day should we be pinning?

The optimal amount of pins per day really is all trial and error. Play around pinning 5-10 pins a day then jump to 15-25 per day. See how that changes things. Are you receiving more engagement or less? If you're receiving more, move on to 30-45 pins a day. If you're producing content 4-5 times a week pinning that many pins a day will be no issue. However, if your blog publishing schedule is one to two posts per week maybe stick around 10 pins per day. That way pins are consistently going out and not paused while you're waiting to publish new content. This will also keep a great mix of pins going out - that way it isn't always 5-10 pins from the same post in order going out. It stretches that content out longer. 

Laura also recommends a mix of pinning multiple pins from your blog as soon as you publish a new post and scheduling your pins (via Tailwind or another Pinterest publishing tool).

Find Laura’s blog, Louella Reese, here!


Pinner(s) Extraordinaire: Michael & Ian of I Love That For You

Pinterest Followers: ~100

Monthly Pinterest Traffic: ~100k views

We asked Michael & Ian: How can I make one of my pins go “viral”?

As the go-to DIY hub, Pinterest users are looking for fun and easy “How-To” pins to try themselves. We’ve found the most success when sharing a popular How-To (but with our own unique spin), such as Cookie Jar Organization with all different types of cookies. Other popular post topics include home decor DIYs & travel related pins. So, just give it a try to add a unique twist on your favorite DIY How-To, because I Love That For You!

Side note: if you’re using Tailwind, it helps you determine which of your pins are “viral” (getting the most repins/views/etc.), so that you can reschedule them again in the future.

Find the I Love That For You blog here!


Pinner Extraordinaire: Hillary of Hill Heady

Pinterest Followers: ~1000

Monthly Pinterest Traffic: ~230k views

We asked Hillary to tell us about the “Tribes” feature on Tailwind:

One of my favorite things about Tailwind is their Tribes feature! Tribes are a great way to get your pins out there and increase your reach. Not only are you growing your own account, but you get the chance to connect with like minded users and help each other! In addition to being a communal tool to have your content reach more people, tribes are also a good place to find content to pin on your own boards when you’re not sure what to pin.

If you're a blogger and are interested in Tailwind Tribes, join Hillary’s blogger tribe here!

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A few other pro Pinterest tips I hear over and over:

  • pin only vertical images

  • try to brand your boards and pin content that goes with your overall aesthetic/niche (I don’t cook, so I don’t pin a lot of elaborate recipes, but I love to entertain so I pin easy recipes to my “Weekend Eats & Treats” board

  • don’t only pin your own content! Apparently you should aim to pin about 70-80% other content and 20-30% from your own site or blog

  • add “alt text” to all of the photos on your blog or website; this helps more of your photos be discoverable on Pinterest

  • for your pin description, try to use keywords that people might be searching when they are on the platform. For example, instead of “hair styles”, try to add more details like “best wedding up-dos” or “easy hair styles for summer”


I hope you find those tips as helpful as I did! Don’t forget to check out Tailwind or head here to request to join my group boards. Happy pinning, my friends!

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Influencer Marketing: my guide to getting the ROI you want

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Influencer Marketing is still kind of the new kid on the block when it comes to advertising. Your company can pay a social media “influencer” or blogger (like me!) to promote their brand or location for you. As a consumer, I get most of my inspiration from an online platform. For decorating inspiration I typically head to Pinterest (which really leads you to blogs), and I usually discover restaurants or local stores I want to go try from Instagram. Based on my own habits as a consumer and also as a store owner myself, I can tell you I’m very confident that Influencer Marketing “works”! The real question is how can you make sure it is going to work before you allocate some of your budget to this outlet. Here are a few common questions I hear about this topic, along with some of the advice I usually give before partnering with a brand to help make our collaboration as successful as possible!

What guarantee do I have that working with an influencer will work?

Short answer: just like with any form of traditional marketing, there are never guarantees about sales or visits to your website.

You can’t put an ad in a magazine and guarantee you’ll sell out of your website inventory, right? The biggest benefit of most forms of marketing is reach/circulation/brand awareness. Just like circulation is the number you would focus on before deciding to advertise in a magazine, and viewership is what you would care about before paying to go on a local TV segment, I think the biggest guarantee with Instagram promotion is the reach per post. 20,000 followers doesn’t mean that many people see all of my posts. An Instagram post for me can get anywhere from 3k-over 20k unique views for an Instagram post and 1-2k views for Instagram stories. The average unique reach of my last 10 Instagram posts is 6,300.

Another “guarantee” with Influencer Marketing is often that you will get professional photos for your own social media use. Hiring a professional photographer is usually anywhere from $150 for about 30 minutes to possibly thousands of dollars for a full editorial shoot, so it’s a great added value to get that high quality content for your brand.

Ok, so there are no guarantees, but how do I make sure I get the best possible return?

  • Give a discount. Offer a unique discount code for the blogger so you can track how many sales they brought to the table (I recommend at least 20% off with a short term expiration date).

  • Repetition. From selling my own products on my platform as well as promoting other brands, I can say the most success comes with repetition. When I’ve done a series of 3 posts instead of a one off, that’s when companies tell me they see the most sales. I’ve noticed the same when I’ve promoted a new product or one of my workshops the 2nd or 3rd time.

  • Find the right influencer fit. Do not be blinded by shiny objects like follower count! Sure, hiring Kim Kardashian to post for you (for about a quarter million dollars btw) could help you get Internet Famous. Well, what if you are a Charleston based restaurant? You might actually see more real customers come through your doors if you team up with someone who instead has mostly Charleston followers. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you find an influencer who: is in the same location as you or the same genre. A beauty blogger will probably get more people into your spa than a food blogger, and if you have a store/restaurant/physical location you need to find someone with the majority of their followers also in that area. The only exception I can think of is when it comes to hotels/lodging, because anyone from anywhere could want to travel based on a blogger recommendation. Personally, I’ve added several places to my own bucket list after being introduced to them by gals like Hot Pink Pineapples and Palm Beach Lately! Also make sure you like their: captions, aesthetic, content, personality, etc.

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Be Your Own Influencer First!

Sometime sales are not your main marketing goal; perhaps you are hoping to get a boost in your own Instagram followers. If that’s the case, this simply isn’t going to happen if your Instagram isn’t pretty awesome! Therefore, I’ll often encourage brands to invest in my Instagram Growth Workshop instead of hiring me to promote them. I want them to get follower growth if that is their goal, but when someone clicks over to their page it has to good at first glance in order for someone want to follow along. Someone will decide in a few seconds if they want to follow, largely baed on the overall aesthetic and content you have to offer.

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Is Influencer Marketing Better Than “Traditional” Marketing?

I am certainly not trying to knock print advertising, advertising on TV, etc.! I have a local TV segment, so I am confident that is effective, and the times our store has been featured in local magazines we have always seen new customers. I certainly appreciate and welcome any and all press for our brick and mortar store! However, there are a couple of reasons we’ve chosen to primarily utilize our marketing budget for influencer marketing. 1) Influencers have brought us new Instagram followers that are now ours to “keep” and continue to see what we’re doing over and over. 2) As I mentioned before, photography is expensive! We only invest in about 1 photo shoot a quarter, so teaming up with bloggers usually means we get access to new content to share on our social accounts in the interim.

Let’s recap! When it comes to influencer marketing, it’s super important that you:

-know your goals

-find the right influencer for your brand

-set yourself up for success by having a way to measure your ROI or ask for the stats after the campaign is finished

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Also, don’t be afraid to ask for more info up front. It’s perfectly fine to request a screenshot of their follower demographic, or ask to hear about their previous campaigns. As a business owner, I have invested in influencers by gifting product to bloggers. Sometimes it brought me sales and other times it didn’t, but I always made sure I got something out of it. If you’re like me, you may not have a large advertising budget to work with. I really want you to get the most bang for your buck, so always feel free to DM me at @CharlestonWeekender or email me (CharlestonWeekender@Gmail.com) if you have any other questions about all of this!

all images by Elizabeth Burgi Photography

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How To Get Yourself Into a Funk (& back out of it!)

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I originally planned to wait and share this when I was riding high on cloud nine once again, very far removed from my doldrums with plenty of superb wisdom in hand.  However, by the time I'm out of a funk I have usually forgotten just how bad it stinks and likely will have moved on to sunny & motivating topics once again.  So instead, I'm coming at you just a day or 2 out of a major funk- one that has been with me off and on for weeks and might not be completely gone!  The only word to describe it is just "blerg", a term often used by my favorite TV character (Liz Lemon), written so beautifully here by my friend The Town Serif.  

Here Are Some Funk-Inducers:

Not Exercising

My decline in physical activity has been slow and steady since opening our shop last April.  I got to a point where I was excited about being tied to my computer all the time, and slowly but surely working out fell by the wayside.  I am only successful with exercise when I am doing something truly enjoyable or being held externally accountable.  I'm currently on my second of 6 weeks working with a trainer to get myself back in the habit.  On my off days I try to get 10k steps a day.  A trainer isn't something I necessarily have extra room in my budget for, but I know it's an invaluable gift I can give myself to help me get back on track and reinstate good habits.  I'm training with Victoria from Glow Body Health & Wellness, & loving working out with her in the park!


Setting Goals

Some people thrive when they are held accountable by goals, but I tend to get easily overwhelmed by all of the things I could be/should be doing.  For right now, I'm just concentrating on tracking my business "wins".  If I work with a client I'm excited about, had a good sales month, etc., it gets added to the list.  It's nice to have a list you actually want to look at for a change!  

Eating White Foods

The three biggies that always get me are flour, sugar, and dairy!  Our bodies don't actually need these things and for some people, they can really cloud up our brain!  No, I don't have any fancy studies to back this one up, but if you start doing your own research you will be amazed. A lot of times when I find myself bloated, fatigued, or anxious for no good reason at all, it's usually because I haven't been keeping these things out of my diet. I also eat WAY too many white potatoes (in all forms) and am trying to sub sweet potatoes- white ones can be inflammatory and have a chemical called lectin that is apparently no bueno.  I have noticed most of my funks happen around my period, and to me that still points back to the foods in question here. None of them are known for being great for hormonal imbalances!

Playing The Comparison Game

For me, the girl I compare myself to the most? MYSELF. circa about 2009- working as a speech-language therapist in DC, making about 80k a year.  Plenty of money to have fun with and plenty to save.  The path to that career took 6 years of school, so why am sitting here thinking I'll get the same paycheck after just 2 years of hard work at Charleston Weekender?! Rome wasn't built in a day, duh!  It seems more common to compare yourself to what you see on social media.  I'm usually good about not doing that, but occasionally I'll see another blogger working with a brand that's turned me down and I get a little FOMO!  That's when it's time to head back to that "wins" list and refocus energy on what I DO have going on.  That energy could be spent in such better ways and we are better than that, friends!

image c/o Kim Graham

image c/o Kim Graham


Ok, Let's Fix Our Funk! 

In addition to some of the suggestions I offered above, here are some strategies that have usually helped me.


Seek Outside Help

Sometimes I can work my way out of my own depression (which for me doesn't actually feel like sadness, just lack of motivation and lethargy/apathy).  Other times we need real professional help.  For right now that means hiring a trainer, and at times that has also meant I've worked with a talk therapist.  Occasionally, outside help is as simple as reaching out to a friend.  Simply scheduling a phone date with a gal pal is all it takes for me to get moving a lot of times.


Pat Yourself On The Back!

I bet you don't say mean things to your friends like "you really should be making more money" or "you really could be a better parent", right? Ok, then why are we letting ourselves say such mean things sometimes!?  If you heard the things I said to myself lately- about my job, about being a wife, or even about being depressed, you would think it was terrible!  I noticed when I was reading daily affirmations and writing down what I was grateful for as part of my 30 days of habit making that it was easier to stay positive with my thoughts.  Practice thinking, writing, or talking about the good things you have going on!


Take a Chill Pill, Literally!

When all else fails, I turn to medication.  This is NOT my first choice if I'm being honest. In general I am working toward having an all-natural approach to what I put on and in my body.  However, sometimes my anxiety zaps my energy and turns into depression if I don't nip it in the bud.  That means after a few too many nights of waking up at 4am I just might need a Xanax the next night.  I have also tried Prozac in the past but didn't like the side effects.  What works for me might not work for you, but sometimes it can make a world of difference.  Good news is I think I have found an all-natural substitute for Xanax that I've been trying- the essential oil vetiver! I've been rubbing it on my big toe at night and my husband and I both experience much less restless sleep that lasts all night (until Maddie snores, ugh). 


Like I said in my latest IG post, you can actually have ZERO things to complain about and plenty to be grateful for and STILL find yourself in a funk.  I hope this helps us get us out of it once again, my friends!  I'd love for you to share what helps you- leave a comment here or on over on Instagram.

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Building A Brand: Q & A with Hedley & Bennett's Founder

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If you're not already familiar with the cheery lady behind Hedley & Bennet aprons, allow me to introduce you to Ellen Marie Bennett!  You've probably seen her aprons worn by chefs & servers at one of your local restaurants, and they are also the official apron of the Charleston Wine & Food Festival!  The 2018 festival is why I had Ellen on my mind lately; she's here in Charleston to moderate my favorite CHSWFF shindig (Pecha Kucha), and is hosting another fun event called Brunch Squad.  

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Last August I had the chance to visit Ellen's apron factory for her School of Hustle conference.  I learned so much, so I really wanted to have her share some insight for those other hard-working entrepreneurs out there.  I know you'll be as inspired by Ellen as I am!

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Liz: A brand is so much more than just a logo, but that really is part of what makes your business so recognizable.  Tell us how the name Hedley & Bennett and the decision to use the ampersand logo came about.

Ellen: Hedley is the last name of my English grandfather and he was a rocket scientist way back then. His name brings in the proper functionality aspect of the brand. We want to design aprons that perform better and last longer than what’s out there. Then there’s the other side… Bennett is me, colorful and vibrant. Design matters. The ampersand stands for the balance of those two things and the dignity that we offer people when they put on our aprons.

Liz: As a fun-having soul with a big personality, can you share your pros (or cons) of being the own face of your brand?  

Ellen: Being the face of your own company is A LOT of work! Between juggling my role as CEO and managing a business, to running around to events and being the face, I’ve learned that it definitely isn't for the faint of heart.  I mean I definitely love both but it’s a daily struggle.  The pros are having creative control and being able to direct where we’re headed--I’m able to guide the growth of the company and how our message is perceived and be the translator of our narrative. In terms of cons, IT’S REALLY HARD! I’m working long hours around the clock--it’s literally like working three full time jobs. It’s exhausting but something I truly enjoy.

Liz: Hedley & Bennett is more than just a product (aprons), so what are some of the best ways you have found to spread your brand message?

Ellen: Collaborations have definitely played a role in spreading our message--they’re really fun and exciting! Being able to collaborate with like-minded brands and sharing our stories along with theirs have helped us reach new markets, and is something we’re continuing to grow this year.

Instagram Stories has also been an amazing channel that’s helped spread our brand message. It’s a lot of fun being able to show people how a company exists and how we operate between my personal Instagram and the Hedley & Bennett account. We collectively get to show our audience the people behind the business; it’s human and relatable and I love that because it’s real. Our entire Instagram in general has gravitated more towards showing that we really care about our community. It’s a place where we can show people who they are and why we do what we do. Our new Test Kitchen is something we’re really excited for, too.  We have this opportunity to collaborate and share our message with our community on another scale by being able to have them come cook with us at Apron HQ --it’s something that makes us truly unique and we’re really excited for it!

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Liz: One of the things I loved about the School of Hustle was Ellen's advice about putting yourself out there at all times- now at conferences I try not to eat with people I know and I strike up conversations with anyone I can.  What are some ways people can get their brand message out there when they step away from the computer?

Ellen:  You have to put yourself out there! Even if you're uncomfortable, you should do it--don't let being afraid hold you back.  Find what makes your brand special--what makes it real and hone in on that.   Be real, don’t copy others and find what’s original to you. For me, color has always been my art.  Over the years, my color choices and clothes have gotten crazier and crazier, but it’s apart of my identity and the message Hedley & Bennett is getting across. We’re loud and proud and we know it’s important to have fun in what you’re doing and we stay true to that.  At the end of the day, it’s just really important to identify your brand in the most real way possible--be as human as possible, be honest, be unique. It’s so important.

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Liz: Your brand story & identity has really made a mark within your industry, and you've successfully grown your company within a relatively small amount of time.  What advice would you give other up and coming brands to be able to scale at a more rapid pace?

Ellen: I think it’s really important that you find your own path, and follow it. No two paths are the same and we can take advice and inspiration from other people’s journeys, but at the end yours is your own and for you to trek. When I first started making aprons, everyone thought it was ridiculous, but I was determined.  Find what makes you want to get up in the morning and make it yours--make it original.  It takes time but you have to try and figure it out. Try everything and if it doesn’t work, you learn from it and learn not to make that mistake again. You can’t wait for the right moment because it may never come. I always say look and then jump because you’ll figure it out on the way. Bring to the table only something you have the ability to do, and believe in it!

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Doesn't this year's CHSWFF "Street Team" look pretty fantastic in Ellen's aprons?  Follow us behind the scenes of the festival on Instagram here, and learn more about Ellen in my previous post

group photo via Libby Williams Photographs

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