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Top Blogger 
What is a blogger and how do you become the biggest baddest blogger of them all? My partner Carin Kilby Clark of Memoirs of a Clueless Woman and I are exploring every detail of what it take to become a Top Blogger. No longer do you have to wander "the Google" searching for the answers you seek. Follow along during our YouTube and Podcast series to see if you have what it takes to climb the mountain to influential stardom.

Why are we starting the Top Blogger series? To help young aspiring bloggers and to bring attention to the NEW Virginia Bloggers Club. Carin and I want to help connect local and national brands with the perfect dedicated blogger for their campaign. Also, we want to bring awareness to blogger equality. Some small businesses will attempt to pay bloggers with paperclips and sticks of bubble gum. That is not okay. Likewise, bloggers must insist on being compensated(as any trained professional should be) for their time and efforts.

The Virginia Bloggers Club is helping to connect businesses that know the value that bloggers bring to their businesses, products, and services. Bloggers have an established audience of online friends that trust their opinions and feedback. Most bloggers(even when paid) speak honestly without a filter when reviewing a product and/or service. They cherish the bond they have with their audience. The Virginia Bloggers Club is getting quality and motivated DMV bloggers the financial compensation they deserve and small businesses are getting high-end promotions as a result.

Stay Tuned as Top Blogger picks up speed for tips and tricks of the trade. Also, please leave us questions and feedback. We will be doing special Q&A sessions with your questions and feedback. Thank you for joining us and good luck on your blog endeavors! Cheers to the influencers of the world!
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
My question above is merely a philosophical search for the best chalk paint. An on-going quest if you will. I discovered Shabby Paints last week after a trip to Weathered Elegance where my friend and stockist Scottie started telling me about this zero-VOC arcylic based chalk paint. No buffing and No waxing? Intrigued, I purchased a Shabby Paints shimmer paint in Sapphire Sea to use in my son's bedroom. I though it would be a nice contrast to the matte Van Gogh brick red color of Bole. I am going to tell you in detail my experience with Shabby Paints shimmer paint from start to finish and maybe you will want to experience this acrylic-chalk paint journey that is Shabby Paints!

Shabby Paints shimmer paint. Let it be known that I have never worked with metallic paints before last week. Shabby shimmer paints are very thick and super fun. You will want a separate container to glob out and stir in a little water for a workable paint. The shimmer paints or metallic paints should be applied thinly for the best results. I did start to get carried away and caked it on at one point. Heavily applied metallic paint does not adhere very easily and is easy stripped off with subsequent brush strokes.
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
What I love about Shabby Paints. They are Made in the USA, Non-Toxic, 100% Vegan Friendly, and Zero-VOC. VOC's are essentially chemical compounds that are released into the air over time. Some of which are dangerous to humans. Shabby Paints have ZERO of these potentially harmful VOC's. Also, once applied Shabby Paints are tough.

Shabby Paints <3 continued...You can also apply a VAX to achieve a matte like finish, which is the reverse of Annie Sloan chalk paint. Annie Sloan applies matte and then you use a clear wax and buff to achieve a sheen finished look. Shabby Paints dry with a glossy sheen due to their acrylic base. I did not use the VAX last week. We will save that for another day.

 A duel-chalk paint discovery. I applied a thin coat of Shabby Paints Sapphire Sea on top of my Annie Sloan chalk painted table in Coco. That table is a favorite play table for the boys and after they got it all dirty I washed it. The Sapphire Sea started peeling right off. Perhaps a bit of VAX would keep that from happening in the future. I will keep you posted. However, the end result is shabby chic adorable!
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaintShabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shimmery Blue Bedroom. My son loves the Sapphire Sea color of the trim, fire place, and his bed! Shabby Paints stays put and have a finished look even with the use of VAX. VAX is a varnish and acrylic resin combination. Again, I have not used VAX....yet. The trim was difficult to paint in bright shimmery blue, but after a few touch ups it will be perfection. This bright shimmery color is perfectly suited to a vibrant young boy. The paint stretched very far. One 16 oz. jar painted nearly the entire room. Great coverage Shabby Paints!

You should consider Shabby Paints for your next home improvement painting project! Eco-friendly paints with an exceptional user experience. I am impressed and will be exploring their line more extensively in the coming months. If you are looking for additional information Scottie generously supplied more with a Shabby Paints Shimmer Paints Guide. Until next time chalk paint lovers. Be bold and create something! XO.
Herban Lifestyle Soap Giftset   
*I was monetarily compensated for this post. All words and thoughts are mine.

The sudden arctic weather shift is making me antsy for Christmas AND getting all my Christmas shopping done. Lucky for all of us, Herban Lifestyle is hosting a trunk show on Saturday, November 29th to help us get a head start on preparing for Christmas while supporting local businesses at the same time. A win-win. 

Small businesses DO make a difference. Shop local. Shop small. Spend a day to shop with small business owners that make a difference in their community and local economy. You are sure to find beautiful, handcrafted, artisan, and 100% local items for every special person on your gift list this holiday season!   In addition to Herban Lifestyle products, there will be blown glass objects d'art by Beth Hess of WunderAround and a variety of Etsy artisan products by: EHL Creations, Healing Touch Pottery, Herban Luxe, Karmalades, Naked Botanicals, Pine Branch Designs, Sarah Winter Clothwork, Sprout Bottle, Vita Pulita.
 
Did I mention the Herban Lifestyle Trunk Show is FREE?! Be sure to view the event details below and RSVP...It's FREE!!:) 
Who: Herban Lifestyle Trunk Show  
When: Saturday November 29th from 11-4  
What: Start the holidays off right with free Herban Lifestyle product samples, delicious food, exquisite glass art, a build-your-own terrarium demo, giveaways, vegan soap, natural bath and body gifts and much more!  Plus, receive 10% off your purchase in celebration of Small Business Saturday!  
RSVP: http://bit.ly/1sCvMxQ  
Where: Herban Lifestyle Shop located @ 2931-C Eskridge Road, Merrifield, VA 22031—adjacent to the Mosaic District See you there. Heather Paulding Founder of The Virginia Blogger's Club





 *I was compensated for the composition of this post. All words, thoughts, and feelings are my own. Second Ave Photography is responsible for the gorgeous photography.

Jewelry is more than a fashion trend. Jewelry is an extension of ourselves: sentimental and timeless. In fact, we are so attached to our jewels that sometimes we choose to take them with us to the Earth. There are very few artists that can actually achieve the making of a timeless piece of jewelry. Artists that create jewelry that make you feel the attachment from the moment you try it on. Debbie Love from Love Soul Style has achieved this emotional attachment with special "aura stones" for her bracelets.

Aura Stones? Yes, Debbie is very persnickety about the stones she selects for her bracelets. They must have feelings and meaning behind their use. Some stones are chosen for their strength, wellness, tranquility, wealth, etc... It was so much fun to pick up a Love Soul Style bracelet that I was drawn to and ask Debbie, "What do these stones mean?". Of course, I picked up a bracelet that was entirely strength topped with strength...Hercules?:)

Love Soul Style bracelets are stack-able and heavy. I love how weighty these bracelets are! The stones are incredibly unique in color and shape. Some stones are shiny, others are matte, variant in colors, and textures too! Debbie has a true Manhattan vibe. Edgy and modern. I have fallen deep in love with these bracelets and even Debbie herself.

Debbie is a positive vibrant soul that directly impacts the souls of other deserving women. For every bracelet bought, Debbie sends one to a woman in need of compassion and encouragement. Love Soul Style(for me) really translates into love in your soul for others.

Watch out now! Debbie is expanding her line in the near future for little girls! How adorable is that?! I am so excited to see the finished product and purchase one for my gorgeous little niece.

The beautiful green stone is a facet cut Aventurine stone which is packed with intention. Aventurine is said to benefit one in all areas of creativity, imagination, intellect, and mental clarity. Lore says that it enhances prosperity and brings career success. It is a gentle stone that gives a sense of calm and balance to enhance happiness. It also helps one to see alternatives and potentials in all situations, giving a positive outlook, courage and inner strength.  Green Aventurine is also a mystical stone of prosperity, friendship, and is a stone of protection energies. The center stone is a smooth cut of brown Agate. It is said to supply courage and increase the creativity of students and artists. The boost of energy from this stone always comes in waves, therefore, it can help whenever it is necessary to overcome a situation. ~Debbie Love, Founder of Love Soul Style

Who is ready for a "positive aura" Love Soul Style Giveaway? 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How to become Instagram Famous

Instagram is one of my very favorite social media platforms for one important reason: Easy visual sharing. Images are incredibly powerful. Often times it is hard to convey or invoke an emotion through mere words alone. Nothing is quite like imagery to really encourage the imagination to flourish. You MUST use the "visual" that is Instagram to your audience engagement advantage. Here are 11 bullet proof steps to guide you on your way to Instagram fame.

1.) Create a cohesive theme. *Sigh* Alas, the animal accounts of fido licking his derrière day after day get far more likes than my daily selfies. Consistency works. Be consistent with your account. The best feeds have a common theme, filter, look, and feel. That being said, creativity in your postings goe a long way. If you are not artsy or creative, I highly suggest that you find someone who is OR rely on a different form of social media. Play to your strengths. Twitter is great for the practical and uncreative types(most men).

2.) Make it perdy. Terrible photos translate to poor likes and interactions. What is a terrible photo? Blurred photos(generally) and poor lighting. Think about how quickly people scan your feed as they are looking at photos. It must "pop" at a distance or simply do not post it at all.

3.) Do not post at 3 PM(gosh I did this today). I am not sure if it is the school time or work thang, but interaction definitely drops off from 3 PM to 5 PM. The Best time to post is early 7 am to 11 am or early evening 6 pm to 10 pm.

4.) Interact with your followers. You can NEVER be instagram famous if you do not talk to anyone. If someone compliments your hair or photo you need to respond even if it was 2 months ago since you noticed. Your followers will get their online social needs met by someone else if you do not show them some love.

5.) Post at least once a day during the most frequently trafficked hours(see #3). Once a day is enough if it is a really solid post, but more is better. Do not ever force your posts. Post genuine and altered photos. I use the Snapseed app. It is easy and the results are amazing.

6.) What types of photos get the most interaction? Selfies, animals, scenery, beautiful people, beautiful imagery, and quotes.

7.) Create the perfect profile. How do you want people to perceive you. Are you a lawyer, blogger, small business owner, etc... What angle are you working? Keep your words short and witty. For example, allow people to connect with you via your profession, favorite football team, color, AND location. Put your relative location and business URL(at the very least) in your profile. Your URL can be your YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc... Also, if you have other Instagram accounts then you should also put your handles in your profile too. Think about your audience. Think. Think. Think. Light bulb.

8.) Who is your audience? You absolutely must know without a doubt who loves you and how to make them love you. Let me give you a tip. Be you. Check out google analytics and ad words. The statistics from these sites will help you understand your audience better.

9.) Which hashtags should you use? I am using the photo above as an example, but you should always keep your audience in mind. #greatoutdoors #naturalbeauty #scenery #openskies #country #WV #WestVirginia #beautiful #gorgeous #breathtaking #contrast #mountains #travel #trip #vacation #cabin #blue #green #stunning #rollinghills #photography. I choose hashtags based on the photo visually, the emotion it invokes, colors, and location.

10.) Translate your Instagram post to Twitter. Easier said then done. You can share to Twitter and Facebook when you post. Do both. For good Twitter engagement, your words must be short and to the point. For example(for the photo above), I would use the caption "West Virginia. Wild and Wonderful". To increase interaction tag a person(s) associated with your photo. Allow people to be swept up in the post of the moment while simultaneously increasing your visibility.

***BONUS TIP***
11.) Videos are for YouTube. Folks are impatient and many times it simply takes too long for a video to load. Next profile. Keep video postings to a minimum. They simply do not get the likes and interaction that photos do.

Now who's ready to become Instagram famous? Go Get'em Tigers!!!
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