You’re Not Too Good For Hashtags. The Importance of Branding on Instagram

If you’re one of the 1 billion people who use Instagram each month, you’ve likely seen the shift from food pictures and sunsets in sepia tones to the mecca of influencers. With more than 500 million people using the platform every day, it’s no wonder there’s been a massive surge of effort placed on a photo and IG presence.

You’re likely using the platform for personal use to keep in touch with friends but you also follow comedy accounts or your favorite brands.

If you were to search La Croix, Nike or McDonalds would you be surprised if an official account didn’t show up?

If you were to search Melania Trump, the Obamas or an SNL cast member to follow and support them would you be bummed that nothing came up? Remember how big of a deal it was when the British Royals got on the platform?

 

Instagram is a visual brand. Humans are visual beings.

More than 80 percent of people will buy something solely based on how it looks.

If you have a brand you need to be utilizing Instagram and one other platform. End of story.

Another reason the grid of squares dominates the online world is of the intimacy of it. You can post stories to keep people updated every minute of your day if you’d like, you can go Live to bring them into a moment in real time or you can interact in the comments or DMs.

If you have a business account you can check the exact stats of your audience but a majority of IG users are scrolling through the platform in the evening. Picture this (*Pun not intended but enjoyed). You’re lying in bed, scrolling through images before you go to sleep. You see photos of people’s faces, their homes, their pets and their kids. You read long captions filled with emojis teaching life lessons, selling products or asking you to take action on something.

There is a lot of potential for influence there.

You can check out some more stats here.

 

 

Maybe now you understand WHY Instagram is so important so let’s get into the HOW.

Much like imposter syndrome, it’s important to realize it’s not about YOU, it’s about YOUR BRAND.

I don’t personally do too much editing on my photos nor do I seek to be an influencer for a brand so I can do what I want and when I want. I do try to stay active with my friends online and share support and interaction with other small business owners. It’s a great networking platform.

Once you have your photo you can create a witty, catchy or serious caption. What are you trying to tell your audience? What do you want them to take away? Where do you want them to click? Where do you want them to go or what should they do?

While you cannot directly click on a link in captions you can direct them to your bio.

See how it’s one large loop? That’s why it is SO important for your branding to be complete and consistent. Here’s five steps on how you can do that.

Don’t want to overhaul your social media alone? We can do it for you. 

Start with your bio.

Start simple. Is your profile photo going to be a logo or your face? If it’s a personal brand, clearly show your face. If it’s a brand, show the correctly formatted logo.

Next, write your bio. I like following Jenna Kutcher’s suggestion of choosing five pillars to post around and make sure you pinpoint those in your bio. *CONSISTENCY!* While this is an old bio, you get the picture of what you can expect. 

I need to know exactly what to expect from you, who you are and what you do. Let your personality shine!

jenna kutcher bio

You’ll notice there’s a character limit on bios. Want to add more? Try this:

  1. Open the note app on your phone.
  2. Type out your bio, using the return button to create new lines of text. Emojis take up more character space than text but add them in place of words if/when you can! Cut any excess words or fluff and leave the good stuff.
  3. Once you’re happy with your bio, copy the text.
  4. Open your Instagram app and navigate to “Edit Profile”
  5. In the “Bio” field and paste your text into the box.

You are also only allowed one link. I would suggest this link be to your website but if you’re a company who regularly posts offers for your audience to take advantage of, I recommend creating a free Linktree account.

Linktree gives you the ability to post this month’s newsletter, your website, your Facebook page and your current offers all without having to update frequently. Simply say ‘Direct Link In Bio’ in your captions and you’re always set!

 

Make your grid consistent.

This might seem minuscule but by making your brand consistent online you will be able to showcase quickly to new viewers who you are, what you do and what they can expect. Like this.

ig branding grid

Is your brand outdoorsy and rustic or bright and cheerful? What preset for editing are you consistently making? Are you using reds and pinks or hints of yellow?

If I were to look at your grid as if it were a magazine would I be scrolling through seeing people’s faces, plates of food, or a mix of nature and quotes? Is it all product focused or are you also showing some BTS actions of those creating the product? Another favorite of mine is looking at grids where they follow a posting pattern like this.

pattern posting.jpg

You can look at your competition to see what they are doing, get tips from major companies or start new. Whatever you decide, be aware that the highlights bar should follow the same ‘rules.’

 

Your messaging should be the star…

Are you known for long, story time captions? Or quick one-liners? Test out a few and see which get the best response from your audience. You don’t always have to say something poetic or a life coach lesson but if you have something relevant and pressing on your mind, share it. People always respond best to authenticity.

A problem many people run into while writing lengthy captions is spacing issues. To ensure your editing is accurate and your formatting is the same as it was in the notes app, remove spaces after each period. Go to the end of the last sentence and backspace. Add emojis in between paragraphs to emphasize your message and insert some character.

When creating your Branding + Positioning Strategy you were provided with a brand voice. The way you speak, the words you use, the repetition of your brand’s mission statement and phrases you repeat or stay away from are all part of your messaging. Stay consistent in your bio, captions, replies and videos and you will be set.

…and your hashtags the backup dancers.

You are not too goo for hashtags! Even if they seem to get annoying. That’s why I add

.

.

.

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after each caption. To ensure my message gets across but my hashtags are still performing well for interaction. Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement.

7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded. This can be #Target or more specific #TargetStyle. While it may be tempting to #Love #Follow or something else popular you will actually get in front of more people by niching down. You’re not just a #blogger you’re a #KCBlogger or #LifestyleBlogger. If you’re new to this world try to get 3 niche hashtags, 3 location hashtags and 3 generic hashtags.

It’s important to note you will perform best if you stick to the 30 hashtag limit. **Reminder to remove the spaces after the periods, paragraphs and hashtags.**

CONTENT IS KEY. HASHTAGS ARE THE CHERRY ON TOP.

If you’re consistently posting the same type of content or if you’re posting for a client, I would create hashtag blocks and have them saved in your phone notes or on your computer to easily copy and paste.

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As Things Change They Stay The Same

The algorithms are always changing so you’re best bet is to test out a variety of things, share an array of photos and focus on moving forward. Stay consistent enough to give tactics a good shot but don’t be afraid to switch things up and play around.

At the end of the day you should never focus all of your efforts on one platform in case it were to ever shut down (which is why having a website you own is so important.) It can be the most influential platform you focus on but at the end of the day it is also just a page of photos. You can do everything right but if you don’t focus your main efforts on your customer experience you can kiss the likes goodbye.

 

Cheers!

Marin

Ready to brand your business? Let’s get started.

All You Need Is Less

I’ve slowly been renovating my website. This usually starts with revamping the copy and then moving more in depth as I get into it.

While updating the main page, I came across a phrase I fell in love with.

All You Need Is Less.

When first starting this branding and marketing agency I knew I wanted to focus on a local business feel, a collaborative effort, starting from simple roots and providing endless potential. Like my tagline in the cover video here.

 

While working with small business owners I have noticed they are all seeking to start from the basics (usually designing a logo, putting out convertable content on a regular basis and/or building a website.)

I also see quite a few mental obstacles several entrepreneurs aren’t ready to face. Maybe they’re scared the products are too expensive (Spoiler Alert: Local Collaborative is more affordable than a majority of your subscription services!) or there’s a fear of commitment to sharing log-in info or having someone else’s vision navigate what you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into building.

So they attempt to go at it themselves. Because it seems simple enough, right?

Then what happens…

Things happen. Life happens. Business occupies all of your time and social media is the last thing you should be focusing on (NO, NO, NO!! Please share everything about your business online! People LOVE BTS of who and what they’re buying!)

complaining

Similar to when I am on a run, I continually repeat You Can Slow Down But You CANNOT Stop. Would it be great to post 3-5x a week for your audience? Yes, that’s why you bring in help to make that happen. Is it more necessary to put out one post a week to let them know your doors are still open?

Absolutely. 

-You can slow down but you can’t stop.-

 

Your track record, so far, of making it through bad days is 100%. You have so far overcome or learned from every problem or issue that’s arose. Remember how many times you’ve been in that position and had that feeling? You’ve done it before. You can do it again. You can slow down but you cannot stop getting in front of your audience, serving them with massive value and putting yourself out there like all of your competitors are.

Make a goal RIGHT NOW to post at least once a week. Anything. A video, a photo, a client testimony or a helpful tip. If people aren’t seeing your posts or hearing from you then they don’t know you’re still in business and they will never refer or buy from you.

Check out our portfolio for the results and insane transformations businesses (like yours) experience with simple efforts.

 

Cheers!

Marin

Need a logo? Want a FREE review of your current marketing approach? Schedule a quick, FREE Discovery Session here. 

The Evolution of Employed vs. Employee

I’ve held many jobs over my lifetime.

I’ve always had an urge and a drive to be doing something productive and never turned down a job or opportunity to earn money.

I’ve babysat and nannied, I was a lifeguard, a waitress, a secretary, a warehouse worker, a food stand worker at Chiefs and Royals games, emcee, a housekeeper, organizer (dreamy!), an insurance salesman, a marketing manager and much more.

Most recent title: business owner. 

 

Maybe others saw I had an entrepreneurial spirit, a creative drive paired with a constant work ethic or maybe it came as a complete surprise. It was for me.

Over my years of working, before and after college, there was not much consistency. I knew everything was temporary until I graduated and received a ‘big kid job.’ I was highly disappointed by options available for military spouses and even more disappointed in my employers and their business structure.

After two years of working for more, more, more, I decided it was time to take my passion for strategic creativity and develop a business I, and others like me, could benefit from.

I was excited!

I was nervous to say I was a founder.

I was encouraged to move forward anyway.

 

Although I am still waiting for that big salary to reflect the time and effort put in (someday) this is exactly what I am meant to be doing. I’ve loved keeping myself employed on my terms instead of following mundane tasks that lead to no tangible results. I have never once cringed from unethical behavior or business practices. That in itself is a success to me.

Check out this excerpt from Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action:

9.17,2018 039

I’m a firm believer that making money is better than sitting idle waiting for the next big opportunity to fall in your lap. Part of this means you say YES to doing a job and learn how to do it after that. Even the most experienced bartender had a first shift at one time in their life. The best plumber knows what to look for because he’s worked day in and day out in his field.

You have to start somewhere.

I have never been nervous to say I wasn’t sure how to do something but I was willing to learn and ask questions. I was motivated to work a little longer, a little harder or a little more than my peers in order to get the job done.

And it always paid off.

Just like working out you might not always be thrilled to go in to work or motivated to do something but your discipline will keep you showing up day in and day out until you get to do what you want to do instead of what you have to do.

 

Maybe you find yourself ready to take a step toward a promotion? Toward leadership? Toward another job or starting your own business? Hopefully you’re already a leader, boss or employer and are seeking a way to treat your team better.

This is The Evolution Of The Employee I’ve come across online and I not only love that it resembles what’s happened for me personally but also what’s happening in the work culture.

evolution of employee- from linked in

When you find the release from poor management or micromanagement you find what you learned about leaving for college. A newfound freedom. A relief. Maybe a freak out when it comes time to memorize your SSN. I get it.

But you figure it out because maybe mom won’t answer her phone in time. So you have to figure out who to call and what office to visit. Maybe they’re not there to hand you gas money, entertainment money or tuition. So you’ve got to figure out how to earn money and budget your necessities vs your vanities.

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards

 

So I encourage you to start today. Start right now. Go do something that will get you one small, tiny step closer to where you want to be. Even with your full-time job, your busy home life or your lack of resources (time or money) just go do something.

Start writing blogs, start taking photos, go to the gym once a week, then twice then three times.

Start reading books, listening to podcasts and watching documentaries. Start researching, learning, investing and attending.

Show up. Put the work in.

It was always work out in your favor.

If you’re looking for a place to start, ask me how I can help you. 

Cheers!

Marin

Two Romantic Weekend Getaways in Washington State

Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway to celebrate an anniversary, Valentine’s Day or the solace of a long weekend off work?

We sure do! And we take advantage of time together whenever possible.

If you’re looking for trips on either coast, Midwest or anywhere else check out the Passport section of my blog for some awesome ideas and detailed itineraries. BOOM I’ve already planned it for you!

These two weekend trips are great for a three to four day weekend so you can drive out and really enjoy the areas. No matter what you like, there’s something for everyone. Check them out!

LAKE CHELAN, WA

Even though Lake Chelan would make the perfect warm weather destination for their lake activities, it was also a great Valentine’s weekend for hiding from the cold and wine tasting.

lake chelan

Driving in there are so many wineries and fruit fields!

We stayed at Campbell’s Resort which will commonly come up on your searches as the main place to stay. The location and restaurant were great and while the rooms were decent, they were not what we saw in the photos. There are several different sections to the hotel and we were fine with the cheapest room block just to have a place to sleep. You’ll be exploring, anyway!

Campbell’s is also a great choice because this area is so spread out. We prefer to walk to the bars, drink and eat our way through town then walk back so we will pay a little bit more to do that. There are a few options in town for you to choose from if you want to walk, otherwise grab a ride to venture out.

We have a habit of visiting a local Italian restaurant whenever we travel and if there were ever a romantically lit room with fantastic food and delicious local wine, Andante‘s is it! This intimate restaurant is packed with style and character and made for a great date night.

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We enjoyed a few more drinks at some nearby casual bar, Stormy Mountain Brewing and Local Public House. Super friendly staff and laid back vibe!

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“Designated as an official American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2009, Lake Chelan offers a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience featuring over 30 wineries hugging the shores of a breathtaking lake.” – Lake Chelan Visitor’s Website

Our plan for the first full day was to go wine tasting in the Manson area. so while we waited for the vendors to open up we explored local shops and grabbed YUMMY (seriously) pizza at Westside Pizza.

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Getting to and from the wineries was my least favorite part of the entire trip. There are several options to get taxis, limos or other forms of shuttles but we opted for a local casino’s shuttle.

Of course they will stop halfway at the Mill Bay Casino where you will have to wait about 30 minutes until the next ride comes along. We decided to grab drinks and play a few games while we waited (it is a free shuttle so this is what they bank on you doing).

 DO NOT load one of their stupid cards, just use your money elsewhere. If you do load the card play, play, play until you use all of your money!

mill bay.jpg

This was a fun thing to do together except I was 24 hours post Lasik surgery so the smoke was not friendly to my new eyes. Getting off the shuttle in the village center puts you right next to the local restaurants, bars, wineries and shops. This is a great little strip! While you could drive and easily find parking, it was also smarter to just use the shuttle.

Walk around, try the wines, pair them with food and chocolate, grab a beer and supper at Lake Chelan Brewing Co. and enjoy the night. We caught the last shuttle back and went out for a few more drinks on the town.

brewery.jpg

We wrapped up the trip with a breakfast in Campbell’s Pub and Veranda. Service will be very busy pretty much all the time so expect to exercise patience.


LEAVENWORTH, WA

Oh, how I wish we had visited Leavenworth more than one time. Everyone has a little German town near them but Leavenworth is popular for wedding and event destinations, beer, wine, great food and a gorgeous, intricate town. It’s especially popular (and insanely booked up + expensive) over Oktoberfest and Christmas time.

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Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains, in central Washington State. Alpine-style buildings with restaurants serving German beer and food line Front Street. The Nutcracker Museum displays thousands of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries. On the Wenatchee River, Waterfront Park is a habitat for ospreys and eagles. The village is a gateway to nearby ski areas and wineries.

-Source Online.

As you drive into this small town, every home and business is decked out in the appropriate Bavarian style architecture. Our hotel, The Evergreen Inn, hosted us in the Jacuzzi/Fireplace Suite ( #51 ) which was an awesome, large space for us! The feel is definitely that of an old family cabin but it was still a space entirely our own and not the typical cramped motel room.

Private entrance to our suite at The Evergreen Inn.

It was walking distance to the main strip and, even though it was cold and still decorated from Christmas in February, we didn’t mind the walk one bit.

We stopped in for drinks at several awesome breweries and distilleries, one of our favorites being Icicle Brewing Company! We also got a tour of a local distillery.

I’m sure if you walk around you will end up in all of the same places as we did but a majority of these places you walk into for a drink will be casual; come and drink as you are. There are basement wineries, rundown pubs, karaoke, classical music, corner bar and cafe’s…something for everyone to enjoy!

If you want a beautiful view with a more upscale feel, the infamous Visconti’s will give you a gorgeous date night. You also need to have an empty stomach for the authentic German food at another popular choice: Andreas Keller. You will want to make a reservation at these two places, or anywhere that you visit.

Another bonus is this town is very family, kid and dog friendly. If you’re a couple or looking for a family vaca, head out to Leavenworth. You will NOT be disappointed!

There are so many stores, shops, shows and things to do in Leavenworth and just outside of town you don’t need to drink the whole time if that’s not your thing. On our way out of town we filled up on a breakfast at Sandy’s Waffle Haus and hiked riverside through knee deep snow at Wenatchee National Park just outside of town.

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No, not the most prepared compared to the snowshoing visitors but it was incredibly fun and we still laugh at memories we made there. We always love playing hard then getting out to work hard.


Hope you had a great time visiting! If you have any places we must visit on the east coast, please let me know.

 

Cheers to another year of traveling and exploring!

Marin

Need a website update? Or maybe you need a website created in the first place? Let’s Talk. 

My Favorite Takeaways from Rachel Hollis

After reading the extremely hyped-up book Girl, Wash Your Face and a recent feature in Success magazine, it’s easy to tell why everyone fan-girls over Rachel Hollis. With her new book, Girl, Stop Apologizing out now I wanted to come back to some of my favorite takeaways.

Whether you’ve read them or not, here are some great pick-me-ups for you today and to share with your friends!

 

Looking for ways to set goals? Download our FREE Goals Sheet! 

 

Rachel Hollis Girl, Wash Your Face Chapter 3

“In order to be loved I felt like I needed to produce or achieve something as a kid. I’m always reminded of something bigger I could be doing. Prove my worth in career and personal life.”

I FELT this. I grew up always playing sports, competing in 4-H, putting myself out there and getting used to some kind of activity that had an outcome of an award to be won. Now in the ‘real world’ there aren’t always awards to be won, titles to be earned or end goal in mind. You’re either satisfied or unsatisfied with what you’ve done.


Rachel Hollis Girl, Wash Your Face Chapter 4

“Imagine what you would have missed if you had just showed up for yourself.”

Accountability comes from love. Judgement comes from hate, jealousy, etc.
The Number One thing women crave is friends.There’s that need for connection, belonging and networking. Yet we struggle with how to make friends, keep friends and/or find friends.
Going off that, a different quote I saw online said:

“If you look for outside validation to feed you, you will always be hungry.”

You’re not the only one who feels guilt, regret or the only person who has gone through something. Every day you’re setting expectations for yourself.

 

Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.

This includes the bad reviews. The gossip. The comments. Never hold other’s opinions over your own. Comparing those opinions of someone 100% not invested in you and your company to creating something from your heart and something you hope finds recognition.

If you’re doing this as a gift. you can’t make others like it. I have a majority of friends and family who don’t read, interact or like my stuff. That can’t make me stop working.

A mean review can’t make you a bad writer, restaurant owner or wood builder. You have to care more about what you’re putting out there than how it will be received.


 

Being Told No. “No is only an answer if you accept it.”

I had big dreams and plans. I thought I would work in top-notch advertising agencies or marketing firms with awesome clients and work my way up.

What was my reality? I was crying with what felt like a sense of relief paired with feeling like a failure. I had six months of zero income and was questioned about things I felt guilty on doing for myself. After 12 months of being ‘in business’ people are still saying comments about how I’m getting this off the ground and if I want a job they can help out.

It’s not always about talent, skill, money or connections.

“My dreams are not something for someone else to manage. No means slow down.”

– Rachel Hollis

Even if slowing down means you need to change course to reach your destination, even though I don’t know what that is, that’s okay. It’s not happening TO you; it’s FOR you.

You need to decide to stop giving up.

Decide to stop believing the excuses you’re making.

If Rachel had been told her book would never sell, she never would have been a best-selling author. Just because someone is listed as a ‘professional’ in their field doesn’t mean their words are life or death. Nothing that lasts comes quickly. No legacy is based on any one moment.


 

The things you think are difficult are someone else’s dream. The chaos you want is something others are wishing for. Babysitting, kids, move, changing, scary, hard, overwhelming. You name it. Find something to rejuvenate you and your love for what your life is.


 

At the end of Girl, Wash Your Face they have a Q&A section that I particularly loved.

When you look at your goals and where you want to be in the next 5-10 years, ask yourself ‘Who am I? Where am I? Where do I want to go?’

Is your current schedule reflecting that?

I always get asked how I’m able to work from home but this is what I want to do. For my job environment, for our schedule, for our future.

My health and fitness, get that same attention every morning because that’s important in my goals.

I want my own money and career and success so I make sure I put in a certain of hours for my clients and for my own brand.

I based hourly off of what I want income to be and my annual income goal shows me how many clients I need to bring in through brands and services. This is how I keep myself accountable.

It’s easy for me to get s*** done when I am extremely clear on what I am doing. I want to be a great wife, a great friend and a great mom and boss in the future so when I work hard during the day I know I can close the office door feeling accomplished. When that happens, I can 100% enjoy cooking, playing with my dog, spending time with my husband and enjoying things I love doing with people I love doing them with.

 

I hope a few of these rambling thoughts and spin-offs are something you’re able to look for in your everyday life. I hope you wash your face, stop apologizing and put your own passions above other’s opinions of you.

And I wish you luck!

 

Cheers!

Marin

Looking for ways to set goals? Download our FREE Goals Sheet! 

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Every April in Washington state there’s a liiitttllllee thing called the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Even if you haven’t heard of it, I am sure you’ve seen the photos. We went April 22, 2018. 

Before going, I was curious about where the festival was, how much it cost, what there was to do and I had a few other questions.

First, you need to know this is an area full of tulip farms near a town where they host the actual ‘Tulip Town festival’. Because of the draw of the attraction there will be a lot of traffic so plan for extra drive time. We parked in the back lot near a bank and walked into the main street of the town for their festival which was more like a street of live music and vendors.

We stopped in for a beer and lunch at a local pub after checking out the tents and tried to decide which tulip farm we wanted to visit. There are several to go to and, from what I was seeing, for free. As you drive out there are loads of signs to turn into different fields but we only visited one. I was extremely pleased with the the one near Swinomish Village.

 

You’ll have to remember it is an actual working farm so it’s very muddy. I know you’ll want to wear a cute outfit but incorporate boots you don’t mind getting muddy into that outfit!

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It’s hard to understand just how gorgeous it is in person vs. photography. The fields are separated by colors, solid vs. mixed pattern flowers and toward the back were daffodils and other types of flowers.

 

For a majority of you, this will be several hours of a drive. Before you go you can check out the weather in the area, the bloom times, and other news updates. It’s worth taking your kids and friends up for a day trip! Note that pets are not allowed and walking in the fields is not allowed. More information begins here. If you’re looking to stay up there for a weekend there are several things to do in the area and the surrounding areas. One of which is Anacortes.

Cheers!
Marin

Are you looking for someone to create social media content for your company? Write your monthly newsletters? Create a logo? Great news. Local Collaborative does all that and more. Reach out here. 

You Are Here: Savannah, GA

During our time in North Carolina we take advantage of weekends and long trips by visiting areas nearby. Perks of being on the east coast! On the top of our list was Savannah, Georgia.

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 If you want our real POV check out my IG.

Our family in Florida drove up to meet us there for a weekend in an adorable VRBO. This house was fantastic for us on a family weekend trip (I can’t remember the address but The Lucky Savannah houses are all very similar layouts and decor.) If it’s important for you not to drive a few minutes to downtown then I would choose a home closer to downtown. The home was fantastic and so beautiful; it was just my style but would love for it to be closer walking distance next time for a weekend of going out. No matter what I was surprised they had parking garages that were very central and free or low cost.

We spent our first night having dinner at the Savannah Taproom. We tried a few new beers like the D9 Brown Chicken Brown Cow beer and split their nachos which were great. I had their much raved about Captain Crunch Chicken Fingers…I will tell you they’re worth it!

If you have to wait for a table and need something to do check out the retro toy store next door!

The BEST thing about Savannah (ok…one of the best? Maybe THE best…) is that it’s open container!

Heads up you’ve got to make sure it’s in plastic and it’s one person per drink to carry it out of the bar. Walk down to the Riverfront Market. On the way we came up on a film set where it was rumored they were shooting a Bette Midler movie.

You can check out all of the highlights on my Instagram reel here.

Savannah is filled with awesome rough cobblestone streets, steep staircases (like in the photo above), hanging moss on ancient trees, beautiful parks every block and tours. We enjoyed walking around and checking out the crowds before a sweet treat night cap that NEEDS to be on your must-visit list. It’s the glory that is Leopold’s.

Don’t be intimidated by the long line…it moves fairly quickly and you will want the time to figure out your order. I ended up choosing the delicious mocha and coffee with chocolate chips. We all had different flavors and liked them.

Saturday was a day focused on walking around to explore the city. We started out with a self-guided walking tour through Bonaventure Cemetery. If you have your own car there I would drive in and park in the small lot up front. There’s also areas to park throughout the roadways in the cemetery. To take yourself through the cemetery you can buy or purchase a mobile app or the paper map.

My favorite place to eat and visit was this next part…Treylor Park Hitch! You have to go. They have a laid back feel with creative and upscale food and drinks. They’re menu is filled with things I wanted to try! I had my favorite Son of  a Peach beer which always smells and tastes like a jam-packed peach pie…except here it was on tap. We shared their nachos grande and the PBJ chicken wings. You read that right. Peanut Butter Asian-fused wings with a jelly inspired dipping sauce.

We grabbed drinks while walking around touring parks, the fountains, Forsyth Park, old houses and the beautiful downtown. It was the best time just being able to walk around, visit, read and learn about the area.

We were also able to do a little eavesdropping on a bike tour talking about the bench were Forrest Gump was filmed.

Being a Saturday night the crowds were definitely out and about. Trying to get a space at restaurants for 6 people was a bit difficult so we had to go to the Little Duck Diner. Their food wasn’t outstanding but it got the job done in the nick of time before our scheduled ghost tour. I would have preferred trying out Moon River Brewing Co. if I were you!

Our scheduled ‘adult’ ghost tour meets in a park and took just over an hour to walk around, learn the history of the city and hear stories of the infamous burials or locations. Again, we were able to bring our drinks and had a great time. We noticed that the City Market area was party central.

They’re also known for hosting a great St. Patrick’s Day so a spring break trip would be a blast here!

Even though we had to cut the trip short and leave early the next day we know we will be back and are excited to visit again! If you have tips on where we should go or what we should do drop them in the comments below!

 

Cheers!
Marin

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Your Complete Weekend Guide To Charleston, SC

This trip was November 9-11, 2018 for our third anniversary.

I shared the highlight on my Instagram. 

WOW. Did I love this beautiful southern city.

I cannot wait for my next visit to Charleston and I can’t wait for you to go, too!

Only a few hours away from where we live in North Carolina, Charleston is a port-city founded in 1670 and defined by it’s antebellum charm. Filled with historic cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel rows of multi-story houses, you can walk, eat and drink your way through the districts.

 

Where to stay

The prices definitely reflect the attraction the city has for tourists. We opted for an Airbnb just across the bridge and Ubered back and forth instead of finding a hotel in downtown. Our most expensive trip back was $15 late on a Saturday night so not terrible. We enjoyed the house in a quiet neighborhood and it still cost less in total than getting a hotel.

 

what to do all weekend

We got into town on Friday afternoon and headed straight to the raved about restaurant, Toast! This was a chain restaurant and much more diner-like than I was expecting but still had great food and bottomless mimosas to attract the masses. We tried their TaTa special drink and the SC Hunger Street IPA. I ate the market eggs with biscuit and home fries. Drew got charbroiled chicken on kaiser roll. Both are great if you’re looking for lunch to tide you over before your night out!

We drove to downtown (which is SUPER slammed. I would definitely catch a ride or walk!) and walked the City Market; the first public market in Charleston. This historic market complex was four city blocks long which you can spot by the Market Hall. If you’re downtown you won’t miss it.

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You can easily wander around the streets seeing stunning Spanish moss hanging over the streets, shading the iconic homes and reading endless plaques about the historic landmarks. Since Charleston is home to the College of Charleston I was able to find the ADPi house in their traditional carriage house Greek row.

We Ubered back into the city that night and scored an upstairs table at the Husk bar. I would recommend making a reservation in advance so you can get in! The main restaurant (left in this photo) seemed much more formal but right next door is a restored two-story home built around the rafters, smoke stains and original framing.

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I had their Greenhouse Blonde and Dragon’s Punch which were great but not as fantastic as their fried chicken and burger. They bake bacon into the beef. It was SO good!!

It was a fairly short walk to the Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House and I loved seeing how different the historic city came to life at night. I also had the LoFi Blueberry Wheat which tasted and smelled just like a blueberry muffin! This Tap House also had one of the largest beer and spirits selections I have ever seen.

Down the road is Papaw’s for a quick beer. They had southern style cuisine in an upscale, modern setting which was absolutely gorgeous if you’re looking for an upscale casual dinner out.

We also walked around and stopped in at Slightly North of Broadway (SNOB) Walked around until Meeting at Market for a River Rat and Low Tide Red. This was more of a hotel-style bar with views of the City Market if you’re looking for a late-night night cap.

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Saturday was our time to focus on the French Quarter and Battery districts.

The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water.

If you can make breakfast reservations at Hominy Grill, I would! They have a walk-up window for a Beermosa or other drink and we had about a 20 minute wait for two people.

You’ve got to try the Nasty Charleston and She Crab Soup. I had seen them on all the menus and had to give it a try. Hominy is walking distance through the Historical and College Districts. Walk off breakfast looking at stunning houses on your way to Battery Park and Waterfront Park. This is a mandatory walk through while you’re in town!

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Battery Park is marked by the seawall and was used as the defensive coast-wall during the Civil War. It hosts a gorgeous park, lined with huge estates and is packed with the original historical locations.

Luckily there was an open house we chose to walk through as ‘potential buyers’ but I definitely wouldn’t have paid to live there! It was an old finishing school split into four homes so they were very small and dark but adorable.

 

Right next door were the infamous fountains at Waterfront Park.

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If you want to eat lunch like all of the celebrities, visit Poogan’s Porch! Having a reservation might as well be mandatory if it isn’t already and you can read all the signed menus while you wait. Poogan is also the home’s pup that passed away and is buried out front. A little endearing. A little scary. 

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You can probably guess that we were stuffed but we had a catfish sandwich (ehh) and fried chicken sandwich but their homemade biscuit appetizers were incredible. Even if you go here for a drink, you should. It’s a must visit and highly recommended in the area.

 

If you also couldn’t tell this is a great place to walk around for drinks. I went to my first Bubba Gump’s so we could finish watching the game over an icy beer. A few blocks over in the college-y area is another great place called Kudu for beer and coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This place filled up quickly with all sorts of people and reminded us a lot of Seattle. Try their Pallet Island Brewing Cj Coquina Wheat and Drew had their Holy City Brewing Co. Leopold. While we sat inside with the craftsman decor, there is a cute outdoor seating area.


 

Freshen up for a ‘nice’ night out! By that I mean dress up and have some fun!

Parcel 32 had some of the best cocktails we’ve tried and will make even the most dedicated beer drinkers venture out. Order their Colonial Cocktail, Eliza from Antigua, Strange Brew and From the Brink….You can’t really go wrong.

A few doors down is the JonhKing Bar which will make you want a Bud Light with all of the bachelor parties hopping off the buses. It was definitely a cold walking night.

It’s a long walk or a well-worth-it drive to Burwell’s for Moscow Mules with their house-made ginger beer and Double IPAs. Our friends recommended this restaurant because they had their rehearsal dinner here and it WAS incredible!

We split their fries and oysters and Drew ordered their prime rib burger. All were PRISTINE. Our waitress, Cathy S., was also incredible and surprised us with s’mores dessert for our anniversary. This is something we usually would have never ordered but hands down will be the BEST s’mores you’ve ever had.

You can also have a great time at the Carolina Ale House on other side of town. They’ve got a great beer selection as you can probably guess from the name. I tried (and always look for now) Purple Haze and Son of a Peach.  Would not want to drive and or park in downtown especially from seeing all of the traffic and crowds.

save the best for last!

Sunday was Veterans Day and we left our Airbnb a few hours early so we could drive five minutes down the road to Early Bird Diner. Even being there before they opened we stood in a line about 20-30 people back for 10 am Sunday Brunch. Get there early or be ready to wait! It’s not a large place. In fact, you can check it out on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives! You HAVE to get the chicken and waffles!

You’ll have your choice of plantation tours and because of time and pictures we chose the Middleton Plantation. During the plantation visit we saw them spinning hair off of a rabbit!

It was a 20 minute drive out to tour the grounds and the ticket price was worth it.

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The grounds were massive, stunning and full of historic trees that have seen the Native Americans, the Civil War and are protected.

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You felt as though you really were living and working on the plantation. We walked around self-guided and also checked out the ‘living history’ exhibits with actors.

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Traffic going home wasn’t terrible and we ended up being home in 1.5 hours. If you’re from the Fort Bragg area you’re in luck! I know I will be going back because there is so much to do in Charleston and nearby. If you want to plan a trip, send me a message 😉

Cheers!

Marin

 

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Book Club Review + Bonus Download! (February & March 2019)

Before we begin, look to the right. If that doesn’t say you’re following the blog make sure you put your email in and I’ll send you free downloads from here on out!

In 2017 I started a list of my goals and accountability tracking for the year. I reached and exceeded every goal.

Download Your Yearly Goal Sheet For FREE Here! 

If you’re looking for more book or podcast recommendations you can read my other book reviews from this year you can catch up here.

The goal of this section of the blog is to share a glimpse into what inspires, motivates and teaches me. Out of the books I read, I only bring up the ones I would suggest taking a look at…there are still a few that get left out; entirely based on my own opinions.

So where do I find all these books to read? Lots of places. I follow the Book of the Month Club on Instagram and I get weekly suggestions from my daily news source, theSkimm. You can sign up for free here using my referral code!

 

Read For Fun

pieces of herPieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

I had started this book a few months ago but didn’t finish it before it was due back. I was interested enough because it was a Karin Slaughter novel (and I love all of her work) to circle back. Reading anything Slaughter writes is like taking the twistiest, turniest, fastest roller coaster. Her typical family-based crime thriller filled with family secrets. A daughter believes her mother is one person but when she sees her talk down a crazed shooter in the mall they’re at, it turns out she was involved with a cult of insanely biased (and faithful) terrorists. This is packed with adrenaline and is another hit of Slaughter’s.

allweeverwanted All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

A Nashville-based story revolving around characters from small-town middle-class to wealthy and privileged in Nashville’s elite. Then it all gets tipped on it’s head when a photo snapped at a drunken party surfaces involving their kids. This plays out a narrative on the double-sided repercussions between men and women. It was a gut wrenching story written well and read well from all the perspectives. It shows just how messy these situations can get. It’s something important for parents and kids to understand. 

 

The Swans of Fifth Avenue By Melanie Benjamin

If you enjoy getting lost in a book of alluring socialites in the 50s, here you go! In comes a man (real-life Truman Capote) to upturn their circle of ‘swans’ (including real-life Babe Paley) with scandal that will interfere with their glamorous lives for years. This is seeping with pretentious, snide drama that the author imagined into the lives of these fashionable icons. While they’re real people she imagined conversations and connected missing lines from her research and interest. I didn’t realize these were real people until the Author’s Note at the end. If you’re a fan of these people you will enjoy this.

THERE THERE BY TOMMY ORANGE

Multiple outlets and companies exclaimed this was a Book of the Year. It features 12 Urban Indians living in Oakland, CA. The voice is so strategic with violence and poetry that you can easily see the side of America we usually don’t face. While this is a novel, the stories following these characters take you through what it would be like with native american heritage and connecting to their families in today’s times. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite book of all time but I can understand why it was recognized in so many categories and was different from anything I’ve ever read. 

You by Caroline Kepnes

If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon for this enthralling, creepy and super addicting show on Netflix just type in the single word and off you go. I hadn’t heard of the book until after the show aired and ended up on a waitlist for a few weeks. Besides being insanely annoyed by the best friend named Peach (REALLYYY) this book was fun to listen while I could imagine the scenes. It swayed off and on the path of events I had seen on the show and it makes you wonder why the book was more realistic than the streaming series.

 

THE SUNSHINE SISTERS BY JANE GREEN 

A mother is wrapped up in self-absorbed dreams of becoming an actress and, in doing so, lacks in the mothering department. She turns her frustrations and judgments on her three daughters and the story takes you through each of their live’s paths. We find out the mother is diagnosed with ALS and so begins the journey of bringing her daughter’s home, re-creating relationships and dealing with the repercussions as she plans to have her last weekend of life as one family. This took a minute to get into but it’s ultimately heartwarming, endearing and a personal navigating the mother-daughter and sister-sister relationships. If you enjoyed You Before Me, you will enjoy this. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.

This was a fictional book but inspired by the author’s research on certain characters, schools and books. While I’ve never been to New York but I am well aware of Grand Central Station where this story is featured. Fiona Davis is a best-selling author known for her captivating novels. This flashed back to an artist unaware the Great Depressoin would soon cause her dreams of creating work for Vogue to come crashing down. The second is an artist who, nearly 50 years later, who gets a job in Grand Central Station and discovers the abandoned art school in the terminal. I love when stories are created around something we are all familiar with like Harry Potter or Night at the Museum. Along with a hint of The Woman In Gold. While I don’t consider myself an art expert by any means this was still relevant to anyone who feels like they’ve created something. And it’s got a great mystery/figure it out puzzle twisted in there.

 

Read For Improvement

soul of america 

The Soul of America: The Battle For Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham and Fred Sanders

#1 NYT Bestseller and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author helps us understand the current political climate by looking back at critical times in our history. It was named one of the best books of the year for valid reasons. “The good news is we have come through the darkness before.” A lot of comparison from fear and cowards vs. hope and leaders. It was a powerful, smartly- written based on history so it was well-rounded and unbiased. it’s an easy way to learn about history, make comparison and learn new things. I highly, extremely highly, recommend reading this or downloading it as an audiobook.

 

 

THE RULES DO NOT APPLY BY ARIEL LEVY

This book was named NYT Bestsellers “This year’s must-read memoir” plus named one of the best books of the year by Vogue, Time, Esquire, and several more large reputable brands. This was a fantastic read from a life so extremely different than anything I’m used to. I’m talking finished it in three days. Highly recommend. 

 



You’ve read through my opinions so you deserve some FREE STUFF! Make sure you are following the blog (upper right of this page) to get free downloads in the future. Once you’re following, go ahead and download this document: GOALS FOR 2019 from Local Collaborative I mentioned to track your goals and adventures for the rest of the year and into 2019.

Cheers!

Marin

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