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. 

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

 

PS: If you want a free review of your social media pages and/or website, SCHEDULE A CALL HERE.

“My Success Is Inevitable.” And The 10 Step Action Plan To Get You There.

In the Winter 2018 publication of Success Magazine Harris Faulkner shared her bits of wisdom on a feature page in the back. I loved everything she mentioned and hope to get my hands on her book “9 Rules of Engagement” soon!

 

Harris shared answers to several questions but one of my favorites was her favorite quote. I agree with Harris that my favorite is always fluctuating depending on what I was going through or needed in  that moment.  Her fortune cookie left her with “My success is inevitable.” It’s a great reminder that you are where you are supposed to be and, so long as you keep working and moving forward, you will be successful and end up just where  you need to be.

 

The answer that stuck out the most was her definition of integrity. Her prompt was “Integrity is…” to which she answered and I will paraphrase ‘That thing you do when nobody is watching.’

The definition of integrity is ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.’

 

It’s when you find money on the ground and return it to the waiter who dropped it. 

It’s when you have the opportunity to break the law but choose not to. 

It’s when you hold yourself accountable for your words, thoughts, actions when you’re alone or with others. 

“Take care of your words when you’re with others and your thoughts when you’re alone.” 

 

A person of integrity, a person of success, a person with knowing all have a plan. I also read in this issue that being ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ is not an excuse for wandering aimlessly. You can always change your mind about who you want to be but you must always be working toward something. 

To keep working toward something, you need to create an action plan. This will help you get started in the direction of your goals and allow for flexibility should you (probably) need it later on. This is something we do with all of our clients in the Branding + Positioning Strategy which you can check out here.

  1. Set SMART Goals. The first thing we learn in any communications class is how to set SMART Goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Instead of saying ‘I will raise awareness on diabetes,’ try ‘I will prepare 200 infographics with a checklist of tasks and due-dates to help identify pre-diabetes and distribute at the health fair by April 1.’ This allows you to track progress and see how well you performed. 
  2. Identify your audience. Who are they? What do they look like? What do they sound like? How do you communicate with them? On which platform? All of these questions and more are answered in our Branding+ Positioning Strategy.  
  3. Hire in the direction you want to go. In the time it would take you to learn, try, research and implement something by ‘just doing it yourself’ take a look at who around you could help out. You can find graphic design students, Fiverr freelancers, SAHMs, Facebook job postings or a family friend to take care of the things you can let go of. Use your time where it makes sense for YOU to be. If it’s not 100% mandatory you do a task, delegate it. 
  4. Identify Opportunities. If you’re a crafter, what holidays or occasions are coming up? If you’re a decorator, before what events do people want their home decorated? Find a problem in your industry and provide a solution for it. What is the biggest pain point for your clients and how can you fix it? This is often done by a little field research as informal as a Facebook poll. 
  5. Income. Even when you think the last three months of business have been booming there is always a chance that funnel will dry up. By creating products, email campaigns, eBooks or other services you can guarantee yourself, and your employees, continued paychecks. If you’re a coach and someone can’t (or doesn’t want to) pay your monthly coaching fee, would they settle for one call a month at a lower cost? Implementing a referral program or short-time offer is a great way to bring in new clients while servicing your loyal current clients. 
  6. Move forward every day.  It’s easy to feel burnt out in your endless pursuit to success. Each day you should be taking a step toward what you want to achieve. What would a fitness icon do today? They would workout even if they didn’t feel like it. What would a millionaire do today? They would make that phone call they might not want to make. You are always choosing. You can read a book or watch a TV show. Which would be more beneficial? You could choose to sleep an extra 30 minutes or you could take a walk. Which would be more beneficial? The best thing here is that the answer is different in every situation. Some days you will need to de-stress with trash TV and sleep in instead of working out and eat a bar of chocolate instead of an apple. Balance. You control your decisions. 
  7. Network! Building a network is much more than a business luncheon to pass your business card around. Meeting locals in or outside of your industry allows you to get the word out about your offers and work with others you may have otherwise never known. Networking provides the chance to meet your mentor and create an accountability group. You could be someone’s inspiration and you’re doing no favors by playing it shy and small.
  8. Take Action! A blessing and a course, my sense of urgency still gets sh*t done. My husband is very much the type who wants to put things off and is never ready to start in fear that it will never be perfect enough to put out. I encourage clients to be well prepared but you will never know what works or what doesn’t if it isn’t public. You have nothing to improve if it doesn’t exist. 
    Want me to review your current work? Just ask!
  9.  Log Your Hours. Keep a log on your computer of where you spend your time. Much like a timesheet when you’re on a 1099 contract, log your time for a week and see if you’re spending the most time on projects that make you the most profit and make you the most happy. 
  10. Review and Improve. After implementing, testing the course for a while and reviewing your log, review what is or is not working and how you can make it better. Even if things are going great there is always a way to make the customer experience better, increase employee morale, or add-on to a current offer. Fix anything broken and reward yourself for a job well done. Thank those who have helped you thus far and be kind to those just coming in. 

 

I hope that you know your success is inevitable. You can slow down but you cannot stop. As long as you never give up, you will succeed. 

 

Cheers to taking action!

Marin

Are you ready to put your plan into action? Let’s go!

Get More Social Media Engagement

In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. I was guided into a Public Relations degree, interned with an award-winning advertising agency and later played the role of a Marketing Manager. When it comes to mass communications and digital marketing, it’s not just the Millennials who are using social media for their benefit…all businesses should be maximizing their efforts. Every day I see people failing in this 

Social media provides a 24/7 connection at no cost to provide stories to establish connections and persuasion to sell and purchase products. While reading my latest JMC Update publication I came across some helpful, and very useful, social media statistics. The full magazine is available here but let’s look at the page I mentioned. I am going to walk you through the stats you can decide which platforms work best for your goals.

Why is this important?

  • 6 out of every 10 people in the U.S. will use social networks this year and the average person spends more than 5 years of their life on social media.
  • Businesses are hiring pros to focus on potential outreach and increase their revenues via free or low-paid services.

jmc update

  • 93 percent of Pinterest users use the platform to make purchases or plan future purchases.
    • Pinterest is best for those selling a physical or visual product. This is a great place to share your finished interior design photos, pretty cupcakes or recipes, decorated dorm room, candles and much more. If you’re an engagement, wedding, newborn or other special occasion photographer you have a huge potential to watermark and upload your photos for sharing.
    • The biggest key in any of these products is linking back to your website! If they are actively engaged and like what you’re doing but you don’t guide them back to help serve them, shame on you turning customers away. You can easily automate this through your website and a software like IFTTT. By connecting all of my initial automations, I can now see each blog with an image included shared on my board. People are saving them and reaching out for business.
    • Include plenty of keywords so you show up in searches. If you need any help with these, please let me help you!

  • 200 million people use Instagram stories per month. Plus, top brands post 4.9 times per week on Instagram.
    • I personally prefer using IG stories to Snapchat stories. You can also go live and interact to your audience, save to your highlights and directly poll your viewers.
    • If top brands are encouraged to post 1.5 times/day or about 4.9 times/week that doesn’t sound like it adds up too much, huh? I suggest researching your top demographic, scheduling or posting at the times they’re most likely active online to make the most of your engagement. By staggering times and days to test your results you will see what your audience is wanting and when.
    • Start by posting once daily in your theme and a pattern that will appear cohesive and beautiful to viewers.
    • Even if you’re a personal brand, switch to a business profile. You will see your stats live and have the potential to grow where you want to.

IG STORIES TRICK: There are a few requirements to use the See More swipe-up feature including having an IG Business account and at least 10k followers. If you have neither there are a few loopholes. Reach out if you want to learn the workaround.

  • 100 million hours of video content is watched on Facebook daily. 79 percent of American internet users are on Facebook.
    • You know how the videos on your timeline will start up without you pressing play? A majority of the time you will continue to watch the video and automatically be transferred to one similar. By going LIVE on Facebook you have the chance to engage with your audience. The best way to do this is to notify them the day before or day of so they know what to look forward to. If you have something to share immediately, the best way to be authentic is to…be authentic! Go live, don’t worry about correct grammar or the best lighting. Be as clear in your messaging and this video will live on in your network’s timeline.
    • Creating visual content that encourages people to share or prompts them to take action will expose you to new audiences. With 79 percent of users on Facebook, it’s a pillar that can (and should) be included in every social media campaign effort.
  • 67 percent of Americans report getting their news from social media.
    • No wonder this last election stirred up so much controversy. Using Facebook, Google searches or other online platforms as a news source is commonplace. If you can create news, write an article or share/create something newsworthy then you’re well on your way to fitting this niche and making yourself relevant.
    • Did you know NEWS stands for notable events weather and sports? Make stories newsworthy by including pieces after your hook and before your CTA that include recent events or happenings especially.

  • U.S. social network ad spending is expected to hit $26,007,137,644.75 in 2018.
    • The best form of advertising is word of mouth and referrals. This cuts the corner of having to achieve a know, like and trust factor with potential clients. People are well-aware of ad spending and targeted marketing when faced with certain topics or searches. To avoid being blocked, create your own posts. Look at what works well and replicate or boost for a few dollars. I wouldn’t boost a post that didn’t include a CTA asking to purchase a product or service.
    • You looking for someone to help with your ad targeting? I’ve got a girl. Let me know if you want to connect with her.

  • Posts with emoticons receive 33 percent more engagement than those without.
    • Emoticons, or emojis, offer a visual and creative way to express your message to followers. It’s the best way to reach a casual, informative, playful or expressive message. For example, Domino’s Pizza tweeted pizza emojis in the shape of a larger pizza emoji and used this to help their campaign Domino’s Pizza Anywhere.
    • Use GIFs, emojis or other fun communication to engage your audience.
  • The average internet user has 7.6 different social media accounts.
    • Sounds like a lot right? If you include your email or digital accounts and how connected you more than likely are this will add up quickly. I personally have Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (not active), Pinterest, WordPress, and two email accounts. So this stat is fairly accurate.
    • If you’re looking for a way to reach the largest audience possible, post on every platform (automate sharing to make this easier) but pay special attention to your followers. If someone comments, comment back. Like their comments. Respond to messages or share testimonials. This is the most powerful resource you have.

 

You have an idea and the facts to stand behind what platform you choose to pursue. If you haven’t read my blog post on creating quality content head back over to the blog page after this.
Cheers!

Marin

You tired of reading about engagement and you want your own REAL results? Let’s work together.