Monday, 15 October 2018

Birthday Week Sale with Campaign Monitor

Despite having written a post—just two days ago—on email marketing, you might realise that I've never actually created, let alone send out, newsletters before. It's an uncharted territory for me. After blogging and running several social media accounts, I feel like I've got nothing more to say. They've all pretty much been said and done one too many times. So, when Campaign Monitor contacted me to do a collaboration, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It sure feels exhilarating and intriguing, as it will be something new for me to try, but also at the same time confusing, because I don't know what to make. Luckily, my birthday was just around the corner. And so, I decided to create a newsletter for my illustration store using that theme.

Before we start, let me give you quick info on the company: Campaign Monitor is a global email marketing company, consisting of three products—Campaign Monitor, Delivra and Emma. We've talked about Emma in the previous post too, if you remember. They already have locations in five major cities, spread out between three countries—the US, Australia and the UK. They offer numerous services, including email design, personalised customer experience, analytics and transactional emails. With their team being chocked full with experts and their support team running for 24/7, it's no wonder that they have 99% customer satisfaction. They've had experience working with some of the world's biggest brands, including Unicef, Rolling Stone and Penguin Random House. The best part about them is how much they care about giving back—volunteering is apparently really important to them. Not only in materials, but also in activities, such as picking up trash at the beach. I love me a company with good values!

Okay, so the first thing I did was create an account. It was simple enough, takes no time at all. Once I had an account, there were a few checklists that I should do—although you can skip them too—such as verifying email, connecting your subscription services, watching the tutorial video and creating a campaign. I must admit, my internet is probably not one of the fastest available—and at the time, it was going on and off and driving me crazy—so I was completely unable to watch the tutorial video. But it's fine, even without the tutorial, I'd say the services they provide are pretty straightforward. Something else to note is you'd want to know two things before creating a campaign: 1) for what are you making the campaign and 2) what kind of campaign is it. Once that's all done and dusted, I went ahead with the campaign creation.

For the design of your email, you can choose from over 50 templates—or import your own HTML. They're segmented into different functions, such as newsletter, events or deals & offer, so you can choose them according to what you want to send out. I chose one from the deals & offer category—unfortunately, the templates aren't assigned names, so I can't tell you which one. After that, I simply needed to replace the photos, edit the texts and rearrange the items until I am satisfied with the layout and content. It didn't take too long. With all the assets ready to go, it probably takes under an hour to finish—especially if you know exactly what you want to say.

This sale is real, by the way, so go check out my store!

Once your email is finished, you need to add the email addresses of your recipients—and some additional info, if you like. They will ask you where you get the emails, the relationship you have with the recipients and the frequency of you exchanging emails with them. This is their way of taking care of our subscribers and making sure that we're not just harassing a bunch of strangers—as a recipient of numerous random newsletters, this is something I strongly believe should be applied in other similar services. Afterwards, all you've got to do is wait for their approval and send out your emails. Piece of cake, no?

All in all, I'm really happy with the way my newsletter turns out. It's pretty easy to edit and I can keep doing it until the email is sent. Also, Campaign Monitor allows me to send test emails to myself, so I know exactly what it looks like to the recipients—although their names will obviously not appear on mine. They also show me what the email will look like on mobile screens too, which is very helpful. In terms of pricing, they offer three packages too, depending on how many subscribers you have—so there are options for people with huge followings and for average Joes like me. If you ever feel the need to create a newsletter, I'd suggest you try out their services.

This post is brought to you by Campaign Monitor. It is the last of a two-part campaign.

All opinions expressed are 100% my own.


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Saturday, 13 October 2018

E-Campaign Made Easy with Emma

For the past couple years I've been sort of kind of obsessed with newsletters. Okay, obsessed might be a strong word, but yes I've been into them quite a lot. Previously, I've always been quick to subscribe to newsletters and mailing lists too. However, I feel like in the past two years or so, newsletters have evolved in such a grand way. While they used to be mostly for promoting products and services, now newsletters can be used for just about anything—including building a community, update readers on blogs and sharing interesting projects. Some of the ones I subscribe to include Homwork and The Discoverer. I think a lot of bloggers and artists have started to create their own too. It is deemed to be one of the most effective way to reach out to your followers without being a little too in-your-face, while still engaging to a curated range of recipients.

If you want to build a solid readership or subtly keep in touch with your audience or get the word out there on your small business, I think newsletter will be a great option. Not only is it already curated to a specific group of willing party, it can also pack a number of topics in one go. Now, you may be thinking, "I ain't got no programming or designing skills, how the hell am I going to accomplish that?" Lucky for you, in this day and age, there are numerous companies who offer services to help you on this department—including Emma.

Emma is a Campaign Monitor company, specialising in email marketing services—including strategy sessions, expert training, custom design and technical needs. They have a team of experts ready to help you construct your own email marketing strategy and put it into action—be it a one-time thing or a continuous relationship. They also provide perfectly segmented industry solutions to fit your needs; you need only to go to their website and click whichever category suits your business best. With three packages to choose from, Emma offers you varying benefits to best serve your marketing purposes. Of course, if you're still unsure about them, you can always ask for a demo—no problem. Plus, if you're confused and completely clueless about this whole thing, their sales team are always ready to chat with you through everything. Not so scary, is it?

The best part of Emma, in my opinion anyway, is their resource department. Man, the whole part is filled with countless tips and tricks on email marketing and newsletter—including interviews with successful figures from established brands. They have tips for everyone, including bloggers, restaurant owners, fitness trainers and local businesses. Their podcast called Behind the Glasses—which sounds brilliant to me—is almost exclusively interviews with some of the very best minds in marketing from places like Google, DoSomething.org and Design Matters. You can even download some more thorough guides and strategy to read later, if you want. I mean, what more could you ask for?

Now, whether you're a blogger, a small business owner, an accountant or a fitness trainer, Emma might be the perfect fit for you to spread your net into the world and gain more regular clients, readers or customers. They can help you create a relationship with those who already know you too—so no need to worry about losing their trust. And, hey, if you're doubtful, you can always go for a demo, right? Nothing to lose, I'd say.

This post is brought to you by Campaign Monitor. It is the first of a two-part campaign.

All opinions expressed are 100% my own.


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Saturday, 6 October 2018

In Full Bloom

There is this tree just outside of my house. It's usually just leaves and looks pretty ordinary, but when it blooms it sprouts out the most gorgeous bunch of white flowers. It's pretty big, though, so I can't really get a decent picture under that tree whilst capturing the beauty of the flowers—at least not by myself. However, when the flowers fall off the tree and lay scattered underneath it, they create a magical effect and, personally, look very pretty to me. And, you know what, it  just started blooming a couple weeks ago. I think October is when it usually starts to sprout and it's so gorgeous—especially against the golden light of the afternoon. You might have seen it before on this post too, but I haven't really noticed its blooms in the past four years afterwards. I wonder if that says something about my mental stability during that time.

Vintage dress + pinafore // thrifted loafers // old hat

These photos were taken spontaneously one afternoon after I got back from campus. It was a rather sunny day with a nice breeze, the flowers were blooming and scattered all over, and I just thought it would be nice to capture that. However, since it's so spontaneous, I didn't check whether my camera still has enough battery. It turns out that it's almost completely out of it. After taking snaps for a few minutes, the camera would die. I would persist—don't try this at home, kids! It's not good for your device—and then relent for a 10-minute charge. And that would only last a few minutes, before I do the whole thing again. What could've been a 30-minute-or-less photoshoot ended up taking around an hour to wrap up. Note to self: always make sure that your camera is fully-charged—or, at least, not dying.

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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

5 Easy Tips to Cut Down on Plastic

Lately, I've been slowly transitioning to a low-impact lifestyle. You can probably already tell from this post I uploaded last month. It's been a great process so far and I am quite proud of myself to stick with it as much as I do. Something I've noticed ever since I slowly switched to this lifestyle is the rising level of enthusiasm for it in our society. Many people, such as friends and family, I've noticed, actually do want to cut down on plastic usage and sort waste and, well, do more for the environment. Sometimes it takes them a push or shove to actually do it. Whenever my friends and family see my determination to not use plastic, they tend to follow suit. Of course, we all progress in different pace—some takes longer than others, some takes quicker—but I think as long as we're all moving in the right direction, it's all good. Today I want to share five easy tips anyone can do to slowly faze out plastic from their lives, so that if you felt intimidated before, hopefully this will inspire you.


B.Y.O.B

(Bring Your Own Bag)

One of the most unnecessary but incessant use of plastic is in the form of shopping bags. It's kind of crazy, when you realise how easy it is to not use it. Bringing a spare bag—tote form being my favourite—is an easy, smart and hassle-free move. You can just keep it in your bag—or, if you have a lot, in each and every one of your bags—and take it out only when you go shopping. They are usually lighter, easier to carry and aesthetically pleasing to you. In various countries, including Germany, plastic shopping bags in grocery stores cost quite a lot, so this option can save you a lot of dough in the long run. Of course, you can always take it a step further by bringing your own pouch and/or produce bag for your fruits and veggies, grain goods and nuts and eggs. This way you won't have to use plastic bags at all.


No Straws, Please!

Small plastic objects are among the most hazardous objects that often find their way to sea animals' body parts. I'm sure you're all familiar with the sea turtle incident—if you're not, you should be. I'm sure that when you're sipping on your fresh beverage of choice with that plastic straw, you didn't think it would ever end up hurting an innocent animal after you're done with it. Well, that is just one among the thousands of incidents of plastic being a health hazard to sea creatures. It's ridiculous, isn't it, how the pleasure of sipping a drink for a short period of time can have a dangerous, lasting effect on others? Saying no to them is one great way to stop that. Most of us don't really need them anyway. But, if you can't live without them, there's always the reusable bamboo, glass and stainless steel option you can purchase—it'll last you for years.


Containers at the Ready

When you're going out, I would suggest bringing your own food. Pack a homemade meal and bring it with you as you leave the house. Not only will it reduce your plastic usage significantly, you will also save a large amount of money in the process. You may not realise it, but eating out actually takes a large chunk out of your bank account—slowly, but surely. By cutting down your eating out habit, you also cut down on spendings and waste. However, if you have the hankering for a certain food and/or drinks you can't make at home, there are two ways you can still cut down on plastic. One, you can find a place that is packaging-free—restaurants that use ceramic plates and stainless steel cutlery, for instance. Two, you can bring your own container from home. It'll be hassle-free, takeaway-ready and save the vendor some cash too.

Cutlery Optional

This is actually still somewhat related to the previous point, but slightly different. Takeaway cutlery is usually made out of plastic, and a lot of places that only offer food in paper plates or disposable containers tend to give them out by default. However, not everything you order will necessarily need them. If you, for instance, go to KFC for chicken and rice/fries, you can eat it without cutlery—but it is likely they'll give you one anyway. There are three ways to handle this: one, you opt for the packaging-free—perhaps dine-in restaurants that have reusable cutlery available—or two, you bring your own cutlery from home—there are stainless steel, foldable ones online, if you want a compact option—or three, you simply refuse the cutlery and eat with your hands. It is said that eating with your hands can be great for your bowel movement.

Learn to Walk Away

It can, of course, be hard to try and do something out of the ordinary. Even if you bring your own bags, containers, cutlery and straw, the person on the other side of the counter might not understand your motives and refuse to accommodate your good intentions. However, you mustn't give in. Firstly, naturally, you should be nice to people when you ask them to do you a special favour—yes, special, unfortunately it is not yet the standard—like putting the rice grains in your reusable bags, rather then one of their plastic ones or putting your drink in the glass container you've brought from home. But, if, even after all that, they flat out reject your request, learn to walk away—especially if it's not urgent. So that vendor won't let you use your own glass? Step back, turn around and take your business elsewhere. Some other vendors will surely accept your request—it's not that big a deal.

How do you cut down your plastic usage? Share some with us!


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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

"Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious!" - Mary Poppins (1964)


Hey, are you guys as excited about the new Mary Poppins movie as I am? I just can't believe they're making a sequel of it, starring Emily Blunt. It'll be interesting to see how they'll bring the nanny wonder to life on the big screen once again. Not going to lie: I've had my reservations upon hearing the news—and after watching the trailer. Mary Poppins was one of my favourite movies growing up. I remember pretty much all the songs—my favourite, surprisingly, is one titled "I Love to Laugh." Julie Andrews became my all-time favourite actress. She does everything with grace, elegance and class—such a queen at heart—and it's really hard to see someone measuring up to that. Also, after watching Saving Mr. Banks, I have to wonder what P.L. Travers would make of this sequel—this one seems much more colourful and sugarcoated than the first one. Well, I guess I'm just glad that it's not a remake, at least. That would've felt very wrong. Just wish Julie Andrews would've joined the cast somehow.

ASK by Asky dress (old) // peter pan collar by Klara // thrifted loafers + hat // hand-me-down coat + purse

To be honest, the Mary Poppins vibe from this outfit wasn't fully intentional—or maybe that whole vibe is only apparent to me. I wore this outfit the week before to campus. At the time, I couldn't believe I never thought of matching this dress with this coat—blazer? I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be. However, chancing a reflection of myself in the mirror, I suddenly felt like I could pull off a Mary Poppins cosplay of some sort. Maybe I should've saved this outfit for this year's Halloween costume. Well, no matter, after looking through the photos of the real Mary Poppins—I mean the Julie Andrews version—I see that there's barely any resemblance between her and this outfit. But it gave me the excuse to wear this collar after a long while and this simple hairstyle of tucking my locks into the hat. What do you think? Does it look in any way similar to the legendary nanny?

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