Loving Now: Emerson Fry Fall/Winter Collection

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Listen, I know fall isn’t here and I am all about soaking in summer, but the onset of the second best season is coming faster than I care to mention. Thus, I am revving up my excitement for the fall months (though in Raleigh I think that fall doesn’t happen till October or later) by meandering my way through some of the up and coming collection for the season. Every year I have a few companies that never fail to leave me not just drooling but inspired; this year it is Emerson Fry. I have had the pleasure of placing a few items of theirs in my closet and I love them so much that it may be wrong. They are gorgeous and well-made, and you can feel and see the conscious thought and craft put in to each piece. This is not something easy to find so when I come across a brand like them I love investing.

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

This fall at Emerson Fry the collection is the perfect mix of chunky layers, sleek palettes of textures and neutrals, and that tomboy edge that we all love from Emerson Fry. So, in order to make you feel just better that fall is coming, I thought I would share some of the pieces and looks from their new collection that have me more excited than I care to admit about the chilly breezes in our future.

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014 | The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

The pieces I am specifically loving are the knits combined with the very structured pieces, such as this outfit below. The large chunky sweater with the streamlined dress and thick leggings gives a thick texture to something slim and chic. It’s for sure the perfect workwear or evening outfit!

 

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

There is nothing I love more about the cold weather than the layering of great pieces together. The combination of patterns, textures, and palettes is always so refreshing to progress in to after months of very simple, easy outfits that are light and airy. It’s always good to have a chance to switch it up even though (let’s be honest) summer is still the best.

Thanks Emerson Fry for the warm welcome into a new season with so much inspiration and excitement!

A Cheers to Summer’s Ending

Summer's End --- A Proper Farewell  |  The Fresh Exchange

Is it really a cheers or is it a toast, rather. Whatever it may be, I want to raise my glass on this Friday to the weekend that signifies the beginning of the end of a favorite season. So here I go…

To the days we spent consumed by the sun, fresh air, and what it truly means to live and drink the wild air.

To the weekends where we almost forgot how the week had made us feel.

To the way the wind filled our hair as we drove with the windows down embracing the warm air.

To the smells of sunscreen, bon fires, the lake, fresh fish, cheap beer, and charcoal.

To the feeling of spending all day in your swimsuit and being prepared at any moment to strip it all off to feel that sweet chill of the lake.

To the call of adventure that blew in through the windows each morning as we woke slowly and drank our coffee.

To the stillness after a warm rain and the rainbow that followed.

To the clarity that comes from the months that remind us of what we truly love and show us the path that lies ahead.

To the lingering light that glistens on the water as the sun sets on a day that we wish could last a lifetime.

To the sound of water rushing all around you as you dive in and let go of everything else to feel a moment of weightlessness.

To the peace of the water, the sun, the wind, the sand, the light, the whispering trees, and the crackling of a fire.

To the memories, all the sweet memories. My goodness those memories.

To the moment we found a secret beach and for a moment felt as if we had discovered our own hidden island away from the world.

But, to also the regrets. To the things that were never done and the days we somehow felt were better spent working than in the water and sun. Those are the days that taught us the true lessons. They are the days that for me have set me straight on where life is meant to spent. Those are the days where we came to realize what we really want in life and what we do not. Those are the days that helped us answer the biggest questions and revealed the darkest part of ourselves. Those are the days that brought us back to the center.

So, this weekend go and soak up the warm days that are numbered with all you have. Don’t make too many plans. Go to the secret places you love and salute the summer so you can enter in to this next season properly. Reflect on what this season has meant to you. Look forward to what the next season holds, but most importantly enjoy every bit of what you have right now.

I hope you find this weekend to be the perfect way to begin our slow decent in to fall. May you spend more time in the sun than anywhere else because that is all I have planned. I plan to run our new secret trail again and then jump head first in to the lake after sweating up the dunes. I plan to sail and dive deep in to the lake as many times as I can. Most importantly I plan to live in the moment and expect nothing other than to be warm from the sun and washed by the lake.

Happy Labor Day Weekend my friends. May you treat it as well as you treat it.

SEO for Bloggers – The Quick and Dirty

SEO for Bloggers  |  The Fresh Exchange

These days there are a ton of ways to have your content discovered. Social Media has become a major way of spreading the word about the content you are creating, but the other form of discovery is still good old SEO. There is so much that goes into search engine optimization, but really there are just a few simple things you need to know in order to use it to help new followers find your content. Sure there are thousands of tips out there, but we try hard to use SEO in the most natural and organic way. Ultimately, creating something beautiful comes first, but why not use a few simple SEO tips to help people find your work and content a little easier.

1. Choose your keywords based on your content:
When you write a post, you are most likely writing it because you feel it is important to share with the rest of the world. You want the most eyes to see your post; you don’t want it to get lost. Though there are tons of ways to do this with social media, SEO is a great way for people to find you through organic search. Before you begin to type, ask yourself a few questions to help you think about keywords that will help you be a present fixture when someone is searching for content. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What is my content about?
  • Who will be searching for this content?
  • What keywords would they type in to search for this content?

If you need some help thinking of keywords, you can use keyword planning tools! You can use Google Adwords to help you find keywords for your post if you are stuck. Google Adwords will tell you what keywords have the highest search, are the most targeted, and the amount of competition. You want to use the keywords that are the most targeted, have the least amount of competition, and have the highest searches. Once you have your keywords, you can incorporate them into your content in a natural and creative way. We really encourage you to write freely and creatively. You don’t want to spend your time focusing on keywords. Simply use Google Adwords if you are having writer’s block.

2. Name your images and use alt tags:
As bloggers, we use a lot of images and some of you use images more than words, so it is important to make sure your images are SEO friendly. You want to make sure that you name the image file appropriately with a name that is concise and relevant because search engines only recognize text. For instance, we have named the image in this post “SEO_For_Bloggers_01.jpg”. When you name your image appropriately, a search engine will crawl through and recognize the image as content. If your blog post has a mix of images and text, then this will increase your SEO. Next, once you upload an image into your blogging platform you want to add an alt tag. At this point most blogging platforms will have a prompt in the image uploader for you. For this post we placed “SEO for Bloggers” as our alt text in our tag generator. Having the tag generator is really great especially for those of us who are not fond of coding this in to each image. If you want more info on writing your own coded alt tags, see this article. Your alt tag should be 125 characters or less. The shorter the better.

3Make your title tags and meta tags thorough:
Title tags and meta tags are very important and should not be overlooked. The title and meta tags should be unique for every page or post. You never want to duplicate. The title tag is exactly what you think it is: the title. The title tag is the most valuable tag since this is what search engines will recognize first, and it is what users will see when your post displays in their search results. It’s called a preview snippet. The title tag should definitely have your keyword or words. The meta tag (or meta description) is not as important for search rankings. Its importance lies in the fact that it will draw your audience in and will make them want to click and read. Your meta description will also be the first thing that users see before they click. It should be 1 to 2 sentences and shouldn’t have more than 8 keywords. You want your meta description to brilliantly and creatively describe your post without sounding too contrived with keywords. It’s your hook, line, and sinker.

4. Index your blog:
Basically, this just means making your blog known to search engines. When you create your blog, search engines will not notice it right away because it is the new kid on the block. Think of it this way. When you move to a new city, you don’t know many people and many people don’t know you, so you have to make yourself known. The same goes for your blog. You can speed up the indexing process by talking about your blog and linking to your blog via your social media channels or having others mention you on their websites with the link to your blog. You want to make sure that the blogs that post your blog link are older blogs, meaning they are highly noticed within search engines. The more you find ways to link back to your site, the more Google and other search engines will notice it. Another way to index your blog is by adjusting the rate at which Google crawls across your site. Since Google is the top used search engine, you want to focus a lot of your efforts there. You can go into Google’s webmaster tools and increase the crawl rate. Remember it takes time, but the more linkable content you put out there, the more you will be noticed.

5. Utilize SEO plugins for your blog:
SEO plugins and programs are available to you in order to make your content creation less stressful. WordPress has a lot of different plugins that you can use just for optimizing your blog not to mentions thousands of other things! Here at TFE we use a WordPress plugin called Yoast to help us generate the right tags and titles for posts as well as meta descriptions. The plugins are very easy to install if you have never done it before. They walk you step-by-step through the process.

Lastly, a few things to remember are that you do not want to over stuff with keywords. Keep things natural and creative. This is better for SEO. Also, don’t focus too hard on SEO even when generating content. It is a great tool to help connect readers with the hard work you have put into writing and creating, but do not let it dictate your content completely. If you are creating gorgeous, engaging, and beautiful things from an authentic place your content will naturally grow and reach people. SEO is just a little tool to help you be more easily found by sites like Bing, Google, and Yahoo.

There is so much to learn in the SEO world, so I hope this helps jumpstart you on your journey. Would love to hear any of the tips that you have as well. Feel free to share them below!

 

Additional Reading:
Learn SEO to Grow your Website (SkillShare)
The Beginners Guide to SEO (MOZ)
Image Alt Text vs. Image Titel: What’s the Difference? (Search Engine Journal)

Megan Styled: The Boy Jean

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

This summer has officially been my summer of the Boy Jean. I felt it appropriate to share what has been a go-to staple with you especially since this staple can transition perfectly in to cooler days.

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

Up North during the summer there is nothing more important than having great jeans. Everywhere I go even if I start out in a dress or shorts, I have a pair of jeans and sweatshirt with me. What I have loved this year about the boy jean is that whether I am heading to the beach for a bonfire or meeting a client for drinks, this jean will rock it out hard for me. Pair them with a favorite button down, a simple t-shirt, a crop top, or a drapey tank. Dress them up with a heel, ankle boot, or a simple sandal.

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

Not only are they versatile, but the relaxed style has been great on warm days. There is nothing I hate more than wearing something skin tight after a day of sweating. With working out so much this summer, I have been really into slipping these on after I clean up from a workout. They feel relaxed enough but are not my harem sweatpants I slip on when I wake up in the morning.

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

It sounds nuts but I have about 3 pairs now. Some are real boy jeans from Goodwill but this pair is from the new Madewell Denim line for fall, and I can’t get enough of them. I wore them all during Mille to give them a solid road test and sure enough they didn’t disappoint: Still fit like a glove and not to mention are comfier than the first time I slipped them on. They are the perfect pair for fall if you are looking for your next fave denim purchase.

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

If you already have your favorite jeans from Madewell, then you should enter the amazing giveaway that they are doing with Artifact Uprising. Find more info here. All you have to do is simply post to Instagram and tag your image in your favorite Madewell denim with #denimmadewell and #contest to be entered to win $1,500 to Madewell. 5 other winners will win $250 (basically two pairs of denim!). They also will be using their favorite images for an exclusive print collection with Artifact Uprising to be sold in select stores this fall.

Megan Styled:  The Boy Jean  |  The Fresh Exchange

I would love to hear some of your favorite pieces that you are excited to take in to fall. What have you been loving on these past few months in your wardrobe?

What I wore:
No. 03 Sunnies from Rowley Eyewear
Silk Pocket Blouse from Jcrew
Bracelets:  Braided Bracelet from Madewell, Triangle Bracelet from Madewell, Rock Cuff from Torchlight Jewelry
The Slim Boy Jean in Akiva Wash from Madewell
Gray Suede Booties from Steve Madden (Similar