Happy Anniversary

Today Andrew and I celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary so it seems there would be no better day than today to introduce this new site to you.  Formerly known as HeatherVreeland.com – a poorly tended to soapbox I used at various points in time to share random musings (mostly rants) – has been transformed into a shared space for Andrew and I to update our friends, family and circle of influence (whoever that may be) with what our real life is like being married and being in business together.  Welcome to our virtual reality show.  Just kidding.  No really.  IDK.

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I never gave the previous platform much attention because while I do love to write and am a natural “over-sharer” it always felt very unnatural to just be blogging by myself.  While I am very much the face of what we do at our company, I am in no way the only part of the engine that keeps our business running – yet people always think that this gig is all mine.  It’s not.

I am the optimistic, dreamer and doer.  I often describe Andrew as the weight to my bushel of balloons.  If it weren’t for him I’d be all over the place.  Over worked, inefficient and out of control and so would our business.

His perspective helps me focus my energies toward the most efficient workflows and effective area of growth for our business… and for the beginning 7 years of our business – he did all that while also managing thousands of air planes flying at 500 miles an hour.  Talk about a multi-tasker.

The core reason Occasions Media Group is what it is today is because, as Andrew once said, “My wife is a genius and I have a loose wallet.”  Pretty much.  I only began to think it was possible to start a business until I met Andrew.  When we were first married he supported whatever it was I wanted to do – be it start a family, find a job or start a company.  I chose the later and he asked how much was it going to cost – both financially and emotionally for a newly married couple – and then he bet both on my vision and alas here we are together, today.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns like it sounds or may seem when you flip through the pages of our magazines or instagram feeds.  We’re not the perfect couple, but we try to live humbly in God’s perfect vision and plan for our life.   One thing we both wholeheartedly agree on is that there is a mass amount of transparency that is lacking in today’s online arena that misleads people to think that business, marriage and parenthood is easy.  So – you won’t find any of that here.  We’re all about keeping it real.

Photo by Zach Thomas of Monarch Studios

Stay tuned for more stories of struggle and triumph and probably potty training horror stories.

Happy Anniversary Andrew – we made it 9 years!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

How We Keep Track of Contributors with CoSchedule

Managing two publications with vast contributor pools used to mean countless emails, constant check-ins and an endless deadline guessing game. It’s tricky, keeping up with creative professionals. No amount of Facebook group chatting or emails can ensure the progress of tasks and muster the level of ownership and responsibility the way working in a brick and mortar office can. Working in an office is a motivating experience, but we recently found ourselves desperate for a way to convey that same level of productivity online.  We dug around the web to find the right tool to bring our team together and stumbled upon CoSchedule, an editorial task management system that doubles as a WordPress plugin.

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Finding What Works
Seeking out the right tool for our editorial needs has been nothing short of a long process. Flip flopping between email, online task lists, and our web platforms opens our process to error. Anyone who knows editorial knows losing momentum can be a post’s kiss of death, and that’s how our staff editors started to feel. With a list of tasks, stories and real weddings ready to assign, we took CoSchedule by the horns and put it to the test.

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What We Use it For
There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to editorial web content. For every post comes a list of tasks pertaining to imagery, written text, editing and sharing on social media. Being able to assign specific tasks to different people on one specific post means our calendar looks cleaner, more organized and well, just plain better. We used our staff interns (the best in St. Augustine, hands down!) as our in house test team, working to improve our productivity while simultaneously teaching them independence in the work place.

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Sharing the Love 
Swapping between social media platforms can seem like an overwhelming process, especially when you’re just trying to push the same content across the web. Double that work load? It can be hard to keep track of. Now, we have simple, color coded reminders to push content to our desired platforms all in one place–the backend of our publication websites.

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Why We Love It
Easily streamlining a lengthy to-do list into a tangible calendar of tasks was our number one priority in testing this system. Since starting our trial, we’ve cleaned up our list of pending submissions from Two Bright Lights for The Celebration Society and assigned new exciting web posts to St. Augustine Social contributors across the oldest city. The use of custom template tasks lists is easily the most time-saving portion of our CoSchedule experience. Though repeated task lists should become second nature, working with new interns every semester and bringing on new contributors regularly means we need to continuously inform individuals of our editorial needs. Assigning written work to writers, editing to editors and general tasks to office personnel simply makes sense! (Plus, checking off a task when it’s complete and seeing the strikethrough is pretty cathartic!)

You can sign up for a 14 day free trial here!

I’m Fundraising for the Junior Service League of St. Augustine and the Alpha Omega Miracle Home

Sometimes you have to get outside of your bubble to get the best perspective on life.  Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. I personally find it very difficult to do this.  I’m a keep-my-nose-to-the-ground, spend all my hours at my computer, plugged in 24 hours a day type of business owner.  To a fault.

So, when we relocated our family to St. Augustine, FL and I became a mom, I told myself I would make more of an effort to say yes to more party invitations, say yes to more family time, say yes to building more relationships outside of my comfort zone – the offices of Occasions Media Group.  And as luck would have it, just as I was telling myself to be more of  a “yes woman,”  I was asked by the Junior Service League of St. Augustine to volunteer as a “candidate” for their annual gala.  So I said yes.

This year I’ve been asked to be a “Queen Candidate” to raise money on behalf of the Junior Service League and their charitable efforts each year.  In doing so, they asked me to pick a local charity that I will represent in my efforts and if I raise the most amount of money among all of the other queen candidates….. my charity of choice will be awarded $5,000 for my efforts.

I got this.

I have chosen to fundraise for the Junior Service League of St. Augustine on behalf of the Alpha Omega Miracle Home.  While the money I raise goes to the JSL’s bank of funds that are donated to the St. Augustine community, it is awareness and additional funds that my efforts will bring to the Alpha Omega Miracle Home.

Why did I choose the Alpha Omega Miracle Home?
My life was transformed the day I became a mother.  I had an amazing pregnancy experience, was showered with gifts from friends and family, had an amazing birth experience with the best midwife, doula and nursing staff, the most supportive husband a girtl could ask for, and had access to every convenience, technology and information resource a new mom could ask for.  While I was experiencing a surge of “happy mommy hormones” I couldn’t help but think of the many other mother’s who wouldn’t have it like me.  I thought of every women who has struggled with the choice of abortion.  Women who are on waiting lists for adoptions.  Mothers who were in unsafe home environments, victims of abuse, struggling to recover from past choices ….whatever the case… my heart was so heavy for these women and felt like I had to do something to help.

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I started to do research on organizations that help women in crisis pregnancy situations and mentor them by providing relief during their pregnancy and life as a new mom or educating them on the gift of adoption.  I found the Alpha Omega Miracle Home in St. Augustine, FL.

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What is the Alpha Omega Miracle Home?
AOMH provides transitional housing for homeless women and their children and permanent, supportive housing for senior women.

The organization was started by Lisa Franklin, a native of St. Augustine, who was once herself a pregnant teenager.  In choosing life at such a young age, she has seen her son grow to be a loving husband, father and community leader.  Because of her experience, she found herself called to mentor young mothers and support elderly women in a way that forms a surrogate family for the two.

Alpha Omega Miracle Home is a safety net for women and children that works to break the bondage of poverty, abuse and homelessness by responsibly sowing Godly love, compassion, and material resources. They are a hand up, not a hand out organization.  They address both the external issues of income and housing, as well as the root causes that have led to a family’s homelessness, in order to help single mothers become who they were created to be: productive members of the community. In addition, Alpha-Omega endeavors to honor the gifts and contributions of our senior residents while providing safe, affordable housing.

Below is a video about their efforts worth taking a few minutes to watch….

For more information on the Alpha Omega Miracle Home, visit their website here.

What does this all mean to you?
It’s fundraising time.  I am seeking corporate sponsorships for the Junior Service League Gala to be made in my name.   If you are seeking PR opportunities for your company that supports a worthy local cause, give you the benefits of a tax write off and tickets to the gala, I will happily hand deliver your donation to them.  😉

You can access a PDF outlining the efforts of the Junior Service League and the sponsorships levels at the dropbox link below.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wun0m2ahi2sgptk/2015JSLGalaSponsorship.pdf?dl=0

Please let me know if you have any questions and what level participation you’d like to be involved in for this year’s event.

Thank you so much for your support and help to win the Alpha Omega Miracle Home $5,000.

Now Hiring: Editor, The Celebration Society

When I get to write posts like this I feel like I am officially a contributing member of society. Employing people has a whole different level of satisfaction beyond the thrill successfully growing the business of our advertisers has.  It’s deeper.  Sort of a validation that the work we are doing, is working and we need more people to keep doing it.  That’s an awesome feeling.

So, today I am super excited to share that we have officially begun the search for an Editor of The Celebration Society to join our team.  Yay!

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The perfect person for the job has an impeccable eye for style and looks with a discerning eye for honest-to-goodness great ideas for modern day weddings and parties and can create super shareable posts that cover those things in a fun, casual, relatable way.  This person should be social media savvy, big-time advocates for print and digital media and literally obsessed with weddings, parties and celebrations of all kinds.  Oh, and a natural talent for connecting people is a major plus.  This is the perfect career for an enthusiastic people person, problem solver, idea generator, cheerleader and all around team player who wants to work side-by-side their best friends and know their daily work makes a huge impact on the growth of their company.

Not to mention all the obvious work skills of an Editor too (you can read the whole official post with specific details over here).

If you think you are the perfect person for the job, email me at heather@occasionsmediagroup.com.

Image by Rustic White Photography

Showing the Way

I recently came across this quote on Facebook that struck a nerve with me. A good one.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. ~ J C Maxwell

It made me think of how I feel about this blog.  I started it with the intention of sharing marketing and business advice with friends and clients and not with the intention of being a blogger.  A money making blogger that is.  So, posting here gets put on the bottom of my to do list after I’ve tended to everything relative to what I DO make money at.

Then there’s the whole “perception” thing that comes with bloggers. Perfect perception that is. I’m a big believer that there is way too much emphasis on being the most stylish, most put together, and most successful person out there in the blogger hemisphere and I just do not have the time to keep up with that nor do I want to mislead my people to thinking this life of mine is so simply perfect.  It ain’t.

And don’t even get me started on the whole “but who really cares what Heather Vreeland has to say?” ever looming question I ask myself everyday.  There are A LOT of people claiming to be experts on the internet and whether they are just making noise or making a living….how is my experience/take any better/different?

But, I’ve found that as a result of being concerned if this is the best way to be spending my time, or are my pictures pretty enough for this blog, or is anyone even listening… my voice has become stifled.   Which is sad because I really like helping people and I really feel like I can help the most amount of people here.

So, when I read that quote this week I realized – that’s me.  A leader.  I know the way because I work it every single day.  I don’t proclaim to be an expert, but I AM experienced.  I go the way because that is what it takes to survive and be successful.  I’m not a millionaire, but I am making money.  And, because I know in my heart of hearts that sharing those two things can make all the difference in someone’s life who is just starting out….  I will show the way.  Okay maybe not the way.  But, my way.