Why I'm Not Crazy About Facebook Groups

A Relaxed Gal recently joined Facebook. I really didn't want to enter another social media channel, but decided to after realizing I was missing out on a lot of social media sponsorship and income opportunities.

While my blog recently joined Facebook, personally I'm not a stranger to it. I've been on Facebook since the early years, joining when I was in college and you needed a college email to join. But it wasn't until recently that I started joining Facebook groups that were started by people other than my friends. The Facebook groups I've joined are mostly for bloggers. I joined these groups in the hopes of getting more knowledgeable about blogging and blog promotion.

Facebook groups can be helpful resources or not. See my view on Facebook groups and which ones make my favorite list. | arelaxedgal.com

To get the most out of the Facebook groups I'm a member of I've read several bloggers opinions on the benefits of Facebook groups and the best way to use them. I'm not sure why, but the many of the opinions I've read are on the negative side. They don't see Facebook groups as a way to gain readers or grow your blog.

That can't be true I thought. The purpose of many of these groups is to help your blog grow. So against seemingly popular opinion I began joining Facebook groups. So far I've joined 14 groups focused on blogging and blog engagement. This ranges from sharing posts in the groups to get people to read, comment and/or share to discussing issues, questions or wins around your blogging experience.

The ones that are about growing your blog will have daily or weekly posts where you can place your latest blog or social media post in the comments for likes, comments or social shares from other group members. In exchange you are required to reciprocate the likes, comments or shares to a specified number of other bloggers. This is where the whole things goes south for me.

Believe me, I have NO issues with there being roles or requirements for being a part of a Facebook group. I also don't have issues with reciprocating likes, comments or social shares. That makes sense. What I do have issue with the specified number you're required to like, comment and share. Some of the groups I've joined require to to reciprocate to 10 or 12 other bloggers. That can be a lot.

This can be hard to do if
  • You don't find many of the blog post titles compelling
  • You don't have a lot of time to spend reading 10 or more blog posts, leave a meaningful comment and then share them on social media. A lot of that time could be spent on bettering your blog
  • A lot of the blog posts don't have images that match your Pinterest aesthetic
  • You have to write descriptions to post on social media because post doesn't have one that automatically populates
  • The blog posts don't fit your blog focus and aren't on topics you're audience is interested in

Facebook groups can be helpful resources or not. See my view on Facebook groups and which ones make my favorite list. | arelaxedgal.com

I have a few other reasons for why it's hard but those are my top five (not necessarily in that order). In an effort to get around these things I started to
  • Set aside a specific time for participating in Facebook groups
  • Confirm there are at least 50 blog posts in a thread. Then I go through and see if I can find enough posts in the thread to meet the requirement that interest me. I do all this before even including my post in the thread
  • Stumble blog posts that don't have attractive or pinnable images instead of sharing them on Twitter or Pinterest. It's also easier than sharing on other social sites
  • Only share my blog posts when the reciprocation requirements are low or there are none
Overall I haven't seen a ton of traffic come from Facebook. In fact Facebook doesn't even crack my top three traffic drivers. Facebook typically ranks fifth or lower though it's in the top three when looking at social media specific traffic. Taking the stats into consideration I've lessened my level of participation in some of the groups. I haven't fully decided, but I may drop some of them. If I do I'll make my decision based on whether or not they provide a community for bloggers to find helpful information, connections and encouragement.

While I haven't gained a lot from several of the Facebook groups I'm a part of there are some that have been helpful and are my favorites
  • Blog + Biz BFFs
  • Photography For Your Blog + Biz
  • Blogging Boost

Because these are my favorite I'm more active in these groups. Here are some tips for participating in and getting the most out of Facebook groups
  • Pick a handful that will be the main groups you'll participate
  • Don't just self-promote by only posting your content. Participate by answering other members questions. You can also share content from other bloggers that would be helpful for the group
  • Set aside some time each week to post in your Facebook groups. It can be an hour a week or an hour a day. Whatever works best for you

What's your experience with Facebook groups?

P.S. Are you following me on Facebook? Here's where you can find me facebook.com/arelaxedgal

How I Know it's Time to Clarify My Hair

Every once in a while my hair and scalp feel dirty, full of product and weighed down or they may feel really dry. Whenever they feel any of those ways I have a hard time styling my hair including making it hold a curl for any length of time. And my scalp itches and flakes a lot and may even smell. When that happens I know it's time to clarify.

The five ways I know it's time to clarify my hair. Plus I share my favorite clarifying shampoos. | arelaxedgal.com

Don't get me wrong, I cleanse my hair and scalp once a week, sometimes twice a week, but I don't always clarify. When I clarify my hair and scalp I'm giving them a fresh start because a clarifying shampoo removes dirt and product build-up from my scalp and hair strands better than a regular shampoo. Depending on the formula a clarifying shampoo can also remove product build-up and mineral deposits from hard water and swimming pool chlorine.

After I clarify my scalp and hair they always feel so much better. My hair tends to be more manageable, holds moisture longer, looks better and is easier to style. My scalp itches less, isn't dry and it just feels more clean. Additionally it promotes healthier hair growth and even length retention.

I try to clarify my hair every four weeks, but sometimes it needs to be more often. Here are the five ways I know it's time to clarify my hair
    1. I've been sweating a lot from working out regularly.
    2. I haven't clarified or used a shampoo in a while. I like to clarify if I co-washed several weeks in a row.
    3. I've been spending a lot of time outdoors. This could be spending time at the beach whether I got in the ocean or not. The wind, sun and sand can do a number on my hair. Or spending time in the pool.
    4. I have product build-up from using a lot of product on my hair. Such as moisturizing and sealing daily with heavy creams and oils. Or after a visit to the salon.
    5. I have really dry hair and/or scalp. Sometimes my dry hair or scalp issues aren't from lack of moisture, but my hair follicles being clogged.

      The five ways I know it's time to clarify my hair. Plus I share my favorite clarifying shampoos. | arelaxedgal.com

      Some of my favorite clarifying shampoos are

      Additionally I try to rinse my scalp with diluted apple cider vinegar when I co-wash as it's a natural way to clarify.

      P.S. You can now follow me on Facebook facebook.com/arelaxedgal/

      Why You Should Have Rich Pins on Pinterest

      Pinterest rich pins; you've probably heard about them. And if you're active on Pinterest, follow other bloggers or bands you've most likely seen them in your feed. but may not have paid them much attention. I know I didn't at first. Over time I started to notice that my pins looked different than some of the other pins showing up in my feed and I was repinning. So I did some digging and found out the difference was because of rich pins. After learning more about what they are and what they can do I wanted to get them too. So I started researching how to set them up and wasted no time in doing so.

      The benefits of Pinterest rich pins and how to set them up on the Blogger platform. | arelaxedgal.com

      So what are rich pins?

      They sort of look like regular pins except they include additional information, also called metadata on your pin. This information provided more detail about where the pin came from, so your pins are essentially more branded. Rich pins provide info like the
      • Website name
      • Post title
      • Post description
      • Image alt name
      • Website favicon/logo

      You can see my rich pins here.

      There are six types of rich pins

      1. App

      These pins include an install button so people can instantly download your application without ever leaving Pinterest. This type of pin is great for developers who make IOS apps.

      2. Article

      The article pins are great for bloggers or others who provide content in a written format. This is the pin I use since the majority of my content is in article format.

      3. Movie

      When using the move rich pins they provide detailed info on the movie such as the cast members and reviews.

      4. Place

      These pins include information on how to find a specific location such as an address, phone number and map.

      5. Product

      If you're a retailer or sell product from your site, product pins may be just right for you. Product pins include price, availability and where to buy information for the specific product being pinned.

      6. Recipe

      This is the rich pin perfect for sites with a focus on cooking and recipes. These pins include ingredient, cooking time and serving size info.

      You can only use one type of rich pin per site, so the focus of the information you're pinning from your site can help determine which one is best for you.

      The benefits of Pinterest rich pins and how to set them up on the Blogger platform. | arelaxedgal.com

      What's the benefit of using rich pins?

      With rich pins when any content is pinned from your site, the pin is branded with your site favicon and name. Rich pins also allow you to automatically provide pinners with a pin description and title in your brand's style and tone of voice.

      Additionally, the extra information pulled in to the pins help with keyword searches within Pinterest. This helps make your pins visible in more searches and reach more people. After I set up rich pins I saw a small increase in profile visits. That was because my pins were showing up in more and more Pinterest searches because of the additional details.

      How do you get rich pins?

      To get rich pins you'll need to have a Pinterest Business Account. And if you're on the Blogger platform you'll need to mess with some of the code on the your site. I will admit, it took me a couple of tries to get it set up, but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Here's what I did to get rich pins for my blog on the Blogger platform.

      Step 1: Get a business account

      Go to Business.Pinterest.com to sign up for a business Pinterest account. If you already have a personal account you can just switch it over to a business one. Nothing about your account will change to the outside world, but behind the scenes you'll get Pin activity data and analytics as well as the ability to set up advertising on Pinterest.

      Step 2: Verify your site with Pinterest

      Step 3: Choose your rich pin

      Decide which of the six types of rich pin you'd like to use -app, article, movie, place, product or recipe

      Step 4: Add the code to your site

      If on Blogger go to Template > Edit HTML and search for the code

      <b:includable id='post'var='post'>

      Underneath the code post:
      <meta expr:content='data:post.title' property='og:title'/>
      <meta expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' property='og:description'/>
      <meta content='article' property='og:type'/>
      <meta expr:content='data:blog.url' property='og:url'/>
      <meta expr:content='data:blog.title' property='og:site_name'/>
      <meta expr:content='data:post.timestampISO8601' property='article:published_time'/>
      <meta content='EDIT TEXT HERE' property='article:section'/>
      <b:loop values='data:post.labels' var='label'>
      <meta expr:content='data:label.name' property='article:tag'/>

      You'll need to edit the green text with information specific to your site and then publish or save the changes.

      Step 5: Enable the Meta Tag description

      You do this by going to Settings > Search Preferences and clicking Yes for "Enable search description" and entering your description.
      The benefits of Pinterest rich pins and how to set them up on the Blogger platform. | arelaxedgal.com

      Step 6: Validate the rich pin

      Copy the URL to your most recent post and enter it into the Pinterest Rich Pin Validator. If accepted you should receive an email within a few days letting you know your site has been enabled for rich pins. You won't have to do anything to any other pages that have been previously pinned. Their pins will automatically be updated as rich pins.

      That's it! You've now joined the world of rich pins.

      P.S. You can now follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/arelaxedgal

      7 Things to do After You Move into Your New House

      The house has been selected. You've gone through the closing, packed up and moved everything in. What next? There's the unpacking and getting settled, but there may be few other things that can be just as important that may have slipped your mind with everything else going on. After moving into my house I identified seven things I wish I'd done or did do after I moved into my house. 

      Seven things that can be just as important as unpacking that may have slipped your mind after moving into a new house. | arelaxedgal.com

      1. Clean everything

      Personally I don't care who the seller says cleaned the house or what they cleaned it with, I prefer to do a nice scrub down whenever I move somewhere. That way I know it's clean. Particularly when it comes to the kitchen, bathroom, floors. Ok, everything.

      2. Register appliances

      If you have brand new appliances in your kitchen or laundry room register them within your first few days so you don't forget.

      3. Hold on making drastic changes right away

      It may be tempting to start doing some serious decorating as soon as you move in. but in some instances it may be better to hold off for a while. By not rushing into decorating you can figure out where your furniture is best suited for the room, what colors you want to paint the walls, what you want to get rid of or replace and even what you can afford. It also gives you time to figure out what room(s) you want to start decorating first.

      4. Make a list of what needs to be fixed

      When you tour the home there will be some fixes you will easily and quickly see and identify. There are others that you won't be able to find until you've lived in the house for a while and are going about your daily routine.

      My house had a plumbing issue that wasn't detected until about two after I moved in and my parents were visiting me. The pipe to the sewer had a blockage that had built up over time and came to a head with the extra usage during my parents visit.

      If you're in a new build a lot of these fixes could be under warranty. So take the time to make a list and send all your fixes to the builder at once.

      5. Memorize the neighborhood trash schedule

      This seems like a little thing, but it's important. When you first move in you'll have more trash than normal from unpacking boxes and maybe even brand new items you bought for the house. So knowing when the trash is collected each week is key to making sure the trash doesn't pile up.

      6. Meet the neighbors

      Getting to know your neighbors can be key to enjoying your new home and neighborhood. It can also be helpful as you can help each other by
      • Watching each others house when you go on vacation or aren't home for extended periods of time
      • Letting out the dogs when you're on vacation
      • Sharing the latest neighborhood news (such as who's moving in or out. Which neighbors could use some help from the neighborhood)

      When I lived in apartments I didn't see getting to know my neighbors as important because I knew neither one of us was planning to stay for a long time. We would likely move on when the rent got too high, we got jobs elsewhere or for some other reason. Now that I'm in a house I want to know my neighbors and realize the importance of it.

      7. Sign up for coupons

      Oh yes. Sign up for coupons to home decorating stores like Wayfair and Pier One as well as your local hardware store such as Lowes and Home Depot. I was so glad I signed up for these because I was probably going to Lowes or Home Depot almost every other day for the first two weeks after moving in. These coupons saved me close to a couple hundred dollars if not a little bit more. I got the coupons by signing up for them when I changed my address with the USPS and the retailers website.

      P.S. You can now follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/arelaxedgal

      How I Take Care of My Relaxed Hair After a Workout

      (I received the Suave Moroccan Infusion Dry Shampoo mentioned in this post complimentary from Influenster for a review, but all opinions are my own.)

       I admit I don't always work out multiple days every week. When I do I like to workout outside by either walking or jogging a few miles and in the Florida heat I can work up a good sweat. To top it off my scalp sweats a lot which if not taken care of causes my scalp to itch like crazy for days afterwards. It also makes my hair look flat and greasy. To keep my hair and scalp healthy, smelling good and not itchy I started to employ a few techniques.

      See what four things I do to keep my hair and scalp clean and healthy after a workout. | arelaxedgal.com

      Wear my hair in a loose updo

      During after a workout I wear my hair in loose updos. It depends on my mood, but I may choose a loose ponytail or bun. Or I'll use a hair clip to pin my hair up. I don't like having hair on my neck because sweat gets on my hair and it makes my neck hot.

      Loose updos also let my scalp breathe so my scalp dries quickly when I've been sweating. When I've worn tighter updos the sweat would stay trapped near my scalp resulting in lots of itching and dry roots.

      Use a dry shampoo

      If I work out multiple days in a row my hair and scalp starts to look like and feel like it. To keep it fresh and not have to wash my hair every day I like to use a dry shampoo. The one I'm using now is the Suave Moroccan Infusion Dry Shampoo. I section my hair and spray the dry shampoo near my roots in each section. After spraying I work the product through my hair with my wide tooth comb. The result is a nice smelling scalp and hair that doesn't feel or look nasty anymore.

      See what four things I do to keep my hair and scalp clean and healthy after a workout. | arelaxedgal.com


      While I use a dry shampoo in between workouts I use a clarifying shampoo after several workouts. Using a clarifying shampoo makes my hair and scalp feel fresh again and gets out any remaining sweat and grime.

      The two clarifying shampoos I've been using are SheaMoisture Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoo and Ion Hard Water Shampoo. Both clean out the sweat and grime from my scalp and hair without drying them out.

      Moisturize and seal

      To make sure my hair doesn't dry out whether I've clarified or not I like to moisturize and seal my hair strands. I like to use a creamy leave-in like the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-in Conditioner and mix it with a natural oil like sunflower oil.

      How do you take care of your hair after working out?

      P.S. You can now follow me on Facebook facebook.com/arelaxedgal/
      All content and images © 2014-2016 A Relaxed Gal unless otherwise noted. I am not a hair care, blogging, beauty or life professional. All opinions are from my own personal experience.