#FWSBeautyChallenge Inspiration: Fresh Beauty Ideas to Try This Week

July 2, 2015

Yesterday officially kicked off the #FWSBeautyChallenge! I had been pushing myself lately to bring the fun back into my daily routine. I wanted to get more creative with it all. Try some of the looks I’m always pinning instead of just sticking with the quickest and easiest. And thus the challenge was born!

If you’re thinking of joining in (and you totally should!), you can pick any days from the calendar prompts- you can do as little or as much as you choose- and just put your own personal spin on the theme!


click for full size image


Then simply post your pics to Instagram and tag me (@freewillsstudio) plus use the hashtag #FWSBeautyChallenge to be automatically entered in this awesome giveaway!


Every day you post is a new entry so the more you post, the more likely you are to win!

And now for the REALLY fun part! I’ve been getting a few questions about the prompts, so I thought I’d give a more in depth look at the ideas behind the daily themes and help get all the inspirational/creative juices flowing!

*Sidebar: These are just my own personal ideas in case you would like some more clarification or feel stuck on any one prompt. Please know I want anyone participating to FEEL FREE to take as much liberty with the themes as their hearts desire. There are no “rules” to this challenge.
End rant. Resume post. :)


Friday, 7/3: My Go-To Lip Color

I think this one’s pretty self-explanatory. I want to see your standby shade! It’s a fun way to see everyone’s favorites and maybe get some new ideas for yourself. Like virtual shopping with your BFFs! You can simply show us your pucker or the lip color itself- get creative with it!

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Saturday, 7/4: Red, White, or Blue

Pick one or sport all three! Show us how you’re rocking your patriotic spirit!

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Sunday, 7/4: Laid Back Sunday Vibes

Is there anything better than perfectly undone hair or glowing barely-there makeup? Not in my book. Show us how you do casual cool.

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Monday, 7/6: Beauty Bag Favorites

The IG equivalent of looking in someone’s medicine cabinet. Show us your favorites and we’ll show you ours. (Tip for product image newbies: if you don’t have a visually appealing surface to take photos on, a white board or even a large piece of white paper can serve as a great crisp backdrop.)

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Tuesday, 7/7: Tropical Color Mani

This will be a fun one for me because I always tend to go for the moody nail color choices and this will push me to go with something bright and summery. Pick your favorite bright color or go full-on nail art- it’s up to you!

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Wednesday, 7/8: Go for the Gold

Gold is my all-time favorite color and the possibilities for this prompt are really endless. Show us how you shine!

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Thursday, 7/9: How I Rock a Top Knot

Top knots are my favorite hair trend to come out in the past couple of years. Show us your favorite top knot variation or try something completely new. There are so many different top knot ideas out there.

1 | 2 | 3


I hope this helped inspire those of you taking part in the #FWSBeautyChallenge. And if you’re deciding whether or not you’d like to give it a try, it’s never too late to jump in and give it a try!

Follow me on Instagram to see my takes on this week’s prompts!


I hope to see you there! :)


Beauty / Instalife

The #FWSBeautyChallenge is HERE!! Plus a BEAUTIFUL Giveaway for YOU!

June 29, 2015

There are only two days left in June, which seems crazy to me. I mean, it just absolutely flew by, didn’t it? I always look forward to a new month, though, and especially when it’s looking as good as July! I’m excited for so many things coming up, but one in particular is topping my list right now…

The introduction of my first Instagram challenge!


I had such a fun time challenging myself to try new beauty looks this month and get out of the- shall we say- “industrial” beauty phase I was heading towards with all the apartment moving going on. It was such a boost to my routine that I now want to pass the baton on to all of you!

 I’m basically challenging you to simply put a little extra thought this month into feeling beautiful. Whether it’s trying a cute summer braid or trying a green smoky eye, it’s all about taking pleasure in the process and celebrating feeling beautiful!

Not sold yet? Here’s why I think you should absolutely join in…

1. You’ll feel awesome. Is there anything better than feeling “done” and ready for the day? I’m not talking Hollywood hair and makeup teams here or anything, but I really believe something as simple as investing an extra five minutes in your style can do wonders for your self-confidence, don’t you?

2. You’ll get the creative vibes flowing. It’s really easy to get into a less-than-exciting routine with our looks. It’s like, “This worked last week, let’s just do it again every day this week!” Am I right? This is why I love style prompts so much. They give a perfect little nudge towards trying the things we’re always pinning and not actually doing. You might just remember how great you look in a dark lipstick or discover a hidden talent for DIY manis. Whatever it is, it’s sure to add a fresh pick-me-up to your routine.

3. You’ll make it your own. Not sure you want to commit to a 31-day Instagram challenge? Great! Don’t! Stick with the challenge for all 31 days or just do a couple of days- it’s totally up to you! And so are the prompts for that matter. Feel free to put your own spin on everything. This is not about rules or signing a contract. However, for every post you do put on Instagram…

4. You could win big! Tag your pics #FWSBEAUTYCHALLENGE (and tag me, @freewillsstudio, so I can comment and share!) and each day’s post will act as an entry for this gorgeous prize pack, valued at over $200!

Feast your beautiful eyes on all this!…


See! July’s starting to look especially beautiful, isn’t it?!

Here is the official challenge calendar. Please let me know in the comments if you would like any explanations or ideas for any of the prompts! But do also keep in mind that they are really what you make of them! Let your imagination run wild! :)


Get a head start on your giveaway entries simply by sharing this calendar on your Instagram account with the tags #FWSBEAUTYCHALLENGE and @freewillsstudio! You can even earn MORE giveaway entries (up to five) for each of your friends that you tag to take part with you!

I’ll of course be taking part, too. I’m looking forward to sharing styling ideas on the blog each week and sharing some of your pics along the way! I can’t wait to see all the awesome looks you come up with!

Here’s to a beautiful summer! :)


Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading Vol. 4

June 27, 2015

Isn’t the internet so cool? Here are a few of my favorite links this week…

1  This post on coping with burnout is a must-read for creatives. You are not alone! (Alisa Burke)  |  2  I can’t get enough of this gorgeous illustration style by artist Bridget Davies. (I Love Illustration)


3  I thought this hanging mirror DIY was really great- so simple and chic! (Sugar & Cloth)  |  4  Isn’t this green smoky eye stunning? I think it’s a perfect way to look glam and still light and fresh for summer. (Maskcara)

5  In celebration of yesterday’s big news, I thought I’d pull out one of my favorite old SNL skits.

And on a more serious and heart-warming note, this compilation really moved me.


A few more for your reading pleasure…

Not new but new to me: great insight at why you suck at to-do lists.

Pink pineapple shoes!

I keep hearing about how amazing this Netflix series is- have you seen it yet?

I also can’t wait to dig into this series on YouTube! (Or E!, you know, for those of you that pay for cable.)


I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! Feel free to share your favorite links with me in the comments!



Five Minute Friday: Taking the Time to Feel Beautiful (plus a New Instagram Beauty Challenge!)

June 26, 2015

One of the goals I made for myself this month involved fixing my hair and doing my makeup everyday. I see how that might sound completely silly, but between a lot of work-at-home days and being a horrible sweaty monster moving into a new apartment, these things had really become last priority. And I was feeling much less than my most beautiful self.

The thing about it is, I truly love beauty: hair, makeup, nails, whatever. It’s just fun, right?! So I set this goal to kind of challenge myself to bring the fun back into it, and it definitely has!


Whether it was trying a darker lip color, a fun mani, or an easy braid, I was really only spending a couple of minutes more than in my regular routine but it was a whole lot more inspiring!

I liked it so much, in fact, that I created a beauty-related Instagram challenge for July to keep the fun going!

I’ll be going into more detail on Monday’s post, but here’s a sneak peek for now…


I hope you’ll join in and tag your pictures with #fwsbeautychallenge! There are so many reasons I’d love for you to take part (one of which is a PRIZE!!!). But like I said, more on that Monday. 😉

In the meantime, why not head on over to my Instagram and make sure you’re following? July is already starting to look so much more beautiful!


Happy weekend, friends!



Tips for Effectively Using Social Media to Build your Brand’s Following (with a Free Printable Guide!)

June 23, 2015


I have something to confess: social media is something of a chore to me. I like it all in general terms, but in the blogging world, where a constant and consistent presence on social media is required, I often have a hard time keeping up. I’ll be very into it one day and then the introvert in me (and I’m assuming many of you fellow bloggers/makers) wants to take a day or two off to recharge, free of constant updates and statuses.

But that, my friends, is not the way to internet success. As much as I’d love to tell you numbers don’t matter, it’s simply not true if you are trying to create a sustainable income. Yes, you want to focus on creating content you believe in, but at the end of the day, if your numbers are really low, that valuable content that you spent hours on won’t even reach your niche audience- and those are the people who are dying to read it!

So what’s an introverted blogger do? Well, if you’re anything like me (meaning social media doesn’t really come naturally to you), I think it’s best to start with a plan. I’ve scoured the web and put together some of my favorite tips to help my audience (and yours) continue to grow.



1. Don’t neglect Facebook. I know that some bloggers forgo Facebook altogether, choosing instead to focus all of their attention on Twitter or Instagram. In my opinion, that’s a mistake. There are 1.44 billion users on Facebook which means it can likely be your highest click-through referral source. it’s also a great avenue for sharing posts, crowd sourcing, and joining niche groups to help bring new readers to your site.

2. Do get a separate page. It’s really important to have a Facebook page for your blog or business that is not your personal account. Doing so helps people remember your brand name and become familiar with your content.

3. Vary your posts. If all you do is share links to your own blog posts (guilty of this one), people will lose interest. Behind-the-scenes snippets, funny anecdotes, and additional pictures or videos will give people reason to continuously look to your page for interesting content. Sharing quality posts from other sites/bloggers doesn’t hurt either.



1. Get real-real. Twitter is really fast-paced and interactive, making it the perfect place to be a little more opinionated and unfiltered. Keep in mind that you are always promoting your brand, so you don’t want to push the envelope too far For me, this means avoiding anything overly negative and staying generally PG-rated, but to each brand their own. Just know yours and stick with it.

2. Utilize the hashtag. Sometimes using hashtags feels a little slimy to me, but the truth is they’re necessary. They are basically free marketing, allowing people interested in your topic to find your content. Check the trending topics of the day and if one fits your content or your brand, make sure to use it. Hashtag wisely, though. Not all tweets need them and nothing turns me away from content faster than taking advantage of a trending hashtag when it doesn’t even apply to the tweet.

3. Take part in Twitter chats. This is a very new area for me, but live Twitter chats are a great way to meet people in your niche. I recently took part in the #fireworkpeople chat (Tuesdays, 9 pm EST) and it was so energizing and motivational for me. I also really feel like I’ve already met new friends, a claim I’ve heard over and over from bloggers that is proving true.



1. Curate your account. If you are promoting a blog or business on Instagram, it’s important that all your posts reflect your brand. Choosing a general vibe and sticking with a cohesive color scheme are great ways to make your brand instantly recognizable. It’s easy to go through your account and edit out any images that don’t add to your brand. If you are really having trouble in this area, you might want to consider a personal account that is separate from your brand.

2. Post often. As far likes and comments on images, general interaction on Instagram holds up pretty consistently throughout the day. Videos, however, are generally better received in the evening, when people are home from work, and Saturday and Sunday have the highest traffic and response rate overall. If you are anything like me and constantly forget to take photos, it can be helpful to set alarms at intervals throughout the day to stop and snap some pictures.

3. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag. Again, I cringe a little every time I add a hashtag to my pictures, but it does help get viewers to your content. According to Who What Wear, the magic number of hashtags is a whopping 11! More or less will garner lower results. My favorite way to use hashtags is to participate in Instagram challenges (this is a great list of hashtags to take part in). I will also be launching my own hashtag challenge in July, #fwsbeautychallenge, with prompts to encourage fun experimentation with your daily beauty routine. Please make sure you are subscribed to future posts if you want to take part! It’s going to be fun! :)



1. Get personal. This one’s pretty simple, but adding your name to your blog/business title can help make your brand memorable and relatable to pinners.

2. Get vertical. Large vertical pictures have a much higher pin rate than their smaller counterparts. For visual proof, skim through your feed and see which ones pop out to you and which ones go unnoticed. And while we’re on the topic, picture quality when it comes to Pinterest is crucial. If you are a food/DIY blogger or sell products online, pinning beautiful (and vertical) images can make this outlet your top source of click-throughs and sales.

3. Get rich. Utilizing “rich pins,” which display your website name and icon under the pin, help to direct pinners to the source- you and your brand! They also give a professional look that can help garner more likes, pins, and overall traffic.


Well, now that we’ve got the tips for optimizing social media, it’s time to implement them into your daily routine! If you’re like me and love a checklist, these downloadable Social Media daily schedulers will help you step up your social media game and start growing your brand!


I’ve included a full-color and black and white version. These are based on my current social media goals and can serve as a good guideline, but in case you want to create a more personalized checklist, I’ve also included a blank printable where you can add in your own specific daily goals.


Click to Download:

Social Media Checklist (Full Color)

Social Media Checklist (B&W)

Social Media Checklist (Blank)


I’ll be using these checklists myself and hope to increase my overall social media presence over the next couple of weeks.

Do you schedule your social media activity?


Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading Vol. 3

June 20, 2015


I spend a lot of time on the internet, so I figured it’s only polite to share my favorite links with you. Here are my top picks this week…

1  I love the idea behind this Instagram account, Subway Book Review, where strangers on the subway give personal summaries of what they’re reading. (Instagram)  |  2  I’ve been daydreaming about this Cherry Mocha Smoothie ever since I saw the recipe. It sounds ah-maaaazing! (Hummusapien)


3  A gorgeous hand-written rainbow thank you card (and you can download it for yourself!) (Enjoy It by Elise Blaha Cripe)  |  4  I’ve been wanting to try rose gold hair for a while now and I think this subtle (and very non-committal) DIY may have just sealed the deal. (The Beauty Department)


5  Get out your note taking tools. This is some very essential advice for getting your perfect swimsuit body. (Miss Kris)

Isn’t that a refreshing take on all the crazy body obsession going on this time of year? I love her.


And I love these…

This post is a great resource for bloggers.

Such a gorgeous jewelry collaboration.

The taco is here!

I REALLY want this and these.

Loved this BTS peek into Studio DIY.

Are you using all these iPhone tips and tricks?

I want to paint something exactly like this.

Fiiiiiine…. I’ll eat this.

And my favorite look of the week.


What links are you loving? Let’s chat in the comments!


Clothing / ETC

Five Minute Friday: Using a Ribbon to Solve Your Wardrobe Woes

June 19, 2015


Do you have a ribbon and a minute to spare? Great, because this simple solution can get your closet whipped into shape with seriously minimal effort!


Have you heard of the ribbon method before? It’s a super simple way to get your closet organized- you basically just tie a ribbon at the far end of your closet rod with all of your clothes to one side. Then, after you’ve worn a piece, hang it back up on the opposite side of the ribbon. After a couple of months of following this system, you’ll really be able to see what items you wear and what items might be ready for donation.


The ribbon method can help solve a few major organizational problems:

1. You’ll lighten the load. If you know you need to purge your wardrobe but can’t seem to part with anything, this eliminates the decision process. Simply set a date (like 6 months out, for example) and anything on the unworn side of the ribbon goes.

2. You’ll re-purpose old favorites. You know that designer skirt you found on clearance two years ago that still has the tags on it? Or that favorite old jacket that, even though it’s not really your style anymore, you’re still hanging onto, just in case? Well, there’s nothing like a looming donation deadline to get the creative juices flowing. Now is the time to see if you can restyle those pieces in a new way that you’ll love or if it’s simply time to pass them along.

3. You’ll get organized. If it has been a while since you cleaned out your closet, this is the perfect opportunity to get it back in order. As you are hanging the pieces you’ve worn on the other side of the ribbon, take a second to merchandise it among the others. If you decide on an organizational method in the beginning (tanks with tanks, jackets with jackets, etc.) and then hang your worn items accordingly, by the time your ribbon has moved down the rack, your closet will be an organized masterpiece!


What do you think? Would you try the ribbon method?


Beauty / Nails

#MonthlyMani: Graphic Pineapple Print

June 16, 2015


I’m taking part again this month in the #MonthlyMani linkup hosted by Delightfully, Kristi. The theme chosen was “summer picnic” so I went with my favorite summer food- pineapples!

I’ve always loved painting my nails and making nail art, but I’m still feeling really inadequate when it comes to documenting these DIY manis. It can be really awkward to take a picture of your own hand not to mention nearly impossible to capture the actual process. It’s times like these I realize I need an assistant. And a photographer. And probably a life coach. 😉

Anyway, here’s my take on a fruity summer picnic mani…


First, I applied my base colors. I’m pretty obsessed with black or white nail polish as a base for nail art. I think they help to make everything look graphic and chic. Either color would work great with this design, but I opted for black, using it on most of my nails. I then added a couple yellow accent nails to serve as my “pineapple” nails.



I used a paintbrush to add crossing stripes on the accent nails. If you feel really shaky (pun intended) with making freehand stripes, you could use nail stripe tape, but I don’t mind the organic/imperfect quality here. Pineapples have texture, so I think it works. :)



Then I added a green tip for the… leaves? Do pineapples have leaves? Anyway, I just swiped the nail polish across the top, but again, you could easily tape off that portion before painting if you prefer.



What do you think? Am I ready for a summer picnic?


Want some more DIY mani ideas? Check out what the other bloggers came up with!

Kristi from Delightfully Kristi

Justine from The Thrifty Girl’s Guide

Kate from Into the Stratosphere

Melissa from The Fashion Huntress

Natalie from Being Mrs. Olson


Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading

June 13, 2015

We’ve had a good week around here. Working, unpacking, and generally laying low. Sometimes it’s really nice to have an unscheduled weekend to look forward to, don’t you think?

Here are some of my favorite internet finds this week. Enjoy!

1  I thought these pairings of Resort 2016 pieces and their coordinating flora were so beautiful. (Miss Moss)  |  2  This is a recipe for Peach Sauvignon Blanc Sorbet heaven. (Cup of Jo)


3  This DIY sculptural vase checks all the boxes: cheap, easy, and looks like an expensive designer piece. I’m sold! (The Hunted Interior)  |  4  Looooved these pictures of celebrities at prom! Of course Meryl was the queen. (Elle)


5  And a little motivation boost from the uber-successful Joy Cho. (Oh Joy!)


Want a few more…?

Some real-life shorts talk.

The Ban.Do office is like a super-girly sparkle explosion.

Decorating hacks for renters.

And kitchen storage solutions for the whole house.

Hilary’s pantsuits joined Instagram.

Have you heard of double doodling?

The most gorgeous ring dishes.

And my favorite look of the week.


What links did you love this week?



Friday Five: A 5-Minute DIY for Color-blocked Keys

June 12, 2015

After moving recently, I noticed our key rings are now stacked with a whole lot of plain metal keys. Not exactly a visual treat. So I decided to use tape and nail polish to give them a quick pop of color and help them stand out from one another.

To give your own keys a 5-minute upgrade all you need is Scotch tape and some nail polish!

First, tape off sections of your keys, leaving an exposed shape to be painted.


Give the exposed areas a couple of coats of nail polish. I used neon colors but I think black and white would also look really cool!

You can see here that some polishes will need more coats than others. The lime green, for instance, took several while the fuchsia had good coverage with just one coat.



Remove the tape before the paint is completely dry. This will prevent the tape from peeling part of the design off.


Voila! A little pop of DIY color always makes me happy.


Happy weekend!