Visit AshleyKress.com!

AshleyKress.com is also the home for my freelance business, AK Creative & Photography. AKCP is a creative studio specializing in social media strategies, digital marketing, web development, and photography.

It is my goal to help individuals and businesses enhance their brand and reach their audience through communication technologies. I want to help you expand your reach online because I know how overwhelming social media and digital marketing can be to manage on your own.

With my skills in social media, web, digital marketing, graphics, and photography, I’m confident that I’m the lady to help you and your business!

AK Creative & Photography.

So this is incredibly embarrassing…I forgot to announce the transition of my blog to my new site for AK Creative & Photography (AKCP). On this new site, I am documenting my digital marketing & photography skills, as well as presenting on the work I am doing through my graduate school classes. Feel free to join me at www.ashleykress.com 🙂

Launched!

This week, I decided to finally move forward with something I’ve been deliberating over for months now! I have launched my own mini-business…Meet AK Creative & Photography!

As of right now, it is free to work with me. It is not because I am devaluing myself or my skills, don’t worry. I don’t have much time to spare, so I am working with friends as clients to build up my photography and digital editing portfolio, as well as to work out the kinks, which I’m quite excited about. During the week, I have been transitioning all of my media over to my new logo and brand, like my FB page. This portfolio/blog will still be my base, but there will definitely be edits on the horizon. And, I will be working hard over the summer to legitimize everything, so watch out for that 🙂

My tagline is “Get creative.” And I encourage you all to get creative with me! Things are definitely going to be moving and fostering things and I’m quite excited about the future.

I want to focus on social media, web design, and photography. Over time, I hope I can advance my skills with graphic design and public relations, so I can become really well-rounded and develop a monster of a business (whether it is full-time or a side hustle). My classes over the summer and fall will really help me develop these skills.

And, if you are interested in working with me, you can book a free photography session here: https://ashleykresscreative.youcanbook.me/

(Obviously, the free sessions are only for a limited time and my availability is subject to change at any time.)

AK CP Logo
It’s my new logo! 🙂

Furthermore, I would love to have partners, or to work with other like-minded individuals…if you are one and want to be friends, message me through one of my many outlets – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or comment below 🙂

Social Media Expert Interview with Erik Johnson

On March 23rd, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Erik Johnson (@erikj). Erik is the Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media for ClubCorp. He has been in this role for over three years now. Erik holds a BA in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing from Southern Methodist University. He began his career as a journalist, but it is his MBA that helped him enter the field; first building websites, then entering digital marketing, then social media. He admits he did not envision his career heading this direction.

Erik leads the digital marketing team of ten at the ClubCorp headquarters in Dallas, Texas. He and his team assist and train over 200 business and golf & country clubs in the ClubCorp family. On a day-to-day basis, the digital marketing team at ClubCorp provides tools and training, as well as social media consulting, for the individuals that manage social media at each club. The team’s goals are to implement a center of excellence that helps the clubs’ employees become competent with using social media and the other marketing tools available through ClubCorp. The individuals at each club are not expected to be experts in marketing, but they are in charge of being responsive, engaging, and professional on social media. Erik’s favorite part of his job is working with various people across the country because they are grateful for the knowledge the team provides. The hardest parts of his role, Erik says, are dealing with negative posts and resistance. Some people have a hard time adapting and evolving with customers in the digital age and aren’t keen on using social media at their club. But, everyone must take the good with the bad.

Erik says his entire job is interesting. He gets to travel to different clubs to discuss social media, as well try new things every day. There are over 200 clubs for his team to test different campaigns and social media tactics. What works in Seattle clubs won’t necessarily work with the clubs in Florida. It’s all about how social media impacts and resonates with the ClubCorp members. Erik enjoys working with social media because it is ever-changing and never mundane. It is also one of the few industries that encourages lifelong learning. Personally, he is very active on social media. He insists it is a must; you have to be on social media if you want to work in the industry – how else will you understand, learn, and grow? Erik recommends reading and staying active on various platforms as the key to staying “ahead of the curve.” Follow and interact with other social media and digital marketing people to build your network. When it comes to making his own content better, Erik utilizes Flipboard, Google Alerts, Hootsuite, and Facebook & Twitter analytics. He also recommends reading these blogs: Switch & Shift, Content Marketing Institute, ReadWrite, and Copyblogger. And he recommends following these influencers:

When I asked Erik about his social media tricks, he told me that he simply didn’t have any: “On social media, we don’t keep secrets, we help each other.” He also stated that the social media industry is so young that we are all figuring it out together – and I agree! Twitter is Erik’s favorite social media platform for personal use. Through Twitter, Erik connects with fellow wine lovers, but also leadership & innovation groups. Finding common interests and connecting with people is his favorite – it makes social media human. For businesses that use social media, he stands by Facebook as the way to go.

Lastly, I asked Erik if he had any advice for aspiring social media professionals, like myself. He had 3 points:

  1. Be well-rounded
  2. Don’t just focus on social media. Understand how it fits into the wider scheme of things, like the business goals and marketing plan
  3. Quantify your results, with numbers or testimonials.

More Good Things.

Well, I got my Hootsuite Professional certification for my social media class. I’m pretty excited about that! I really learned a lot and I think certifications are such an important part of any career. Visit my consultant page on Hootsuite!Hootsuite Certified Professional

Also, I went to a social media seminar this week at Point Park. It was a great event and I created a Storify about it. Check it out here.

Then, I finally got the website published for my Creativity class. For our final project, we have to design a unique and innovative sock company from scratch. We’ve been working on the project all semester and we’ve made some great headway. I am the marketing manager, so I am in charge of advertising, marketing, and digital media. And I really just wanted to create a website lol. Visit Sheep Feet Socks!

Work has been busy. Classes are getting busy as well! Lots of papers and projects to wrap up before the term is over. I turned 25 last weekend and submitted my proposal for my capstone class this summer! I’m a little sad because my Masters program is starting a social media concentration this fall, but I’ve already taken the classes they’re offering. I most likely will not be able to add this concentration to my degree. Also, I’m still waiting to decide if I want to graduate in December or the spring.

Nikon D3200
The day I got my new Nikon D3200 camera kit

I’ve been trying out my new Nikon D3200 camera with a bunch of mini photo shoots…mostly with my cat. I’m so in love with this camera. And Tim is extremely supportive – he bought me a tripod for my birthday! Hopefully this weekend I can get out and get some real shots in. I’m so nervous to take it outside of my house because I’m afraid I’m going to break it or get mugged…I know, silly. But, be on the lookout for more pictures and design work coming to this portfolio/blog soon!

Lastly, Tim has an in-person interview on Thursday, then his parents are coming to visit us 🙂 🙂 And he just had some papers published, like this one! I’m so excited for him (and I hope he gets this job).

Have a great weekend! Stay up-to-date with me on Twitter and Facebook!

How I am Managing.

As I mentioned previously, there were some things I was going to talk about in a post – I literally worked on it for 6 weeks, but I could not bring myself to publish the content. So, you get this instead!

I heart Yelp
I heart Yelp

This semester has been a doozy…with the added benefit of a great, steady relationship and amazing friends and peers…I am currently taking 4 classes (one online, three night classes) and working 3 part-time jobs.

It is a lot.

However, I don’t really see it that way. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them about myself and what I do. But, I am so freaking happy to be busy, active, and learning so much…I doubt many full-time jobs could give me what I need right now. I need flexibility. I need to learn and challenge myself. I need life.

I admit, I have been struggling to keep up with myself. I push myself to work hard and do well…I honestly feel like I’m slacking, that I am spread too thin to give everything enough of me. It’s terrifying because I never expected to feel so fulfilled and overwhelmed at the same time.

Tomorrow, I register for my final semesters. It is crazy. Things won’t be working out how I expected them to (more about that below). The whole process is going by so quickly and slowly at the same time. Please forgive me as I battle through these couple of weeks, because I may slack a bit here so I come out on top at school.

On a lighter note, the graduate assistantships for my school were posted. The one that I really wanted was not posted, but there was still one I could apply for, which I did a few weekends ago. I really hope I get this position. It will give me a nice transitional phase over the next few months, plus experience in higher education, which is something I desperately crave. If I get this position, I would be staying through until next spring.

I have a plan of action for classes this summer and fall…for a while, I thought I could graduate in December. But that might not be the case anymore. We will see what happens! Cross your fingers for me.

Social Media Ashley.

Hello folks!

As you may have gathered from this post, I am, indeed, taking a social media class this semester. You may be thinking, “But Ashley, you work in social media for your job, why even bother taking a class on it?”

I have an answer for you.

Outside of my HubSpot certification, I have zero formal training in social media. Everything I know I developed on my own through experience or material I have read. To me, it seems crucial to have certifications in my field to set me apart from others. Social media is this big entity that everyone seems to be involved with…but, not everyone knows about it as well as they think they do, or how to utilize it properly. I strive to always learn and improve.

I came into social media at a weird time; I joined Facebook in 2007, Twitter in 2011, Instagram in 2012. Things were evolving, but social media wasn’t a huge game changer like it is now. At least, that’s how it felt to me at the time…


I have been at my main job for almost 2 years. I have fluctuated from being part-time to full-time a lot, but I am now part-time again, fully concentrating on our social media and marketing. When I was hired, they gave me the reins and passwords to their social media. I was shocked that they had so much faith in me. To begin, I brainstormed content and strategies for weeks, so I could hit the ground running. In this time, I have expanded our presence from four social media channels to nine. Our Facebook page has seen a 265% increase in likes; our Twitter followers increased 340%. We launched our LinkedIn Business and Instagram pages, which aren’t as active as I’d like them to be, but we are there, connecting with our customers. (Logging in and out of Instagram between accounts is frustrating. No one has time for that.) I am in complete control of our media and to this day, they trust me with every aspect. With our internal marketing team, we have been able to revamp our social media and achieve great things for our company. The work I’ve been a part of here makes me really proud.


So, with all of this experience under my belt, what could I possibly want to get out of this social media class? Well, first, I want to improve on what I’m already doing. I want to learn how to establish better strategies and content. I want to learn how to better utilize my analytics to be more effective at what I do. I want to be more confident when I make mistakes and just fix it and try again. We are also utilizing HootSuite and HootSuite University. I will have another certification by April!

Through my main job, I have found some of this already. By truly focusing on my goals, I am able to find the knowledge to do better. And honestly, I read a lot – articles on the internet, blog posts, and social media guides and manuals – from companies like Hubspot, Hootsuite, Buffer, and Marketo.

And yes, I have found a lot of opportunities with my skills. Most communications/marketing jobs emphasize social media skills. In this day and age, you need these skills. You can’t just dive in and pretend you know what you’re doing. In fact, I found a freelance internship and a second part-time job where I can use my social media talents, as well as learn more about marketing and the digital world as a whole. I don’t want to gain experience in just one area, so I am creating a well-rounded set of talents for myself. Social media is constantly evolving and changing. You need to be on your A game.

“But wait Ashley…you just told us that you jumped in to doing social media at your job.”

Yes, and no…while I was in my undergraduate program, social media was beginning its rise to fame. There weren’t classes that told you want to do…during these times, students didn’t really know they could use these networks to market and connect with brands. But, we knew how to use our voice. Through my sorority and other organizations I helped lead, I was the Facebook girl. I created groups and pages; I “liked” everything. I developed skills that I didn’t realize I was developing. I didn’t realize that I could eventually get paid to post to Facebook and Twitter. These actions helped me land my current job because what I was already doing translated very well…and from there, I was able to grow and do the social media things I desperately wanted to be a part of…Everyone has to start somewhere.


“Fair enough…what else do you have to say about social media?”

Well 🙂

Twitter is my favorite social networking platform, even though I hated it before I joined. I didn’t see the point of such short statuses (but as Timehop reminds me, I wrote really lengthy, embarrassing things on my Facebook wall), so joining Twitter was for the best. I just finished Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone. This book has reaffirmed my love for Twitter. The book shows how Twitter was conceived and developed. How the site is very diverse, allowing people from all over the world to connect with each other…and as a result, create change. Through Twitter, you can develop relationships with people you have never met or even a celebrity (parasocial relationships, anyone?). I think Twitter is crucial to our society – it spreads news faster than most news organizations (though, not always accurately). Twitter is concise, content-heavy, and versatile. They’ve added photo and videos features, as well as direct messaging and analytics. Maybe Twitter is meant to be a smaller community than Facebook. Some people don’t understand the culture of Twitter and I’m kinda okay with that.

Facebook is a beast of its own. It used to be my life blood. I wasn’t much of a gamer or anything, I just like posting statuses and pictures, and reading about the lives of my friends and acquaintances. Now that the platform has developed into such a pop culture thing, the company tries to have a hand in how people use the site (instead of just letting us do what we want, like Twitter). I do agree that Facebook is falling to the wayside…there are too many other applications and networking sites that are evolving and coming to the forefront. Users want to be in control and Facebook is relinquishing that control. Facebook is losing touch on what it has to offer. I use Facebook for work pages, but also to connect with the people in my life on a smaller, more intimate scale. Other than that, if the last 9ish years of my life weren’t embedding in their servers, I would probably quit Facebook. It doesn’t give me much satisfaction anymore…it’s really just a simplified email service.


Well, I think that’s all I have to say! Thanks for stopping by.

Comments are always welcome 🙂

Oh – visit (and like!) my business page for my social media class!

Financial Burdens.

Previously, I have wanted to take control of my finances and debt. I made promises to myself time and time again, but never got anywhere. I would bulk up my savings, just to have to empty it out a few weeks later…

This time will be different. I have a plan.

I started by looking at different personal finance blogs to truly assess what the best steps were for me to take. I try not to have a lot of debt, but with going back to school, my loans have jumped a little and my credit card keeps getting maxed out. It’s embarrassing to admit that I struggle sometimes, but I also am not struggling…I just need to be better with how I manage my money.

I started off this year by moving into a less expensive apartment in a neighborhood that is closer to work, school, and friends. I also cut back on a lot of my expenses and spending, just so I can focus on getting out of debt.

So….the plan:

  •  Since my income from “freelancing” has zero taxes taken out, I have estimated that I will need to save a bit less than $1000 in taxes if I work 15 hours a week for 15 weeks. I opened up a new savings account today as a place to hold that money and for an emergency account. I will put a few freelance paychecks and some of my tax refund directly to this account until I reach 1500-1800$.
    • Once that goal is met, all of the extra money from freelancing will go towards my credit card until it is paid off, then into my regular savings.
  •  I have an IRA from an old company I worked with. I realized I need to decide if I want to let the money I have in the account continue to invest, or if I need to move it to another account. I’m not sure what to do just yet.
  •  Next, when I get my refund back this week, I shall be splitting it up between my new savings account, my credit card, and sending money to my dentist.
  •  I need to analyze my student debt. I already paid off 2 smaller loans before entering graduate school, so now I want to see if I can get my now smallest loan (1700$) paid off while I am in graduate school.
    • I have 2 other loans out (a medium guy at 9000$ and the big guy [that makes me cringe & has WC and PPU loans combined into it]).
    • If I keep getting refunds from PPU every semester or get a graduate assistantship (with stipend!), I can save that money and put it towards my loans.
    • The key to tackling these loans is looking at the interest rates of each, how long the company propose it will take me to pay off the debt, and then seeing if I can afford start paying anything off now…
  • I also plan on cancelling all of my store credit cards except Amazon (since I use Student to order my textbooks). As well as removing my credit card info from online stores that I utilize (like Twice and Stitch Fix). My credit card normally stays at home, so this will lessen my online shopping (I browse when I’m not at home) because I hate using my debit card for anything online.
  •  I plan on actually using my Mint account to help me through this…
  •  One thing I will not sacrifice are my experiences with Tim and my friends. Those are worth the money I spend.

My short-term financial goals are to get my credit card paid off as soon as possible, make better payments to my dentist, and get my smallest student loan paid off sooner.

Have you had any goals or experiences like mine? What were you able to accomplish? Do you have any advice for a noob like me?

#socialmediaPPU

Hello all!

For my social media class, I had to create a business page. I struggled with a topic for a while, but eventually came up with this.

Please like the page if you are so inclined…I appreciate it!

There will be posts from this blog, about social media, and whatever else I’m doing for my class haha