monthly roundup no. 2

Posted in Living by

may link roundup

I can hardly believe how fast May went – it seems like just last week I was starting to collect my favorite links from around the web to share. Once again, I was bookmarking things in Pocket, and I’m doing a better job of going back through to read the articles and posts I save. This month, some more links to cheer you up and my favorite Twitter company to get tons of cool free stuff.

Fooji: A marketing company that partners with major brands, their philosophy is that fans should be rewarded for supporting companies. They deliver these rewards on behalf of the companies – and it’s not just free swag. I’ve gotten a super comfy Kris Bryant shirt from adidas, free pizza delivery, Baby Groot, bags of delicious popcorn, and most recently, a bag full of awesome adidas swag. I’ve also seen them deliver wine and desserts! Follow them on Twitter and get notified of their promotions – they even do weekly food giveaways every Friday, so you can participate even if you don’t live in a big city.

5 Days in Iceland Itinerary: Kathleen and I have been friends for almost ten years, and she is a travelling machine! She recently launched her travel blog, Wandering Kathleen, and this post on Iceland is a done-for-you itinerary to make the most of your trip there.

Don’t Focus on Your Situation, Focus on Your Trajectory: I’ve had a tough month. Personally, familially, for my friends – it’s been a rough one. I had vented to a friend about how I was beginning to feel very stuck in my life. That somehow I’m not doing enough, or that I’m not where I need to be. He sent this article over to me, and it made me feel a little better.

7 Ways Men Must Learn to do Emotional Labor in their Relationships: I learned about emotional labor from a friend a few months ago, and I think the men in my life wish I never had. Especially being at home, I’m realizing how much work the women in my life really do. Picking up prescriptions and coordinating medical care, coordinating entertainment and events in friend groups, making sure there are groceries in the house and cooking dinner, or even things as small as deciding when or how to get somewhere – it can all start to exhaust us. I think it’s important to be aware of and consider how men can pick up some of the slack.

Split Image: This is an older story, but it popped up on my Timehop this month, and I thought it was worth sharing again. I think it’s really important to take into account and realize that even if someone looks high functioning, they might not really have it all together.

Killing it with kindness: The tale of Jervis Cottonbelly: Last month, I came out as a wrestling fan. We basically just watch WWE (thank you Total Divas) but on Twitter, I follow a lot of people who tweet about “minor league” wrestling as well. Somehow I heard about this guy, Gentleman Jervis Cottonbelly, whose schtick is being a nice, happy, kind human. Rather than using aggression in his matches, he’ll even try to rock his opponents to sleep in order to win. Even if you think wrestling is ridiculous, Jervis might make you laugh! (It was an especially apt discovery as a few days prior, I found out about my grandmother’s terminal cancer.) It’s just nice to see someone whose whole gimmick is being nice, and it’s more infectious than I expected.

5 Reasons to Love Stationary RV Life: When I was young, my grandparents did a lot of traveling by camper, and I got to tag along often. My favorite trip was when, between fourth and fifth grades, they took me on a trip throughout the western states and then we came back to Michigan through Canada. (I point to that trip as the source of my love for Canada!) Ever since then, I’ve loved living small, even before tiny living became so popular. I’m really interested in full-time RVing, but the idea of new cities week after week doesn’t appeal so much to me – this post outlines so many of the reason I think I’d love this lifestyle.

Elyse Fox Opens Up About Sad Girls Club: There’s something empowering about connecting with other people who are struggling on social media, so I was excited to learn about Sad Girls Club from this article. It’s important work. (And she has the same name and spelling as my niece, go Elyses!)

May 26, 2017
/

tools for bloggers for your best writing ever

Posted in Blogging by
This post contains affiliate links from Grammarly.

best writing ever

So you’ve worked hard on filling up your content calendar and now you’re writing your posts. You want to make sure that you’re not using “filler” content – higher quality posts will help you get more traffic and build a dedicated base of readers. (Plus, high-quality blogs will attract more brands and sponsors!) These are some of my favorite tools for bloggers that can help ensure you’re putting your best writing forward.

Hemingway: Hemingway is an editor that you can paste your writing into and it will grade it (their recommendation is to write for a ninth grade reading level), offer feedback for hard to read passages and more. You can even write full posts in Hemingway now (including formatting, for easy pasting into your post) and download a desktop app if you prefer to work in a window without website distractions. Readable is a similar service and can grade URLs as well, but their free version only lets you grade a few links at a time.

Grammarly: I’ve posted before about how much I love Grammarly (including screencasts of it in action!) and it continues to be one of my writing must-haves. Since it works in real-time, it really serves my internal editor and helps me make sure I’m not missing any misspellings or errant commas. I highly, highly recommend checking Grammarly out because it’s the number one thing that has helped my writing out more than any other app or service.

Thesaurus: Grab a desktop copy from Amazon or use thesaurus.com – this is one of the most relied upon tools in my kit. Especially when I’m writing a series or very focused post, I might find myself repeating the same word over and over. A thesaurus helps me mix it up and adds variety to my writing!

Byword: A full-screen program for writing, Byword is great for those who get easily distracted when writing in web-based apps. It’s downloadable for Mac and Apple mobile devices, and I love its simplicity. It also lets you export formatted text to PDF, rich text, or HTML for Blogger, WordPress, and other blogging platforms. If you don’t have a Mac or prefer a web-based editor, sign up to find out with Quabel Writer launches. Or for a more extreme option, try BlindWriter – it lets you set a time limit, then blurs out your composition until the time is up. If you’re a merciless editor (like me,) this is a great way to start exercising editing after writing.

Rough Drafts: While blogging shouldn’t bring back nightmares of homework assignments from school, writing drafts of your posts before scheduling them can help you make sure you’re putting the best content forward. I really like Krista’s five question method and printable – her questions help you really focus on your content.

BlaBlaMeter: If you’ve ever wondered about “junky” words in your writing, BlaBlaMeter is a great judge. Paste in your text and it will grade the quality of your writing – if you’re using all the other tools, your writing is probably checking out pretty well here!

Other Bloggers: There’s no substitute for another pair of eyes. Facebook Groups can be a great resource – many of them have weekly schedules, and some of them (like Rock Your Blog & Biz) even have feedback days scheduled in. Check out a subreddit like r/blogging if you’re more comfortable there. Use these opportunities to solicit advice from readers – they might have some advice you’d never have thought of!

Do you use any of these tools for bloggers? Did I miss out on any that you swear by?

Like this post and want to be notified of more posts and resources for bloggers? Sign up for the mailing list and be the first to know when my eBook for bloggers is available!

May 24, 2017
/

keeping your eyes safe this summer | GlassesShop review

Posted in Style by
I recieved free product from GlassesShop for review, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

glassesshop review

I’ve been on a quest over the past few years for good quality, affordable prescription sunglasses. Warby Parker definitely has super cute frames, but their sunglasses are $200+ for prescription lenses! No thanks. I’ve been limping along squinting through my beautiful Quay sunglasses, but the older I get, the worse my vision gets, and I knew I needed to cave in and get something better. Enter GlassesShop – they’re an online eyeglass company specializing in frames and lenses (prescription or not.) Their prices are reasonable, so I was happy to give them a try!

They have a variety of different sunglass frames to choose from, and even trendy blue and green lens coatings. I opted for the Americus Aviators, which are delicate cat eye lenses with metal arms. The pads on the nose of the bridge aren’t uncomfortable (I wore these for a day at the zoo so for three hours plus, they sat there without digging in or being uncomfortable at all.) The lenses are coated nicely and don’t seem like they’ll scratch easily (but I’m not willing to test it ;)) and the quality makes me want to grab a few more prescription sunglasses! Each pair also comes with its own case and cleaning cloth to keep your shades nice and transparent.

Sunglasses aren’t just a fun accessory – they’re an important part of preventing sun damage to your eyes. (Skin isn’t the only thing that can get sunburned!) This post from the National Institute of Health outlines some of the diseases your eyes can be at risk for from sunlight, but GlassesShop’s sunglasses offer UVA and UVB coverage to protect your eyes this summer while keeping you super fashionable.

Still not sold? GlassesShop lets you order your first pair for free, so there’s no risk. Use the coupon code FIRSTFREE and it will be applied to eligible orders!

Do you wear prescription glasses? Do you use regular glasses, or have some with your prescription built in?

May 22, 2017
/

non-traditional jobs that let you travel

Posted in Career by
This post contains affiliate links.

“Digital nomad” is more than a buzzword – it’s a way of life for a lot of travel lovers. Not all of these workers are self-employed, either! There are many careers based around travel, or ways you can work while traveling the country or the world. If you’re looking for a more creative job that puts you on the road more often (or even a side hustle that helps pad your travel account), I have a few ideas for you!

Flight attendant: Full disclosure: I’ve secretly always dreamed of being a flight attendant. One of my favorite blogs, The Flight Attendant Life, does nothing to dissuade this desire. It’s definitely hard work, though. Not only do you get to travel as part of your job, you’ll also have the perk of layovers, flight benefits on your days off, and a lot of flight attendants are based out of crash pads in tropical locations. (Kara from The Flight Attendant Life was even based in Hawaii.) The major airlines aren’t the only ones hiring: smaller airlines like Allegiant and Frontier also have lucrative options, and smaller, boutique airliners are catering to travelers who prefer a bit more comfort. It’s not a pretty website, but Flight Attendant Careers gets updated regularly by tons of airlines adding to their workforce.

Amazon: The online retailer hires hundreds of seasonal “pickers” every year, and they often provide camping facilities for their employees as well so you’re never too far from home. Here’s one review of their work camping experience, and they also offer work from home positions in their customer service department.

Yachting: It turns out that yachting is a dream job I didn’t even know I had until I happened to see Below Deck on Bravo one day (the source of all dream jobs, right?) These positions can be super lucrative, but they are hard work. You’re stuck on a small boat for weeks or months with the same few people, serving to assist the owners or charter guests, and depending on your position, doing laundry all day and night. (Which, honestly, doesn’t seem like the worst job on a yacht.) Read Lucky Charming by Kate Chastain (yachtie on Below Deck,) check out jobs on CrewfindersYacrew, and Bluewater Yachting – or just move down to one of the yacht capitals to get head hunted.

VA: Being a virtual assistant is one of the most popular careers for digital nomads, and with good reason. Because there are so many tools out there that let you automate things like social posting, easily edit photos, and communicate with clients no matter what time zone you’re in (not to mention hotspots that allow you to hop on the internet from anywhere,) it’s one of the most flexible jobs available. Like I mentioned in my post on jobs you can do from home, larger VAs or agencies hire subcontractors if you don’t want to start your own business.

Music tour jobs: Growing up, my dream was to be a tour manager. I would still love to go on the road someday, but I’m at an age where it doesn’t really seem like it’s going to happen for me anymore. The music industry does tend to be all about who you know, with jobs often coming through by word of mouth. Bobnet was started at as listserv a few years ago, and it has an online board and Facebook group now where jobs are shared. roadiejobs.com is a resource that does post some tour jobs, and it’s worth checking out (but don’t expect to see a lot of every city as you tour – drives are long, days are longer, and sleep usually takes priority over sightseeing.) Another option to get on the road is to work with a sponsor for a big tour, like Warped Tour. Anti-smoking organization The Truth hires “riders” to travel to schools, concerts, and other events for promotions and marketing. If you’re vegan, PETA also hires touring interns and employees, as do other non-profits on the tour. A lot of them are internships or volunteer positions, but if this is a career you’re interested in and you’re in college, it’s an invaluable experience to have under your belt.

(Or think really outside the box – NASCAR races and teams also travel every weekend, and they have sponsors and merch trucks that need sellers too!)

Dance companies: I love Dance Moms, what can I say. The idea of spending weekends working at dance competitions actually just seems humorous to me! Aside from the parental drama, I do love dance and some of them are really beautiful and moving. Groove, Starquest, and NextLevelDance are just a few of the companies that produce these events.

Bus driving: If you like responsibility and prefer to travel with your wheels on the ground, bus driving is something to explore. Whether working for a travel company like Greyhound or as a private charter, you’ll have the option for long haul tours or jaunts that keep you closer to home.

For a similar side hustle on a smaller scale, look into limousine services or car rental businesses. Even a few hours of driving a week can result in lots of extra tips!

Cruise ships: “But you already talked about boats,” you might be saying. Cruise ships are an entirely different animal than the luxury world of yachting. They seem to have lower pay as there aren’t large tips (traditionally) on cruises, but they do offer many different niches like live entertainment or food service. Apply directly to a cruise line, check the job board at All Cruise Jobs, or hit indeed.com – some cruise lines even hire reservation agents and customer service staff to work remotely.

Event companies: Like the music tour sponsor and marketing companies, there are businesses that are dedicated to setting up large-scale events. These jobs have always seemed super fun, and I have quite a few friends that have worked for companies like Red Frog Events and Compass Rose. Traveling to different cities every week to set up conferences or fitness events, there is often some downtime to head out and check out the locale.

Tour guide: If you’re comfortable leading groups, this could be the best job for you. There are lots of organized travel agencies out there looking for trip leaders! G Adventures has a long history, as does Contiki, who hires local drivers as well as guides. Newer organizations like Remote Year are also looking for operations and experience managers in the cities they visit. If you have a lot of travel experience in a particular region, you can even make more!

Theater crew: If you’re artistically inclined but haven’t ever wanted to chase the rock ‘n roll lifestyle, a touring theater group could be your ticket to fame. (See what I did there?) Since plays and musicals tend to have longer stays in specific towns than music tours, they might be more desirable for someone not interested in the rushed pace of a different city every day. Even if you’re not a performer, there’s a place for you. Check out opportunities with specific troupes (like Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group!) or check out job boards at Playbill. brokeGIRLrich also has a super comprehensive resource of theatre job boards as well!

Housesitting: Yes, there are some people who make a career of housesitting! Many wealthy people who have multiple residences hire house sitters to stay at their different homes while they’re away. These positions usually involve a small bit of housekeeping or maintenance, but who cares? For free board in a lot of beautiful locations, I would probably have the tile floors scrubbed cleaned. Most of the job search sites for these positions are paid, and there’s a lot of background checks that can go into the application (with good reason.) Depending on what you’re looking for, House Sitters America, Luxury House Sitters and The Caretaker Gazette are good places to start. Even care.com has opportunities for house sitters!

National Parks: Any tourism industry will have boom and bust times where they need to hire more employees. National Parks are no different, and they’re a popular job option for many retirees who still want to work, but want to travel. It’s not just for retirees, though – many younger people are choosing this option to head out and explore. Check out this post on finding a job in a National Park!

Like this post? Sign up for my mailing list for more resources on non-traditional jobs that let you work remotely and travel more!

May 19, 2017
/

how to quickly fill your content calendar and get ahead on blog posts

Posted in Blogging by

fill your blog content calendar

If you’re just starting a blog, it can be intimidating to think of enough topics to regularly post about to keep your visitors engaged. Having a schedule is really important, though – otherwise, your readers won’t know when to keep an eye out for your new posts! There’s an easy way to quickly fill your content calendar. These are the steps I use to write up my blog posts and stay ahead of the game.

Develop a posting schedule: Do you want to write three times a week, or just twice a week? Block out regular days for posts, and you’ll have a feel for exactly how many posts per month you’re looking at.

Make a content calendar so you can visualize your posts: I’m a very visual person, so I have my month calendars in my bullet journal. Since I have two blogs, I color code each of them so I can tell what post is for what website. You can use a digital calendar like iCal or Google if that’s how you prefer to plan. Laying out a month at a time helps me see what’s coming up, what I have time for, and can even help me plan posts far in advance. If you only have one blog, you could color code your themed posts or series if that helps you plot out your posts better.

Do recurring series or themed posts: There are a lot of themed weekly linkups to participate in: I’ve done Music Mondays, Tune Tuesdays, Workout Wednesdays, and Fashion Fridays here on the blog. Sometimes having this kind of theme makes it easier to focus and sit down to write. Right now I’m working on developing series, focusing on remote work as well as blog management. I’ve found that picking a broader topic like that makes it a lot easier to get ahead on my content calendar – in March, I was already planning content into May. (This is also a really great way to keep fresh content coming on your blog if you plan to take some time off.) Plus, using a series allows you to re-use the opening paragraph – this gives the series cohesion, and saves time on writing the post!

Another benefit I’ve found in developing a series is that it’s made it super easy to brainstorm topics and build off each post. For example, this series on blogging stemmed from an idea I had on doing a walkthrough of my blogging bullet journal. I’m still going to do a larger post on that, but breaking them down into individual topics allows for more in-depth information to be shared. Be sure that once you’ve written the new posts, you go through any related posts to drop backlinks in so your readers can easily access related content!

Dedicate a few hours each week to developing future content: There’s always going to be some part of blogging that has to be done every day, like sharing posts on Facebook groups, submitting to StumbleUpon and Pinterest, and responding to comments. (If you aren’t into that, think about hiring a VA to outsource the parts of blogging you find icky!) Getting ahead on writing your posts and shooting photos frees up a lot of your daily time – instead, I like to sit down a few Saturday afternoons per month and churn out posts. (Of course, if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired, this might not work.) I prefer doing this because it lets me tune out any other distractions and really focus on creating great content – once I get in the zone, it’s easy to stay on task!

Write some unscheduled evergreen posts: Life happens, right? One way you can stay on top of your posting schedule is by having evergreen posts you can lean on when you have off weeks (or months.) If you see a blank spot in your calendar that you’re struggling to fill, pop in and post one of your evergreens. Even if it doesn’t exactly fit into a series you might be working on, at least your visitors have new content (and are probably getting the chance to learn more about you!)

Do you plan your blog in advance? What’s your process like for planning your content calendar?

Like this post and want to be notified of more posts and resources for bloggers? Sign up for the mailing list and be the first to know when my eBook for bloggers is available!

* indicates required


Email Format


May 17, 2017
/