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lifestyleblogging

Inspiration, Lifestyle

San Francisco

*disclaimer* this is going to jump forward, backward, front ways and sideways and is just barely held together in some sort of chronological order of events. Prepare yourself. 

I didn’t want to go. I’d already spent a not-so-little chunk of my savings on tickets, packed my suitcase to the brim, bookmarked café after café on yelp in anticipation and yet here I was, hours from my departure and I didn’t want to go. Not one bit.  

I can’t explain the feeling but I’m pretty sure everyone gets it at some point or another. I don’t get it often but when I do, it hits me pretty hard. It feels like there’s a void in me that absolutely nothing can fill. I can eat the best food in the world, spend hundreds of dollars on things I’ve been lusting after, spend time with my closest friends and family and not feel a single thing. It doesn’t make me happy or sad or anything in between. It’s an incessant emptiness that comes when I’m overwhelmed by anxiety. 

I’ve been following the create & cultivate company for years (if you don’t know who they are or what they do, follow them on insta @createcultivate, you won’t regret it). They’re my dream company to work for. I’ve swooned over their ever so aesthetically pleasing events from the moment I first laid eyes on them. This was my chance to finally go to one and leave my mark, to make an impression that no one would forget and land a job working for the best company out there. Expectations were obviously super realistic. After surviving all the ups and downs this year had brought me so far, I figured this was well deserved. I bought the ticket, hopeful this would be the defining moment where this year shifted from being one of the worst to one of the best. 

Working every day to be able to afford the trip, I was already wearing myself pretty thin. I’m sure most of us know how exhausting the customer service industry can be. I was too busy to do anything to plan for the extra time I would have in San Francisco (which, as many of you know, is usually my favorite part of any trip). I liked a few things here and bookmarked a few things there but nothing even close to my usual work. Honestly, it looked like frickin’ amateur hour in comparison. I guess I was just going to have to wing it… *shiver shoots down spine*

 It was five days before my trip. I got a phone call about midnight, just as I was wrapping up a shift at work. My cousin called, told me my grandfather was in the hospital, that he had just had a major heart attack. 

“He’s doing okay, he just got out of surgery,” my cousin explained. The next two days he spent running them around from appointment to appointment, sleeping on waiting room couches, getting them whatever they needed. To say I felt awful that I wasn’t there to help is the biggest understatement. 

It was two days before my trip. I got a text from my cousin. “They found out he has cancer. It’s stage four. I don’t want to scare you, but he’s not looking good. I think you should come home”. I threw whatever I saw first into a bag and started the four-hour drive. I very rarely cry. I cried the whole drive home. 

I stayed with my family for the next two days, stayed until my grandfather regained the coloring in his cheeks a little bit, stayed until his sense of humor (describing the doctor as “prince charming” and trying to slip him my number) came back. He finally got to go home after spending almost a week in the hospital. It was less than a day until I left. I drove the four hours back to my apartment. 

I didn’t want to go. I was in the uber to the airport to get to my 6 am flight to San Francisco and I didn’t want to go. The feeling of incessant emptiness combined with exhaustion, both physically and mentally, left me with absolutely nothing. I couldn’t fully appreciate the opportunity that was in front of me, no matter how hard I tried. The only thing I felt was guilt. Guilt for not being with my family enough, for going on this trip instead of making sure my grandfather was comfortable at home, for having to call off of work that one day last week to go home and leaving my team down a person.  

I spent my time in San Francisco in a daze until it was 9 am the morning of the conference. I had to remind myself this was the reason I was here, to try and be present, to try and enjoy the jam-packed day I had in front of me. The first guest speaker was Giuliana Rancic. To be completely honest I didn’t know anything about her except for the fact that she was a host on E! news.  After some chatting about her experience in the industry and her product line that she had launched, she was asked about her experience dealing with breast cancer. It was at this moment that my attitude was changed. 

She explained how there were times where she would be sobbing on the floor while thinking about what was happening to her and then she would stop, gather herself and think “I’m the only one who can do anything about this”. She explained how she was the only one in control of the situation, how she was the only one who could change anything about what was happening to her. Her ability to pull herself out of that state of mind, to have that perception on such a consuming entity, was absolutely incredible.

I spent the remainder of the day listening to story after story of incredible women beating the odds, making things happen that they never thought possible. I heard versions of what I was feeling in every woman that spoke. I heard hardships and heartbreaks. I also heard recovery after recovery. 

I didn’t leave the mark I was hoping to on everyone at this conference. I didn’t make the most connections or get a the most job offers. Maybe that wasn’t the reason I was supposed to be there. Maybe the sole reason I was there was to hear that one piece of advice. To hear that one person share their story and allow it to resonate with myself.

I’m so deeply and sincerely grateful for my opportunity to have attended this conference in San Francisco. Even though I was not able to turn it into what I wanted, it was exactly what I needed. 

Thank you Create & Cultivate (as well as all of the incredible keynote speakers) for everything that you do.  

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Blogging 101

Little hacks from someone who still has no idea what they’re doing.

I recently got the opportunity to attend a workshop in the Short North district of Columbus, Ohio. The workshop was led by Stephanie (@bohemiancrown) and Becca (@girlwithoutfilter), two blogging beauties in the Ohio area. Throughout our time there, we got the opportunity to ask some of the questions that we haven’t been able to figure out on our own (aka through google) and I wanted to share some tips I learned! Quick note, I know I have only the bare minimum figured out, but if you have any questions about how I do something or what else I learned from this event, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me!

Helpful Hints for the Amateur Blogger: 

  • Use both general & specific hashtags to promote your posts
  • Don’t use over thirty hashtags (Instagram will think you’re a spam account & hide your content!)
  • Watch out for banned hashtags! This will also bury your content. The list is pretty obscure and has things you would never expect, so do a quick google search of “2019 banned hashtags Instagram”.
  • Look at what is working for other accounts you follow. Watch what hashtags, promotions and other content works best for them and try it on your own account!
  • Use apps to help plan your posts (I use UNUM, which allows you to import images and see how the layout will look on your instagram page before actually posting it)
  • If going for a certain aesthetic, Stephanie & Becca both recommend using Lightroom (desktop version has better options but phone app works too). My favorites include: VSCO (A2 filter), Snapseed (brush tool to lighten exposure), and Facetune 2 (whitening tool to lighten the background of photos).
  • If you have a business account, take advantage of it! Look at the statistics given to see what time posts are most successful, which posts got the most attention, which posts didn’t take off as well as planned. Use the promotion option for posts you would like to get the most reach.
  • Stephanie’s Key to Success: Spend at least two hours a day interacting with people on social media. Starting conversations, replying to comments, answering direct messages, reaching out to other accounts. Interacting with other people in your network is essential to building your brand (whether personal or business). Take the time to build genuine connections with others.
  • Becca’s Key to Success: Networking! Joining Facebook groups relevant to your interests or areas of expertise, talking with other bloggers, going to local events to meet people with similar interests are all great ways to get more reach. Although her rule was similar to Stephanie’s, Becca also encouraged the “real” aspect, showing your true self to your followers and not being afraid to show up on your story dressed in a robe, no makeup on, hair still wrapped in a towel. People can relate to that!

If you’d like to keep reading, here are a couple more in-depth lessons to consider whilst on your blogging journey.

We’re All Learning

The biggest take away I had from this workshop is that we are all constantly learning. Both Becca and Stephanie reiterated how constantly the social media game is changing, especially since they had started out. There’s always a new rule to follow, there’s always a new algorithm to be aware of and you’re always going to be one step behind of someone else. At the end of the day, you’ll never be able to keep track of all of it. Don’t get caught up on the small stuff!

Ask Yourself Why You’re Doing This

When asked why you are doing what you’re doing (whether it be blogging, starting your own business, etc.) the answer should pop into your head immediately. You should be doing this because it’s something you’re so passionate about that you can’t help but want to share it with others. If the first thing that pops into your mind has anything to do with followers, endorsements, or money, you might want to reconsider. This should be something you love!

Make Connections

As we can see from both “keys to success”, building a community is essential. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people! Reach out to other accounts, bloggers, business owners, whoever it may be that is similar in interests. Start conversations, ask questions, build those relationships. It can be intimidating to reach out to people who seem to already have everything figured out. Remember, we all had to start somewhere. At the end of the day, we’re all here to support one another.

Authenticity

Always, always, always be yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in being what you think others want to see. Be nothing but yourself and show the real you. Don’t be afraid to post embarrassing photos, show your average daily routine, post ten pictures in a row on your story of your dog. People relate to this! If you’re true to yourself, your followers will be true to you as well.


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