Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sh*t my boyfriend says

Ever have those nights when you just can't sleep? Tossing and turning, mind racing too and fro? This has happened quite often since I landed down unda' three weeks ago. I could only blame the jetlag for so long. 
Long distance relationships are ridiculously difficult to begin with. Add 10,000 miles and a 14 hour time difference and you find yourself on opposite work/sleep schedules, playing phone tag and rarely finding time to hold a real conversation. And there is no denying that these moments are not the same as physically being together. It is true what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder distance makes the heart grow crazy. 
Most nights I find myself lonely and afraid, seeking out other things to occupy my time and my mind. The omnipresent unknowns lurking: What if  love Australia so much that I decide to stay for longer than year? Surely our relationship wouldn't last. What if one of us finds another to fill that void in our hearts?
I lucked out in the boyfriend department. He is the total package: Kind, intelligent, and hot. Not to mention great with kids and great in bed (sorry mom) With our sarcastic personalities and generous souls, we just work together. My mother says: "You should probably marry him, he has good genes. Maybe it will counteract the craziness that runs in our family"
Now to lighten the mood a bit on an otherwise somber post, I would like to share with the world some of the quirks of my man that make him so loveable. I suppose I will have to give him my blog login info for a no-filter rebuttal. Apparently I tend to "embellish"?
"There is no reason to freak unless it's about which rompers and fedoras you can fit in your bag" - As I'm busy panicking about everything that could go possibly wrong before my big move to Australia.
"There were so many red flags when I first met you...this girl doesn't drink, doesn't have any hobbies, falls asleep ten minutes into the movie." - Before he knew I was a pro blogger and drink like a fish.
"Do you have to take the old polish off before you put new on? Do your toes and fingers have to be painted the same color?"  
"What's the different between a dress and a skirt?"
"I have to set an alarm to remember to eat, and to commute to work... to relax."
"I lost my credit card again last night, it's okay, I have another."
"What's with this indian trend girls are doing?"
"I f*ing hate trucks...they should have their own roads."
"Iced coffee doesn't wake me up like regular does."
"Your legs feel smooth, did you actually shave for me babe?" - The one and only good thing is never having to shave my legs because, well, who will care?
"The spins are like a merry-go-round from hell" - After a wild night on the town where we'd had a few too many
"#Hashtag...fortheblog" -Making fun of my odd hobby.
"How is there this much drama on The Bacheolorette with only one woman?"
"I think hunger comes from a different place than the stomach..."
"I feel like women just get together to talk about other people. Men don't care. We talk about important sports."
Me: "Stall your dad by telling him you need to stop and get toilet paper, everyone needs that." E: "Oh are we out...?" - trying to slow down his dad's arrival for a surprise 50th party.
"You're wearing boots and colored jeans again?"
"Milk is good until a week past the expiration date, didn't you know that?" - As I'm conducting my weekly summer clean out of food expired way back to 2012.
 "Why would you waste room in your suitcase for sunscreen"  - as I'm reading an Australian guidebook "In a sunburned country"
"Can we retake photos in the same outfit so you can blog this later?"
"Can I order an OJ & vodka" - so a screwdriver?
"That one tops the cake." - takes the cake?
"I know we're at a Ribfest, but I just really want chicken fingers." *Orders salad at skyline, Asian buffet, Greek joint*
"What can count as a pin on my map? If I stop at a gas station can it count?" - As he tries to fill up every square inch of his America map.
I  wouldn't trade him for anything. We may be worlds apart, but he will be forever in my heart.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Operation Beautiful V.28

I apologize for the two month hiatus of this project, I intend to get it back on track for the long haul if it continues to be loved by you ladies! As expected, I received overwhelming interest in my Operation Beautiful project. Thus, the showcase will roll out 3 lovely ladies each Monday until I stop receiving entries...hopefully never!

This project is to make you think, ponder, appreciate the simple things about yourself, that add up and make you truly beautiful. The smaller qualities that you adore about yourself, like your lips or eyes, that make you feel pretty on the worst of days.

This project is about your talents, your secret hidden abilities, your amazing personalities. Those quirks which make you, uniquely you. And, I sincerely hope that after you read through the finished product to discover how these other ladies feel about themselves, you can spend the rest of the day, sincerely feeling great about yourself.

If you feel vulnerable, insecure, or hesitant to send in an entry, don't be! We're in this together. It will hopefully make you realize a few things about yourself. This will by far be one of my favorite posts I'll ever do on this blog, and I won't even write it, you guys will. Take it away ladies!
I feel most beautiful whenI'm wearing an outfit I love and some quirky jewellery.
My favorite physical feature is hair and my eyes - my hair is big and wavy, and my eyes are big and blue: I think they distract from the parts of me that I don't like so much!
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...I genuinely want to save the world, however I can. Big or small, it's something I will keep working on.

I'm happiest when...I'm traveling!
I feel most beautiful when I take time in the morning to get ready.  Taking the time to pick out an outfit and straighten my hair makes me feel put together and wide awake for the day.  It gives me the self confidence that I can conquer whatever battles I may face during the day.

My favorite physical feature is my...
fabulous natural red hair!  When I was younger I used to hate it when people would call me a "ginger" or ask why I had "orange" hair, but now I realize what a blessing it actually is!  I cannot picture myself with any other hair color.  I love my freckles and how my hair brightens up my face naturally.  Having red hair makes me feel confident bold and I know that you will be able to find me if you lose me in a crowd!
Something non-physical that I love about myself love to want to get out there and see the whole entire world.  I love being home with my family, but I am very independent and if I could spend every cent of my paycheck on plane tickets and hostel stays, you can guarantee that I would.  I want a full passport, a shelf of vacation photo albums, and a brain full of memories that will never be forgotten.

I'm happiest when...I am relaxing at home at the end of a long day, drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, reading a book, and listening to music.  When I do not have to stress over schoolwork, graduation, work, or graduate school.  It is just me, my music, the characters in my book, and a beverage.  Nothing could be better than that. 
I feel most beautiful whenWhen I'm tanned & have beachy wavy blonde hair.
My favorite physical feature is my...I really love my smile. It's big, bright, & contagious. 
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...I'm the most determined person I have ever met. If I get and idea in my head I will not quit until I have accomplished my goal. I will do whatever it takes to make things happen. And the fact that I don't need much to entertain me. It's the little things.

I'm happiest when... 
I'm working. Seriously, I love my job. I really love making people smile & feel special. When I accomplish that, it's been great day.Also, when I'm hanging out by the water on a hot summer day. Or at a Cardinal's game. I can't choose one time, lots of things make me really happy!
Interested on being featured in future rounds?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I blog on the side.

When you think about it, blogging is quite the paradox. On one hand, we need to be not only present, but active on a bajillion social medial channels, in addition to writing consistently, answering e-mails, and engaging on other blogs. On the other, we must live and experience life in order to have things to blog. 

We are all busy tending to various responsibilities but that doesn't mean our blog has to suffer when real life gets in the way. Last week I touched on balancing the commitments of a full time job and the hobby we all know and love. I'm two weeks into my first big girl job (in a foreign country, mind you) and the guilt is so real, people. If, like me, you have not yet made it to the ranks of a professional blogger, it is time to simplify and keep your sanity intact. So let's pick up right where we left off!
Part One, in case you missed it.

6. Time management

When we spend 9-5 in an office day after day, we have to make the most of the precious hours we have left. Making efficient writing a habit is key to my success. When I feel inspired to write, I draft a few posts, and then go back and edit when I’m not in a writing mood, but have spare time. I write when I’m most passionate and am not forced to be creative when I am lacking the mojo. A post does not have to be perfect in the draft stage, just get your words down, and worry about perfecting them later.

Find specific times of day when you have a 30-60 minute chunk of time to blog. Do you commute by train or bus to work? Can you set the alarm a bit earlier and write with your morning cup o' joe? How about trading that hour of TV before bed for a little one-on-one pillow talk with your blog? I vow right now to use my weekends to blog instead of being hungover or sitting in front of the TV. 
Keep your priorities in line with ToDoistAny.doWunderlistFocus Booster or even take notes in the shower. I've realized if I blog sitting at a table, I am 5x more productive than lounging around (ie. in bed, on the couch) Ironically enough, multi-tasking can do more harm than good. Attack one thing at a time, your productivity will thank you.

7. Organization: Email

You know how it goes: an e-mail comes in, you read it, know the follow up action necessary, yet still click back to the inbox and tell yourself you’ll deal with it later. And sometime later never happens. Set aside time during the day to check your email but be sure you have enough time to respond, delete, or save each before opening. Experts suggest limiting yourself to twice a day: in the morning and at the end of the day. Realize that few notifications need an immediate response or else the sender would have called or tweeted you, right? 

My Type A self is super anal about having inbox zero and is a great tool to unsubscribe, keep or roll up all those newsletters and sales alerts into one concise daily e-mail. (Perfect for my online shopping addiction). Create a Todoist task for e-mails that require a more lengthy response. I also swear by Gmail filters which have all comments skip the inbox and go directly to a "Comment" folder where I can respond at my earliest convenience. 

Feeling overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox? Try e-mail game, a Gmail plugin that turns your inbox into a speed drill to delete, archive, or respond to your hundreds of messages. Lastly, Inbox pause helps my OCD refreshing of e-mail by putting new messages on hold, so they won't appear in my Inbox until I am ready for them. 

Have you ever been out to dinner and remember you need to do something when you get to the office the next morning? With  Boomerang you can have an email arrive exactly when you need reminded, like 8am the next morning. If you respond to emails with an almost identical response (think sponsor e-mails), canned responses are a lifesaver. Insert your canned response and adjust the email to personalize it.

Side note: Separate your personal, business and blog emails from one another. I am an idiot and e-mailed my work from my personal e-mail which so happens to have my blog signature. Cue anxiety attack. ps. If you don't have "undo" installed on Gmail, do it for your sanity. Yet they could go ahead and Google my name, and you know what would pop up as the first search result. 

8. Carry an inspiration journal

Rather than spending hours researching that perfect blog topic, "Be inspired by your own life, let your ideas marinate, tap into that beautiful brain of yours. It can get really noisy online. Seeking too much information from external sources can be counterproductive to creating your own work. Give yourself some space to see what brilliant ideas come from within. Tap into your own dreams and desires"-via

Carry a notebook with you everywhere, because you never know when inspiration may strike! I spend my entire train ride into work writing and the time flies by. Keep a running list of post ideas so when it’s time to sit down and write, there’s never a moment without actual post writing happening. Writing offline helps to keep you free from distractions so you can focus on the words you are putting together, instead of checking notifications on social media.

Alternatively, Dragon Dictation App is a voice-recognition software which allows you to write posts or brainstorm ideas while driving, walking down the street, or anytime you have a few minutes to spare. You can also dictate status updates directly to Facebook and Twitter, send texts and emails. The only downfall is you need an Internet connection for it to perform.

9. Recruit Help

Free: Guest contributors 
This is a win/win situation. The guest poster guest exposure to a new audience while you get fresh content quickly. Give the writer a prompt and be specific with what you want out of the collaboration. I would use this option sparingly, as your readers come to your blog for you, not some ghost writer. Lastly, don't be afraid to say no if you don't feel a guest post fits with your style.

Paid: Hire a virtual assistant
Take weight off your own shoulders while maintaining authenticity by outsourcing the more tedious tasks of blogging: 

✓ Optimize your sponsorship program
✓ Promote your posts and giveaways
✓ Manage social media accounts
✓ Pimp out sponsors on twitter
✓ Create template emails for welcoming new sponsors, giveway posts, reaching out to brands, etc.
✓ Find blogs for you to sponsor
✓ Create pin-able images
✓ Create a contact sheet of relevant brands to work with and reach out to them

The one thing you should never outsource (besides the occasional guest post) is the creation of your content.

10. Stay connected  

I believe the most important part of blogging is engaging with your readers. I have made an effort in the past to respond to each of my comments (minus giveaway entries), but this is less realistic while I am working full time. I apologize in advance, but will connect with my readers through different outlets, I assure you this!

I will also have far less time to read my Bloglovin' feed so have created a "Favorites" folder to skim through when I have time, along with a Food, Style, and Beauty category for when I am in need of inspiration. When I come across great posts, I pin or pocket them to refer to later. If your reader is chock-full of of posts waiting for your attention, start over. Declare blog reading bankruptcy and hit “clear all.” It's a liberating feeling.

I belong to several Facebook groups which are a great place to interact and build a community of fellow bloggers: Simply BloggingShare the Blog LoveBlogging to SuccessFBLBloggersSits GirlsBlog Life Chose MeHer Campus are a few of my favorites. Send out a thoughtful weekly newsletter of your posts since you have less time to promote on social media.

*Bonus: Let it go! 

Quit stressing about stats, writing, offers, and money for a while. The moment blogging becomes a chore is the moment you will feel burnt out and give up for good. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't be afraid to take a break. Make sure that you are blogging because you are passionate, not because you feel obligated to appease you readers. Learn to say no to yourself and to others. It can be a freeing feeling. 

As difficult as it may be, time away from your blog coupled with a little rest & relaxation can give you the extra boost you need to pump out that next amazing post. Just remember, you never need to apologize for living your life outside of your blog! 

Any additional tips or tricks you would like to add on balancing the work/life/blog commitments?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why you should read my blog + Sbux Giveaway

Yesterday, I had someone ask me: "Why do you even blog? It seems pointless."

It definitely had me thinking. I blog because I love to write, I love to escape, and I love the bonds and friendships I have made from it. I love that I have a space of my own to express my creativity and to do what I love.

But then it had me thinking, well, why would anyone want to read MY blog? There are a million different blogs out there. What is it about my blog that would keep them coming back? Well, new friends, I am here to tell you! 

Oh, whoops, I forgot to introduce myself. Hi. I'm Sierra. I blog at Sierra's View. (I already forgot my manners. So rude). My blog is lifestyle blog. I originally started it many years ago to document my travels to Kenya and Fiji. 
1. I'm a teacher. I know, you're probably thinking, "Ugh a teacher. Soooo boring. Why would anyone want to read about a teacher's life?" Except here's the thing. I post the hilarious things that my students say, do, etc. I talk about touching stories and the hardships. I talk about teaching in different countries. Plus, I teach 6th grade, so let's just say that the BO and drama is almost worth the minimal amount of money I make in a year. 

2. What you see is what you get. No, you may think I am kidding. But I am not. I am one of the most raw, genuine people you will ever meet. I am sarcastic. I can be rude. I talk about my trials. I just write what I know. I don't try to be someone I'm not. And I try to convey that in my blog. 

3. I'm really pretty. See. 
4. No, seriously. I'm better looking than that. Sometimes. That helps, right? I read an article about how babies look more at people who are more attractive. I am hoping I can reel you in with a pretty photo of me. 
5. Since we are on this road, I have a husband named Tanner. But, I refer to him as T Money. He's freaking hilarious. And he writes me the sweetest love letters on my blog. And since we are on this shallow roll, he's super hot. (He has single brothers…) 
6. I love to travel. I talk about all of my experiences of teaching in Kenya, Fiji, Puerto Rico, etc. I travel throughout the country. T Money and I love to go for adventures and get away so there are usually very cool pictures.
7. I write really embarrassing stories that will make you feel better about yourself. No, really. Like last week I posted about having to pee on the side of the road. Yea…. 

8. I'm super funny. 
I wish I had something to back this up. But I don't. Just trust me on this one. (See…sarcasm). I even linked that to a post about 10 types of people to stop following on social media. Let's hope I don't become one of those for you. Haha. 

9. I try my hardest to communicate, respond, send emails, get to know my readers. I genuinely appreciate you reading my blog and I will do my best to get to know you and your blog!

10. The last and final reason is: I can buy your love. 
If I haven't convinced you enough…hopefully this next part will. 
I am giving away a 20$ Starbucks Gift Card to one of you lucky people. You have to become my friend. See, I'm literally buying your love. I bet you don't hate that, right? :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway Rules: Must be 18+ or older to enter. Must be a resident of the United States 

Good luck! 
Come on over. I can't wait to meet you! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Choosing the perfect lipstick

Hello Whispering Sweet Nothing readers! My name is Kallie (that's me on the left!) and I'm the writer behind But First, Coffee.  I write about a mix of things from beauty to fashion to life.  Today I'm sharing with you all a post I wrote a while back that tons of people found to be extremely helpful, it's all about LIPSTICK.  Mainly about choosing the right lipstick color for your skin using a little color science. 
Before I was a lipstick wearer, I found lipstick to be the most intimidating product there was when it came to makeup. I remembered how long it took me to finally feel comfortable rocking bold lips and how long it took me to really find the right colors.  

I think the main reason a lot of ladies steer clear of lipsticks is that they are convinced lipstick doesn't look good on them.  It's just not true.  While there are some women who are blessed to be able to rock any color (damn you!), others of us need to learn what kinds of colors look best on us.  So, I thought I'd help to unpack the basics tips and trick I've discovered for picking the right lipstick color to help all the other ladies, like my friend (and myself 3 years ago) with this intimidating problem.  There's a little color science involved that makes it less of a guessing game!

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Firstly, determine your skin's color. This is a pretty easy task. Are you pale/fair, medium/olive or dark?

Fair skin looks best with true red, red with pink undertones, magenta and blue-toned pinks. Fair skin often has a hard time wearing a nude lip. Also note that colors tend to look brighter on paler skin tones.

Lip colors for pale skin

Medium/Olive skin looks best with true pinks, cranberries and brick red as well as classic nudes. 

  Lip colors for olive skin

Dark skin often is best suitable for reds with burgundy or brown, dark beige, and orange-toned reds and pinks
lip colors for dark skin

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Take this information, and add in the next layer... determining your undertone.  I find this step to be the most beneficial to me and it really helps me guide my lipstick purchases. (It's also really helpful when choosing foundation, hair colors, and clothing, too!) So, how do you determine your undertone?

You're cool-toned if your skin appears to have a blue, red or pink tinge to it.  If you hold your wrist out, bottom side up, in the sun, you're veins will appear blue or purple. If you're cool-toned, cool-toned lip colors are more likely to look flattering on you.

Cool Toned Lip Colors

You're warm-toned if your skin appears to have a yellow or peach tinge to it.  If you hold your wrist out, bottom side up, in the sun, you're veins will appear green or olive. If you're warm-toned, warm-toned lip colors are more likely to look flattering on you.
Warm toned lip colors

You're neutral-toned if your skin doesn't appear to follow either of these rules.Your skin appears neither more blue or more yellow in the sunlight and your veins are blue-green (not one or the other).  If you're neutral, it's more likely you can wear lots of different colors well.

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Take what you just learned and apply it.  I have cool-toned fair skin. So, I can usually wear blue-toned pinks and cool reds.  I don't usually look that great in orange-toned reds or peachy tones.  I also can't pull off the nude lip look that well.  If you're warm-toned with olive skin, a warm beige or fiery red is likely to look best on you while it might be harder for you to pull off a blue-toned pink. 

How to chose the right lipstick colors

Head out and pick up a handful of colors using this guidelines and test them out.  I suggest applying them to a make-up free face.  As makeup Goddess Bobbi Brown said, "If I had to teach someone just one thing about lip color it would be this: Find a lipstick that looks good on your face when you are wearing absolutely no makeup."  

I suggest picking up your test products from a place with a flexible return policy. Rite Aid, for example, has a Money Back Guarantee with all makeup products! They promise, "any opened or used makeup product of any brand can be returned for full refund when accompanied by a receipt." So, grab a handful and try them out risk-free!  Understand that often the color shown on the bottom of the lipstick tube isn't exactly the color inside of the tube itself.  Plus, depending on your own lip's natural pigments, the color may look different.

Additional Notes:

Note One: These are merely guidelines to get you started in choosing the right lip colors more effortlessly.  It is NOT to say that if you're warm-toned you can't wear cool-toned lipsticks. Once you've found some staples and feel comfortable wearing lipstick you can start to play around with colors. There is such a huge variety of pigments with varying transparencies now a day, many colors are becoming available in varieties flattering for all skin types.
Note Two: Please note my consistent use of the word "usually." There is not tried and true, always going to work method. That's why step three is so important and you need to really test them out!

Note Three: I understand deciphering between a blue-toned red and a red with pink undertones sounds a little daunting. Hopefully, my graphics helped a little, but know that it takes some time to train your eye. I studied Fine Arts at a Fine Arts college for two years and have had some practice. When in doubt, you can always reference an expanded color wheel.
Are you a lipstick wearer? If not, why?
What's your favorite go-to lip color?

Thanks to Shane for having me today! I hope you'll stop by But First, Coffee sometime and say "hi!"

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to blog while holding down a full-time job

Let's chat about work/life balance. 

I truly believe that just as anything in life, you get back what you put into blogging. Blogging takes time. Time out of your day that you'd otherwise spend with friends, family, or doing something others might deem more important. The endless game of catch up we play: an infinite amount of tasks to juggle, always something that needs written, edited, optimized or promoted. The reality is that the catching up never ends. There will always be more. More e-mails to answer, more tweets to send, more photos to shoot.

I start my first big girl job today and can you guess my biggest fear? That I will have to give up blogging. But blog, I just can't quit you. Beyond just a hobby or a source of income, blogging has become a true passion. My outlet for creativity, venting, and self-expression. My blog is my baby.
Sure, the blog would still be there when I got back, but will my readers feel neglected and fall off? The FOMO (fear of missing out) is so real my friends. What if they stop reading because I haven't commented on their blog in a little while? What if I miss amazing opportunities? What if readers get frustrated by my absence and unfollow? Will the connections I've made be lost? Those that connect with your story and enjoy your work, will be. And those that don't, won't. Simple as that.

Sometimes real life gets in the wayI am going to want to be out exploring for the short 12 months I have in Australia, not sitting inside blogging. Yet my little corner of the interwebs will be the ideal place to document my travel experiences. I intend to keep this blog alive, just in a different way. 

Interestingly enough, my blog has prepared me for the workforce in a variety of ways:

1. Set Boundaries

And stick to them! Be realistic. Although I’d love to have a new post go live every day, blogging would have to be my full time job for this to be possible. If you are realistic with how much you can accomplish, it will help ease the guilt that can arise when trying to find the perfect balance. It’s easy to feel like you are neglecting your blog, but you don't want to abandon your real life.

Your employer is paying you to work, not to blog. No sneaking blogging at lunch breaks or in between meetings. I vow to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday consistently to test the waters. Only post if you have the time, energy, and ideas to post quality content.

2. Pre-schedule

By blogging in advance you are able to put more thought and effort in for higher quality content. You can knock a couple out on a lazy Sunday and have less stress and peace of mind knowing you have several posts written ahead of time.You can write in quiet times and have posts visible at busy times (9am, 1pm and 8pm). See this post here? Scheduled before I even left for Australia!

Blog posts: Write post up just as you normally would then click 'Schedule' under 'Post settings' on the right toolbar. Click the button for 'Set date and time' for when you'd like to publish post, and click 'Done.'

Additionally, you can get the permalink in advance to schedule your tweets and Facebooks. The next day, while you're working, your post, Facebook status, and tweets all go live for your followers, even if you're nowhere near a computer.Click 'Permalink.' You can customize the URL, or you can leave it on 'Automatic,' and just copy the text that appears above the 'Automatic URL' option. 

Twitter: I swear by Hootsuite but others use Buffer or TweetDeck. Jana recommends a mix of inspiring quotes (get RT which get your name out there), others posts (karma, baby!), questions (conversation starters), and your own posts. Check out this printable scheduler
Facebook: Allows you to schedule ahead right on your fan page.
Click in the status update box and a clock  in the bottom left corner will appear which will walk you through the scheduling process, from year to month, day, and time. Write your status just as normally would, and click "schedule." If you want to edit the post before its scheduled or simply can't remember what you've scheduled, head up to your admin panel bar across the top of the page. Click on 'Edit Page,' and then 'Use Activity Log' for a list of all your scheduled posts! 

3. Revamp posts from the archive

Blog posts tend to fall off the radar after a few months. What non-bloggers fail to realize is that there is far more involved then simply writing the post. That's the easy part. The time it takes to make a pin-worthy photo, fight with formatting, and promote the post. I'm sure your readership evolves as it grows, so this is the perfect opportunity to showcase your best work and to breathe new life into favorites from the past. Run down this checklist to ensure your post is as fresh and as SEO and reader friendly as possible.

4. Organization: Editorial Calender 

An editorial calender is key to maintaining your sanity. I am partial to my Erin Condren Life Planner, but others opt for Whitney English Day Designer, or free printables 1, 2, 3, 4
I use the two-page monthly spread calendar at the start of each month where I can see all of my posts, sponsorships, and giveaways in one place. In the notes section on the right, I list post ideas for the month. Need inspiration for ideas to fill your year with posts? Idea Banks: 1, 2, 3 
Weekly spreads are conveniently divided into morning, day, and night. I use it for work and social events too! Color coded stickers work wonders to separate your obligations. The Life Planner is also uber customizable, take a peek inside! The fabulous Alisha is here to show you her ways:
The thought of an editorial calendar for my blog used to be something I never really thought I needed! I figured, I have a  LIFEstyle blog so how can I plan out things that have yet to happen? But as my blog grew and I found my voice I needed a little help organizing my ideas. After hearing a lot of bloggers talk about how having an editorial calendar helped them, I decided to give it a try. And so far so good! The good thing about using an editorial calendar is that your readers will know what type of posts to expect on what day and it also helps you plan out future posts and stay organized. So I figured I'd share how I created my own.
First, I thought about my normal post topics and weekly series/link-ups. For example, I know for a fact on Mondays I participate in the Weekly Wishes link-up on Friday's I create an inspirational post with my favorite links from the week. I put those on my calendar first (I use the Erin Condren planner) then fill in the empty days with my normal topics. Since I use the same planner for the shop and my consulting clients, I color code EVERYTHING. Yes, it may sound like a bit much but I would be screwed without it.
On Tuesdays I try to post something personal and leave Wednesdays to "How To" posts or  business related posts. Since those are my favorite posts to write and Tuesday and Wednesday are normally my higher traffic days, it just makes sense.

Then, I think up blog post ideas. This is different for everyone. Some people can think of posts, write them out and have them all scheduled a month in advance. I envy those people. But that's almost impossible for me right now. I use my Sundays to plan out exactly what I'm going to write about for the following week and instead of writing the full post then, I'll just write out main points. (I write and schedule my posts the night before) I also keep a list of post ideas in the note section in the back of my planner. The only time I will plan ahead is when I know there is a holiday coming up or I have a sponsored post to write.

I definitely understand that life happens! Sometimes I'll look at what I have planned and I'll completely hate it. And sometimes something amazing or crazy will happen and I'll write about it regardless of the day or what I already have planned. And that's fine. Some of my favorite posts are the ones that happen randomly at 2 am. An editorial calendar should be used just to help you keep yourself a little more organized, so don't feel pressured to stray away from it from time to time. 

5. Define success.

When you are passionate about something, your readers will be able to sense that. If your aim is not to quit your day job and blog full-time, what is your purpose? To keep your family informed? To inspire others? To educate? To make extra cash? To find a community of like-minded individuals? 

Obviously this answer is different for each person and I, myself, have been at every point on the scale of success as I've learned and grown. My ultimate advice: Quality is more important than quantity. Consistency is more important than frequency.  Focus on creating quality content that others will want to share, making your job easier.

Perhaps one day I'll be able to quit my day job and blog professionally. In the meantime, I vow to not compare myself to those lucky enough to blog full time. How do you find a happy medium between working full-time and your blog?

This is part of a 2-part working girl series. Check back next week for more tips!

Operation Beautiful V.27

I apologize for the two month hiatus of this project, I intend to get it back on track for the long haul if it continues to be loved by you ladies! As expected, I received overwhelming interest in my Operation Beautiful project. Thus, the showcase will roll out 3 lovely ladies each Monday until I stop receiving entries...hopefully never!

This project is to make you think, ponder, appreciate the simple things about yourself, that add up and make you truly beautiful. The smaller qualities that you adore about yourself, like your lips or eyes, that make you feel pretty on the worst of days.

This project is about your talents, your secret hidden abilities, your amazing personalities. Those quirks which make you, uniquely you. And, I sincerely hope that after you read through the finished product to discover how these other ladies feel about themselves, you can spend the rest of the day, sincerely feeling great about yourself.

If you feel vulnerable, insecure, or hesitant to send in an entry, don't be! We're in this together. It will hopefully make you realize a few things about yourself. This will by far be one of my favorite posts I'll ever do on this blog, and I won't even write it, you guys will. Take it away ladies!
I feel most beautiful whenI take the time to do up my hair and wear a cute outfit. When I look good, I feel good, and just those extra few minutes getting ready makes me feel special. I am better than those raggedy jeans and random T-shirt!
My favorite physical feature is my... butt. Also, my hips don't lie...whatever that means. Having curves makes me feel like a real woman, and that's the only spot I have any, so I gotta embrace 'em! 
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...I'm shy. I like that very few people get to really truly know me. But if you're in, you're in. I will reveal all my strange ways to you and we will have a blast.
I'm happiest when...I'm at home alone with my husband. Spending time with him, whether we're watching movies, eating dinner or even doing chores is my favorite thing. I can't be around him enough. 

I feel most beautiful when I'm in jeans & a t-shirt.

My favorite physical feature is my...bright blue eyes.
Something non-physical that I love about myself sense of humor.  I love being able to make people laugh.
I'm happiest when...I'm with friends and/or family
I feel most beautiful whenI find my fiancĂ© looking at me 
  My favorite physical feature is my...legs!
  Something non-physical that I love about myself is...that I love to hand write notes

I'm happiest when... I am watching a new movie and drinking wine with my best friend
Interested on being featured in future rounds?