30-Day Blogging Challenge: Day 1

I wrote this 30-day challenge a while back in hope that it would get me going. It’s only taken over a year for me to finally get a crack at it. I thought with the new month here (even though it’s 31 days) I would finally delve into this series. Feel free to join me, let me know if you do! So first day here we go!

About Me:

My name is Mary (duh) I am a recent college grad with a love for the internet (obviously). I like to drink decaf coffee at night time to prepare for bed. I have the greatest cat in the world. I aspire to be a freelance writer and blogger.

I went to college in Frederick, MD and never wanted to leave, so I didn’t. I got a job outside of DC and take a hellish commute every day two times a day, but it’s honestly worth it to live in a place that holds such a big piece of my heart. I’m originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and while that will always be home, it was not a place I wanted to move to post-grad. I love my family and friends back there, but I needed something different, aka I wanted to be closer to Target.

I love Jesus and my friends call me mom, which is the perfect segway into my next point: the suburban soccer mom without the kids.

My Blog: Mary’s Average Adventures

Formally called: Mary’s Completely Average Adventures, later shortened because to be quite frank I forgot about the completely part of it, also it flows better now. When I was leaving for college I wanted to start to better document my life and thoughts and feelings, so here is all of that. I kept it a secret from my friends and family for a good bit, then decided to do a year of daily blogging, which is when I started sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Originally, I planned to literally record the most mundane of adventures; hence the title. However, it morphed into its own niche over the years. From college blogger, to what I would call lifestyle, I’ve blogged about it all.

I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things and I like to think people care about what I have to say, so it’s all here. I would say 99.9% of my thoughts over the past 4 years are documented right here on this site. Blogging has brought me a community of friends, support, and amazing people that while I have never met them face to face, many have impacted my life significantly.

My blog was created as an outlet for my creativity and thoughts; when it reality it has turned into much more than that.

What brought you to blogging?

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So You Want To Start a Blog? | Where to Start.

Blogging is the single greatest thing I have ever done in my life and I think I will feel that way until I have children. I encourage everyone to start one, but how do you do that? How do you pick a niche? How do you know what you want it to look like? Where do you look for pictures that won’t get you sued? And most importantly how do you consistently come up with content. Well, welcome to my new series where we will explore all of that.

Today we’re going to start at the beginning: how do you start a blog? Well, my friends, my advice would be to pick a host site you’re comfortable with. I chose WordPress because I liked that it was really easy to follow other bloggers, something I could never figure out on Blogger, however that is a very popular platform that I’m sure has its benefits. I am extremely partial to WordPress so I would say go for that, but if you’re more comfortable somewhere else, by all means, do that too.

Then you have to pick a domain. It can be related to what you want to blog about, but not necessarily. Some people go for a username for titles, other a general theme, find something that speaks to you, anything that speaks to you. My good friend from high school called her 9to5 which I really like. It can be as simple or complex as you want within the character limit. After you have your name for your site, you need to decide whether or not you want to register it. Personally, I registered mine after I was one-hundred percent certain blogging was something I was sticking with. Some people do it right off the bat, the only thing with that is you pay for the year– so if you forget about it, you lost some money.

If you decide to take the leap first thing, I would highly recommend paying the yearly $99 for the all access WordPress site. It allows you to have complete control of your content but also the benefits of WordPress hosting. This means your followers will still get updates when you post, you have a really good support team to help you with any problems, and your phone number and address can’t be found through your web address. You can purchase cheaper WordPress plans but honestly, I think the money is worth it.

Once you figure out all of that it’s time for a layout! Back in the early days of my blog, I was constantly changing the layout because it’s really fun. However, not always the best idea for consistency purposes. Find one you like, and what I like to do is make it so it’s something I would want to read. If you aren’t having an easy time reading it no one will.

Now your blog is all set up and it’s time to move on to picking your niche (or maybe not!)

Saying “No” to Brands

I’ve been blogging for several years now and at least once a month I’ll get an email that goes something like this:

Hi Mary,

Wow, we love your blog, and I think that we have a great idea for a post! What would you think about writing about *insert random idea here that probably doesn’t fit in with blog at all*. What do you think? Here are some examples, and let us know if you want more details!

All the best,

Very Generic name here

So I usually reply:

Good *insert time of day* Generic Name!

I’m so happy you like my blog and I really like that idea. I would love more information! I am attaching my media kit so you are aware of my rates.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Mary

Then I usually get a reply that goes like this:

Hi Mary,

Thanks for a prompt response! So happy you like the idea, unfortunately, at this time we are unable to compensate. However, we would love to share your blog (if we like it enough) on our website and with our social media followers.

Please consider our offer and let me know if you decide to go ahead. We would really like to work with you.

*Generic Name*

To which I will respond,

*Generic Name*

I understand, however, as a person who needs an income at this time I unable to give out my services for free. I hope you can understand that. As I love the idea, if you ever find the budget for me, please let me know and I would be more than happy to work with you on this project.

Best,

Mary

Now honestly depending on my mood I’ll just stop responding, however, I’m very tired of offers that will not profit me or my readers. My media kit is actually very generous, I don’t charge nearly as much as I should, and I give the option of NO MONEY! Just a discount code for readers. I don’t want to hurt a startup trying to break into their industry, but that doesn’t mean I should let companies (that definitely have some type of marketing budget) take advantage of me.

Have I fallen for this before? Heck yes. Why? Becuase the people are so nice, they try to make a connection with you- it’s how they get free publicity. Once I started thinking about it though, it didn’t make sense. The only things I give free publicity to are services or products that I know and love. I shouldn’t be giving away my service for free to a company who wouldn’t even give me a sample of their service.

At the end of the day, you have to put you and your dignity above whether or not it will get you free publicity. All of their responses are contingent upon whether or not they like your work enough to share it, and honestly, you might have more “real” followers than them anyway. If a company is trying to use “smaller” bloggers to gain traction and attention, they might be doing some other undignified practices of gaining attention on social media.

Be careful and don’t let people take advantage.

 

Baby Boomers are the Best and Millennials are the Worst

I am a millennial. Now before you try and fight me on it, just let me have it. I have done papers. I fall in the years of millennials so please don’t even go there. I’m not Gen Z. I am the “problem” generation.

I am constantly pulling HR articles for social media posting at work and so many I come across are about millennials in the workplace and essentially what a PIA we are. SHUT UP. PLEASE. SHUT UP.

Fact. I don’t care if a company gives me a t-shirt, lets me wear whatever I want, or has pets in the office. All of those are perks, but not the most prevalent ones. We still want retirement plans we still want benefits.

I don’t know why every person who is not a millennial knows what we want and I’m also very curious how you can generalize a whole generation. You simply can’t. We have Google, Facebook, Amazon, BuzzFeed, and all of the media giants of today influencing people’s opinions of millennials, but in all honesty, they’re just adding icing on the cake. Companies are taking their avant-garde ideas that they add as pluses to their other benefits, but are forgetting to give people the OG benefits that are expected with a salaried job.

Let’s take BuzzFeed for example, ask anyone interested in digital media between the ages of 15 and 25, I would say 80% of them would be willing to work for BuzzFeed and 90% would at least be willing to make an appearance in a video or have a Tweet quoted in an article. Yet, their turnover rate for a lot of their “successful” employees is extremely high. Search “Why I Left BuzzFeed” on YouTube and you will find a million and one reasons. However, most of these are either centered around not having enough money to scrape by, or not having enough control over their personal brand. Their casual dress code, puppies in the office, popular videos, and overall portrayed energy promotes an idea of ideal work/life balance and displays people who seem like they generally want to go to work. This is what people think of millennials

So take away the “millennial wants” from BuzzFeed, you would see the reality of the situation there. Less than thrilled employees, not making enough money, and you would see the reality of a high turnover rate. It’s the idea of the perks that appeal to millennials, but it’s not what keeps them. 

So just a question: Why are millennials treated like we are the glutens, goldfish, and idiots of the workplace? All we’re looking for is someone to leech off of until someone new comes along. We don’t have the focus or attention span to stay with a company very long. And last but not least, we don’t really know anything (on top of literally everything we have ruined like department stores and fancy napkins).

Social media, as much as I love and cherish it, has given baby boomer and gen x to become afraid of the power they do not understand and attack us verbally. Naturally, the hashtags they try to dominate with why we’re the worst are quickly taken over by millennial “trolls.” We are not the snowflake generation, we are just not afraid to stand up for what we believe in. We are not cry babies and whiners, we’re just saying what we think to a larger audience. I’m sure gen x and baby boomer did just as much complaining back in their day, they just didn’t have a platform that would allow it to be so widespread. Back in their day, it was 15 minutes of fame, not the kind of fame we see today and they’re scared.

Back off, let me live tweet your breakdown and go viral because of it. While you continue to complain about how millennials suck (on the internet when we use it too much apparently) you’re going to be missing a lot of success. Stop being a precious snowflake and realize that millennials are starting to dominate the workforce and there’s not much you can do to stop it at this rate. We aren’t taking your jobs, killing industries, or whatever else you want to blame us for. Next time, don’t ruin the housing market and maybe I’ll buy a house as soon as I have a stable job, but too bad you did. If you want something fixed, go shop at more department stores and fix it. 

The One-Size-Fits-All Blogging Method

I’m sure you’ve seen it, heck, maybe even my click bait title got you here, but here’s the thing: There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to blogging. According to the “experts”, I’m a failure. I’ve yet to make a dime off of this corner of the internet, so if that’s why you’re here you can click off this page.

Let’s be real, everyone wants to their blog to be successful. Most people would love to quit their job to work from home and make ridiculous amounts of money by blogging, here’s the thing: that’s not the reality.

If you get on Pinterest and look for “blogging tips” or really just anything to do with blogging, it’s all about trying to make $20,000 in the first month. Quite frankly unless you already have a huge online following, like Poppy Dayes, it’s not going to be your reality, well, unless you get super lucky.

So here’s my question: why do so many of those posts exist? How are there blogs dedicated to making money via blogging?

Personally, I believe that it’s because there are a handful of people in the “public” eye making buckets of money via social media, blogging, YouTube, etc. That’s not why people started doing those things though, they did them because they liked it. They fell into the money and now people see it as a get-rich-quick scheme.

It drives me crazy the number of posts I see on how to make $8,000 your first month blogging, or $20,000 your first three, or even “How I quit my six-figure salary full-time job to become a stay at home mom and blogger.” That’s not how it works for everyone. You need your blog to be filled with passion, good content, and it to be what you want it to be. If you formulate your whole blog around someone else’s definition of what a successful blog is, how does that make it any different from the 9-5 job you hate? You still aren’t doing what you love.

There isn’t a one-size fits all blogging method. Plain and simple. If it worked like that we would all be rich. While your content, SEO optimization, keywords, pictures, and outlook is all extremely important to blogging and striving to make money from it, there is an element of luck. The right people need to see your blog and think it’s good enough to be successful. At the end of the day, make it something you love and you’re proud of. Don’t worry if it translates into money or not, don’t count on it is my advice. If it happens, think of it as a happy surprise. If you’re going into it looking to be rich, I just don’t know how successful you will be.

I would be lying if I said that blogging full time isn’t my dream career because it is. There are a few things in life I’m passionate about and blogging is the biggest one. I’ve been doing this for almost four years and I’ve made microscopic amounts of money from it, but it doesn’t matter. I love every second that I’ve poured into my corner of the internet. I treasure every person that I can call a friend because I decided to write a blog. I have a job with benefits because this blog is what made me passionate about the internet. Take those things into account if your blog isn’t literally paying off because psychologically it probably is. There’s no way I would be where I am today without this site.

Blog because you love it. Blog because it will change your life. Blog because you want to. Don’t blog to make six-figures a year.

What do you think?

30 Things Before 30

I’m getting old, my mom won’t like to read it but it’s true. I will be 23 by mid September. I started a big girl job. I’ve been eating salad. You know, adult things. So 30 is just under 7 and a half years away and there’s a lot I would like to do between now and then so I thought I would share my 30 things before 30 list!

  1. See at least 30 states.
  2. Get paid for a freelance gig.
  3. Travel to a new continent.
  4. Develop a healthy diet and regular exercise routine.
  5. Visit 7 new countries.
  6. Start the adoption process.
  7. Read 300 books.
  8. Curate a collection of my own recipes.
  9. Take three random classes just because.
  10. Go vegan for a month.
  11. Take a vacation just to relax.
  12. Buy a house.
  13. Volunteer using talents.
  14. Get Leslie a friend.
  15. Visit somewhere new for at least a month.
  16. Become a blogging “expert”.
  17. Make time for vacation every year.
  18. Create a budget and stick to it, allowing it to fluctuate as finances change.
  19. Learn how to let go of material items.
  20. Strive to spend majority of time with enjoyable tasks.
  21. Find a go-to therapist.
  22. Take a real picture everyday for a year.
  23. Post 700 blog posts.
  24. Take 20 minutes once a week to do nothing.
  25. Face a fear every year.
  26. Figure out how to use the Super 8 camera.
  27. Have a real “Treat Yo’ Self” day every year, but save for it.
  28. Live alone.
  29. Share passion with others.
  30. Make a positive impact on someone’s life.

What do you want to do before you turn 30?

Why Start a Blog?

Chances are if you found this post you’re on the fence about blogging, well I’m here to tell you why you should and how it will positively impact your life.

  1. It’s fun! Blogging is a good and creative outlet for all of your thoughts that get stuck in your head. You have something to look forward to when you’re bored or have an idea and you have somewhere to put it.
  2. The people and community. I have found that the people in the blogging world and the community that they hold together is simply amazing. While I may not have my own niche community (yet) I have found some great friends and people that have turned into friends, even though I have never actually met them.
  3. Learning more about yourself and the things you love. With communities, commenters, and friends you never knew shared common interests you can learn a lot about the things you love. However, in addition, just by writing consistently you can learn a lot about yourself.
  4. Remembering to write down and document all the really cool stuff that happens to you. There are things I would forget about if I didn’t blog about them. It’s like a virtual, public diary for me. It lets me remember all of the good things that have happened over the past four years (maybe some of the bad too but that’s okay) and that knowledge can help you grow.
  5. Writing helps everything. There is proof that writing is good for you. It stops you from forgetting a lot when you get old. It’s yet to work for me, but hey, it’s worth a try!
  6. Get different opinions! Tired of hearing the same things from your friends? Well ask some internet friends, get a new perspective on a problem you feel like you have exhausted your options on. Share stories of how other opinions have impacted your decision making!
  7. Peer validation!  I mean I’m not saying I need and/or crave peer validation, but it does make me feel better about myself. It helps me from feeling as if I’m the only one facing problems and that there are other people in the same exact place as me. On the other hand, it’s also nice to know people like my blog (if I’m going to get real honest here).
  8. Simple but still creative. Making a pretty website and expressing yourself in your own way can be so simple today. It doesn’t take a lot to click your favorite theme and run with it. You can still be creative with your writing and graphics, but there are very simple ways to handle it.
  9. Simply being creative. (Get it play from tip 8 I’m hilarious) Everyone should just be creative. Take the time and energy and put it into something you love. You have something you like, make it creative and put it in a blog!
  10. Share your thoughts/views/opinions! Everyone thinks, has views and opinions, so why not share them? Why not share your love of tomatoes, fashion, being a mom, makeup, or really just love of anything. There are people out there that you never knew shared the same interests.

Share with me why you started blogging and why you stuck with it! Don’t have a blog yet? Tell me what’s holding you up!

Pause

via Daily Prompt: Pause

I saw the Daily Prompt for today was “Pause” and it ties in a little too perfectly with my life right now.

I keep hitting the fast forward button when I should be hitting pause. I shouldn’t be wishing my last six weeks of college away, yet here I am staring at my semi-daunting to-do list not wanting to do any of it.

I’m waiting for the end of the week, waiting to hear if I got a job or two, or none. But I shouldn’t be waiting for that moment. I should be savoring every moment. Cherishing the time I spend with the kids I watch because soon (well hopefully) I’ll be working full time and I probably won’t be a nanny anymore. I should be taking mental pictures of every meal with my roommates, every time I walk across the cherry-blossom filled campus, and just every little moment that I can hold on to, I should be holding on.

I’ve reached a point where I’m so focused on whatever’s next that I’m not pausing anymore, when really I should be pausing more. No more fast forward, just a nice hold down on the pause so it’s almost a stop.

My mom told me when I was starting high school that life would only get faster, I don’t know if I didn’t believe her, or just didn’t know what she was talking about, but she was right. I’ve been blogging for three and a half years, it feels like it was just yesterday I was cursing WordPress for being stupid (eh could’ve been yesterday) but my time online and in college has been flying by. I can’t believe that I’m graduating in six weeks, but here I am wishing I was graduating tomorrow just to get on with the next part of life.

I think that’s probably not just a me problem, even more of a societal problem. We’re so focused on the future, what are we doing this weekend, next week, the next deadline. We forget to focus on what is happening right now. Right now is what really matters. Maybe we all need to take some time and just pause.

So take a moment, pause, reflect, think about right now. Right now, I’m at work, right now, I’m at a decent place in my life, right now.

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Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d be sitting on the other side of the couch at the home I babysit at every Sunday. We would be watch “13 Reasons Why” and I would be ranting about how much I hate boys and I just want to meet a nice man that treats me right and how I hope so badly it’s the one that’s talking to me now. Then I’d tell you that I don’t think it is, which makes me feel conflicted as conflicted can be.

If we were having coffee I’d be sipping my second big cup of the day. Trying to get rid of the headache, the tiredness I’ve been feeling from barely sleeping the past few weeks, and most importantly, just trying to enjoy the taste and calming down.

If we were having coffee I’d pour you a nice big cup. We would talk about all of the things that have been bothering me. My blog, boys, jobs, everything. I would vent, and then let you vent. I’d probably interrupt because that’s probably my worst habit of all. I’d complain about not knowing what to make for dinner, my diet, and then I would whisper “I’ll probably just go to Subway again.”

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I think it’s weird the baby has been sleeping for three hours, but I wouldn’t complain. Trust me I’m thankful. I would then go on to show you pictures of how cute he is, and how thankful I am for all of the wonderful families have allowed me to watch over their children this year.

If we were having coffee, I would probably go on a feminist rant, tell you about how much I love social media, and how I wish my blog would thrive. I’d have a lot to say, but at the same time, nothing at all. I’d open up like I used to on my blog. Before I went public with it, before I was applying for jobs, and before when I didn’t have many friends. I’d share my worries, my thoughts, and my doubts.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you if you want another cup but pour you another no matter what the answer was. The truth is, on Sundays I get to a point where I desperately need to talk to an adult so I wouldn’t really want you to leave.

If we were having coffee, I’d have to eventually excuse myself to get the crying baby and I’d thank you for joining me. I’d invite you back next week and be so happy for my friendships with you.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Late Night Blogging with Mary: Part 27

It has been quite sometime that I’ve ventured to this little corner of my blog, one of my previously most written in sections, I mean 27 posts is quite a few. Speaking of 27, Mary Fun Fact™ it’s my favorite number.

Recently, I have been very anxious again. I don’t know if it’s the boy stressing me out (yes of course he had to text me) or I drank too much this past weekend but I can’t shake it. It’s so annoying.

Besides the point, I have exactly two months until graduation. It’s absolutely insane. I cannot believe how quickly my time in college has gone. The past four years have flown by like no other. I remember when I finished middle school my mom was talking to my best friend and me about how quickly time was going to start going and I think about last year I realized how true that was. There’s a part of me who never wants to leave college, and then there’s a bigger part of me that’s very excited for the future.

This spring break was probably my most uneventful yet. I didn’t work, we had a snow day, and I went home for the weekend. However, other than my desire to be reading on a beach somewhere, I really appreciated all of the downtime I finally had. I probably should have done more school work than I did, but there’s a reason it’s a break.

I’m not sure what else really should be in here. I feel like there are a million things I have to say, yet nothing at the same time. I guess for now, this is my update.

What’s going on with everyone else?

Happy LNBM!