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Society is getting better at understanding anxiety because people are getting more outspoken about it…

…but we still have a long way to go before stigma is gone. Understanding anxiety is a difficult thing. Think about it! People who don’t get nervous for no reason can’t fathom doing so, and the people who do struggle with anxiety are afraid to explain it for fear of being judged. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. But there are some brave souls out there who are willing to share their stories in order to lessen that sigma. One of those people is Kylie.

You can find Kylie’s blog here, where she talks about her battle with understanding anxiety. When talking about what she would write for us, she realized that while she has come to understand anxiety in the sense of what made her have it, she has never really brought to light the struggles themselves. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

At Uninspired, and specifically in the Mental Health Monday series, I’m all about helping you guys *adult* better.

As you know if you’ve been here a while, that doesn’t mean just understanding anxiety or any other mental illness. On Mental Health Monday we’ve talked about literally everything from support groups to autism to emotional support animals. And yet, there are a few things they all have in common.

For one thing, they may help you learn something about someone else. In that way, you’ll learn to communicate more effectively with the people around you, and improve your relationships. That’s better adulting! Additionally, you might learn a little something about yourself, find that there’s someone else out there just like you, or be encouraged to get help for a problem you’ve been having. Facing your tough stuff head-on, like Kylie does in her post below, is a sign that you’re a mature adult.

So, without further ado, here’s Kylie’s post about her struggle with understanding anxiety and moving on from it. She’s been through it in two different ways– generalized and then again at the hands of a particular circumstance. Read on to find out how she handled both cases.

Society is getting better at understanding anxiety, but there is still a long way to go before stigma is eradicated. Luckily, there are some brave souls willing to share their stories to help others gain awareness of what it means to suffer from anxiety. Kylie is one of them, and you can read her story here.


“Today I had anxiety cause the air-con was too high in the car.

It was too warm and I felt claustrophobic. It was -5c outside but the only way to ease the anxiety was to open the window. If you can understand that, you’re understanding anxiety. It’s irrational, dramatic thoughts. Your brain is at constant battle with your body. My brain will always win because it never sleeps. Even when my body is asleep, my mind is awake. And my fight continues, 10 years after the initial attack.

I don’t know where my anxiety is rooted, but it hit me full force at the age of 20. I had all the symptoms, right out of the textbook. The sweaty palms, heightened heart rate, even the urge to use the bathroom. The latter may not seem like the worst symptom, but it was. I needed the toilet, I couldn’t find the toilet. I couldn’t find the toilet, I became more anxious. At its worst, the anxiety manifested as acute agoraphobia which continued for 6 months. The fear of the outside world was too heavy a burden to carry, so I did not leave the house unless it was absolutely necessary. I didn’t work, I didn’t go out with friends. I didn’t do anything that would threaten my mental wellbeing.

As my 21st birthday approached I spent more time making excuses not to celebrate. There was no celebratory meal, no drinks with friends, nothing. My family and the people around me wanted to celebrate the milestone but I was overwhelmed by the thought of venturing out into the world. They weren’t understanding anxiety and what it was doing to me. Those 4 walls were my saviour but also my prison. It was a hell of my mind’s making and I was a slave to it’s wants and worries.

My first approach was to coax myself out of my prison.

A two minute walk to the corner shop. Five minutes to the supermarket. Ten minutes to my sister’s house. These things may seem small but it took all the energyI had just to walk out of the door. Taking those small steps made a big difference. Don’t get me wrong, the anxiety was still there. But with a lot of calming words and pep talks I was able to break the hypothetical shackles. This didn’t happen quickly.

In fact, it took months to get to that point, but the wheels were in motion and I wasn’t stopping for anyone. My next step was to seek help from the professionals. My counselor taught me the evolutionary background of all the symptoms and for the first time, it all made sense. I learnt that anxiety was our animal instinct of preparing for attack. When we were threatened, we readied our bodies to fight. We would sweat to lower our body temperature. Our heart would race to raise our adrenaline and we would ‘relieve’ ourselves to prepare ourselves for the battle. Bingo! There was a medical explanation for the turmoil my body went through. For the first time, understanding anxiety wasn’t half the battle. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel- the path to the outside world and the normality I used to feel.

Over the following months, the self-help, therapy, and daily pep-talks built my “normality.”

Again, the anxiety was still there, but the further I travelled – metaphorically and physically- the more I was able to overcome the doom. Traveling on a bus became an achievement. I planned journeys in my mind in baby steps– I wasn’t going out for the day, I was taking a 20 minute bus ride to the shopping centre. Then I was doing my shopping for an hour. I was taking the bus 20 minutes home. That was the key– breaking down the task and easing each bit of anxiety that appeared before dealing with another.

There were times when things didn’t go to plan– the bus was late; I needed to use the bathroom while shopping– but there were some advantages to breaking things down. I now know the locations of all the toilets in places I frequent, and I still use that internal toilet tracker to this day. Through understanding anxiety, it was possible for me to rebuild my life, return to work, and let this anxiety become a memory. I don’t pretend it never happened, and I don’t pretend it couldn’t happen again, but now I knew I could overcome it.

Unfortunately, five years later, I would once again be crippled by anxiety.

My partner was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I was there to witness the first seizure of many and I allow those fears to override my mind again. It was different, as it was due to a specific circumstance, but as his health declined, so did my coping mechanisms. I thought he was going to die in that moment, and even as he embarked on treatment and an operation to remove the tumor, my anxiety didn’t calm down. I had nightmares so brutal that I was scared to sleep. The lack of sleep made my anxiety worse. I was distracted, irritable, and miserable. Once again, I became unable to work, unable to even form a sentence or a string of thoughts. My doctors recommended medication but due to stigma and side effects, I declined. And then the tumor came back.

One evening, I hit a wall. I knew I couldn’t cope with work and life and my partner. I was completely full of disturbing thoughts and emotions, but at the same time, somehow I felt completely empty. So I visited my doctor again, and took them up on the help they offered. I took six weeks off work and began to take the medication. If I took them, would people think less of me? There is such a stigma attached to mental illness and the surrounding treatments. Although society is more open to talking about the plethora of mental illnesses and understanding anxiety, there is still a stigma attached.

Luckily I saw my own battle as more important than the views of the outside world.

I knew that regardless of what people may say or think, my mental wellbeing was my priority. The first week on the medication was awful. I felt like a zombie and had absolutely no appetite. I also had the most horrendous heartburn. This continued through the second week but rather than quit, I spoke to my doctor again. He assured me the side effects would subside and prescribed me a tablet to calm the heartburn. Over the next couple of weeks all of the side effects settled and my mind began to ease. Within a month I was a different person. I had peace of mind. Getting up, showering and facing the world was no longer a daunting task – it was life. Such a small change had made such a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggled sometimes, but the struggles were manageable.

My proudest moments were the recognition from family and friends. When they noted the shift in my personality I was proud of how far I had come. I felt a freeness I had never experienced before. It was a sobering thought to realise how solemn I had become and I was a shadow, not a person. I was embarrassed of the effect my moods would have had on the people around me but my new attitude and outlook compensated for this. Finally, I was fun to be around, I was spontaneous and most of all, I was a nice person again. I am under no illusion that I could have turned my life around without the medication and accepting the help, in which ever form it would be. There is no shame in asking for help and for me, it saved my life.

Over the years there have been times when a particularly stressful day or not enough sleep would burst my protective bubble.

But I am now strong enough to fight them and win. The key to living with anxiety is just that, living. There will always be times when your heart races and your palms become sweaty but its ok to feel that way. At my worst I would drive myself crazy trying to rationalise my feelings and would punish myself for succumbing to the doom but as I became stronger I realised that some things don’t need to be explained. Sometimes we can feel things without there being a reason or rhyme. Its how we deal with them that makes the real difference and that difference will allow you to live life to your own ‘normality’.

When my heart starts to race I breathe my way through it. I concentrate on my breathing. The tightness is still in my chest but instead of panicking I wait for it to subside. When I go out shopping or for dinner and drinks, I always know where the bathroom is and whether I need to or not, I will always use it before leaving. These are such small changes but they make such a huge difference. i have practiced these methods for nearly 10 years and they have worked for me all the way. The day to day stresses that life brings aren’t so scary. They don’t need to be crippling. They can just be put down to a bad day and what happens when a day ends? A new one starts. And that is what we need to remember. Life goes on and we go with it.”

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A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of tweeting that I was procrastinating.

Soon after, my friend Holly tweeted at me with something else for my to-do list– a 30 before 30 list!!

Just kidding– she totally inspired me. And of course, the last thing we want here is to be *uninspired*. Hah. Hahahah. Okay. I’ll stop. Seriously though, it’s so important in your twenties to have goals, which is why I thought Holly’s challenge was an awesome idea. However, I’m going to put my own little spin on it.

I kind of feel like 30 before 30 lists can be like New Years Resolutions. We’re super inspired by something, we write out this list, we knock out one or two (or *ahem* write a couple things we’ve already done) and forget about it. Since one of my goals at Uninspired is to help you actually achieve your goals, this is a great opportunity to show you what good goals look like.

A 30 before 30 list is a bucket list of sorts that helps you plan out where you want to be in life by the time you're 30 years old. My 30 before 30 list will show you how to create goals you'll ACTUALLY accomplish.

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals at this point, right?

If your 30 before 30 list includes things like “travel the world,” you could do a little more to make sure you follow through. To make “travel the world” into a SMART goal, follow these steps:

  1. Specific. What countries would you really like to visit? One on each continent? Or maybe “travel the world” just means one new place for you. Whatever it means to you– write that instead.
  2. Measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal?
  3. Attainable. If you have no hope that you can actually achieve this, there’s no point in setting it. Instead, set a different goal that will help this one feel more reachable. For example, if you can’t travel the world because you’re broke, you should set a savings plan goal instead.
  4. Relevant. The idea here is to only set goals that’ll help you get where you want to be in life. However, I argue that even setting and achieving a goal can help you grow as a person, so don’t put too much weight here. If you’re a CPA who wants to travel the world, do it. It’ll advance your personal happiness, which will improve many aspects of your life, so there.
  5. Time-restricted. This is a 30 before 30 list so that’s kind of built-in for ya there. But it definitely helps to set more limits that keep you from scrambling to go skydiving, visit ten countries, and fix your relationship with your father three days before your 30th birthday.

So, with all this in mind, I’m structuring my 30 before 30 list with SMART goals in mind, and I urge you to do the same! This way, you’ll stay motivated to complete your goals well beyond this surge of motivation you’ve got today!

What might you avoid putting on your 30 before 30 list?

The easiest mistake is putting things on your list that you really have no control over. Getting engaged or married is one. Or having a baby. These aren’t attainable because you can’t plan when you’re going to meet the love of your life. Or, what if it turns out the love of your life can’t have children? What if it turns out YOU can’t have children? Goals that depend on other people are ones to stay away from. It’s begging for disappointment when your 30th birthday rolls along.

Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall finds a list he wrote when he was fifteen about where he thought he’d be when he was 30? He wanted to have legally changed his name to Vanilla Thunder, still have his rat-tail haircut, and still be able to dunk a basketball. When he realizes he’s not doing any of these things, he has sort of a crisis. But then, Lily shows him exactly how unattainable those goals were, and he makes a goal to do something much more SMART— get a job as an environmental lawyer.

So, I’m going to be like Marshall. I’m going to set SMART goals in my 30 before 30 list to make sure I don’t end up at a basketball court in the middle of the night, trying to prove I can still dunk.

And with that, Holly, I accept your challenge!

via GIPHY


Nicole’s 30 Before 30 List

In no particular order, here’s a list of 30 SMART things I’d love to do before my 30th birthday.

1. Date someone outside my type.

I definitely have a very distinct type– skinny white dudes who are twenty-five but still consistently ride their longboard and live in their parents houses but still think they’re God’s gift to this earth. I could definitely stand to try something different. It’ll help me open my mind to what else is out there, and maybe give me some hope for the dating world.

2. Move out of my parents’ house.

This is more specific and measurable than “become financially independent,” which I originally had. How would I know when I achieved that? Turns out, it meant I wanted to be able to live on my own.

3. See where my family is from in Italy. 

This trip seems a little unattainable for me at the moment, but mostly because traveling is a little scary for me. I could make it feel more attainable by going with people I feel comfortable with. But it is specific and measurable because I didn’t just write “visit Italy.”

4. Take a road trip across the US, hitting all 50 states. 

I live in NJ and went to school in PA, so that’s two down! I’ve also visited Delaware, Maryland, California (but I was three so I won’t count it) Florida, New York, and North Carolina. So 43 left to go!

5. Overcome my emetophobia.

That’s fear of vomiting, and honestly, it really holds me back in life. I’ve skipped so many concerts, rollercoasters, and high school parties for fear of being around puke. When I feel I’ve been exposed to a stomach flu, I eat like I’m already sick for three days, I barely leave the house, etc. So, that’s gotta change. I could make this more specific and measurable by saying “go to therapy for emetophobia,” or “be able to be around vomit without wanting to run away crying.” Honestly, I feel like writing this is bad luck. Gonna go wash my hands.

6. Go to Coachella.

Can I do this without conquering my emetophobia? Will this be the test of whether I’ve conquered it? Who knows?! Hopefully I find out before I’m 30.

7. Learn yoga or meditation.

I’ll know I’ve done this when I can follow instructions in a guided meditation or yoga class without overthinking if I’m doing it right, or whether people are staring at me.

8. Learn to crochet more than just square blankets.

Originally, this goal was to take on a new hobby or skill, but that was super vague and not at all SMART.  So, I decided it was SMARTer to become better at something I already know how to do a little. I can make a blanket, but I can’t make little crochet flowers to stitch on. Nor can I make a border for it. I also can’t crochet myself a cute little sweater. So, I’ll get better at that!

9. Start selling coffee mugs and graphic tees on Uninspired.

Originally, this goal was to get Uninspired into e-commerce. But again, that’s way too vague for a SMART 30 before 30 list. So, I got more specific and measurable by defining what I wanted to sell.

 10. Go to a blogging conference

In an effort to make this more specific and measurable, I actually googled what conferences are out there, and found this list from Inspired Bloggers University! There are tons of them, listed in alphabetical order, complete with where they’re located and what they specialize in.

11. Take my parents to dinner

This one’s another way of measuring when I’m considered financially independent. When I can take my parents to dinner, I’ll know that I’m financially stable enough to do for them what they’ve been doing for me the past 23 years. This will be the ONE blog post of mine they both read, and afterward, they’ll never stop asking me when I’m taking them to dinner.

12. Choose a favorite wine

This is a silly one, but I always forget which wines I like and which I don’t like! I’ve been buying the same wine over and over because I keep thinking I like it, and turns out, it stuck in my mind because I HATED it! I need to do some wine tasting and really figure out what I like, so I always have some on hand that I enjoy.

13. Choose a great order-anywhere drink

This is a big one for me, because I’m always that person at the bar that finally get s the bartenders’ attention and realizes I have no idea what I want. I’m the worst. So, I need a good, order-anywhere drink that’s available no matter what the bar. Like, you can’t order wine at a sports bar. And how can you order an Angry Orchard at a classy, upscale kinda place?

14. Learn to drive stick

If you learn to drive a manual car, I honestly feel like there’s nothing you can’t do. You never know when you’re going to need to drive someone else’s car, and if it turns out to be manual, you don’t want to be screwed! So this is a great skill to have. Plus, it’s impressive, especially for a woman. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

15. Learn to change a flat tire

Another great skill to have so you’re never caught in this bind! You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road, hoping for someone who’s not a psycho to come pull over and help you. Be the strong, independent woman that you are. Learn to change a tire!

16. Get my own pet

Another way to make a goal of being financially independent, plus a way to make a goal of taking charge of my happiness. When you have something to take care of, and something that’s giving you unconditional love, how can you not be happy?!

17. Read ten classic novels

I’m not actually limiting myself to ten here, but I’d like to read at least that many. I’ve re-read a few books from high school and I appreciate them so much more. I can only imagine there are more classics out there that would help me open my mind and become a much better adult.

18. See ten classic movies

The same goes for classic movies! In addition to being a great way to open my mind and understand history a little more clearly, seeing classic movies also avoids the awkward situations where you don’t understand what someone’s talking about because they’re referencing something you’ve never seen.

19. Visit Maine

I know I already said I want to visit all 50 states, but I have a special interest in Maine. I’d want to make it it’s own trip. I want see all the quaint sites and eat all the seafood and stay at a sweet little bed and breakfast. It all sounds so adorable.

20. Run a 5k

I don’t know why, honestly. I would probably die. But this seems like something everyone should do once in their life. It builds character.

21. Shoot a gun

I’m not a gun enthusiast by any means. In fact, I’m pretty wary of them. But I’ve heard so much about the power you feel when you shoot a gun, especially for the first time, and I’d love to experience that. I also feel I can make a more firm decision about my opinion on guns once I’ve used one. If I find it terrifying, I know I’m not a fan of them and vice versa.

22. Buy a car all by myself

Wow, I really want to be financially independent. But honestly, when I can buy a car without the help of my parents, I’ll know I’m doing well for myself.

23. Go parasailing

I have this opportunity every summer, and I’ve never taken it! Like with my e-commerce goal, I know this is a 30 before 30 list and not a list of things I could do basically right now, but I’m under 30 now!

24. Visit England

There are so many wonderful bloggers in the UK– I’d love to see what it’s like there or maybe meet some of them! Like with my Italy goal, it seems a little unattainable because I don’t travel often, but I could make it a little easier by going with close friends or family I’m comfortable with.

25. See the northern lights

My mom and I have had this on our bucket list for years. I can only imagine how humbling it must be, and how much it must open your mind.

26. Visit Santorini

The number one place on my travel bucket list is Santorini, Greece! It’s so gorgeous there, I’d love to go just to take pictures!

27. Learn to play piano

First, I have to buy a piano. But once I’ve gotten THAT pesky little detail out of the way, I’ll be golden.

28. Write a novel and have it published

I’ve wanted to do this since I was seven. I wrote a mystery novel in purple Curlz MT font and tried to sell it lemonade-stand-tyle at the end of my best friend’s driveway. She lived on a dead-end street.

29. Become fluent in Italian

Duolingo says I’m 42% of the way there! I’ve taken a lot of classes in high school and college, bu I’m still a little rusty. It’s a lot easier for me to listen and write it than it is for me to speak it. But I’ve heard that’s the way it is for a lot of people learning to speak a new language, so there’s hope I can still get better!

30. Maintain an exercise routine

I’ll be honest, I put this last because I hate the idea of this one the most. But hey, the younger you set these habits up, the more likely you are to stick to them throughout life. So, as much as I hate it, the last item on my 30 before 30 list is to get myself in the good habit of exercising regularly. Specifically, it’ll be a mixture of cardio and weights. To make it more measurable, I’ll know I’m doing a good job when I’m working out at least 3-4 days a week.

So, thats’ my 30 before 30 list, complete with SMART goals! What are some of your goals, and what do you think of mine?!

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Your semester is in full swing by now, but if you’re anything like me, you’re not even close to seeing the end of the tunnel yet.

Spring semester has a nasty habit of being like that. It calls itself “spring,” like it’s going to be warm and happy and painless, and then it fucks you up the butt from January all the way to May. That’s why for this Mental Health Monday, I’ve enlisted Lou to talk to us about eliminating stress in college students.

At Uninspired, the point is to help you be better at adulting. Mental Health Monday in particular helps you do that by teaching you how to manage your emotions, and giving you hope that you can do it. This is a big transition you’re going through! You might need some help.

This post may be specifically geared toward stress in college students, but these tips are great for people in their twenties in general! You’ll find a lot of different foods to keep yourself naturally healthy and energized (while this semester rams you or just in case you have a supremely busy lifestyle post-grad). You’ll also find some ways to make money online, a natural way to improve your memory, and more!

Everyone's semester is back in full swing, and that means you have to deal with all the stressors that come with that PLUS being a functioning adult. Get good grades, exercise, socialize, get eight hours of sleep, blaaahh blah blah. These 14 tips for eliminating stress in college students will help you balance it all!


Top Tips To Eliminate Stress in College Students

“Now that the college students have returned to school, it’s important to stay healthy and manage all the stress you all endure. Unfortunately, not many students only have to study while they’re at school. For example, many are working part time jobs after classes to pay for their expenses. This can cause a lot of stress and the reality is, worry won’t make it better! Here are some tips to help you mentally and physically manage your anxieties:

1. Sleep

Sleep is important for managing stress in college students. As you well know, 7-8 hours is an ideal amount of rest. This is important not only so you can stay awake during your classes, but it helps with your memory! Your brain transfers things over to long term memory while you sleep, which is a big part of the reason staying up all night to cram for a test is a bad idea.

2. Limit the technology

Turn off technology equipment 30-60 minutes before planning to go to bed. I know; this is a tough one! It’s also beneficial to turn off your cell phone when you are doing your homework or projects to eliminate the constant distraction. It is better to take a break and check your phone for 5-10 minutes every hour as a reward for good studying than letting it be an interrupter of your focus. I have been trying to teach this to my daughter all through high school!

3. Limit sugary foods

Try to minimize or even ditch sugary foods. They are an energy booster, but that energy boost is followed by a crash. Protein is much better because it lasts longer. Almonds are a great, high-protein snack you can bring to the library with you while you study. You can also start your day with eggs for a protein boost, or have chicken or lean beef for lunch.

Related: The Food & Mood Connection

4. Surround yourself with laughter

You can eliminate negative energy in your circle by surrounding yourself with laughter.  It might not be easy to eliminate negativity since you don’t have complete control over your surroundings in college, but it helps to look for people who are smiling and laughing more than they’re complaining.

5. Meditation

Meditation for just ten minutes a day helps calm the mind. Wake up and take a few minutes to tell the divers three things you are grateful for today. It starts your day in a place of happiness and love.

6. Some foods are particularly good for stress relief

Some important foods to include in your diet for stress relief and to help enhance cognitive function are green, leafy salads. Include vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli.

Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and potassium. This will help you fight off colds and other viruses, which really, really make it hard to get out of bed for class.

Blackberries and strawberries are known as the two top brain berries. Studies show they may help prevent memory loss, which is helpful for your academics!

Salmon, herring and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain doesn’t make omega-3s on it’s own, but not getting enough in your diet has been linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Stress in college students doesn’t need to be exacerbated by unnecessary anxiety!

Mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate are excellent snacks. Nuts are high in protein, while pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent other molecules from oxidizing, which can damage your cells!

Coffee is actually a brain-booster as long as you don’t drink the whole pot! Drinking more than 1-2 cups will give you the jitters and increase your heart rate. Then you’ll start to feel anxious and actually lose focus.

7. Keep hydrated

If you weigh 100 pounds, you should drink 5-6 8oz glasses of water per day. The water in a healthy smoothie or juice with no sugar added can be included in your daily count, but iced tea or soda that has caffeine should not.

8. Keep a planner

If you need to work part time in addition to classes, or if you’re heavily involved on campus, managing your day by writing it all down, even on your phone, will help you stay on track. Take a half hour on Sundays to schedule your whole week ahead of time. Then you’ll easily be able to tell when you’re getting your assignments done, or how you’ll squeeze in some type of exercise.

9. Make your money online

Many students are now discovering ways of making money without leaving the dorm. This is where the world of internet marketing can come into play for the right candidate! Here is one company to give you an idea of what is out there for you. Click here.

Related: Low-Effort Side Hustles to Boost Your Financial Independence

10. Eat breakfast

You can manage your stress better if you start your day with a healthy breakfast. Grab a whole wheat bagel or toast, a piece of fruit, and some juice if you’re in a hurry.

11. Pack snacks!

You might be out of your dorm from 8m to 8pm. You’ll need some snacks to keep you going, so keep some in your bag! Pack some dried fruit, plain popcorn, or whole wheat crackers and cheese for some quick go-to snacks between classes.

12. Avoid synthetic smart drugs

During those stressful study periods before exams, avoid consuming synthetic smart drugs. If you need a memory booster, try an all-natural dietary supplement with no harmful side effects. Here’s one that I recommend, called Mastermind.

13. Reach out

Every college and university has services you can reach out to if you need to talk to someone about your anxieties. Sometimes just talking about your concerns helps eliminate them!

14. Don’t worry about what you can’t change

Try not to worry about the student debt you’re accumulating. When you’re finished your studies, you’ll find a way to pay back your loans. What you’re learning now will give you the skills to fix those things later, so don’t pend so much time worrying that you miss those lessons.

By following my tips above, we can eliminate stress in college students! Concentrating on positive and healthy solutions can go a long way in self-management. College and university can be a wonderful and creative experience for you. Focus, live a healthy lifestyle, and love life during these important years while finding out who you are.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with your friends!”

 

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If you’re looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen’s got you covered.

For Christmas, my wonderful parents bought me a professional camera, five novels I’d been wanting to read, and Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. What do you think the first thing I picked up was?! Yeah. It was Cravings. By 10AM on Christmas Day, I’d already picked out the first like, five recipes I wanted to try, and the one I was most excited for was this spicy pasta recipe called Lemony Arugula Cacio e Pepe. 

In Italian, cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper. I actually speak pretty decent Italian, and I’d always used the word formaggio for cheese. As it turns out, cacio is more common in certain dialects, but formaggio is the proper term. That’s your Italian lesson for the day. Go to Italy and use it wisely.

So, today I’m going to be doing a couple of things.

The first is showing off my new camera that I’ll be using for blogging from now on. She’s a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and she’s incredible. Yes, she’s a she. The second thing I’ll be doing is showing you how you can recreate this delicious spicy pasta recipe even better. Uninspired’s whole goal  is to help you be the best adult you can be, which means a lot of things. Some days it means helping you set (reeeaaallly) long-term goals by opening a retirement account. Sometimes I give you dating advice. But other times, like today, it means teaching you to cook when you don’t have your parents or a meal plan helpin’ ya out anymore.

If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.

Making cacio e pepe is pretty simple, but requires you to pay close attention.

Like, prob not a good idea to spend all your time taking pictures of the bacon instead of watching it cook. Because you might burn it and have to start over. Def not speaking from personal experience. Def don’t have incredible pictures of bacon cooking and also a garbage full of bacon ash.

If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! The phrase cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.

Oops, guess I do. Well, anyway, be careful with your bacon. Because it goes from beautiful and perfectly sizzly to burnt and smelling like absolute shit in literally a flash. A camera flash. Haaaah. Somebody stop me.

So, the first step of cooking cacio e pepe is to get your pasta water boiling. While you’re waiting for that, you start cooking your bacon. The timing should work out pretty nicely if you don’t screw it up like I did.

Now, here’s where things get a little dicey. (Dicey. I made a cooking joke. Y’know like, finely diced? You forgot to stop me.)

As you may know about me from my caprese stuffed chicken post, I literally hate cooking meat. So, even though Chrissy didn’t tell me to drain the bacon fat, I had to. Because seeing it there was gross enough, but then you’re supposed to add a quarter cup of olive oil to it. That was more than I could bear. So, I set the bacon aside on a paper towel, drained the fat from the pan, then added the oil and garlic to the empty pan. Then, I added the bacon back and continued the recipe as written. It was way less gross and just plain healthier for you.

From here on out, you can follow Chrissy’s instructions.

Unless, of course, you don’t want to. I pretty much did, but there are still a couple things I might change next time. For one thing, I know this is supposed to be a spicy pasta recipe, but my mouth was literally on fire for ten minutes after eating this. If you like a little kick but not actual real pain, there are a few things you can do. One– you can lessen the amount of red pepper flakes. The recipe calls for a teaspoon, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but it is. It really is. It also calls for 2 teaspoons of black pepper, which is also a lot. You can cut back on either of those.

But ya know, the recipe is called cacio e pepe, so sans pepe…it’s just cheese. Which isn’t bad. But you didn’t spend your hard-earned money on Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook for pasta with cheese. If you don’t want to sacrifice the flavor, just the spice, add more lemon juice. The acidity of lemon cancels out spice. A quarter cup may seem like a lot already, but if it’s too spicy, add more. You barely taste a quarter cup of lemon juice with all the other flavors goin’ on here.

Overall, this spicy pasta recipe was a win.

Next time I would be a little more conservative with the spice, and pay closer attention to my bacon. But in the end, it filled me up and impressed my family. The two major facets of cooking like an adult. So, without further ado, here’s the complete recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s book, Cravings.

P.S. This post is not sponsored in any way. I literally just love this book and this recipe.

Enjoy!

If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.

Lemony Arugula Cacio e Pepe
 
You'll love the peppery, cheesy flavor of this spicy pasta recipe, and how easy it is to make! All you need for cacio e pepe is a pot and a skillet, and a basic knowledge of frying bacon and boiling water. So easy, a twenty-something could do it 😉 I have slightly altered the recipe to fit my taste and to avoid Chrissy Teigen getting mad at me. For the original, check out her book, Cravings.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 16 oz dried spaghetti
  • ¾ c bacon, finely diced
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¾ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ c lemon juice
  • 1½ c Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 c baby arugula
Instructions
  1. Cook spaghetti. Reserve 1 c pasta water, then drain pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon. It should take 7-9 minutes. on med-high heat. Remove from skillet, drain fat.
  3. Add olive oil to skillet, then garlic, then add bacon back in. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant. Should be about 1 minute.
  4. Add lemon juice. Toss in pasta. Add the cheese, toss to coat. Then, add pasta water a little at a time. Lastly, add arugula, and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute.
  5. Season to taste. Serve hot.

If you're looking for a spicy pasta recipe, Chrissy Teigen's got ya covered! Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper, which is really the bulk of this hearty, indulgent meal.

 

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What is self-awareness exactly? Can you define it?

I mean, duh, it’s being aware of ourselves. But there’s way more to it than that. How does being aware of ourselves affect our lives? Why do we need to be self-aware? How does being good or bad at it affect our relationships? That’s what I mean by what is self-awareness. What is self-awareness for?

These are some of the questions that our guest blogger, Patrick, will answer for Mental Health Monday today. He blogs over at patricklinfante.com, and he is endlessly fascinated with human emotion and communication. He’ll explain what this vague, heady term really is, and why it’s important that you know it and incorporate it in your lives. I love that when he defines self-awareness, he breaks it into subcategories which get more and more specific as they describe more specific aspects of that self. And you can see that each section is a little longer, a little more detailed. It wonderfully describes exactly how people define themselves. And once you can define yourself, you can go out and be your best self.

…Are you sensing a pattern here? Is there an Uninspired echo?? I invited Patrick to come talk about this today because, like every week, I wanted to give you something that would help you be the best adult you can be. That’s what Uninspired is all about! Helping you stop feeling ~uninspired~ and start feeling motivated to transition smoooothly into adulthood. Of course, the first step to being an amazing version of yourself is knowing who *yourself* is! So, this post is pretty important. Learning to be self-aware means that we’ll be better equipped to go out in the world and be well-adjusted, productive members of society. So, let’s find out. What is self-awareness??

What is self-awareness exactly, and why is it important? Our guest blogger today, Patrick, is here to talk about exactly that, and why it's especially important for people in their twenties to know themselves.


“The Importance of Self-Awareness”​​

What is self-awareness? Why is it important? Where does it apply in our every day lives?

Well, self-awareness is one of the single most important aspects of our lives!

Knowing yourself is more important than knowing anything else. If you don’t even know yourself, how can you expect anyone else to understand who you are or where you are coming from?

What is self-awareness?

We can break it down into 5 subcategories.

  1. Self-Concept
  2. Personal Values
  3. Self-Identity
  4. Self-Development
  5. Self-Regulation.

Let’s begin with Self-Concept.

This is simply the general view of yourself. Are you athletic? Nerdy? An adrenaline junkie? A musician? Quiet? Loud? You can see how broad this is, and how the lines might start to get blurry as we dive deeper!

Next in line are Personal Values.

This Piggybacks off of self-concept. What do you value in life? What are your wants and needs? Do you care about relationships? Do you care about money? Maybe you care about people a lot? This is similar to your morals. What do you believe in? What makes you tick?

Then we have Self-Identity.

This is a more narrow scope on the previous self-concept. This is where we delve into what our specific qualities are, as well as our potential. We may be an adrenaline junkie, but are we better at driving, biking, surfing, skiing, or something else altogether? You are athletic, but are you better at individual sports, or team sports? Do you excel at hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, etc? Do you retain information on the first go-round? Or do you need it repeated 3 times? Are you a visual learner? Are you an auditory learner? Maybe you learn by doing? Do you communicate by speaking alot? Do you use a lot of body language? A little body language?

I’ve give you a moment. Please, ponder those thoughts thus far.

As we continue, we get into Self-Development.

You are now aware of what your specific skills are. Now, which ones can be bettered? AH. Which ones, should be bettered. Listen, it is all well and good to work on your weaknesses, but.. at some point, they are still a weakness. We should most definitely work on them so that we are well rounded. However, let’s also spend time working on things we are already good at. Let’s make ourselves GREAT at them. Are you working on yourself, or are you becoming complacent, regardless of the multitude of reasons why?

So… how do we know? How do we check? Who holds us accountable?

WE DO.

Which brings us to self-regulation.


Liking Patrick’s post on self-awareness? You might like Millie’s post about dealing with negativity!


Area number 5. Self-Regulation.

We are our own judge and jury. We may have had teachers to hold us accountable, or our parents perhaps, or, maybe even the law at times. That is simply to get us to understand structure and discipline. At the end of the day, we are the ones that sculpt our lives. We are the one that decides whether you get up immediately, or you hit the snooze button. We are the ones that get to choose to stay in and work on our craft, instead of hitting the bars regularly.

And that’s what this is all about.

CHOICE.

We have infinite choices in this life.
Are we choosing to be self aware? To hold ourselves accountable? Are we choosing to work on our strengths and weaknesses? Are we choosing the good life?

It helps if you are self-aware. If you can look yourself in the mirror, and be honest, every day, you have already succeeded. You have embraced yourself. You have accepted the faults, and have felt pride from the strengths. And you accept what you do know, while you also accept what you don’t understand.

The more self-aware you are, the more advantages that you have! If you are aware that you are terrible at basketball, you might not join a competitive league. Or you might! If you are choosing to have fun and improve something. Furthermore, this shapes our lives. If we hate sitting at a computer, we should probably avoid getting an office job, where we sit at a computer 40 hours a week. If you aren’t very social, you might not enjoy working in a restaurant. Perhaps if you are excellent with people, you’d LOVE a sales gig. (You also might not)

The more things we try, the more we sample what is out there in the world, the closer we get to knowing exactly who we are. This helps bring us closer to the life that we ultimately desire.

Again, the key is to pay attention. The key is to Choose to pay attention in life. Try out new scenarios, and pay attention to the results. Pay attention to how it makes you feel.

The real question, is what are you going to do with the information that you find?

Hopefully you use it to create the best version of yourself.

Will you choose to see what is in front of you?

Will you live in denial?

Or will you live?

Last week, I was invited to host an Ask Me Anything session on AMAfeed.

It was so fun! You guys got to ask me anything you wanted about all the things we talk about here on Uninspired. That means we covered dating and love, food and DIY, some money stuff, and lots of mental health stuff. Over 100 people showed up to the session, and dozens of people asked questions. I was so impressed by how thoughtful you were, and I can’t wait to host another Ask Me Anything in the future!

Since it was my first time, things didn’t go 100% smoothly. I was flustered because I was live, I didn’t know you could answer questions ahead of time, etc. So, this post is going to do a few things. First, I’m going to explain how you should host an Ask Me Anything, so you can do one yourself. It’s a great way to gain some exposure and show off your expertise! Then, I’m going to answer all the questions that I didn’t get to answer in my session.

If you missed the session, comments are now locked but you can still see all the questions here.

What is Ask Me Anything?

Ask Me Anything is a “crowdsourced interview,” as they call it. It means that people ask other people to host a session answering questions about whatever the host is an expert in. Anyone can host a session, even if you haven’t been personally invited.

To start:

Make an account on AMAfeed.com and hit “Create AMA” in the top right corner. Then, it’ll prompt you to choose a channel. The channel is the category your Ask Me Anything belongs in. I put mine in the Blogging AMA because I was talking about my blog, but it may have also fallen into the health, dating, love or uni channels. That’s up to you! Then, you have to know the date and time you plan to be online to answer your questions and potential follow-ups. Make sure you leave enough time! An hour and a half was NOT enough for me to answer all the questions I got.

Next, you’ll be prompted to create your headline.

This is where you tell people who you are, and why they should ask you anything! My headline was “I’m a twenty-something marriage and family therapy intern who blogs about helping YOU become the best adult possible. We talk about mental health, dating, personal finance, food, and DIY. Ask Me Anything!” It was a little long, but it accurately described what I could help people with! Then, after your headline, you can describe yourself in more detail. You’ll be asked to add “proof,” meaning proof that you are who you say you are. This is most usually a photo of you, holding something relevant to your Ask Me Anything.

Once you create your AMA, they’ll do a little promotion for you on their own social media. But you should do your own, too! Schedule your AMA a few days in advance so you have time for social media promotion.

Related: How to Promote on Different Social Media Sites

Preparing For Your AMA:

You’ll get an email from Ask Me Anything every time someone leaves you a comment, and you can answer them any time, even before you’re live. This will help you keep your workload light while you’re live, so you can focus on having conversations with people who ask you followups. Building bonds is the biggest part of building a business like a blog, so being able to have those conversations is huge!

That’s where I messed up with this Ask Me Anything, because I didn’t realize you could answer questions in advance. Next time I host one, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind so I can have more full conversations with you guys!

So, what kinds of questions did people ask me?

They ran the gamut from cryptocurrency to verbal abuse. It was seriously so cool. I got to exercise all my skills, and you guys got some really valuable information to help go through your twenties more smoothly. However, like I said, there were some questions I didn’t get to answer because I gave myself such a small window for doing so. Again, if you want to see all the questions that did get answered, click here. But right now, I’m going to answer all the ones I didn’t get to last Thursday.

1. “How do you deal with an insecure, verbally abusive spouse?”

This is a really, really, important question but unfortunately also a very difficult one to answer. It’s almost a good thing I missed this during the Ask Me Anything, because my answer would have had to be rushed, and now I can answer to the best of my ability.

The human in me wants to tell this verbal abuse victim to just get the heck out of this unhealthy relationship, but therapists don’t give advice like that. As I said in another question, what if the woman tries to leave as per my advice, (I’m assuming the victim is a woman and the abuser is the man, which may be wrong) and she gets caught by her abuser and he goes wild and hurts her? The client is the expert on his or her own life, so first, together, the therapist and client have to figure out what this cleint needs and wants from therapy. “Dealing with” an insecure, verbally abusive spouse can mean lots of things. Does she want help safely leaving him? Or she might want me to change him or fix him. Does she just want the relationship to change?

So first, I would urge her to think about why she is in this relationship.

What does she gain from being with this person who seems to beat her down emotionally? Depending on my theoretical orientation, which I haven’t formally chosen yet since I’m still a student, I might have her think about her family of origin. Did she see this type of behavior between her parents and assume that’s what a relationship was? Did her upbringing somehow teach her that she wasn’t worthy of a partner who treated her kindly? Is she caught between something that her culture says is right and what she feels is right?

Once questions like this have been answered (and appropriately dealt with since they can bring up some tough stuff), she might have a better idea of what kind of work she wants to do. If she decides to leave, that’s fine. We can work on a safety plan, bring her support system into session to bring them up to speed and ask them for whatever she may need, etc. If she decides to stay, the real work begins.

As a couples counselor, my job is to repair the relationship, not either of the people.

So, marriage therapy wouldn’t “deal with” the abusive spouse. I would urge both parties to change how they relate to each other, even the one who’s been abused. If that sounds crazy, and that person can’t let go of the abuse and forgive, they may not be ready for couples counseling. In that case, they need to either end the relationship, or do some more exploration. Or, the woman could urge her partner to go to individual counseling if she wants him to deal with his issues on his own. However, this might not work because if the abuser isn’t motivated to change, he won’t participate fully, and she won’t get the results she wants. Couples therapy is sometimes more effective because it can be motivating for the one with the more problematic behavior to see that the other partner is also willing to make changes.

If they do feel ready to make changes in their relationship, the therapist can help them with lots of trust exercises, communication exercises, and more. I hope this helps, and best of luck to you or the couple you had in mind!

2. “What insights can you share to everyone about mental health issues and how to deal with people having them?”

That’s a super broad question! It’s highly, highly dependent on which mental illness you’re talking about, as well as who the person is beyond the disorder.

An insight I don’t think a lot of people have is that most mental illness is on a spectrum. So, a person with a mental disorder is, for the most part, just a regular person who is further on one particular spectrum than most people. For example: being further long on the scale for attention-seeking behavior becomes Histrionic Personality Disorder at a certain point. So, you’re still dealing with a whole person with a lot of other traits aside from their disorder. That means that everyone is going to react differently to their mental health issues. Someone who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder but who is also a Type A personality is going to respond very differently to the disorder than someone who would already take any excuse to stay home, ya know?

Point is: if you love someone with a mental health issue, you really should ask them what they need from you. There isn’t one specific answer for everyone.

I hope tha answers your question, and thanks for joining my Ask Me Anything!

3. “What are your thoughts on online dating? Would you recommend this? How about speed dating and blind dates?”

Ahh, if you spend any time at Uninspired, you know I have strong feelings about online dating!

I used to love using free online dating apps like Tinder and Pleny of Fish. I thought it was a great self-esteem boost to open my phone and see like, ten guys who thought I was pretty. But soon, I started to notice I actually wasn’t feeling that great about myself, and it was because the guys on these dating sites weren’t really trying to get to know me. They didn’t want to date me. Free dating apps aren’t really dating apps, they’re hookup apps.

I’m sure paid sites like Match.com or Zoosk are different. When you’re paying for a site, you want results. You want to find love. You’re not gonna fuck around like you do when you don’t have any stake in it. But, most users are on the mainstream apps because they’re free. And on those sites, there is an astounding lack of humanity. You can read my full opinion on that here.

Related: The Tinder Files: Best and Worst Pickup Lines of the Month

4. “You do have a lot to offer to your readers and now as an adult, what are the things that disappoints you and how about the things that surprises you?”

Thanks so much! And that’s an awesome question. I think we can all agree that there’s one big thing that both surprises and disappoints the majority of brand new adults, and that is how damn expensive life is. Not only that, but it’s shocking and disappointing how hard it is to get money when literally everyone needs it to survive.

Honestly, that’s why I started writing Uninspired, which has led me to hosting his Ask Me Anything in the first place 🙂 I know a lot of people are disappointed or surprised at what adult life turned out to be like, and sometimes that can make you feel pretty….

*uninspired.*

Sorry. So, I write about a lot of things that I think might help young adults get through that disappointment, or react well when they’re surprised about some stupid adulting crap. The biggest thing for that is mental health, because if you take good care of yourself, you’re already on the road to handling shitty things better. Then, we handle the shitty things better. I can make you laugh about shitty dating situations, teach you how to make more money, or how to save more money, or how to cook better.

5. “It’s a pretty cool blog site. Why Uninspired? What keeps you inspired to do all these blogs?”

Thanks so much! I called the blog Uninspired because the idea to start it came from me feeling pretty uninspired about adult life. I was in this cycle of just working and going to school, then going to sleep and doing it all over again. It was so monotonous, and it didn’t feel like it would never end. I knew I couldn’t be the only person out there who felt a little uninspired when it came to where my life seemed to be going, so I decided to immerse myself in all the things that made me feel inspired again. You can see the full story on my Start Here page.

What keeps me inspired to do all these things and keep blogging is the fact that I genuinely love everything that I do. I’m on the go from 8am to 10pm every weekday, and it’s stressful, but my heart is full and my mind is challenged, which makes me happy. As long as I make time for self-care, I’ll be okay 🙂 Hopefully, you have things in your life that help you feel the same way. Thanks for joining my Ask Me Anything, and sorry my answer was late!

6. “You seem to be all over the place (in a good way) back in college, how did you get to manage doing all those things?”

I think this was the answer to one of my other questions over at the official Ask Me Anything, but it has become relevant once again: PLANNERS PLANNERS PLANNERS!

Seriously, I put literally everything in my planner. At this point, with all I use it for, it’s really like a bullet journal. I keep track of when I’m going to do homework assignments, when I’m going to eat, what my priorities for the week are. I plan how much money I’m going to save that month, how many blog posts I’ll be writing, and goals for the week and month. Honestly, I even keep track of what my paychecks should be just in case there’s a discrepancy. (I also have a blog planner that’s totally separate.)

7. “How often do you cook? Did you also learn or studied cooking? And what is your favorite recipe?”

Lemme tell ya a little about the reputation cooking has in my family. My dad’s side of the family is all Italian. My dad will talk all day and all night about my grandmother’s cooking, or his aunt’s cooking, and how they were so amazing because they didn’t measure their ingredients. They didn’t use recipes. They cooked aaaaaall day on Sunday and the house smelled sooooo good when he woke up in the morning. But then he married my mom, who hates cooking. So, I grew up somewhere in between “you should learn to cook like an Italian grandma” and “don’t let the patriarchy keep ya down, order takeout.” And I like takeout, so…

Nobody ever gave me any training in cooking. And I hate cooking for when I’m hungry. I mostly cook for fun, and I’ve learned to cook in my spare time using Pinterest recipes when I’m in the mood. Which is highly impractical, but makes a lot of sense based on how I was raised. Cooking is a hobby for me, not a necessity.

Here’s a link to my favorite recipe right now, for stuffed spaghetti squash. It’s really awesome because it’s super heathy but also hearty and delicious.

8. “What is your typical day like? Do you follow a routine?”

Oooohhh I love talking about my schedule. I think routine is super important. I don’t think you should do the same thing every single day, but knowing what to expect (generally) is super healthy. While each of my weekdays aren’t the same as each other, all my Mondays are the same. All my Tuesdays are the same. Etc.

On Monday, all I do is internship from 11am to 7PM. That’s nice because it gives me the chance to sleep in the first day after the weekend! It’s a great way to ease into the week, although it’s a long day full of intense therapy sessions.

Tuesday and Wednesday are very similar. I have internship at 11 again, but I usually get up around 8 so I have time to blog. After internship, I go straight to class, any maybe grab some food on the way. Then, I’m in class until around 10PM. Those are super long days, but incredibly rewarding because I get to see clients and also learn how to help them more effectively. And see my classmates, who are awesome 🙂

Thursday and Friday are my money-making days. I substitute teach from 8-3, and then I tutor in the late afternoons. Tutoring is a great side hustle because it’s cash and really impressive hourly rates! Maybe I’ll write a post about that sometime.

So, those are all the questions I didn’t get to answer during my Ask Me Anything session!

If you have more, please don’t hesitate to ask me followups. Or, you can ask your own questions in the comments! I seriously love hearing from you guys, so don’t be shy!

“Affiliate marketing programs for beginners” refers to the post being for beginners, not the programs.

Once you start, you’re kind of just doin’ it like the rest of us. There are no networks that are better or worse for people just starting out at this. That said, there is a learning curve. But you’ll do great if you soak in all the juicy info in this post.

The Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners segment of Uninspired’s blogaversary (the last one!) will give you a list of affiliate networks and programs to join, everything you need in order to approach brands, and some tips for making the sale!

I’m doing this little mini-series because Uninspired has just turned a year old, and it’s been the most fun year with you guys. I’ve learned so much, and I want to share that knowledge with you so that YOU can become a blogger and make money while enjoying the things you love. So far, I’ve showed you how to create your site, design it to your taste, write your posts with SEO in mind, and then promote your posts using social media and link building. Now, we’re finally going to talk about affiliate marketing programs for beginners, or, how this all translates into money for you.

This last segment of the blogaversary series will make you FEEL like less of a beginner by showing you all the affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join, how to approach brands you love, how to create a media kit, and more!

Here’s the outline of the whole course, so you can find what you need when ya need it:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promote Your Blog Post

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners– YOU ARE HERE

  • What Affiliate Marketing Is & How It Works
  • Networks to Join
  • Media Kits
  • How to Approach A Brand

Don’t have time to read all five parts right now? No problem! Just download the FREE e-book so you have the whole thing in one convenient location to refer back to whenever you want! Enter your email below so I know where to send it:

ADD_THIS_TEXT


 

Uninspired’s Blogaversary Part V:

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

So first I guess I should start off by explaining what affiliate marketing is, and then we’ll get to the actual affiliate marketing programs for beginners thing.

Affiliate marketing is when you have a partnership with a company where you get a portion of the profit for sales you make for them. For example, I’m an affiliate for Smile Brilliant, an awesome teeth whitening company that I love to use (I drink a lotta coffee). They asked me to write a post about how awesome they are, and in exchange they’d give me a commission for any sales they get from that blog post. They also gave me the product for free so I could use it for blogging purposes.

A lot of bloggers will tell you free products don’t pay the bills, and not to accept partnerships for free product. I disagree. If you use or want the product anyway, getting it for free is just as cool as making the money you would’ve spent on it. 

Just some lingo you might want to know–

CPM, CPC and CPA. These refer to how you get paid.

CPM stands for cost per mille, and means that you get paid whenever someone sees the ad. This doesn’t happen much, because it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is going to buy the product.

CPC is cost per click, which means you get paid when someone clicks on your ad. Not many reputable companies do this either, recognizing people could just get their friends to click over and over, or go on Facebook groups and ask for clicks.

The one you’ll probably deal with most is CPA, or cost per action. You get paid when someone takes action as a result of the ad they saw on your blog.

Now, picture this scenario:

A reader clicks your affiliate link, but they close their browser to think about the purchase before buying. A few days later, they go straight back to that site, not through your link, and purchase the product. Do you lose that affiliate sale?

Not usually!

Most affiliate programs use little things called cookies. Cookies are tiny little pieces of data that store your information from one web-browsing session to another. So, if your reader views that page again and purchases something a few days later, the cookie will remember that they came from your site, and you’ll still make the sale. An average length for affiliate link cookies is 30 days.

And one more thing before I get you started–

I want to remind you about having an affiliate disclosure available on your blog. It’s just a little legal doohickey that lets people know you’re only posting about things you truly support, and you’re not just accepting every ad request for your own gain. And this should absolutely be true. If you’re not in this to help people and lend your true expertise, blogging is not the side hustle for you, friend.

Revisit Part I and scroll toward the bottom to find where we talked about affiliate disclosures, and generate one now. I’ll wait.

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Okay, now that that’s all squared away, we’ll start talking about some affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join. I’ll start with a list of big networks you should know about.

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners to Join:

There are a bunch of affiliate networks out there which partner with as many brands/affiliate programs as they can, and offer them all to you on one convenient site. You sign up for the network, and then the application process for each brand is much easier because all your information is already in the network. Here are the ones I’m a part of, and some of their partnerships.

  • Awin– Swarovski, Ferrari, FabFitFun, Moleskin, StubHub
  • Share A Sale– Wayfair, Craftsy, PopSockets, Reebok, Pura Vida
  • CJ Affiliate– Nike, Michael Kors, Vineyard Vines, Hobby Lobby
  • ShopStyle Collective– Sephora, Forever 21, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue
  • Amazon Associates– gives you a small commission on anything on Amazon!
  • Google Adsense- chooses their own ads to put on your site, and gives you a commission for them.



Once you’re partnered with a brand, you get your links.

You’ll get text links or you can make deep links (I’ll explain) and you’re privy to their “creative” or their banners and sidebar/footer ads. The banners and sidebar ads can be added to your site via html. See that ad for Awin I’ve put right above this paragraph? I did that by copying the html for the ad I liked best on their “my creative” page, and pasting it in the “text” tab on my “edit post” page.

You can also add ads to your sidebar or footer. Go to your customization tab on your WP dash, choose “widgets,” and add a “custom html” widget in either your sidebar or footer. You can paste your code there, and it’ll pop right up on your site!

Links have a little more nuance. It’s cool, you got this, that’s why this is affiliate marketing programs for beginners. Some of the networks will give you links to the brands’ homepages, but they’ll also offer deep links. A deep link allows you to have an affiliate link for any page on a brand’s website. So, you go to the deep links page, enter the URL of the page you want a link to, and an affiliate link will be generated for you. Then, even if you link the reader to an informational page, you’ll still get the sale if they end up buying.

Great–you picked some brands from the affiliate networks. But what if you can’t find that one brand you’d LOVE to work with?

No problem, just approach them! Here are some tips for approaching a brand/company:

Size doesn’t matter as much as you think!

Well, not in this scenario. Just because your blog doesn’t have a lot of views yet doesn’t mean you won’t get the gig. Most brands would rather see a hundred super loyal followers than a thousand followers who never actually engage with content. That’s one of the reasons why like-for-like is a no-no. Blogging is all about building relationships. The better you are at that, the more success you’ll have on all fronts, including getting brands to connect with you.

Have a media kit.

A media kit is the resume of the blogging world. You can get great media kit templates on, you guessed it, Canva! What a lifesaver. Here are all the sections I have on mine, and what they’re all for:

About the Blogger

Should give a short, concise description of who you are and why you blog. Just like a resume, tailor it for who you’re talking to. If you’re pitching Forever 21, mention your deep love for fast fashion. If you’re pitching StubHub, it’s worth mentioning that you’ve been to thirty concerts this year. Etc.

About the Blog

This is where you pitch your blog’s purpose, and why that fits the purpose of the brand you’re pitching. This might require a little research on your part. What’s their mission statement? What are they trying to do, and how are your goals aligned?

Social Media Stats

Speaks for itself. Just be honest, because it’s easy enough to find you and check.

Services Offered

This is where you list what you offer advertisers. Do you run giveaways? Post reviews? Sell space on your sidebar? Put all of these in this section, along with your prices.

Pricing is a tricky thing for bloggers because comparatively speaking, blogging is a new profession. That, paired with how taboo it is to talk about money makes for a really difficult situation for us. But just so you know, if you’re writing a blog post for a company, $100 for every 10,000 page views per month is the generally accepted rule. 4,000 views = $40. 20,000 views = $200. You get the idea.

The PR people who contact you will try to tell you they don’t have a budget and you’re being ridiculous by asking so much, but your time and work are worth something. Don’t sell yourself short. You can certainly barter and like I said, don’t be shamed into not accepting free product if you’d use it. Just NEVER accept a “discount” on a product so you’re still paying for it AND helping that company out by reviewing it. 

Demographics

Who reads your blog? You can find this information in Google Analytics. What gender reads your blog more? How old is your average reader? Where do they live?

Contact Details

In this section, list everywhere you can be found! Your website, email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page, Pinterest, etc. Wherever you can be found on the web, put it here.

Send a professional and personal message.

Along with your media kit, you’ll want to send a professional message to the person receiving it. Here are some tips for that:

  • Figure out the name of the person you’re emailing. Dear sir or madam doesn’t cut it in the blogging world where personality is your greatest asset. Usually, you can find the company on social media and ask for a contact
  • In that same vein, research the specific person you should get in touch with. Don’t email Michael Kors himself and ask to be an affiliate. Find their PR person, marketing associate, brand ambassador etc.
  • Don’t send a whole cover letter in an email, because these people get hundreds of messages like your a day, but make sure you send a little paragraph that summarizes who you are, why you love their brand, and why they should work with you. One paragraph. 5-7 sentences.
  • Have a professional email signature with contact information and a blog link for easy access.

 

If you follow this advice, you’ll be golden!

Well, that’s the end of the Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners segment of my Blogaversary series, but it’s also the end of the series! I’ve had so much fun writing out all these tips for you. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and it’s made me excited for the future– the future of Uninspired, and the future for your new blog!

If you have any questions about anything in this segment, or any of the other Blogaversary posts, please feel free to shoot me an email at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com. Happy blogging!

This last segment of the blogaversary series will make you FEEL like less of a beginner by showing you all the affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join, how to approach brands you love, how to create a media kit, and more!

It’s already time to pick out the best pickup lines of the month!

…and the worst! As you know if you’ve been with Uninspired a while, every month I do this fun thing where I pick out the best pickup lines I’ve gotten, as well as the dirtiest, creepiest, and funniest. It makes people laugh, but it also has a deeper purpose.

You can check out the long version here if you want to know aaaaall about it, but I’ll give you the basics here. The Tinder Files are about accountability. People say a lot of things on dating sites that they would NEVER say to a person who was standing in front of them at a bar or coffee shop. I mean, I’ve had people straight up tell me they want to fuck me up against a wall without so much as a hello. Uncomfortable to read, right? Not one of the best pickup lines I’ve ever heard. In fact, at a bar, you’d have a vodka sprite in your eyes before you could even blink.

So, why do people say this shit online?

Because of the lack of accountability. They know they CAN’T get a drink in their face for being a dick over a computer or phone. So they say whatever they want. But it still takes a toll on the person on the receiving end. I should know; I’ve been on dating sites for about four years, starting with Tinder. At first, it was amazing. I had like fifty guys a day telling me how pretty I was. But soon, I started to notice a drop in my self-esteem, and it’s because their compliments were…not real compliments.

So, what did I do about it? I started the Tinder Files. Singling out the best pickup lines encourages people to be nice. Singling out the awful ones encourages people to be better, or at least pretend to be while in the public eye. But, I do have a few ground rules set to make sure I don’t end up stooping to these douche’s levels. I’ll never post about someone who seemed to have good intentions. I’ll never post about someone based on their physical appearance, ethnicity, race, etc. And I’ll always try to blur faces and identifying details.

So, now that that’s all out of the way, please enjoy the best pickup lines I’ve chosen for January 2018!


1. In My Dreams

Haaaah. So cute. Next time someone tries something like this on me I’m gonna pretend I know them. “Oh yeah you went to that blogging conference right?! So nice to hear from you!!”

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

2. Suddenly, All At Once

I’m actually having trouble deciding how I feel about this one. My feelings are threefold. On one hand, I feel like this is a cop out because it’s a quote from Crime and Punishment. On the other hand, it’s a little pretentious to send a quote from a classic novel. And on my weird third hand that I apparently have because I said I had three feelings and went with a hand-metaphor, is it a liiiiittle sweet that someone thought of a romantic line from a classic novel when they learned about me?

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

3. Literally be Your Mann

y tho?

I literally don’t No uu lol

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

4. Roll Down a Hill

Is this something I don’t understand? Is this a euphemism for something?

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

5. Blank Stare

I dunno about you guys but the last thing I’m gonna do on a dating site is point out my potential flaws.

“Hey you didn’t answer my last stupid message and my last boyfriend said I was literally bat shit insane but you don’t see that right hahaha”

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

 

6. Subway Discount

As a matter of fact, this guy caught me about three years too late. I did work at Subway (‘scuse me, SubwayTM) and could’ve gotten him a discount.

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

 

7. Duty on Time

Gotta love when their best pickup lines are to promote their pyramid schemes.

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

 

8. Soundcloud

Also love when their best pickup lines promote their music career. Bonus: I’m not from anywhere near that town, and my actual town is listed in plain English on my profile.

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

 

9. Parking Ticket

Okok, this one was cute. I promised you the best pickup lines and I’ve been a little bitter, so hopefully this one helps a little.

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

 

10. Sign Language

And for the end of this month’s Tinder Files, I will leave you with this deep thought *hits blunt*

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

What are the best pickup lines you’ve ever gotten on a dating site?

On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!
On the last Friday of every month, I collect the best pickup lines (and the worst ones!!) I've gotten on dating sites lately. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're cringeworthy, but they always make a huge statement!

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Welcome to the second to last installment of Uninspired’s anniversary series! Today we’re learning about where to promote your blog post.

Before we get into how to promote your blog post, let me be all misty-eyed and talk about my purpose and all that.

I started Uninspired to help twenty-somethings be the best versions of themselves. Adulting is hard, but I’ve got tricks up my sleeve to make it easier for you. That’s why we talk about easy and nutritious recipes (so you don’t starve when you’re off that meal plan), making and saving money (so someday you’ll be able to move out), and dating (because, well, that’s freakin’ hard).

Can you guess which of those I get the most questions about?

I’m guessing you guessed it. It’s making and saving money. So, for Uninspired’s birthday, I put together a GIGANTIC, five-part guide to using blogging for some extra money. So far, you should’ve created a site that’s compatible with your goals, made it pretty and written your first blog post, optimizing it for SEO. Now we’re gonna talk about another way to promote your blog post– spreading it all over the web.

 

The fourth installment of Uninspired's Blogaversary series is all about how to promote your blog post! You'll learn the ins and outs of all the main social media sites (and Pinterest, though it's not a social media site!) and a list of all the places you should promote that post! Happy blogging!

Here’s the outline of the series, complete with links:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promote Your Blog Post– YOU ARE HERE

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing

  • Disclosures
  • Approaching Brands
  • Media Kits
  • Networks to Join

If you don’t have enough time to read all this right now, that’s cool! You’ve got a lot on your plate. Just drop your email address below, and I’ll send you a gorgeous e-book with all the same information so you can save it and read it on your own time.

ADD_THIS_TEXT


Uninspired’s Blogaversary Part IV:

Promote Your Blog Post

I’ll say it flat out– my friends and family give exactly 0 fucks about Uninspired. They’re stuck on how they have one of those friends who takes lots of food pics and has a ~personal brand.~ So I’ll be the first to tell you promotion is hard, especially without a circle who understands/cares what you’re doing. That means you really need to find other bloggers to exchange ideas with. For one thing, you’ll have someone who doesn’t see this hobby as basic or nerdy. Second, blogging friends are great accountability partners, and it’s just plain friendship! No one’s in a spot to pass that up.

Now we can talk about where to promote your blog post. I’ll start with social media sites, then non-social media, and then other blogs. Enjoy!

Social Media

The most important advice I can give you about how to promote your blog post on social media is this: do not engage in like for like, follow for follow, etc. I can’t stress that enough. It’s an easy way to gain followers/likes, but they’re not real.

Example: the big scary man who runs Death To Ponies and Unicorns just liked your Facebook page, Ponies and Unicorns Unlimited hoping you’d like his back. But he’s not going to read your content, and you won’t read his. He has no reason to click your affiliate links and vice versa. You guys have nothing to offer each other.

Plus, everyone can see through the thin veil of like-for-like. When you have a million followers but only six likes on your last ten pieces of actual content, it’s clear. And that one real viewer who genuinely enjoyed your stuff will probably end up thinking you don’t care about your audience. So please, earn your numbers. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll actually make a difference for your readers and yourself.

Another tip about how to promote your blog post on any social media– there are scheduling sites that allow you to set up your content ahead of time. This allows you to keep life flowing smoothly and still get posts out at high-traffic times. I use Hootsuite for this, but another popular one is Buffer. They both have free versions.

Now let’s talk specific sites.

Facebook

On Facebook, I do not suggest that your promote your blog post on your personal page. How annoying is that girl that sells protein powder or purses on her Facebook? Don’t be her. Instead, start a business page. Invite your personal friends to like it, so you know you’re only sharing your content with the friends who support your business.

A few ways to win Facebook– Only ask friends in your target audience for likes. College bloggers– don’t invite Aunt Marge, even if she’ll like every post. If Facebook sees Gen X, that’s who they’ll suggest your page to. Gen X isn’t wondering how to survive a frat party, so you’ll miss out on well-deserved traffic.

The Facebook algorithm is just general nonsense. The more likes you get, the more they’ll show your posts. But obviously, you won’t get likes if they’re not showing your post. So, it’s frustrating, but don’t be discouraged. When the likes do start rollin’ in, you’ll know they’re real and you’ll be happier because you worked so hard for ’em.

More Facebook tips– Share content 1-2 times per day. Make it a nice mixture of yours and other people’s. Engage HEAVILY in blogging Facebook groups. There are a TON of FB groups to promote your blog post, ask questions, gain followers, and more.

Here are some great FB groups you can ask to join:

Boost Your Blog– run by Helene Sula, one of my favorite bloggers. Her group is HUGE and has daily threads highly focused on real engagement rather than like-for-like.

Bloggers Share & Engage– this one doesn’t have threads, you can post anything anytime!

Make Your Blog Beautiful–  Sometimes blogger/admins get super busy and forget to post their threads, but this group has never once missed a day!

Girl Blogging Sharebears– a really close-knit group of silly, creative ladies.

Blogging Babes and Business Bosses– This group has Motivate Me Monday, where we talk about goals for the week. It’s great for accountability!

Bloggers Supporting Bloggers– These threads have hundreds of comments! It’s easy to get lost, but it’s also hundreds of opportunities to get noticed!

Twitter

I’ll be honest, people are in a fast-paced frame of mind on Twitter. They want short sentences, gifs, and memes, not a 1,000 word blog post (which is ideal, as we learned in part III). So tweets leading to long reads don’t get clicked much.

BUT– I get more engagement in general on Twitter than any other site. I have the most followers and conversations, and I feel generally closer with people. Use Twitter to build relationships. Be nice to people. Send love to their blogs and they’ll send it back.

I use Tweepi to find relevant people to follow. You get recommendations based on your audience’s hashtags and similar accounts. For example, one of the accounts I said was like mine was Common White Girl– she has a lot of twenty-something followers. Some of the hashtags I’ve put in recently were #finalsweek #avocadotoast and #freshmanatlife. I also have unfollow recommendations based on who hasn’t followed me back, doesn’t tweet often, etc.

Instagram

I don’t have Instagram for my blog for a few reasons. First, branding is like, 98% of Instagram. Now that I have a nice camera and Creative Cloud, I might think about it, but I’ve got my hands a little full with my other social medias. It’s a good idea to give your all to a couple sites, not do a shitty job juggling them all.

It also really bugs me that I can’t put a link in a caption. The photo becomes irrelevant as soon as you change the link in your bio. And Instagram is run by Facebook, so they have another ridiculous algorithm. It seems like a lot of work for little reward in my opinion. But, a lot of bloggers seem to love Instagram, so if that’s where you want to promote your blog post, here’s a link to Helene Sula’s library of Instagram growth posts. She loves Instaram, and knows it super well.

Bloglovin

Between all these different ways bloggers throw information at your face all the time, there had to be a way to just get the content straight from all the blogs you love, right to one common feed. That’s Bloglovin. Connect your site, and your posts will automatically go there! You can also get a cute little Bloglovin widget for your blog, which readers can just click to follow you!



Non-Social Media

Email List

So, what’s the difference between your email list and all these other ways to shove information down people’s throats??

You own your email list. If Zuckerberg got arrested tomorrow for selling our personal information and Facebook tanked, you’d lose all your likes. But you’d have your email list. Your email list is the only promotional tool you have that isn’t at the mercy of someone else’s algorithm. So really, really use that. You can promote your blog post on it, notify readers of sales, freebies, and more! Remember– these people signed up for your list because they wanted to hear from you. So don’t disappoint! Give them your best stuff. Reward them for being your most loyal readers.

How do you get people to join your email list, you ask? You give them a freebie!

I gotta say, I’m tired of bloggers saying you’ll get people to join your email list with a checklist or worksheet. No one’s gonna cough up their email address for a checklist of ten things you should do before bed. These are your best customers! The ones willing to give you their email address because they like what you have to say so much! Do right by them. Don’t give them a cheesy checklist. Don’t ask them to join just to be notified when you want to promote your blog post. You can do better. Give them something for free that they would gladly pay for.

In he past I’ve given my readers a recipe e-book full of like, twenty recipes that are easy, impressive looking, and nutritious. Most of these recipes aren’t on the blog, so it’s A TON of super exclusive information. Plus, even the ones that are on the blog can be printed and stored in one pretty booklet.

I could make you sign up to get a checklist with what I’m about to say next, but I won’t cause I like ya. So, to pick your freebie, you have to ask yourself these questions: what problem can I solve for my readers? What could I give them that would really show off the value of my site? Below are some popular ideas.

  • E-books– Canva has great templates
  • E-mail course– give readers information on how to do something over  5-7 days
  • Webinar- use Google Hangouts or ClickMeetin
  • A Toolkit page on your blog that’s password protected; readers get the password by signing up
  • A Content Upgrade– offer a better version of something. My offering to give you a more convenient e-book version of this mini-series when you sign-up for my email list is a content upgrade.

Now that you have these readers hooked with your freebie, you can use your email list to promote your blog post, remind them of sales at your affiliate sites, and more. Get your mailing list going for free at Mailerlite. A lot of people will tell you to go for ConvertKit or Mailchimp. I tried both– Convertkit isn’t free and Mailchip is harder to understand. Go Mailerlite for sure!

Reddit

Stuff from Reddit goes viral constantly. Memes start here. Your blog can get famous here.

There’s also a blogging subreddit, or basically a little community, where you can give and get blogging advice, and promote your blog post. You can find that here!

Reddit can also provide inspiration for posts! What’s trending? What are people reading about and talking about?

Flipboard

Sumo has provided me with a social share button for Flipboard for forever, and I had no idea what it was until very recently. Turns out, it has the power to drive a lot of traffic! It’s a news site that gathers articles from all over the web, and shows you ones you’ll like based on preferences you set. If you’re a blogger, you can add your own content so it’ll show up in people’s feeds.

Pinterest

Okay, this is a big one. Again, Pinterest is not social media. Pinterest is actually a search engine. So, how do you make the most of it to promote your blog post? Well, first you need a good, pinnable image. So, head to Canva.

Canva has pre-set sizes for ideal photos on lots of sites. They have a size for Pinterest (735 x 1102), but if you want to stand out, you actually have to go bigger. Use the “infographic,” size which is 800 x 2000. Now, choose a branded photo, and add text. When you’re finished designing and making it pretty, download it as a .jpg. Pinterest only accepts .jpg files. Then, add it to your blog post wherever you deem fit.

Now, how do you use this image to promote your blog post?! Well, if you got Sumo, which I recommend a thousand percent, you should have social share buttons on the side of our blog post. When you click the Pinterest one, all the images in your post will pop up, including that one you made. Pin it to the board you should have for your own blog posts, and any relevant group boards you’re a part of.

What’s a group board, you ask?!

Well, first let me explain boards. Each board is like a bulletin board where you’d “pin” something you like. You have different boards for different categories of things- recipes, DIY projects, home decor, outfit inspo, etc. Only you can pin to your own boards, unless you make them group boards. Then, anyone you invite can add pins. These are great for bloggers because you can show your posts to many different audiences, without having to gather all those followers yourself. I have a little over 600 followers, but I get a half a million views per month thanks to group boards. If a group board is accepting new members, instructions for joining will be in the description. Here are some that I’m a part of:

Since you can’t use Hootsuite or Buffer for Pinterest, there’s another scheduling tool you can use to schedule your pins. Tailwind saves you a ton of time and energy by queueing up all your pins, and posting them at the highest traffic times. They also have a section called Tribes, where you can share your content with other bloggers.

Now, how do you incorporate your branding on Pinterest? And how can you increase your chances of getting noticed?

Some people go aaaall out with their branding on Pinterest, only including pins in their boards that match their colors. I can’t be bothered with that, but I do brand in the sense that all my pins are interesting to twenty-somethings. For example, money saving plans, style inspiration, dating tips, mental health, and general adulting tips (like, how to jump start a car, etc.).

I also have branded board covers. Your board cover is the pin that sticks to the front of your board all the time, which you can set by clicking on the edit button that comes up when you roll your mouse over a board. Having board covers helps your page look neater and more cohesive. More branded.

The fourth installment of Uninspired's Blogaversary series is all about how to promote your blog post! You'll learn the ins and outs of all the main social media sites (and Pinterest, though it's not a social media site!) and a list of all the places you should promote that post! Happy blogging!

As far as getting noticed, there are a few ways to make sure you pop up in search results. For one thing, don’t name your boards anything clever. Name them what they are, because that’s what people search for. You can add creative text in your board covers like I did if you want! Like Google, Pinterest doesn’t see what’s in the pictures, just how you describe them.

You can also make money via Pinterest!

I’ll talk about this again next week in more detail, but you can literally make money right on Pinterest. You won’t have to rely on a reader’s commitment to go through Pinterest and then your blog and then the affiliate site– you can snag ’em right at the first step! Elise McDowell can teach you exactly how to do it with her e-book called “Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours.” I didn’t make my first sale in 24 hours, but when I did make a sale a few days later, I got three in a row, which more than covered my investment in the book. Give it a shot!

Other Blogs (Link Building)

The last way to promote your blog post is via other blogs in a process called link building. Basically, link building is getting your blog’s link on as many other sites as possible. The more highly-ranked the site, the better it is for your ranking. Here are two tried-and-true ways to build high-quality links:

      • Guest Posting- ask to write posts on other people’s blogs! But first, check their domain authority. If theirs is lower than yours, it’s probably not worth it to write for them. You can check DA here.
      • Comment on other blogs-  genuinely! If you haven’t noticed, I’m big on that. Google is smart. It knows if you’re just posting your own blog link on a million blogs a day. Post thoughtful comments, maybe leave your blog link if it seems appropriate or maybe even helpful

    The #1 Writing Tool

Whew! Teaching you  to promote your blog post has been a mouthful. What do you still have questions about?

Let me know in the comments, or you can email me at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com. Happy blogging!

The fourth installment of Uninspired's Blogaversary series is all about how to promote your blog post! You'll learn the ins and outs of all the main social media sites (and Pinterest, though it's not a social media site!) and a list of all the places you should promote that post! Happy blogging!

Welcome back to the Ultimate Guide to Blogging! This week’s segment is about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

Since I’ve been writing Uninspired for about a year now, and it’s been such an awesome experience, I decided to share everything that I’ve learned about blogging so far with you guys. There’s so much information that it’s a five-part series! You’ve got 1) how to create the perfect site, 2) designing that perfect site 3) how to write SEO-friendly blog posts 4) promoting those awesome posts and 5) affiliate marketing. And what’s the best part?! It’s all FREE!

I thought this might help you guys because here at Uninspired, we’re all about helping you become the best adult you can possibly be. Since the biggest thing a lot of you seem to need is a good side hustle, I thought this would be great information to have. This series will tech you how to make an awesome side hustle out of blogging. It’s great because you can just talk about the things you love, and get paid for it! As long as you follow the steps I’m outlining for you here.

Part III of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging in celebration of Uninspired's first birthday covers how to write great blog posts. You'll find the anatomy of a great post, a breakdown of all that SEO nonsense, and some places to find high quality photos. To learn about site creation and design, visit parts I and II.

So, here’s our outline:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts- YOU ARE HERE

  • What is SEO?
  • How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts
  • How to Get Good Photos

Promoting Your Blog Posts

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing

  • Disclosures
  • Approaching Brands
  • Media Kits
  • Networks to Join

Don’t have time to read the whole series right now? Get it sent straight you your inbox in a gorgeous, downloadable PDF to read whenever you’re ready.


ADD_THIS_TEXTThe #1 Writing ToolThe Ultimate Guide to Blogging Part III: How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

How to write SEO-friendly blog posts is crucial because it allows your site to be found on the web. So many bloggers don’t make it because they’re just writing stream-of-consciousness and not optimizing their content for Google. That’s okay if your blog is more of a journal, or if you’re not looking to make money. But if you want to monetize, you need to know how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

What is SEO?

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It refers to how easy it is for Google to find your post, and how relevant Google thinks it is. Literally everything on your site can affect your Google ranking. How many words you write per post, how many sites are linking to you, how organized your site is, and waaaay more. But the more Google likes your post, the closer you are to page one. That means more traffic, more lives you can touch with your brilliance, and more money in your pocket from affiliate marketing. So, when I talk about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts, I’m talking about posts that are most likely to get noticed by Google.

First things first: Get your site on Google Webmaster Tools.

Google will find your website eventually, because of the Googlebot. The Googlebot (say it out loud for fun) is a huuuge set of computers that runs around the web, grabbing (they call it crawling) new/updated sites. But you want to be as easy as possible to find. So, claim your site on Google Webmaster Tools to keep everything running smoothly. You can make sure they know about you, and fix any errors keeping your site from being crawled (crawl errors) as they come up.

After you add your site to the search console on Google Webmaster Tools, you have to give them a sitemap of all your posts and pages. Though this doesn’t improve your SEO itself, giving your sitemap to Googlebot helps him crawl your site more easily.

Yoast can make your sitemap for you.

Install it, and when it’s all set up, you’ll find it on the left of your WordPress screen. I’ve circled it in this screenshot below. Click that, and then click “features,” circled at the top. On that page, you’ll enable advanced settings, seen in the third circle. Save settings.

Part III of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging in celebration of Uninspired's first birthday covers how to write SEO-friendly blog posts. You'll find the anatomy of a great post, a breakdown of all that SEO nonsense, and some places to find high quality photos. To learn about site creation and design, visit parts I and II.

Now your list of options under “SEO” on the left side should be longer, and XML Sitemap should be one of the choices. Click it, and check the box that says “check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality.” Now, you can go back to Google Search Console and add it. Look for “crawl” on the left, click sitemaps, and on the top right, click on add/test sitemap. In the box that pops up, type:

sitemap_index.xml

This sitemap will update automatically, so you don’t need to do anything to it whenever you write a post. The only time you’ll need to reconfigure any of this is if you move your site to a new address. It’ll take some time for Google to crawl your site, so go get some coffee or eat a snack or something. You earned it.

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Oh good! You’re back from your coffee break! Now we can talk about the anatomy of a post.

Now that you know what SEO is, and you’re set up to do a good job with it, we can talk about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts. I’m going to split it up into five parts: the title, meta description, body text, categories and tags, and images,. The way you handle these will all all affect your SEO. Before we get into that though we need to talk about your focus keywords.

Using focus keywords well is a big part of knowing how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

Your focus keyword or key phrase is one that comes up in that post a lot, and that people will search for on Google. Mine for this post is “how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.” I chose this over something more generic like “SEO” because, even though fewer people will search for “how to write SEO-friendly blog posts,” the people who do are more likely to find me because there are fewer articles on that sepcific topic, and therefore less competition. Plus, since they searched for something more specific, it’s more likely that my post will be more relevant to them, and they’ll stay, or maybe check out another post. This long, descriptive key phrase is called a long tail keyword.

Focus keywords are super important for four out of the five parts of a blog post that I just mentioned, so it’s crazy important that you do keyword research.T hat means you have to look into what people are searching for, what the competition looks like for those terms, etc. I recommend The Hoth’s Keyword Planner. Now, let’s get into breaking posts down so you can really see how to use all this.

Title

For the longest time, I was so frustrated by the fact that Yoast wanted me to put my focus keywords at the beginning of my title. I stared at that red light like, it’s freakin’ IN THERE! What more do you want from me?! But turns out it was actually really good advice, because Google only looks at the first 65 characters of your title. If your keyword doesn’t fit in there, Google won’t see it. And if Google doesn’t see the focus keyword in the title of all places, the article won’t seem very relevant to that keyword. So, focus keyword goes at the beginning of your title.

Your title also becomes your slug, or the end part of your URL with the dashes. The slug should also have your focus keyword, but it shouldn’t be too long. So edit if necessary.

Meta Description

Your meta description is the little blurb that comes up under your title in Google results. While it’s not insanely influential to your SEO, it’s free advertising, ya know? So in addition to making sure your focus keyword is there just for the human eyes that’ll be drawn to it in their search results, you should also be as witty and charming here as 160 characters allow.

Body of Post

There are a couple of ways your actual article can influence your SEO. First, I’ll talk about the length.

Google likes their posts longer, which makes sense, because that’s more space to shove focus keywords in. The general consensus is that regular content should be around 1,000 words. If you’re in a high-competition niche, or you reeeaally want to get noticed, experts say to go for 2,500. However, the length of your post is not as important as the quality of your post. So, if you can make your point in 1,000 words, don’t bullshit 1,500 more to get found on Google. Because even if you pop up first, no one will come back to your site when they see it’s over 50% bullshit.

The second part of SEO for body text has to do with, duh, focus keywords.

The number of times you fit your focus keyword into the text is called keyword density. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it used to be. Google had to smarten up because people were doing what’s called keyword stuffing. Basically, they were squeezing their keyword in every single place they possibly could to rank higher, but then their posts were unreadable crap. So now Google has measures in place to keep their search results as authentic as possible. Your keyword density should be between .05% and 2.5%. That means your keyword should be up to 2.5% of your text. Any more is keyword stuffing, and any less isn’t relevant enough.

Google also understands synonyms, which is why keyword density can safely go as low as .05. If you had five synonyms as your focus keywords (for example- if your original keyword was fly but you also wanted to rank for soar, hover, glide, and float)  and Google expected your density to be at 1% for each of them, there’d be no room for content. It’d look ridiculous. So that’s cool.

Another way to optimize for SEO in the body of your post is to use internal linking. 

Internal linking means linking to other blog posts on your own site. Doing this tells Google what the important pages on your site are. The pages that have the most internal links are likely to rank higher. And the pages that you’re linking to the most should be something called cornerstone content. Cornerstone content is the content that describes what your site is about– it’s the essential information about your site that you’d want your readers to have before anything else. I have two cornerstone pieces right now, and they are this one and this one. They explain the two biggest parts of my site– The Tinder Files and Mental Health Monday. The two main things that people come to my site for. Since those are the things that explain my site best, those are the posts I link to most often.

Considering you took the time to write all of your awesome blog posts, I’m betting you think they’re all important. Therefore, even if they’re not cornerstone content, you should have at least one internal link to each of your posts. If you don’t, they call it orphaned content, which is sad and you don’t want to do that to your work.

Categories and Tags

Correctly using categories and tags are another important part of knowing how to write SEO-friendly blog posts. They’re another way of organizing your content! Your categories are the main thing that you write about on your blog. Some of my categories are mental health, money, dating, and food. In those categories, you’ll find all the posts I’ve written about those topics. It’s been said that your categories should all be proportionate to each other. Like, my “Mental Health Monday” category has 24 posts, but my “Family” category only has one. Not ideal. I should squeeze that family post somewhere else, and delete that category until I have other posts that belong there. Since it’s about Father’s Day gifts, I might be able to put it in “Money.” (I’ll work on that as soon as I post this…)

You might be wondering why in the world I would put that Father’s Day post in “Money” when it really has almost nothing in common with my other money posts. Well, that’s because WordPress also allows for tags. Tags are a more specific way of organizing your posts. For example, within Mental Health Monday, I have tags for self-care, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more.  Maybe I could add a “gift guides” tag to my money category.

Images

The final aspect of your blog post where you can affect your SEO is your images. While Google obviously can’t actually process what your images look like an whether or not they’re relevant to your focus, it does look for something called alternative text. Alt text is basically a description of your photo, just in case the photo doesn’t show up somewhere. But it’s also what shows up on Pinterest as your pin’s caption! I’ll talk more about Pinterest in Part IV.

For now, just know that alt text is super influential, because Google uses it as another measure for deciding the relevance of your post to the keyword. If your description of the image doesn’t include the focus of your article, points off.

How to Get Good Photos

Talking about images and alt text is a good transition to this next section– photos. This part is less about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts and more about just what makes a post good in general. A good post has photos. If you looked at a blog post, scrolled aaaaall the way down and saw nothing but text, you might get a little intimidated. Your text might be super awesome, but if it doesn’t look super awesome, you might scare some people away. Why lose readers when you can keep them just by adding a few pictures?

They shouldn’t just be any pictures though. They should be relevant to the post in some way, and on-brand. Take a look at the photo I used for my Pinterest image at the top of the post. It’s a photo of me, not doing any work because I’ve made the most out of my passion for blogging. I chose that image because it reflected how I wanted my readers to feel– relaxed, and like they’re living their best life. I also chose it because the colors went nicely with my brand colors- the pink and green. There’s some green in the grass in this image, and the light colors of my outfit and the background go nicely with my pink. It’s pretty on-brand. Not perfectly so, but I liked the idea of using my own photo for this.

I do suggest using your own photos if possible, because it eliminates any potential copyright issues, and the problem of other people having the same photos as you on their blog. And, like I mentioned in Part II, you don’t have to have an amazing camera to take good pictures for your blog. It certainly helps, as I’ve learned in recent weeks having gotten a fancy camera, but it’s not a dealbreaker. I went an entire year of blogging without one, mostly by using stock photos instead of photos I took myself.

Stock photos are basically photos that you can use even though you didn’t take the photo. You have to pay for some, like at Shutterstock, but you can get a lot of them for free! When photographers offer up their photos like this, they are relinquishing their copyright to the photos. Sometimes they do this for exposure, or out of the kindness of their hearts. Some, like on Pixabay, have a little donations option so you can send some cash even though they’re technically free. It’s good karma to do that every once in a while if you can! Here’s a list of great places to get FREE stock photos:

  • StyledStock– free, feminine flat-lays that you can search for my niche or color. The color search is great for finding on-brand images.
  • Pixabay– the one I use most often, Pixabay has a gigantic variety of images from every topic you can think of. I usually just type in my focus keyword and pick from whatever comes up!
  • Unsplash– very similar to Pixabay, his is a giant library of free stock images. Huge. Thousands of photos to choose from.
  • StockSnap.io– this one has a huge library too, and a cool feature where you can see the most popular images. Knowing what pictures people are using can help you decide whether a) to stay away from them because tons of people have the same one or b) use them because they’re obviously working.
  • Negative Space– adds 20 free photos per week, and can be organized by category
  • Freestocks– has 64 pages of gorgeous free photos, and you can organize them by category, or by a specific tag.
  • Skitterphoto– I like Skiterphoto because they have a featured images section, and admin picks.
  • New Old Stock– this one’s cool because they’re all vintage photos that have no *known* copyright restrictions. I guess a downside might be that if any of the pictures do turn out to have copyright restrictions, they’ll have to be taken down, but it doesn’t seem to happen often.
  • Death to Stock– sometimes I use this one just because it’s such a cool site. Look how their unique voice and branding drew me to them!

If you can’t find a picture for your blog post here, you might want to take it yourself!

So, that’s the gist of how to write SEO-friendly blog posts! Look out for Part IV: Promoting Your Posts next Sunday, 1/21!

If you have any questions about anything in this post, please feel free to contact me at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com, or leave me a comment! I’m happy to answer anything!