Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest this week: Jenn from the lifestyle blog The Art of Better, where she helps women live their best lives, and The Art of Better Blogging, helping others along their blogging journey.

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I’m so impressed by what you’ve built with both Art of Better Blogging and The Art of Better. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, how you got to be where you are today? 

Thank you! It’s been a long, winding path, for sure. I’ve been blogging on & off since 1999, way back in the day where I would hard code my sites in HTML from a blank page. A few years later, I had a fledgling graphic design business that I had to put it on the back burner for my corporate career. Can’t maintain a side hustle while working 60hrs every week!
Luckily I started my blogging journey back up again not long after because I just couldn’t seem to exist without writing. The Art of Better came first with The Art of Better Blogging coming about a year later when I started getting asked so many questions about blogging that I decided to segment them out. I blogged on the side for a few years and then finally got to the point where I was able to go full-time in 2015 and leave my soul-sucking corporate career!

A lot of people struggle with feelings of doubt, fear, and worrying about not being good enough when trying to accomplish big goals in life. Do you have any advice for pushing aside those negative feelings and going after what you want?   

“Impostor Syndrome” can be crippling, but everyone grapples with it from time to time. The way I help my blog & business coaching clients through it is through helping them recognize that everyone has a unique story and angle because no two people have the same background, path or life perspective. Well, that, and making it clear that fear is just a feeling, an emotion. You can choose to acknowledge it, set it aside, and move beyond it.

You seem to be an expert in all things blogging, social media, and just life in general. What was your process for becoming so knowledgeable? Do you have any tips for someone who wants to learn more about blogging, social media, etc? 

Well, I don’t know about life (I’m kind of a self-development junkie!) but I’ve been around the blogging & online business worlds for so long that I have seen nearly everything. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to know more is to read everything you can get your hands on (but take everything with a grain of salt) and find some bloggy besties that are slightly above your skill or experience level. Hanging out with people who are more advanced will cause you to stretch your skill set more often.

What is your life motto?

Hustle 24/7? Hell no!
Everything I do is dedicated to better… and that includes rebelling at the idea that you need to grind away all day every day to have a successful blog or online business. It just isn’t true! Do you have to hustle with purpose sometimes? Of course! But not all the time.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog, like The Art of Better, or a business, like Art of Better Blogging?

Consistency is imperative for success. A lot of people start blogging and seem to have this idea that you can just write and they will come. I wish!

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

Oh! I love this questions. I do a daily gratitude practice and it has truly changed my life. Keeping it down to just 3 is really difficult!
1. My family (including our 4 dogs & close friends!)
2. My ah-mazing clients!
3. True red lipstick

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have so many! Of course, the usual suspects like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Marie Forleo, but also women like Rose McGowan & Ani Difranco who are so unafraid to speak out for what they’re passionate about.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Learn to meditate much, much sooner.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?   

I’m most proud of becoming legal guardians for my niece a few years back. We didn’t have any kids prior to that time and we’ve managed to learn very quickly how to become good parents. I think in a few years we might want to have a baby- that would be a big accomplishment for us since we thought we’d never want kids!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d have to say either an eagle or cheetah. I like to go fast!
Hope you enjoyed my interview with Jenn and learned as much from her as I did! For further inspiration and education, grab her free video training, How to Kickstart Your Blog’s Growth in 2017and join The Art of Better Blogging FB Community.

I’m a Blogging Meetup Organizer!

I’m a Blogging Meetup Organizer!

I just wanted to write a quick post today letting you all know about a new project I’m working on. About a month ago I became the organizer of a Meetup group for bloggers in Austin. The organizer before me had to step down, and he sent out an email asking if anyone would be interested in taking over. On a whim I emailed and said I would, and next thing I knew, I was the new organizer!

The group has over 300 members, so I was a bit nervous for the responsibility, but was also excited to have a new challenge. I started by creating a poll in the group asking what kind of event everyone would want to have for our first meetup. The majority of members voted for a chill get-together at a coffee shop, so I picked a date and time and told everyone to meet at one of my favorite coffee shops: Mozart’s.

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We had about 10 people show up, which was the perfect amount to be able to sit outside at a long picnic table and talk all things blogging. We started by going around and sharing who we were and what we blogged about, and it was amazing how many different areas and interests everyone focused on for their blog, from guitar repair to dog care. I’ve listed everyone’s blog links at the end of this post so you all can check them out!

I’m excited to see where this new opportunity takes me. It already seems to be a great way to meet new people and learn more about blogging. Everyone brings their own expertise and opinions to the table, and I’m looking forward to learning from them.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever participated in or lead a Meetup group, or something similar! I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice. Also, be sure to check out all of the blog links below, and you’ll see what I mean about the variety in types of content. Also, if you’re in the Austin area and looking for a new group to join, check out Austin Area Bloggers! 

Meetup Group Members Blogs:

myasays.com

impulsivetravelerguy.com 

geekybetterlife.com

k9ofmine.com

thomsinger.com

landisguitars.com

mycallavida.com

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

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Welcome to the first-ever Table Talk Tuesday, a new interview series I’m starting where I talk to bloggers and entrepreneurs that I admire. But before I get into talking about my first interviewee, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friend Lindsay for creating the cute image you see above!

First up in the hot seat this Tuesday is Anna Gordon, social media manager and creator of House of Hashtag, a platform for female entrepreneurs. She also has a brand new website in the works, so I will share that link when it is live.

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To start off, can you tell me your life story in three sentences or less?

My background is in art, design and photography. I have certainly had a lot of trials and tribulations in life but I am grateful for my struggles as they have led me to where I am today, and I am happy!

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would tell myself not to worry so much and to never miss out on an opportunity for the fear of being disliked. Up until the age of about 23 I was so insecure about my appearance, I would often avoid going out with friends and attending any social event. Looking back, I feel I missed out on a lot.

If you had a life motto, what would it be?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

What is the most important thing for people to know before starting a business/blog?

Done is better than perfect. It’s important that we get things right for our businesses and blogs, but spending forever on something until it is perfect is a waste of time. Just get it out there! Also I think having a positive mindset is crucial as well.

Sometimes our failures/setbacks teach us more than our successes. Can you talk about a time when you failed and what it taught you?

Honestly, I have experienced so many ‘failures’ and setbacks but like I said in my first answer, I am genuinely grateful for those times because I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life. I think going through rough times and experiencing failures helps mold you into a more compassionate person to others. Ultimately, sometimes we all just have to roll with the punches when things don’t work out.

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My mum (she is literally my best friend) 2. My partner, David. 3. Finding my passion

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Oh tough one, I have so many “girl crushes”. At the moment I’d have to say I’m crushing on Mariah Coz the most. She really knows her stuff, gives away so much free content and she comes across as genuine and down to earth.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say travelling solo around Australia and South East Asia (which was amazing by the way). I have always been such a shy and anxious person. So for me to step out of my comfort zone to that extent and follow my dreams makes me proud.

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. What is your go-to karaoke song?

Prince- 1999

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I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of Table Talk Tuesday with the very inspirational Anna Gordon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram, and keep your eyes out for another interview next Tuesday.
Interested in being featured? Email me at shelly@shellyray.com.

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

I found out yesterday that I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Morgan at Boho En Route. According to her blog, the award is: “an award given to bloggers by bloggers. It is given to bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.

Thanks so much to Morgan for nominating me! It really made my day to hear that someone thinks of my blog as positive and inspiring!

Morgan came up with some great questions for all of her nominees to answer, so here goes:

1. What is your number one goal to attain in this life?

For a while now I’ve bee thinking that my ultimate life goal is to write a book. I’m not sure how and I’m not sure when, but I am determined to make it happen at some point!

2.  What made you decide to start a blog?

I think I answered this in Confetti and Curves’ Behind The Blog interview with me, but I originally started a blog because my dad suggested it. More recently, I decided to start writing again because I enjoy getting my thoughts out and sharing advice with people through my posts. I also like the community aspect of it, and getting to meet other bloggers virtually through comments and reading their blogs.

3. Who/what inspires you?

Lately I’ve been really inspired by two podcasts that I’ve been listening to. I talked about one of them, Dear Sugar, in my April Favorites blog. The second podcast is very similar, and it’s hosted by two of my favorite YouTubers: Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes. It’s called Ladies Who Lunch, and they give advice and talk about their personal experiences with certain topics. Both of these podcasts inspire me because I am always in awe of people who are able to help others through giving advice, as well as being so open and honest about their own life. I aspire to be able to do the same with my blog.

4. What creates your happiness?

I know the correct answer should be “I do.” But if I think of it a bit more objectively, I think that I find happiness from my relationships (boyfriend, family, friends), hobbies (writing this blog and taking improv classes) and a small amount of alone time to clear my head and just relax.

5. Describe your perfect vacation.

My perfect vacation would be a good blend of relaxation and adventure. I love going to the beach and just hanging out and being lazy most of the time, but then also taking some time to explore the area and maybe go shopping, try some restaurants, or go to a museum. I’m actually going to the beach with my family and boyfriend next weekend, so I’m sure I’ll write about it in a post afterwards!

6. Favorite place you’ve visited?

I was actually thinking about this place the other day. I loved Barcelona when I went there for one weekend during my semester abroad! It was such a fun, beautiful city filled with culture. Read my old blog to hear all about my experience there, if you’re curious.

7. What state/country do you currently live in?

I live in the U.S., in Texas!

8. Do you plan on staying there for ‘good’?

I’m not 100% sure. I love it here, and definitely see myself living here for the foreseeable future. However, I wouldn’t rule out moving somewhere else later in life if the opportunity came up and I decided I wanted to!

9. What are you currently trying to improve with yourself?

The main thing I am trying to improve on is taking my health and fitness more seriously. I’ve been trying to eat a little better and work out more often.

10. Do you enjoy reading as much as writing?

I do! I’ve written a few book reviews on this blog. Unfortunately having a full time job has made it a lot more difficult for me to read, but it is definitely something I enjoy!

11. Did you excel/enjoy writing particularly growing up as a kid?

Yes and yes. Writing was always one of my strengths growing up. I remember in middle school my friend and I would write stories together all the time, and when I got into high school my favorite classes were always my English classes.

Now for my nominees!

These are blogs that I’ve enjoyed reading, and bloggers that have shown an interest in my blog as well.

My 11 Questions for the nominees:

  1. What is your main goal for your blog?
  2. What are you most proud of?
  3. Who is your current favorite singer, and/or what is your current favorite song?
  4. What do you do when you need to de-stress/relax?
  5. If you won the lottery, what would you buy?
  6. Where do you feel most at home/what is your “happy place”?
  7. What is one skill you wish you were better at?
  8. What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?
  9. Which city/country do you most want to visit some day?
  10. What do you do to overcome writer’s block?
  11. What is your greatest strength?

 Sunshine Blogger Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new about me. Thanks again to Morgan for nominating me! Nominees, please take the time to make your own blog post and answer my questions! I promise it is a lot of fun. 🙂