Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

I had the pleasure of interviewing another travel blogger, who has a unique perspective on travel as an expat in Canada, a freelance travel writer and full-time travel blogger. Check out her travel blog and get to know her in my interview below.

When and why did you decide to become a travel blogger?

I initially set up my blog five years ago to provide a journal for myself of living in Hawaii, and to show readers the reality of living in paradise. I wrote a post on the things I learned after living in Hawaii, and readers and my friends in Hawaii told me they loved my post and could totally relate to what I wrote about.  This inspired me to share more of my island life.

In the About Me section of your blog, you say: For me, living abroad is the best way to get to know a country. What do you think you learn from living abroad that a tourist cant learn during shorter travel? 

Living abroad has given me an extended period of time to explore my host city and country, and get to know some aspects of a place other travelers are not aware of. For example, after living in Hawaii for a few years, I realized it was not all paradise. It also has many negative sides – too expensive to live, very limited job opportunities, island fever, and has the second worst traffic in the USA (behind Los Angeles). One cannot notice these parts by just going there on vacation. 

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Youre a full-time travel blogger and freelance travel writer. How did you transition your passion for writing into your full-time job?

I did not think much, I just decided to do it full-time because it would be the best to combine my profession with my passion for travel and sharing stories. When I just started out, I had no experience in travel writing. I joined the MatadorU travel writing program to hone my writing skills and get myself exposed to the travel journalism industry. There are support groups, valuable resources and work opportunities in the program that helped me transition as well.

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far with your blog?

One of my favorite parts of blogging is being a part of the supportive travel blogging community. I have met many bloggers and we have been very supportive of each other. You know the feeling when you get to know someone and totally understand what you are doing?

What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I still want to finish the MatadorU travel writing program. I signed up for the course three years ago and I am still only halfway through it. It is a huge commitment and it’s easy to get distracted, but I am determined to finish this course so I can step up my career.

What has been your favorite place youve visited, and where do you still want to visit? 

Alaska. It is the best place to visit in the USA if you love natural beauty. I have been to Alaska five times and I still want to return. 

I also wish to visit Churchill Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world with 300 days Aurora Borealis every year and only 3,000 residents. 

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What is the biggest lesson travel blogging has taught you?

Always be kind and generous. The world is very small and the travel blogging community is no exception. Everyone loves working with those who are nice and easy to work with. 

What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

Having the opportunity to live abroad and travel around the world. I have seen poverty and people struggle with daily life and it makes me feel privileged to live the life I want in a developed country and be able to travel.

Who are some of the women (both in your personal life and famous people) who inspire you the most and why?

Julia Dimon, co-host of Word Travel, gave me the idea for travel writing in the first place. Her travel show revealed that it is possible to travel around the world full-time. She is quirky and practical, and you can tell she is very intuitive and smart.

I am also grateful to have met my travel blogger friend, Emily Luxton, when I just started out. We collaborated with each other and she invited me to her Facebook group where I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other travel bloggers. She offered me valuable advice on blogging and encouraged me to work with tourism boards when my blog was just five months old. Thanks to her, I was then offered a self-organized press trip to Winnipeg early this year despite my blog being so new.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a travel blog?

Focus on creating high-quality content, and try not to look at the numbers and your blog statistics. I used to obsess over social media, blog statistics and comment pods, but I found it very time-consuming and can only get me so far. If you offer something readers really need and write from your heart, followers will come and ask for more.

What is one thing most people dont know about you? 

I do not like most sweet foods and desserts, but chocolate and ice-cream are exceptions.

 

Make sure to follow Julie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to follow along with her exciting travels.

 

Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

I’m back with another interview, this time with a fellow Austin local who I actually got to meet with in person! Meet Stacey Lane, a card maker, blogger and YouTuber with dreams of taking her business full-time.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, what did you do in school, how did you get into card making?

I grew up in Northern Vermont, but I’ve lived all over the United States. We just moved to Austin from the Seattle area and are loving all the sunshine so far!

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do in college. I landed on graphic and web design, since I’d had an interest in that when I was younger. Some time after I graduated with a 2 year degree, I took a job with Microsoft and worked on the X-Box One console for a year. It was pretty rad.

I got into card making right around the time my contract with Microsoft was coming to a close. At the time, Microsoft required their contractors to take a 100 day unpaid leave of absence. I needed something to do to occupy my time, so I decided one day that I just wanted to make my own Christmas cards. The rest was history.

Tell me about Stampin’ Up and how you got involved as a demonstrator.

Stampin’ Up is brilliant. Before I found Stampin’ Up, my shopping trips would be tedious because I’d always try to find paper that matched a ribbon I liked. And then I wanted some sort of accessory to match that. And, of course, it had to match my ink. Colors are very hard to match! One of my favorite things about Stampin’ Up is that everything matches. It’s taken the stress out of designing, which is wonderful.

I knew that I needed a way to get a break on the costs because craft supplies add up quickly. Enter the demonstrator opportunity. Demonstrators never pay full price for their crafting supplies! I really found success when I started to blog my creations. Before I knew it, I wasn’t spending any money on my craft supplies anymore!

My hobby now pays for itself entirely, which is amazing, and even earns me some extra cash on the side. When the time is right, I plan to take my business full time.

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When and why did you decide to start your own blog and YouTube channel?

I started my blog a couple of months after I joined Stampin’ Up. I decided I needed my blog for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, I wanted to grow my email list. As a business owner, your email list is the most important asset you have.

The second reason I started my blog was to document all the cool stuff I was making. I wanted a place I could come back to for inspiration and say “yeah, I remember when I made that card! What a great layout! Maybe I should recreate that card with some new products.”

My YouTube channel was birthed from my love of video production. In high school, I took multiple video classes and always wanted to do something with it. My love for crafting gave me something that I could teach, and now that’s part of how I use my YouTube channel.

In a nutshell, why should someone read your blog or watch your YouTube videos?

I make videos and blog to encourage and educate others about how easy it can be to get into card making and scrapbooking. So many times people are intimidated because they believe you need to be really artistic to make something beautiful. But it’s not true! What makes something beautiful is the thought that was put into it. When I make things, I make them from the heart and I teach you to make them from the heart. And that’s what my blog and YouTube channel is all about.

I also offer classes in the Hutto/Pflugerville area for those of you who want to get your hands inky!

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far?

Great questions! A couple of things come to mind. First, I’m proud to have been chosen as a display stamper for Stampin’ Up’s semi-annual demonstrator-only event called OnStage. It’s a high honor and one that not many people get to do and I’m so blessed to have been chosen twice in the last year.

Another thing I’ve accomplished this year is that I held a seminar on how to blog. I turned my love of WordPress into an opportunity to teach non-technical people how to begin blogging as well as how to develop a content and marketing plan. It was a humbling experience but also taught me a lot about who I am. I’m currently developing a curriculum for my website to help teach people how easy it is to begin blogging!

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What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I have recently applied to the Artisan Design Team, which is similar to a display stamper, except it’s a heavier commitment. Artisan Design Team members are sent a free box of products every month and agree to blog about those products. It’s a 12 month commitment and I’ve wanted to apply for years and never had the courage to do it until this year!

Another goal that I want to accomplish is to earn an Incentive Trip, which is an all expenses paid vacation. I have friends across the US that have earned this trip multiple times and I’m so very close to being able to earn it for myself.

But my ultimate goal would be to leave my day job and work my business full time.

Growing up, were you always artistic? What were some of your hobbies in high school and college?

I think, in a way, I was. I remember doing all sorts of crafts as a youngster. I did cross stitch, latch hook rugs, glass etching. I remember one year my mother and I made decorative oil infused bottles for everyone we knew.

My biggest hobby in high school was web design. I created websites for my favorite bands. I created a website that had all my friends names on it (of course, that one never made it live because I knew better than to put personal info on the Internet).

In college, I discovered scrapbooking. That’s where my love of paper crafting began. But, being a college student, I didn’t have the funds to really sustain my hobby for long. Fun fact: I remember thinking that rubber stamps were awesome, but some of them were like $20 each! I thought to myself “well there’s one hobby I’ll never get into.” Never say never….

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What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

There are so many! For starters, my husband. This man has sacrificed his career to raise our children and I’m so grateful that he has taken the time to do that. We are first time home owners and I’m also grateful for that. Owning your own home is an experience everyone should go through. It’s so liberating!

I’m also grateful for Stampin’ Up. I have met so many wonderful people through Stampin’ Up, and forged many friendships with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them!

Before I started this crazy adventure, I really struggled with self doubt. My upline, Jennifer, kept telling me that I had a talent and could turn my love of paper crafting into a business. For months, I totally didn’t believe her. And then, all of a sudden, I realized that she was right! She believed in me before I believed in myself. I’ve learned so much from her.

Where and who do you draw inspiration from?

My favorite sources of inspiration are the ones that make me feel like I can take on the world. A few months ago, I subscribed to The Middle Finger Project, and the emails that Ash sends are incredibly amazing. They really make you think about who you are and who you can become by shifting the way you think of yourself.

I also draw my inspiration from YouTube and Pinterest, just like a lot of crafty people! Sometimes I’ll just put YouTube on and leave it for hours. It’ll inevitably end up on something like clay modeling, which is really neat, and I’ll be glued to my screen soaking up all sorts of information about a craft that I don’t really know how to do.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Start with WordPress, but not the free version. Purchase hosting and set up your blog on your own. My top recommendation for WordPress hosting is WP Engine, located right here in Austin. You really get what you pay for. And, for the sake of transparency, I do work for WP Engine…

My second piece of advice is to immediately start building your email list. Create an email editorial calendar and send emails at least weekly to your customer base. You may think they don’t want to hear from you that frequently, but here’s the thing: they sign up for your emails for a reason!

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I can remember things really easily, especially numbers. For example, I remember both my current and very first credit card number from over 15 years ago. All 16 digits, the security code and expiration dates… and I can rattle them off in a moments notice.

But it’s not only numbers! I can recite all 50 states in alphabetic order, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. And, speaking of alphabet, I can say the alphabet backwards in 4 seconds. Because why the heck not?

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I hope you enjoyed this interview with Stacey! Be sure to check out her blog and YouTube channel, and if you are a fellow Texan, sign up for a class or two. You never know, you could become the next Stampin’ Up demonstrator! You can also find Stacey on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Table Talk Tuesday With Haley Marie

Table Talk Tuesday With Haley Marie

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited for all of you to get to know my interviewee, Haley, from the blog Haley Marie. Haley and I have been chatting over email for a while now, and I was immediately impressed by how smart and driven she was, as a freshman in college. I can remember back to being a freshman and how lost and confused I was about where I wanted to go with my life, so I am really blown away by how Haley’s ability to set goals and go after what she wants.

So without further adieu, let’s get into the interview so you can see what I mean…

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Can you tell me the story of how you decided to start your blog, and what your blogging journey has been like so far?

Though my current blog, Haley Marie, is only a couple months old, I have actually been blogging for about three or four years now. I guess the best way to start is actually with the story behind my first blog, so I’ll just roll with that! I was fifteen years old, and I was in a bit of a rough patch as far as my personal life was concerned. I was aimlessly searching for something to fill my time and build myself back up again. So, I followed my gut and returned to my roots by filling my time with something I’d always loved to do: writing! I channeled all my energy into starting a blog, the Chick Lit Kitchen, where I wrote about my loves of food and romance novels. 

Though the Chick Lit Kitchen was a bit of a flop (I started running out of time to read and make time-consuming recipe posts as I advanced in my high school career), I eventually returned to blogging as a kind of therapy when I entered another rough patch in my life. When I was a bit older, the dormant anxiety and depression I’d always carried deep within me started to become too much to bear. Finally, the thought occurred to me: why don’t I start a blog again? So I did! Love, Haley (my second blog) didn’t start out about mental illness, but it quickly morphed into a place where I shared my deepest thoughts and feelings about the anxiety and depression I was battling. 

Yet as my anxiety and depression began to improve with time (and therapy), I sort of felt that I was outgrowing the old label of “mental illness blogger.” So, as I graduated from high school and began to transition into college, I started to experiment with a couple of new niches. The result was that my blog ended up all over the place. I strayed so far from my original brand that I eventually felt like my best course of action was to start from scratch, rather than rebranding Love, Haley for a second time. That’s how Haley Marie Blog began! Now, while I consider myself a college, beauty and health blogger first and foremost, I will never forget my roots as a mental illness blogger. 

I contributed to your blog post about why I picked my college major. Can you talk about how and why you picked your major, and what your advice would be for picking the right major? 

I actually have two majors, Journalism and Political Science. Somehow, I think I always knew that this was where I would end up eventually. I have always known I wanted to be a writer, just like I have always known I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself (like politics!). Personally, I identify with the word “writer” before anything else, besides maybe the word “woman.” 

My first semester, I was a part of both the student newspaper (as a news writer) and the student PR society (as a member of the digital/creative team, which does client work based on graphic design). I instantly fell in love with the newspaper – particularly with the positive energy and quick pace of the newsroom – and now I am (as a freshman!) an Associate City News Editor there this spring! While I enjoyed PR too, I felt like these were the same experiences I was getting through my blog, which I was much more passionate about than the student organization, and that it wasn’t really as valuable to me as being in a newsroom. 

Around the same time, I also happened to be falling in love with my first Poli Sci class, Intro to American Politics, and all of the heated election discussions it brought. And, I mean, not to be that person, but the 2016 election definitely shaped my perception of the Poli Sci field by showing me just how much the world needs strong female leaders! So, as long-winded as this story has been, that’s exactly how I realized that these two things were the subjects I couldn’t live without studying for the next three and a half years, and the fields I wanted to build my future career around!

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog?

Ooh, this is such a good question! My advice for anyone starting a blog is this: whatever you want to blog about, make sure it’s genuinely what YOU want to blog about. Don’t blog about whatever’s popular in that moment (popularity is fleeting). Honestly, what keeps me motivated to keep banging out posts – even when it’s after 1 AM and all I really want is to eat a bagel and go to bed – isn’t getting views or comments or likes on Twitter (though I won’t lie – those things ARE nice!). Instead, it’s passion. And I think most successful bloggers would say the same!

I actually experienced the dangers of falling into this trap firsthand. For a while, I felt self-conscious about my blog because it wasn’t “serious” enough. Instead of blogging about scholarly things like politics, I blog about some of my favorite things: beauty, lifestyle tips and healthy eating hacks. At first, I worried this meant I was vapid and shallow, and that this was the way my readers would perceive me. However, I quickly found that when I wrote about something I was passionate about, rather than things I thought I should write about, I was able to produce better content and let my true sincerity shine through. Because I was writing about things I loved and could genuinely offer my advice on, my posts are more popular – plus, because I actually look forward to writing, I am able to produce more quality content, more quickly!  

A lot of college students and 20-somethings battle with feelings of self-doubt and questioning if they are good enough. Do you have any tips for moving past these negative thoughts? 

I’m not going to lie: though I’ve tried my hardest to be open about my battles with mental illness, body issues and self-esteem, I’m still in that age bracket and I still have insecurities and doubts. Sometimes, I act like I’m beyond the point of having negative feelings or self-doubt, when in reality, I haven’t fully pushed past it – and nobody should expect me to! I’m only 18!

The problem with being in college or in your 20s is that we compare ourselves too much to others – especially when it comes to people like celebrities, bloggers and YouTubers. When we’re confronted with posts and videos like “How I Organize My Life” or “My Perfect Morning Routine,” we always seem to think that everyone else has their life together, and we’re the only ones who are still figuring it out. If you’re someone who reads a lot of blogs, you probably know exactly how I feel. But here’s the secret no one wants to admit (especially not in the college blogging community, where we’re literally telling you how to lead more organized, productive lives): literally none of us have our sh*t together yet! No matter how many blog posts I write about having high self-esteem, no matter how “on-fleek” my eyeliner is on a particular day, no matter how organized my planner appears, I’m still not perfect. Nobody is. 

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

In one word, “balance”! Life, to me, is all about balance between work and play, health and pleasure, friendships and significant others, and all the other competing factors in our lives. To me, balance is all about listening to what your body needs and gratifying it. Maybe it’s all the yoga I’ve been doing lately, but I firmly believe when you give your body what it asks for and start to show it love, sooner or later your body will start to love you back! 

Meditation is a huge way that I achieve balance: my therapist recommended it to me, and I find that 5 to 10 minutes of meditating a day counteracts a lot of the stress I experience in my day-to-day life. Because I try to stay in tune with my body’s physical and emotional needs through meditation, intuitive eating and other mindfulness strategies, I can always tell when I’m getting tired or cranky, what I’m craving (whether that’s a chia seed smoothie and a sweat session, or Chipotle and Gilmore Girls) and when I’m starting to isolate myself because I’m working too hard, and need to plan a night out with my girlfriends. 

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

My boyfriend, Ryan, always makes the top of my gratitude list! He lives about an hour away from where I go to school, so we don’t see each other very often; however, I’m eternally grateful for all of the stability, balance and positivity he brings me. Whenever he comes into the city for our weekly visit, it puts a smile on my face!

I’m also grateful for my family. My parents are divorced, so my family has had a harder journey than most. Working out the details of where I would attend college and who would pay for it was more difficult and complex than I originally expected; however, I can’t express enough how grateful I am that everyone is trying to make the best of our difficult situation. 

Finally, I’m grateful that I will (hopefully) be travelling to London for five days this summer! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip together. We haven’t finalized the details yet, but I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of seeing the city together.

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

I’m cheating and giving two answers, because I look up to so many women! I personally think that having empowering women as role models is one of the most important things a female entrepreneur can bring to the table.

When it comes to celebrities, Emma Watson is always my go-to answer. I admire her resolve to lead a private life and have a normal college experience at Brown, I love how intelligent and collected she is and I think she’s such an incredible role model for women everywhere. Her work with the UN to further the rights of girls all over the globe inspires me to think about what more I could be doing to help people outside my own backyard.

As far as business goes, I’m a huge fan of Nikki Phillippi. She’s a YouTuber rather than a blogger, but I couldn’t be more impressed by her brand. I discovered her by listening to her Tea Talk series, and fell in love with the way she connects with an audience. She always comes across as so authentic and genuine, and gives advice that makes me think she’s the big sister I never had! Plus, her work with sponsors is just so inspiring to me as a blogger. So, even though YouTube is a bit of a different world from blogging, I hope I can take a leaf from her book and adopt some of the same ingenuity and sincerity as a female entrepreneur in the media.

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

I would tell myself to spend more time focusing on the things that matter most to me and the qualities I would like to see in myself, rather than what other people think of me. I feel like growing up, I put so much energy into achieving “goals” that had nothing to do with my personal character or my entrepreneurial spirit. Though I’ve always been a self-starter who’s achievement-oriented, when I was in late middle and early high school, I sometimes lost sight of that in favor of striving for superficial beauty, popularity or the “right” boyfriend. So, I wish that I had channeled my energy into something productive and meaningful to me, rather than chasing guys who didn’t appreciate me or worrying that my stomach or thighs were “too fat.” If I had been in a more mature state of mind back then, I think I would have focused on giving myself something to be proud of and finding a reason to love myself first, without needing some random guy or friend’s approval.

What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?   

One of the things I love to brag about is my high school senior project. Besides my blog, this project is one of the things in life I am most proud of! Senior Project was a course in my high school geared toward preparing us for a career in our major of choice through completing a research component, internship and final project of our own design. Prophetically, since I’m now a Poli Sci double-major, I spent my year researching the impact of television on American politics. 

For my internship component, I interned in the office of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in his constituent affairs department. While I don’t always agree with the Governor’s politics, I loved the human element of getting to do casework for constituents and feel like I was really making a difference in people’s lives. 

For the project component, I invited a group of professionals for a panel discussion at my high school, on the topic of media and politics. For weeks, I was emailing people left and right, filling out grant forms and designing advertisements and tickets for the event. We ended up getting an almost $600 grant from the district’s education fund for my work. I also moderated the panel, which included a Massachusetts State Senator, the Director of MassVOTE, a Boston Globe journalist, a Northeastern professor, and a grassroots campaign organizer for a PR company. Educators and citizens from my town and the wider community attended the panel and even had the opportunity to ask their own questions at the end of the panel! Overall, the night was a whirlwind, and one of the most spectacular experiences of my entire life. 

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 probably transform into a cat. I’m notorious for falling asleep in boring lectures (sorry, not sorry to my Stats and Political Theory professors) and I am fiercely independent. I also crave attention and fall in love with anyone who feeds me treats…so, I guess I just have to face it: I’m pretty much a cat already! 

 

I hope you all enjoyed this installment of Table Talk Tuesday! I’m so impressed by what Haley has been able to do with her blog(s) so far, and at such a young age. I’m looking forward to continuing to read her posts and learn from her. Be sure to subscribe to Haley’s blog, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Also, if you would like to be featured on Table Talk Tuesday, leave a comment here or email me at shelly@shellyray.com!

 

 

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.

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.