Tips on Coming up With Blog Content (or how not to be boring)

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post brought to you by Grammarly.

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because bad grammar is no joke! Seriously. It stinks. I just found out about Grammarly’s services – which is basically a product to help you catch those pesky spelling and grammatically errors that might plague your writing. It’s an instant checker which plows through your content seeking simple errors and even complex errors, such as (gasp!) plagiarism. Why more teachers do not use this product, is beyond me. After the system checks your content, you receive a “report” on how well it did on a scale of 1-100. Green check marks means your stuff is good to go. Red alert triangles? Well, you better re-think what you wrote. It even flags “word choice,” which it seems to do that for me often. Apparently Grammarly isn’t a fan of my writing style. It’s worth checking out! There’s a monthly fee for it’s use but I could easily see someone gaining value if they write a lot (bloggers, teachers, students, etc.)

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I’ve battled boring content for far too long. What’s interesting for my readers to read? What will keep them coming back? Better yet – what’s interesting to write about and won’t put myself to sleep? While participating in Jenni’s Blogtember Challenge, I realized that when I started some of the topics, that I felt at a stand still with not a clue how to begin. As ideas started to formulate on something I thought I might share, the words began to pour out of my finger tips into a coherent (that’s super important) post that was somewhat entertaining but made sense.

I think some of my best posts have been unforced. They have been times when I just start writing and before I know it there’s a finished product. I don’t have a pre-planned schedule like many bloggers out there have. No Google calendar for me. Rarely I’ll keep a running list of things I know are coming up that I want to share – but mostly I write on random thoughts and feelings – or on weekend activities that JP and I do. It’d be nice to have some form of criteria or guidelines to remain more consistent in my writing, but I feel that my best content comes when I just jump at it at 9 am (I usually write my posts a day in advance). Here are some tips, though, for those of you looking to provide better content to your readership:

  • Find the Meaning: Sounds intense. Like the Meaning of Life. But really, you should find the meaning in what you’re sharing. How relevant is the topic to your readers? Does it resonate with you? Are you just throwing up a post because you don’t want to miss a day? I’ve gone many times with posting only a few days per week. Mostly because I didn’t have the time to blog and because I didn’t really have much to share. Maybe I’m up to my neck in a work project, or busy with some super large life event (hello, wedding) … in those cases I just am not going to put something up that is a waste of time to read or write. Find the meaning in what you’re sharing. Make sure it’s something that you’re happy with!
  • Use Pictures: Bloggers say this time and time again. So much so, I think my eyes are bleeding reading this back to myself. But it’s totally true. Aren’t some of the best blogs the ones with pictures? The clearer, the brighter, the better! We all can’t afford a fancy DSLR camera or have time to learn how to run said DSLR camera. But smartphones CAN take beautiful pictures. You just have to have thought behind your images (you know iPhones take crap pictures in any sort of dark environment) and there are tons of awesome (read: free) apps out there to enhance those images even more! Plus, the new iPhone 5S takes much better frontward facing pictures with enhancements to the camera!
  • Be Honest: Especially when doing reviews of restaurants, movies, etc. Be honest and true in your opinion. Not everyone will agree with you, but if you provide an honest opinion you’ll write better content. Your opinion will flow right on out of you and allow your readers to also gain a better view of who you are as a blogger/person (cuz we are all really people, right?).
  • Learn Your Boundaries: How much do you want your readers to be in on your personal life? I think some of the best blogs out there allow for the readers to gain some form of personal connection with the blogger because they share details of their life that make them real. Your opinion can matter, but you’ll find that your readers can connect more if they know more about you. That doesn’t mean every post has to provide intimate details on your kids, your weekend plans, your financial situation – but sometimes that’s the best content too because it’s something that’s personal to you. Know what that looks like to you and how comfortable you are with sharing your life. Trust me, there’s some good content in there!

I think overall it’s finding your voice and finding what inspires you to write better. Practice! Write and re-write drafts, if you need to. Spend time scanning for spelling errors. You’ll see that sometimes you point of view may change on a topic or you may find a better way of explaining your thoughts by just spending a few minutes reviewing what you wrote. And most of all HAVE FUN! We can all tell when a blogger is going to fall off the blogging wagon, right? Posts decrease, content drags … they’re not enjoying it. So make sure to enjoy yourself, too!

Let’s Talk Hair

Let me start off with saying I’m not the type of girl who’s really into hair and make-up products. I never really learned how to do that stuff, and am pretty super low maintenance when it comes to that. I rarely wear ANY make-up at all, and usually only do my hair for special occasions. I have been “that girl” at work who’s hair is always in a ponytail. But as I hit 30, I realized that I want to start being more “grown-up” and have started incorporating some things into my non-existent beauty regime. I still do not wear make-up every day; mostly because I have oily skin and any cover-up clogs my pores and breaks me out, but since I cut my hair back down to a manageable length, I have been “doing it” every single day. Except on Sundays. Sundays are my lazy days.

So, for those girls out there that are low maintenance like myself, or are looking for some quick go-to styles that are easy peasy to do – I’m going to show you what products I use and how I do my chin-length hair. Get excited!

The only heat products I use are a blow-dryer (I have a basic one with a concentrator enhancement) that probably cost me no more than $25, and a flat iron. I just bought a new flat-iron that replaced my old Revlon one. I’m not sure what brand this one was but it too probably wasn’t more than $25. There are three hair products that I use almost daily (besides shampoo and conditioner):

  • It’s a 10 (regular)
  • Kenra Medium Hold (13) hair spray
  • Bumble and Bumble Straight
  • Suave dry shampoo

It’s a 10 is probably one of the best hair products I’ve come across in my 30 years. My stylist used it on me a few months back and I’ve been hooked ever since. This product can be used for TEN different options when styling your hair – but mostly it’s a great heat protectant, calms the frizz, improves shine and helps detangle. I will spray it into my hair while it’s damp right before I’m ready to start blow drying. It helps me comb it out, while prepping it for the heat that’s to come with the dryer. I have the larger bottle of the regular brand, but they have travel sized options as well as have a variety of options for your hair care needs (ie. For Blondes, Plus Keratin, Volumizing, and Light). I love it and a large bottle (approx. $34) has lasted me about six months and I still have some left.

Kenra is another great brand that my stylist clued me in on. It smells terrific and has a medium hold (which is the one I use) that keeps hair in place, but still allows you t o run your fingers through. It holds up hair in the humidity and heat, which is awesome since my hair is a natural frizz ball. I used the Perfect Medium Spray #13 (what an awesome number!). This has lasted me awhile, as well and I usually only use it when I’m curling my hair. I’ll spray it on after I pull the curls a part to help keep the curl.

 

Bumble and Bumble Straight  is a blow drying creme that you use to dry hair straight. However, I use it as a straightening creme when I’m flat ironing as the It’s a 10 is already a protectant on my hair. I feel that the B&B helps provide that extra protection, while really helping my hair stay straight after drilling it with high heat. It smells yummy and I use a teeny tiny bit as it can weigh hair down, especially since I’m not using it in the blow dry process. I’d recommend going with half of the size of a dime if you have chin length hair.

Suave dry shampoo is cheap and easy. There are TONS of dry shampoo brands out there, but why pay tons of money when a $1.99 bottle of Suave does the trick? It’s great to spray on for those days when you don’t have time to wash your hair and just want to style and go. I used this on my curly days mostly – when I’ll spray the roots, then spray all over with It’s a 10, curl, and then use Kenra to finish.

So, how do I do my hair? Either straight or curly. On Monday’s I’ll wash and blow dry and flat iron and wear it as straight as I can get it. Then the next day, I’ll skip the wash and use some dry shampoo to help curl it for a different look. I use the flat iron for both straightening and curling.

straight hair day

straight hair day

For straight hair:

  • Shampoo and condition hair
  • Apply It’s a 10 spray while hair is damp and comb out (make sure to ring out excess water from hair)
  • Use a comb (or round brush for more volume) with blow dryer to dry hair (a concentrator helps keep hair straight)
  • After hair is dry, run a tiny bit of Bumble and Bumble straight through hair (top and underneath)
  • Part hair (half up/half down) and start flat ironing hair in small sections starting underneath hair and working way to top
  • Keep parting until all hair is flat ironed
curly day! oh hey it's my office!

curly day! oh hey it’s my office!

For curly hair:

(keep in mind the pic above is on a 90 degree day, so it’s not as voluminous as I started. holy humidity!)

  • Skip washing hair
  • Spray Suave dry shampoo on roots and brush in
  • Spray It’s a 10 all over hair
  • Pull hair half up/half down and start curling underneath, working way to top of hair (crown)
  • Once all of the hair is curled, gently pull a part curls as desired
  • Finish with Kenra hair spray all over

It probably takes me about 20-30 minutes to do my hair, which is really manageable in the mornings. I hope this helps! Feel free to share your hair care secrets!

Blogtember: Day 5 | Personality Quiz



Today’s Topic: Take this short personality test and respond to your results. 

A simple personality quiz to ask you what you’re MORE likely to do in any given situation (often rephrased in different ways)  to provide you an insight into who you are, and how you act. My results? ENTJ

E = Extravert (1%) I have a marginal or no preference of Extroversion over Introversion. True. I can talk to new people in large social situations if I need/want to. My job requires me to talk to random people all of the time – so I have to be able to talk like a normal human being and can’t really be afraid of conversation with people I do not know. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s something I LOVE to do. I’m just fine being quiet and observing people, as well.

N = iNtuitive (25%) I have a moderate preference of intuition over sensing. I think that’s mostly true. If I have a gut feeling, it’s mostly hard to ignore it.

T = Thinking (12%) I have a slight preference of thinking over feeling. That’s pretty true, too. I like to think about things (especially the future) and how they play out. It’s better to analyze sometimes, than t agonize over negative feelings or situations.

J = Judging (11%) I have a slight preference of judging over perceiving. That’s pretty true, as well. I think to analyze things you have to judge them and gain a perception on them. That may not be a great personality trait and probably creates biasness – but sometimes it’s better to judge a situation with information at your hands, than to perceive how things MAY be and then create a stance.

Overall, this quiz was ok. I’ve taken a few personality quizzes before – especially for work to help my team understand what personalities we have working together and how to use those personalities to our advantage when working together and creating projects. Most of the time, I think that results are pretty vague and can be dissected numerous ways. It’s kind of like your horoscope when it vaguely refers to a “big change will happen in your life, soon.” Well, that can be anything. So, I think you just have to take these quizzes with a grain of salt and use whatever information they give you to keep improving on your own self!

Did you take the quiz? What do you think of your results?

Blogtember: Day 3



Today’s topic for Blogtember is: Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.

This is a great topic but a little hard for me to narrow down. My dad loves to give advice and has always passed along little tidbits of wisdom throughout my life. So, it’s hard to pick just one thing that I’ve learned. One of the biggest things that comes to mind, though, is that “everything happens for a reason.” That’s some advice that I have no clue where it came from – I’m sure I heard it on some cheesy movie or something, but a few years ago when I was going through a really rough time in my life and came out the other end “ok,” I finally realized that that statement is true. Some of us go through some awful things in our life, and even some little bumps in our day can seem like a monumental pain. But remember those times when you went through the bad to get to something even greater and you quickly realize that all those bad things happened to get you to the point where you’re at now.

Some less intense advice I’ve received is: Get out of your comfort zone. Do things that scare you, unnerve you, things you wouldn’t normally do … even if it’s just for awhile. I promise you’ll have some of the best experiences of your life, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll meet new people. So take that Zumba class by yourself, zip line through the jungle (even if you’re terrified of heights), network with new people at a business conference – just get out there.