Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

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Ever since I started blogging, many of my friends have come to me for advice about starting their own blog. I love this because it means they notice that I’m doing things and as a blogger, recognition is good. However, having to give advice over Snapchat or Instagram messages is harder and time consuming than I have time for so I decided to write this post. These tips can also apply to anyone in an online creative type of work such as podcasting or running a specialized Instagram page. From one amateur blogger to the next, these are the things I wish I knew when I started blogging.

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  • Put aside a few consecutive hours a week to focus on blog related things. (Really focus!)

Honestly, if you can master this and make it a habit, the rest of these things will come pretty easily to you. My biggest struggle over the last year and half or so has been finding the time to just sit down and work on my blog for extended periods of time, without distractions. I read a post from Mattie James (mattiejames.com) that discusses the concept of batch work. Batch work is basically creating a bunch of content all at once. My effectiveness in this comes and goes but as of lately it’s been something I am aiming to make routine.

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  • Figure out your main topics/focus aka niche (Keep this list small)

When I first started blogging I wanted to talk about everything under the sun: health and fitness, pop culture, social justice issues, self-growth and development, mental health, anything and everything. It wasn’t until after I tried writing about all of these topics and realized that I was headed nowhere fast that I decide to dial back on the topics I was going to focus on for my blog. Now I focus on self-reflection, self-growth/self-development, and goal-setting with a sprinkle of health and fitness and travel thrown in every so often. Keeping your list of topics small is key to avoiding being overwhelmed as a blogger. Even the person who loves writing more than life CAN’T write about everything. I know that once I establish myself as a blogger with a brand, other opportunities to talk about my various interests will present themselves.

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  • Consistently creating content (and posting it) is the hardest thing to master.

It’s so funny because whenever people ask me what advice I have about blogging I tell them “don’t underestimate how hard it is to consistently write and create content.” Many of the time they tell me they’re not worried about that because they have so many things to write about that creating content won’t be hard for them. Fast forward a few weeks later and either 1. They haven’t started their blog because they’re busy or 2. They have started it but only post once in a blue moon (like myself, guilty as charged haha). The thing people don’t understand is that writing a blog post isn’t hard (per say) but what is hard is writing a blog post worth reading. There have been many times I have written a post, read it back, tried to edit it, and just realized it wasn’t even worth reading for me, much less to put out. Creating consistent and worthy content is hard. Don’t underestimate it.

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  • Friends =/= Supporters and that’s okay! (Don’t take it personal)

Just because you are friends with someone does not mean they are obligated to support your blog. I know. That sounds insane. Why wouldn’t your friends support you? They’re your friends! That’s what friends do for each other. I know that’s what we’re taught to believe but the fact of the matter is that friends =/= supporters and that doesn’t make them bad people. Maybe your niche is just not FOR THEM. When I first started blogging I was sad that all of my friends weren’t reading my blog (the clicks don’t lie!) but then I realized that doesn’t matter. I love all of my friends and our differences in interests and hobbies. That being said if one of my friends started a horseback riding podcast I can’t necessarily say I would be tuning in every week to hear about life at the stables. I probably would retweet all of their new episodes but that’s as far as that would go. That doesn’t make me a bad person. Some people won’t even retweet you, and that’s fine too. We are all inclined to support things that interest us. I know my content isn’t for everybody, I focus on writing for the people who it’s intended for.

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  • Reading other bloggers, watching blogging webinars, and whatever else is useless if you don’t apply the knowledge! (Seriously, don’t waste your time)

I tried to read every blog post and watch every webinar I could about blogging when I first started. There where countless Google searches for content about blogging from my phone and laptop. If it was free, it was for me! After reading and watching all of this stuff I can say I have maybe applied 1 or 2 things out of the 25 I’ve learned. That’s because I was more focused on indulging in information to try to imitate the greats instead of reading/learning some and then applying it, reading/learning something else and applying, and so on and so on. I’m sure I would have gotten way farther in a quicker time if I took it one step at time. This whole blogger life is a learning process though and Mara went through it so you don’t have to!

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  • This shit is not cheap/free (If you want to be next level)

Okay so I never knew that I was going to have to spend so much money JUST to make blog appear legit. Between having my own domain, needing a PO Box for my newsletter, paying for stock photos, and eventually attending blogging conventions, this blogging life gets REAL costly REAL quick! If blogging is just a hobby for you it’s not something you have to worry about but I eventually want to take my blog to another level as a source of income like many of the women I admire. If you have similar ambitions as me, it’s going to cost you before it pays you. Don’t get discouraged and make sure you can finance your dreams.

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  • Engagement is a major key.

Okay so something I’ve recently learned is blogging doesn’t stop at the blog posts. In order to have people actually give a damn about what you have to say, you have to engage with your social media followers. I know that is so obvious…how didn’t realize it before? I don’t know, honestly. Even after reading it from many people who blog it never clicked until recently.

This is just a little bit of what I wosh I knew when I started blogging. Even with utilizing these tips there are still so many things left for bloggers to learn. The best thing is to do your research! Here are some of my favorite blogging resources where I read up on blogging tips and sometimes even score a free webinar or two.

  • MattieJames.com
  • Bloguettes.com
  • LostGenYGirl.com

If you are fellow blogger or have a postcast/website, I wish you luck and success! It’s not an easy task to be successful on these e-streets.

Are you a blogger? What is one thing you wish you knew when you started blogging? Let me know in the comments! 

5 Things You Should Do The Summer Before Law School

If you’re anything like the average person getting ready to start law school, the months before your first semester will be filled with soooo many emotions: excitement, anxiety, pride, fear, and everything in between. First, take a deep breath and exhale. Everything is going to be okay. It’s going to feel like it’s not many times between now and the end of your first year, but it will. There are books dedicated to preparing you for your first year of law school…I didn’t read any of them so I can’t testify (ba dum tshh) how effective and helpful they are for the 1L experience. However, I do feel that besides one or two things I did wrong, my summer pre-1L year was pretty great. In this post I’ll be discussing what I did that I believe was effective and what I wish I had done to be better prepared.

Save money

Many different faculty, lawyers, 2L and 3Ls will tell you that you shouldn’t work your first year of law school and I’m inclined to agree. I worked only one day a week until November of my first year and I honestly wish I had just quit, to be quite honest. I understand that is a privilege many people may not be able to afford but if you can, you should not work your first year of law school. Due to this, I think people should save as much money as they can before they start law school. You may get financial aid or scholarships, but it never hurts to have a well-funded savings account. This is especially important if you don’t want to take out loans. I can’t relate to that but it’s a noble goal to have in law school.

Travel somewhere you’ve never been for as long as you can

If you are someone who likes to travel (I am), you won’t be able to do so as freely once you start law school. I mean, there are chances for you to do if you have money saved away for leisure but as someone who stopped working for my 1L year, I didn’t really have much money saved up to travel like I like to after the first semester or during this summer. Once I knew I got accepted to attend law school in the fall I booked a trip to the Dominican Republic with one of my sorority sisters and I’m so glad I did. I don’t think I have reached that level of peace and care-free since starting law school last August but it was a great way for me to clear my head before beginning my law school journey. It was nice to get away from everyone and everything and spend time doing things I enjoy.

Read for fun

I’m sure there are people who can find the time and energy to read for fun while they’re in school, I’m not one of them. Even when I was in undergrad (which was not even ½ as hard as law school for me), I never made time to read for fun. The summer before law school I decided that I wanted to read as many books for fun as I could because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do so once school started and I had to read dozens of cases a week. I’m personally a self-help/biography of powerful women junkie so I read many books of that nature but read whatever it is you enjoy because chances are you won’t be able to do that once the semester starts.

Spend time with your family and friends

Once school starts, you’re going to have way less time to spend with your non-law school friends and even your family. I live with my parents and I still didn’t have much time to spend with them throughout the week between classes, readings, and going to the gym. My friends and I rarely saw one another during the semester due to us all being in school or working and being busy. While I did spend some time with them during the summer, I wish I had spent more time with my parents before 1L started because now I feel like I hardly see them enough. One thing I want to do this upcoming school year is schedule dinners and time with my parents and days to hang out with my friends and treat it like any other appointment I have in my planner/google calendar. The point is, the summer before you will hopefully have more time to dedicate to seeing your family and friends more often and you should take advantage of that, if that’s something you value. If you are going to school out-of-state I can’t recommend this enough.

Get a semblance of a routine

My biggest fuck-up in 1L was deviating from the schedule/routine I had planned for more often than I should have. Sticking to your routine is one of the most important things an incoming 1L can learn in the summer before law school begins. Many people don’t struggle with this but I did and still do. In the first semester of law school it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and I sometimes combatted this by abandoning my routine all together for weeks at a time and just going with the flow. Don’t do this. In undergrad, I was so busy with other clubs and interning and working that my schedule had to be followed otherwise nothing would have been done. Law school granted me much more independence and freedom than undergrad or my two gap years where I was just working and working out. A lack of a routine in law school is dangerous. Before you know it, it’s December 1st and you don’t have any outlines or well put together notes and you’re submitting your major legal writing assignment at 11:55pm and you haven’t even had time to proof read it that final time before submission. All of this is to say, practice sticking to a routine before school starts if you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily have to in order to be successful now because all of that will change soon.

Get started on implementing these tips today! If you have any other law school related questions COMMENT BELOW and let’s chat.

If you’re already in law school, COMMENT with some tips you think I may have missed that helped you during your summer before 1L.

 

4 Tips For Winning The Battle Against Your Post-Grad Blues

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Post-grad blues are no joke. While not everyone is affected by these feelings of sadness once they walk across that stage, many people are. I know when I graduated I got my degree and said “now what?” while I waited to go back to school. Those first 6 months or so were really rough and I felt depressed more often than not. In today’s post I’m suggesting some things that helped me get through the trying times of  battling with post-grad blues.

Wake-Up and Say Those Affirmations!

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The post-grad blues period after graduating can definitely get you down (they don’t call it post-grad blues for nothin’). One way I battled this overwhelming sense of emptiness and lack of purpose was through repeating affirmations to myself every morning when I woke up. While each person has to determine what they want out of life to come up with their own, I think the ones I used during this rough time are definitely a good place to start. Here are a few of the many affirmations I told myself during my time being unemployed. Some of these I still use now! I found these at this article here.

  1. My body is healthy, my mind is brilliant, my soul is tranquil.
  2. I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
  3. I deserve to be employed and paid well for my time, efforts, and ideas. Each day, I am closer to finding the perfect job for me.

Start with these and even tweak them to your style if you want. All that matters is you remind yourself that you are deserving and destined for greatness!

Journal About Your Feelings Towards Being Graduated (and your feelings in general)

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For people like myself, it is easy to start feeling down when you are trying to find employment or have too much free time on your hands after graduating. One thing I have made more of a consistent habit is journaling. I try* process all my feelings by journaling at least 3 times a week. When I was unemployed I wrote about how being unemployed made me feel (leave out nothing…even the feelings of worthlessness and sadness). I’ve vented my frustrations and promised myself that I will never take being employed for granted again. While it is usual to complain about one’s job (unless it’s your dream job, which mine is being an attorney so I’m a long ways off), to be ungrateful for one’s job is not good for the soul. In cases where your boss is a jerk it’s different but at the same time, I have always hated being unemployed more than having a job I hate (blame my materialistic desires and FOMO). I hope to look back on my unemployment entries of journal should I ever start hating my jobs (hopefully I won’t).

Find a New Hobby or Invest Time in an Old One

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Whether you’ve always loved painting but college got in the way, or you want to learn how to dance salsa, or anything in between you have plenty of time to do it in your down time on the post-grad job search. One thing I started doing again while I was unemployed is reading. One of my goals this year is to read two books a month and it hasn’t been hard thus far considering I didn’t have really anything better to do. Another hobby I dedicated more time to while I was unemployed was blogging. It felt good to be doing things I wanted to do in undergrad that I simply didn’t have the time to do.

Get Off Your Ass and Get Active

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Seriously! This one is a good morale booster. Whether I was dancing, working out, going for a walk, jog, or run, dedicating time to working out wasn’t something I did until towards the end of my unemployment and I wish I had a started sooner. Not only do you have time to figure out what kind of workouts you love, you can find a purpose in setting non-work related goals. One of my goals when I was employed was to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. This doesn’t sound like a lot but there would be days when I was unemployed where I sat around ALL day and barely clocked in 2,000 steps, YIKES! If you’re currently unemployed it doesn’t mean you have to sit around all day and become a sloth (I was guilty of this for a while).

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The post-grad “Damn I don’t have a job” depression is real and it can take over your mind, body, and spirit if you let it. Even if you are employed, being out of school after being in school your whole life is a rough transition for me. I have suffered from the deepest of post-grad blues and it is not pretty. Even if you are employed there are times where you can find yourself missing being in undergrad and carefree. The key to surviving this turbulent transition in life is to happen to it instead of allowing it to happen to you. If you already have a job it can be even easier to get caught up in the motions and find yourself still battling those post-grad blues. Find balance between keeping yourself busy and doing things you love. When you’re unemployed, finding things to occupy your time during your job search (and make sure you are ACTIVELY searching) will make the time in between graduation and being unemployed fly by.  You may even walk away from it being more enlightened, educated, and experienced person than the day you got your degree. If you don’t have a job or haven’t taken steps towards career yet, don’t beat yourself up about it. These things take time and there is always a lesson in the struggle! ALWAYS.

(Author’s Note: If you think you suffer from depression or any other mental illness, contact a professional for help. These tips will not cure depression.)

Don’t Look No Farther…Baby I’m Back.

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Wow it has been quite a while since I was able to sit down and write out a blog post. I actually can’t even tell you the last time I wrote a blog post. So much has happened since whenever that was. Actually…not really. Law school basically took over my life, which is why I haven’t been able to keep up with blogging. On the bright side, I finished my FIRST YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL and I survived it haha. I will definitely have more content related to that as the beginning of this NEXT school year inches closer. NOW that its summer break and I will actually have free time, I will be back to posting at least once a week. I don’t wanna make any large promises and jinx myself. Truth is, I’ve missed blogging so much and I’m excited to get back to it. I’m really hoping to consistently post this summer and get in the habit so it’s easier this next school year. Lately I’ve been feeling like a fraud by having “lifestyle blogger” in my Instagram bio. There are some other things I have up my sleeve but I want them to be surprise and don’t want to share too much too soon. The point is The Musings of Mara is back so get excited y’all.

A Guide To Alcohol-Free Fun For Twentysomethings

The other day I was talking to some of my friends and one of them said something that has been stuck in my mind. She said “I need to find hobbies or things to do that don’t involve alcohol.” Ironically enough, this was after we had spent the day at a bottomless mimosa brunch and we’re getting ready to start pre-gaming to go out, but she had a point. I realized that many millennial and generation Z-ers, myself included, usually socialize when there is something involving alcohol. Well, as I dive further into my health + fitness journey, only socializing with my friends if we are drinking doesn’t really align with my current goals. This inspired me to write this post about activities we can do that don’t involve alcohol.

Host a Breakfast Party

Just think, brunch, without the mimosas (or the overpriced french toast). While, in my humble opinion, mimosas may or may not be the best part of brunch for some, breakfast food is also a star on it’s own. On NYE some friends and I cooked our own brunch (and added mimosas) and then sat down and talked about our goals for the New Year and other things. It was honestly so much better than trying to have conversation at a crowded brunch restaurant trying to see how many you can drink in the two hour limit. Even without the mimosas, I’m sure it would have been fun to have the breakfast without mimosas. Each friend can be assigned a dish (the friends who can’t cook can cut up fruit or something) and then you can enjoy the meal you all helped contribute to. This can also apply to lunch or dinner if breakfast is not your thing.

Get Active

Whether it’s going on a hike, snowboarding, taking a group fitness class, or even a pole dancing class, participating in exercise with your friends can be so fun, especially if it’s activity you or your friends have never participated in before (these make for the best stories). I especially enjoy hiking with other people because you usually don’t have service on mountains and allows your friend group to have great unplugged conversations about everything in life.

Channel Your Inner Artist (or crafter)

One of the things I missed about being in undergrad with my sorority sisters is the many arts and crafts nights we had whenever recruitment or some other equally important event was around the corner. A good way to hang out with your friends sans alcohol is letting your creative juices flow. Whether it be a vision board party, paint night, or whatever else, arts and crafts bring people together. If it’s one of the holidays you can also incorporate that into your night in with friends. Halloween? Carve or paint (my personal fave of the two options) pumpkins. Celebrate Christmas? Have a Gingerbread house decorating contest.

Go Volunteer

Giving back to your community is a great way to build friendships and feel good about yourself. Instead of having a hangover, you will feel happy that you helped a greater cause. Some ideas are soup kitchens, pet shelters, or even helping set up a 5K. Google community service opportunities in your city for more fun ideas.

I’m sure there are many other things you can do with your friends and without alcohol. My friends personally love to go out to eat together but I wasn’t going to list that because it’s probably the most common thing friends do besides going out to drink. Go out (or stay in) with your friends and get started on these activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast!

Is there something you do with your friends that doesn’t involve alcohol that I didn’t list here? Let me know in the comments! I’m always open for more activities to do.

9 Things I Want To Do Before 2019 Ends

I have a confession to make. I’m a list making addict. If you’ve been following my blog for a while this comes as no surprise but I thought I’d give a heads up to the new readers or whoever has stumbled across this post. One of my favorite types of lists to make is my annual bucketlists. Each year I pick a certain amount of things I want to do/try/experience before the year is over. This year is no different. Some of these things are leftover from last year’s bucketlist and others are from sheer curiosity or wanting to challenge myself to something new.

Here’s my 2019 Bucketlist:

  1. Run an entire 5K without stopping to walk
  2. Have a photo-shoot at 7 Magic Mountains
  3. Try 5 new Vegan restaurants
  4. Travel to a city I’ve never been to before
  5. Go to a Soul Cycle class
  6. Hike a new trail (or 3)
  7. Find a cute coffee shop to study/write in
  8. Become 50% fluent in Spanish on Duolingo
  9. Stay in a cabin with a fire place somewhere snowy

I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to last year due to not knowing how to balance all I had going on in life and having no real strategy to achieve everything. This year, I know where I messed up last year and I will plan around that silly mistake. I’m excited to experience all of these things. Hopefully I’ll even be able to blog about some of them too! I’ll definitely keep you all updated.

What’s one thing you have on your bucketlist for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

How To Handle It When Life Is Kicking Your Ass

I don’t know about you all, the last year or so has been quite the year. While many great things have happened, it has also been pretty rough…especially once I went back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my law school and my section but law school as a whole is hard as hell. I haven’t been this mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenged in a long time. For the first time in my life, school is not coming to me easily and this has been a major hit on my ego.

While not everyone is in law school like me, life is still hard for everyone in different ways. In certain points in time it can be outright horrible. This being said, I have gathered some tips for dealing with life when it’s kicking your ass.

Cry

Okay so I don’t know about you, reader…but I love to cry. I try not to cry often but when shit gets too real, I definitely let the tears fall where they may. Sometimes a good cry is necessary to move on from a failure and keep it pushing. While I don’t recommend crying every day if life is rough (probably talk to somebody if you are crying everyday), a good cry every so often is cathartic. So if you feel like life is kicking you around let it out and then do the rest of these steps.

Declutter

I’m one of those people where my room reflects the current state of my life. If my room is a mess, 9/10 my life is also a mess and I need to get it together fast. Sometimes when life is doing me dirty I get a release out of throwing away things that I don’t need and straightening up my room. There is something about cleaning your room that makes you feel (at least for a little bit) that you have your shit together. If life feels like it’s spiraling out of your control, take control of your space to gain a sense of that control back.

Unplug

If anyone is familiar with sulking and scrolling through social media when I feel sad, it’s me. However, in the past few months I’ve noticed that this doesn’t help me feel any better and if anything, it sometimes makes me feel worse. As a blogger/aspiring influencer I do value transparency with my followers when I’m going through a rough time but sometimes the best thing to do is to just let people know life is kicking your ass and that you’re going to take some time to unplug and disappear. I’ve been doing this lately and it is so much better for my emotional health.

Write

Make sure you use a pen and paper to do so. Y’all know I always talking about journaling but writing out your feelings when life gets rough is a good way to process exactly how you are feeling. Once you write about your feelings, you are better able to know how and why you feel the way you do and possibly brainstorm ideas for progress. I personally recommend making journaling a habit so that you can regulate your emotions better. I notice that when I don’t journal regularly, my mood is all over the place.

Exercise

I know I know. Who has time to exercise when life is already kicking your ass? Sounds contradictory I’m sure but it’s not. Exercise gives you endorphins and is also another way you can practice control in an area of your life. You would be surprised how much better you feel even after only 1 hour of exercise. The day I found out I failed my first law school midterm I left anything school related alone and went to 2 separate MixxedFit classes. I felt amazing afterwards and had a clearer head to know what to do moving forward.

Adjust

If what you’re doing isn’t working, adjust some things around to see if something else will work. Life is a complicated thing and sometimes even the most minor adjustments can have a butterfly effect on the quality of our lives. I made some big adjustments to my school and personal schedule to try and achieve the results I wanted for the rest of the year when I felt like life was just messing me up. Sometimes life really is out of our control and nothing we can do will change certain things. In these moments, I recommend just adjusting your mindset. It’s very cliché but often times at least finding one positive aspect of life that we are grateful for will help us in hard times of our lives.

Life can be really hard. The last year or so has be really difficult, personally. However, by doing these things I’ve been able to get myself out of a funk from time to time while life kicking my ass every so often. The main thing to make sure you do is to take time for yourself and relax.

What do you do when life is doing your dirty? Let me know in the comments!