9 Steps Toward Becoming A Successful Blogger

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Lately I have been receiving numerous questions pertaining to the “how to” of the blogging world. So I figured why not address this topic in a blog post?

Keep in mind, this is just what has worked for me and my style of blogging. There are many other ways to deem a blogging style as “successful.”

  1. Read, read, read. Read sites such as Thought Catalog and Huffington post to get a sense of what others write about and how they tackle it. Read newspapers to keep up on current events and generate ideas. Read books simply to learn new words and keep your mind spinning.
  2. Mimic what works for others. No, I am not telling you to plagiarize. Just observe the style and voice of other bloggers and adapt that to your own topic. There is a reason certain people are successful, so why not learn from them?
  3. Appeal to a collective audience. I work really hard to eliminate using “I” in my blog posts unless it is a story about a personal experience. And even then, I try to draw the audience into it by making it widely relatable. The truth is that people just don’t want to read about you. You’re not that interesting unless you can give them something to take away from your writing.
  4. Write about what you know. For example, I write about sobriety, dating, college life. I do not write about politics, science, or medical conditions because to be honest, I would sound like an idiot and lose credibility.
  5. Be persistent. This is huge when trying to get your work published somewhere other than your own blog. I submitted to Thought Catalog multiple times before being published. And even after that, I had to keep submitting before I finally connected with an editor there who I now send my posts to directly. As for HuffPost, I literally Googled and stalked the editors of each section and emailed them individually about contributing. The sports editor finally responded to me, and that opened the door to being able to submit blogs on any topic.
  6. Reread and pay attention to grammar. Never, ever submit something without taking multiple reads through it. You will catch so many things you missed the first time around.
  7. Engage with your audience. Even though sometimes I wish I didn’t, I read the comments section of my posts when HuffPost shares them on Facebook (that seems to be where the most engagement happens). I respond to people and their questions. I answer all the reader emails and Tweets that I receive. People are more likely to keep reading your posts if they feel like you care. Remember, readers make or break your success. Take time to thank them. Also – TAG YOUR POSTS. This is how other people come across them.
  8. Don’t hold back. Being a blogger takes a certain kind of person. You have to be willing to put your own experiences out there, to approach awkward situations with humor and serious situations with a level tone. There will always be readers who feel the need to comment and express their disagreement, or flat out hatred of how you approached something. You have to brush them off and think of all the readers who appreciate what you do and say.
  9. Experiment. Find out what styles work for you and what styles don’t. If something you post gets zero interaction or acknowledgment, there is probably a reason. Learn from it.

I’m sure many other bloggers have various advice as to how to get a foot in the door, but this is what I have learned since my entrance into the blogosphere.  As always, email or Tweet me with questions/comments!

7 More Things Only Chronic Overthinkers Will Understand

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Based on the level of engagement and agreement (and okay, occasional disagreement) with my last post, “7 Things Only Chronic Overthinkers Will Understand,” I decided to write a Part II –because why not overthink some more about why and how we so often overthink?

So, my fellow overthinkers, on the lighter side of overthinking…

  1. Multiple choice or true/false on tests is brutal. Multiple choice is self-explanatory because…well, because choices. But true/false is another battle completely. “What if only one word in the sentence is wrong? That could completely change the whole meaning. Wait, what type of scenario is this referring to? What if it is something we didn’t cover in class?” And suddenly the minutes are dwindling away and we haven’t answered any of the questions confidently.
  2. Netflix is a scary, scary place. There are so many options, it is immensely overwhelming. Especially in the documentary section. Oh God, don’t get us started on the documentaries. We spend more time deciding which one to watch, weighing the pros and cons, than we spend actually watching them.
  3. The world stops when someone says, “Hey, can I talk to you later?” A normal person’s response: “Sure.” Our response:  “Uhhh no. Talk to me now. Tell me what I did wrong. Please. Tell me why you are mad. Please. I swear I didn’t mean to do whatever I did. Please. I’m sorry. Please still love me.”  And oh God, if they actually make us wait until later in the day, it’s torture. We spend every minute wondering what we possibly could have done, creating awful scenarios in our heads. Nine times out of ten, the fiasco they want to address (which we have created in our minds) is actually something miniscule or completely unrelated to our actions.
  4. If we email or text someone about something relatively important and they don’t respond in a timely matter (aka, almost immediately), we begin rethinking the words we used, how we phrased things, the time of day we sent the message, etc. Especially if a read receipt is visible, or the person has been on social media and likely saw the message and chose not to respond. Typically this is because  – *gasp* – they actually have other things to do in their lives. Still, we can make their silence into many other scenarios.
  5. Shopping (this one by popular reader demand). Even when armed with a list of exactly what we need, we pass certain items and find ourselves thinking that maybe, just maybe, we will need them sometime soon. Making the choice to stray from the prepared list is difficult. Then there is the matter of choosing which brand of a product to buy. Spend less money, get a crappier product, or splurge and be happier with the quality?
  6. Clothes shopping is in an entirely separate category, for women at least. There are so many sizes, styles, colors, price ranges. We find a good deal only to convince ourselves that we can find a better one. We need multiple people’s opinions on how something looks – even if those people are strangers. We talk ourselves out of buying something, only to regret that decision when we have nothing to wear at a later date.
  7. Any change in routine can be immensely stressful. This isn’t to say change isn’t a good thing, it just takes a while for us to adjust when something we are used to is suddenly different. This could be relocating to a new city, losing a friend, a lifestyle change, etc. Whether it is in our control or out of our control, we still tend to think about all the possible scenarios. We become worried we are not making the right or best choices, even though we likely made the choices we did for a reason.

There may be days we want to pull our hair out, slam our heads into a wall, turn our brains off. But in the end, we need to remember that we know ourselves better than anyone else. We need to have faith that we are doing the right thing, making the right choices – because our instincts exist for a reason.

24 Thoughts Every Girl Has While On Tinder

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  1. “No. I will not Instagram or Snapchat you. I don’t even know you. Why. Why would I do that?”
  2. “Okay…which one of the five guys in every photo is actually you? Too much effort to analyze every face. Bye.”
  3. “What in the world possessed you to fill in your bio with “long dong” or something else equally as blunt? Does that work for you? Ever?”
  4. “Do you know that “ur” isn’t acceptable for “you’re” and “your” in real life? And you’re just lazy online? Please say yes.”
  5. “Okay you have one photo and no bio at all…does anyone swipe right? Cause, uh, I won’t.”
  6. “Oh good, you “live life to the fullest.” Now I know everything I need to know in order to swipe right…”
  7. “Okay, you say are not a catfish. Thank God. Now I am convinced. Can I come over?”
  8. “You’re cute. Please be smart, please be smart, please be smart.”
  9. “Awww you have a dog. And you like kids. Awwwwww.”
  10. “Soooooo do you regularly take shirtless selfies at the gym? Isn’t that awkward?”
  11. “So you party and post it on Tinder. What else are you doing with your life?”
  12. “OMG you could be my future hubby. Please be a match, please be a match, please be a match…” Not a match. DAMMIT TINDER.
  13. “Oh. You’re kissing a girl. On the lips. In your Tinder photo. And you are here because….?”
  14. “Uhhh buddy, I can’t see your face in any photo. What are you hiding?”
  15. “Oh. You take more selfies than I do and are more groomed than I am. Interesting.”
  16. “Awww another puppy…can I just have the puppy and not the boy?”
  17. “Your ‘friends made this for you’ and it’s ‘something to do when you’re bored.’? Yeah okay.”
  18. “Uhhh you are not 21, baby face. Good try.”
  19. “Oh good, I am glad you clarified that you are single, considering you are on a DATING APP.”
  20. “DAMMIT I MEANT TO SWIPE LEFT. NOW RANDOM TINDER MAN WILL THINK I LIKE HIM.”
  21. “As impressive as that photo of you wearing only a pizza box  was…oh, and the bonnet and the diaper while doing a keg stand…I’m gonna have to pass.”
  22. MORE PUPPIES.
  23.  “No I am not going to dissect every emoticon in your bio to make sense of who you are. USE YOUR WORDS.”
  24. “No. No. No. No. No. Why am I on here? Stupid Tinder.” *closes app, opens ten minutes later*

 

Today I Am One Year Sober

There was a bonfire. Hookah. Green Apple Burnett’s.

I wish I remembered more from the day that ended up altering the course of my life, but I don’t. It will forever remain a bonfire, hookah and Green Apple Burnett’s.

People have filled in the blanks here and there.

We left the house and went to the Middy. Someone bought me shots. And shots. And more shots.

Bar close rolled around and we left. I stubbornly decided to walk home alone instead of sticking with my friends, against their wishes.

A Gary’s Pizza delivery man saw me stumbling near the St. Joseph Meat Market, clearly intoxicated and alone. He called the police out of concern.

They came and picked me up, and I blew a .35. They then tried to take me to detox, but I was not being cooperative (imagine that). They instead took me to the hospital, where I slept it off.

But those are their memories, not mine. I’ll never have mine, which is unsettling.

The next memory I do have literally feels as if it is out of a movie scene. I remember opening my eyes and being extremely disoriented. My eyes focused and I saw my mom first, in a striped sweater, arms crossed, no makeup, the expression on her face an expression I’ve only seen a number of times, and only in serious situations.

Then I saw my dad next to her. I don’t remember vivid details about him like I do about my mom, but he was right there with her. My siblings were nowhere in sight, a rarity.

I should have been concerned, or sorry. I should have been remorseful, or confused. But all I could think was, “Oh shit. Now I have to deal with this.” That should have been my first clue that my priorities were out of control.

It’s probably important to note that at this point, I was still fairly drunk. A .16 when I was discharged, I believe. That being said, I was not pleasant to my parents or to the doctor.

Especially to the doctor. This woman was trying to say I had a problem, and hell no I did not have a problem. I was in college, I drank like everyone else, and this one night got out of hand. Who was she to tell me otherwise?

That whole day is still a bit of a haze to me. I remember leaving the hospital and my parents driving me back to campus to grab a few of my things. The car ride felt like an eternity. What do you say to your parents when they briefly thought you were dead? Nothing worthy comes to mind, especially when you’re still intoxicated. So it remained silent.

I remember walking into my dorm and falling into my best friend’s arms, bawling, my mom telling her not to baby me. I remember trying to find out what I had done with my phone and other belongings from the night before. I remember packing the essentials and leaving campus.

After an excruciatingly silent 45-minute ride home, I remember crashing on the couch and sleeping for hours. I remember waking up, sitting on the porch with my mom, in the sun, and downing about five popsicles because I was so dehydrated. I remember thinking that this would all go away and it would be okay.

And it would be okay, but not in the way I thought.

It would be okay after completing an out-patient program, attending AA meetings, coming clean about my problem, finding a sponsor. And even then, sometimes it wouldn’t be okay – the difference being that I would learn to deal with it in a healthy manner.

This is kind of like Chapter One of all my memories from the past year. Some are still blurred or suppressed, and some are more clear. Knowing me, I will write about them eventually.

I’ve always been rather outspoken about my struggle as a whole, but not in detail like this. That’s probably because I never wanted to take the time to sit down and rehash painful memories for no reason.

But tonight, exactly a year after the night that put me in the hospital, I was driving home from my internship, reflecting, and started crying uncontrollably. Then I found myself pulling into the meat market parking lot, turning my car off, and trying to envision what had happened that night a year ago. Obviously I couldn’t come up with anything other than what people have filled in, but somehow it felt like coming full circle.

Instead of being mad or confused, I just let myself cry for a while. Then I texted my sponsor and a close friend also in the program – people I didn’t know at all a year ago but who are now a light in my life. That realization in itself made me stop for a moment and just appreciate what sobriety has given me.

It’s given me the ability to be comfortable expressing emotion. It’s allowed me to let people into my life who I otherwise never would have met, let alone opened up to. It’s allowed me to sit alone in a dark parking lot and pray, of all things.

As I sit here a year later, there are still so many thoughts and emotions I have yet to pin down.

But there is one I can certainly identify – pride. I am so proud of myself, which is a claim I could never really make in the past. I’m proud of myself for making it to the one year mark, one day at a time.  I’m proud of myself for opening up to the people in my life and letting them follow this journey. I’m proud of myself for being able to say this has made me a better person, and for meaning it.

This year has been the most difficult of my life, but I honestly wouldn’t change one thing because I have learned so much about myself, about other people, about love and support, about the world as a whole.

One day at a time really does take you places.

21 Lessons I Learned After One Year As a Sober 21-Year-Old

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1. Recovery jargon. Words and phrases like “higher power,” “12 steps,” “Serenity prayer,” and “surrender” become part of your daily life.
2. Who your real friends are. These might be different than your party friends, but if they are the same ones, they will still love and support you – the sober you. If you’re lucky, they will love and support you even more than they did before.
3. Drunk people are really just adult toddlers. Think about it…they say whatever comes to mind, cry at the smallest things, are messy eaters, don’t have social skills. Okay, not all of them, but you get the idea.
4. Everything becomes normal if you do it long enough. Even sobriety. Even when it seems like it will never get better or easier – it does.
5. How to find an AA meeting. Immediately. No matter where you are.
6. There are so many people who have suffered from or are affected byalcoholism – and they all come out of the woodwork as soon as you do. There is always an immediate connection, an immediate mutual understanding and respect.
7. Honesty is the best policy. This obviously goes for being honest with yourself, but also with the people in your life. The more people know what is going on, the more support and accountability you have.
8. A family’s love is unconditional. Even when you feel as if it is the last thing you deserve or even want, they will be there. You can’t shake them or push them away, and eventually you will be confused as to why you tried.
9. The importance of caffeine. Some people will disagree with reliance upon caffeine, but in college, it has been a lifesaver. Especially at the bars – gotta keep up with all the drunkies and their energy level.
10. Higher power does not automatically equal God. I struggled to grasp this concept for a long time because I felt as if I had been distant from God and didn’t want to just turn to him suddenly because it was convenient. Eventually I came to terms with the fact that acknowledging a higher power simply means admitting there is something in the world more powerful than you.
11. Bar tenders love sober cabs. They might even give you free pop all night if you are driving. And if you frequent the same places, they also memorize what you drink so you don’t even need to order anymore.
12. Drunk people also love sober cabs. Actually they just love sober people in general. And they will let you know that, time and time again, as they sloppily hug you and state how proud of you they are.
13. Alcohol contains calories – a lot of them. And when you stop taking in those calories (and stop the drunchies that ensue) the weight and bloating will drop off of you and you will look like a new person. A healthy person.
14. Looking like an idiot on the dance floor is okay. At first, dancing sober was the most awkward thing I had ever done…now I just look around and realize that everyone is a) drunk and dancing like an idiot and b) no one knows that I am sober and no one cares.
15. You learn how to cope with feelings instead of drink them away. This isn’t always pleasant or fun, but in the long run, it is so much healthier and more productive.
16. Your relationships become real and meaningful. Not that they weren’t before, but you’ll realize some were just superficial. Some people were just your drinking buddies, nothing more. Relationship maintenance also becomes a lot simpler when you are not blacking out and saying or doing stupid things to upset people.
17. Life is about balance. Just because you are sober doesn’t mean you should lock yourself in your room and do homework all weekend. Chances are people still genuinely want you around and enjoy your company. Sometimes being social will be the last thing you feel like doing, but it will usually pull you out of a funk pretty quickly.
18. Hangovers suck. Sure, you probably knew this when you were in the midst of one. But that was the price you paid for an entertaining night, right? Still, after the absence of waking up with a pounding head or a nauseous stomach, you realize how debilitating they really were.
19. Not drinking can sometimes be frustrating (duh), especially in college. This is okay to admit and struggle with, as long as you face it somehow. Whether this is talking to a friend, a sponsor, writing about it…any of the above are more helpful than you would think, and definitely more helpful than reverting back to old ways.
20. Some AA meetings are the stereotypical old-guys-sitting-around-drinking-coffee. But guess what? These guys have been around the block and know a thing or two. And they love young people.
21. Bad days are never going to be nonexistent. They just get easier to approach and navigate over time. And chances are your worst days sober are still a billion times better than your worst days using.