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The Punk Rock Personal Development podcast is now on iTunes!

The Punk Rock Personal Development podcast is FINALLY on iTunes!

Yes, I hit some technical snafus (who knew my propensity for cussing could get me into so much trouble or that an ampersand could be coded incorrectly?!), so this message is coming to you a month later than I'd hoped but:

It's here! It's here! It's here!

I am over the moon to be bringing this project to you because I'm having SO MUCH FUN creating it and I think it's sorely needed.

Sometimes I get frustrated that so much self-help material contains little more than platitudes and new age jargon. Punk Rock Personal Development is about having real conversations about the practical tools, mindsets, and habits people are using to embrace self-love, go after their dreams, and live life on purpose. I want to talk about their struggles and their triumphs. Their inspiring stories and practical advice. The real nitty gritty ways that they've consciously created their lives.

I talked to Francesca Lia Block about magic, staying inspired, and the catharsis of writing.

Veronica Varlow and I chatted about personal transformations, the power of daydreaming, and creating a magical life.

Mariah Coz gave me the low down on gaining focus, making a living from your passions, and getting more done.

Laura Jane Williams and I waxed philosophical about finding yourself through writing, the art of becoming, & cultivating self-acceptance.

Louise Androlia generously offered all of her best advice for learning to surrender, loving yourself with chronic illness, & tapping into your intuition.

I asked ReeRee Rockette about being your best self, making healthier choices, & leaping into entrepreneurship.

Jayne Goldheart and I drank wine while chatting about dancing through chance, living a nomadic life, & being true to yourself.

Lisa Lister laid down some real talk about loving your body, unleashing your superpowers, & exploring your lady landscape.

Each of these conversations lifted me up, helped me look at things in new ways, and offered me practical tools I could start implementing right away. I hope they'll have as profound an impact on you as they've had on me. And I'll be sharing a new one with you each and every Friday.

Now that the podcast is out there, I need your help!

The first 8 weeks of a podcast are critical. The number of downloads and reviews I get determine whether I'll be featured on the iTunes new & noteworthy list, which can lead a lot of new people to find a show & allowing me to really create the impact I want to have.

Here are a few simple ways you can help:

  • Subscribe on iTunes.
  • Download all of the existing episodes (even if you've already listened to them - you can just mark them as played afterwards).
  • Leave a rating and review. Search for the podcast on the iTunes store and then tap the "Reviews" tab. Then just select a star rating, write a few words, and tap "Send." This can be as simple as "Great work, Sarah!" or "I'm loving this show!" or let me know who you'd like to hear interviewed next. Don't worry, I'm not asking you to write a novel.
  • Tell anyone you think would enjoy it about the show
  • Tweet about the podcast or share the link on (you could direct them to the show on iTunes)

Anyway that you can get the word out will be immensely helpful. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. It means the world to me!

Sending you lovebeams across cyberspace.

And don't forget: you can still register for my free webinar + Q&A with Ebonie Allard, which is taking place tomorrow at 7pm GMT. Even if you can't attend live, you will be able to watch the replay if you've registered and there will be some pretty sweet bonuses just for signing up!

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Inspiration Interview: Sarah Von Bargen from Yes & Yes.

Sarah Von Bargen, 35, blogger/ghost writer/internet awesome-i-fier, usually in St. Paul, Minnesota (though she travels three months a year)

Over the years, the blogs that I read have changed a lot. As I've changed and grown, the things I'm interested in reading about are a lot different than they were way back when. And the people whose work I found helpful when I was younger, isn't necessarily what resonates with me at this stage of my journey. But one of the blogs that has constantly been in my reader since I discovered it in 2011 is Sarah Von Bargen's Yes & Yes. Perhaps it's because Sarah doesn't pretend to have it all figured out, yet she's still plenty inspiring and wicked knowledgable. She's incredible at helping people be more awesome online and showing how to make life more fun and adventurous. Sarah's amazing at curating guest posts on everything from incredible real life stories and travel to style and food. More recently she launched a small business blog and helps people take their online lives to the next level. From starting her own business to travelling for three months a year and peppering her life with everyday adventures (she also inspired my birthday list!), Sarah is pretty rad at making her dreams come true. I'm so excited to have her here today for our next Inspiration Interview.

How would you sum up what you do? I write things that help us all remember that yes is more fun than no - in life, online, and in your business.

What unconventional career path brought you from there to here? I've been doing writing-related jobs for 15+ years ... all those things you do when you know how to string a sentence together: public relations, newspaper, ad agency, English teacher. When I started Yes & Yes I'd been living abroad and working as an ESL teacher for five years. I wanted to read a lifestyle blog that was funny and smart, helpful and flippant. I wanted to read a blog that acknowledged that humans can't be pigeon holed and sometimes adulthood looks a bit different than we expected.

I couldn't find a blog like that so I created one.

After about three years of daily blogging, people started asking for my help. They wanted advice on navigating social media, content marketing, how to write blog posts people actually read. So I hung out my proverbial shingle and I've been self-employed ever since!

What does self-love mean to you and what role does it play in your life? It means making the choices that are right for you. Sometimes these choices aren't particularly popular with your family, your friends, your clients, your employer, or your partner but if they're right for you, they're worth pursuing.

My self-love takes the form of professional boundaries (no business emails after 6 pm and never on the weekends) and telling people what I need rather than devotedly hoping they'll figure it out. Boyfriend, could you please do those dishes? Sister, could you bring wine and dessert to Easter brunch? Friend, could you meet for lunch and give me advice about That One Thing?

Where does your inspiration come from? Everywhere! Most often I get my best ideas from conversations with my painfully clever friends. I also get a lot of good ideas when I'm out and about or when I'm moving my body. Inspiration rarely occurs when I'm sitting in front of a screen.

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality? Work backwards and break your big goals into tiny steps. Let's say you want to move across the country in six months. What needs to be ready at the five month mark? The three month mark? The two month mark? How can you break that down even further into little steps that won't overwhelm you? I love using Trello for big projects - you can assign tasks, deadlines, even give yourself checklists and see how much you've got left!

Thank you, Sarah!

You can find Sarah being awesome all over the Internet on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. And if you sign up for her newsletter, she'll take a look at your website and give you three suggestions to improve it - for free!

How do you keep yourself inspired? And who's inspiring you these days?

Mega love & chocolate kisses,

Writers Gonna Write.

writers-gonna-write

After talking about blogging and personal transformation, I dedicated the second half of my talk at the Nuffnang Useful + Beautiful Workshop to offering some advice for aspiring writers. I no longer work full-time as a freelance writer. Monday - Friday I manage the marketing and communications of a local East London charity, while writing and blogging on the side.

When I moved to the UK knowing no one, I was really craving the community and companionship of a 9-5 job (I know, I could hardly believe it myself). I'd been freelance writing for about a year but all of my clients were in Canada, so the exchange rate was making it really difficult to get by on my earnings. The UK freelance market looked really healthy, but I had no network here at that point. I knew that getting a full-time job was the best way to relieve my financial stress, start building a network, and find the community I was craving.

But I know freelance writing is something many people aspire to - whether for their career or a passion project. My experience editing magazines and working as a writer have given me a lot of insight into the current publishing world, so today I wanted to share some tips if you’re just getting started.

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.” - Steven Pressfield

For anyone pursuing a creative career or dreaming of being an artist, I recommend reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Read it, reread it, and then read it again. It's that good.

The simple fact is writers write. Probably everyday. There are so many reasons why you might want to write - to make a living, to establish yourself as an expert, or because you have thoughts you can't keep to yourself. But you'll never move forward by just talking or thinking about writing. You need to set some goals, create a daily writing practice, and get to it.

Admittedly it can be difficult to know where to begin when your dream is to see your name in print, share your unique wisdom through your favourite publications, and start making a buck from your words. Here's my advice.

Defining your niche

Just like a good blog has a niche, so should a writer. It’s important to think about exactly what kind of writing you want to do and for what audience. Establishing your niche will help you gain credibility and connect with the right readers, while also keeping you focused. What do you want to achieve with your writing? What do you want to be known for? Start asking yourself what you’re already an expert on or have valuable experience in. Whether it's traveling luxuriously on a budget or how to make the perfect lemon meringue pie, what are three things you know that most of your friends probably don't? Who would this information help? Keep drilling down until you've defined a clear niche that you feel excited about.

Building a portfolio

You don’t have to be a published author to start building a portfolio, otherwise how would any of us get started? If you blog and your writing niche is going to be similar to your blogging niche, start there. Ask yourself, what are the three blog posts you’re most proud of? Where are the gaps in your portfolio? Start creating content to fill them in. If you’re going to be writing about a topic that doesn’t fit with your blog, look for sites you could guest post on before you start pitching to bigger publications.

Perfecting your pitches

Pitching can be a peculiar and daunting beast until you get the hang of it, so set a goal to pitch a different publication each week or month (whatever feels good for you). When you go about writing your pitch, be sure to pitch a story, not just a subject you want to write on. There needs to be a “so what” - why is this going to be important to their readers? This is the difference between writing about vegan food and writing an article on "How to Transition to a Vegan Diet in 30 Days."

Editors are busy and get a lot of email, so try to keep the pitch to 300 words or less.

Make sure you explain why you’re the right person to write this particular article - perhaps it's because of your personal connections (someone you know that you could interview), education, first-hand experience, or something else that gives you a unique angle on the subject.

Find out the name of the editor and address them by name. You likely want to pitch to a subeditor rather than the editor-in-chief. You can find this information on their masthead, website, or through some creative googling.

Write the pitch in the tone of voice you intend to write the article in to give the editor a taste of your style and link to 2 or 3 articles or blog posts you have written that are relevant to the pitch.

If you're still feeling lost or intimidated, I'd recommend taking Grace Bello's How to Write a Killer Magazine Pitch class on SkillShare.

Knowing your worth

How much you get paid will vary greatly by the type of article you’re writing, your experience level, and the budget of the publication. Unfortunately there are many places who will take advantage of people willing to write for free. When you’re first building a portfolio, you might want to do some writing for free but I would be selective about the publications- make sure they're going to help build your credibility and provide exposure that is valuable for you. Eventually, you’ll need to decide what you’re worth and stick to your guns and this will mean saying no to writing opportunities sometimes. To get a clearer on what you should charge for an article, have open conversations with friends in the industry about what you're all being paid; I've found this to be really valuable in terms of blogging and it helps you avoid being taken advantage of.

Find an accountability partners

Whether you're writing your first book or creating a daily writing practice, finding an accountability partner is valuable for bloggers and budding writers as we don’t have bosses or coworkers to help keep us on track. Find someone with similar goals who you can check in with regularly. My friend Xandra and I email each other daily with a list of blogging tasks we're going to accomplish that day. It's great knowing someone else is expecting you to get the work done and to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

These strategies helped me while I was getting my first work as a writer, but ultimately you'll find your own way through research, trial and error, figuring out what feels good for you and, of course, writing.

Do you have any particular questions about writing you'd like me to address? If you're already working as a writer, what tips would you add to this list?

 

Top photograph by Shell De Mar.