Tag Archives: freelance

6 Ways to Use PicMonkey

If you need to edit photos, make graphics for your blog or social media accounts, or just want an awesome template for an Instagram post, you need to check out PicMonkey!

I’ve been using PicMonkey for years. I rave about it to friends and clients. But I’ve never written a dedicated post about this sneaky lil blogger hack.

So, in case you’ve never heard of PicMonkey before, it is an online image editing tool that is super user friendly and perfect for all my influencers, bloggers, entrepeneurs, and marketing mavens out there! What can you create with PicMonkey? SO. MANY. THINGS!

Here are 6 ways I use PicMonkey for my blog, clients, and personal life…

1. Photo Editing

I love snapping photos on my adventures! Before I pop ’em into a blog post, many of them get a quick edit in PicMonkey. Because my posts aren’t super photo-driven, Photo Shop just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment at this time (and I don’t really have time or the desire to learn how to use it — just being real). So this is a great alternative! I usually crop or straighten my photos as needed. Then, adjust the exposure and color. Sometimes I’ll sharpen them, too. Here are a couple images I edited with PicMonkey…

2. Invitations

There are a ton of templates available to make custom invitations for everything from birthdays and graduations, to surprise baby showers and special promotional events. Chet and I actually used PicMonkey to create the “Save the Date” cards for our wedding!

save the date with picmonkey

3. Graphics

I manage website and social media content for several of my clients. PicMonkey is a great way for me to quickly create a graphic for their blog posts or online newsletters. All I do is keep a spreadsheet with each of my clients, which PicMonkey fonts are suitable for their brands, and any HEX color codes. All I need is an image and bada-bing, bada-boom–I’ve got a custom graphic!

everything you need to know to find your blogging niche

4. Cover Photos

Social media cover photos are a fun way to show off a bit of personality, as well as cross-promote across different platforms. I usually opt for a simple look, but I recently created this Twitter cover photo in PicMonkey and thought it was pretty cute! There are a ton of templates available and there’s no going back and forth to get the right size for the right platform.

5. Collages

I also use PicMonkey to create collages. This is how I first discovered PicMonkey — googling an easy way to include multiple photos in a single image. Below, you’ll see a collage I created for my About page as well as the format I used when I was making monthly favorites posts.

6. Brand Boards

Finally, who doesn’t love a good inspiration board??? If you want to put together a cohesive vision for your brand, then I highly recommend checking out the brand board templates on PicMonkey. As an example, I put together a board for Finding Delight. This is to help guide my aesthetic and posts for Fall 2018 and the sort of vibe I’m hoping to convey with my content in the upcoming season. This one is for my personal use, but this is also a great tool for sharing the feel of your brand with others or creating media kits for companies who want to partner with you.

finding delight fall 2018

Have you ever used PicMonkey? What are your favorite features?

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This one small thing helped curb my procrastination…

Dearest reader – I must confess something to you. My whole life I have fallen victim to a pretty bad habit. PROCRASTINATION. I just love putting stuff off. Maybe you do too? Well today I thought I’d share something that has helped me drastically reduce my procrastination practice…

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I started timing myself. Doing, like…all types of things. Things I didn’t want to do. (Like chores and lengthy email responses to clients.) Things I did want to do. (Like read a couple chapters of a book.) Stuff for work and stuff for this very blog.

I would start the timer. Do the task. Stop the timer.

Ok, ok. I know that sounds a little quirky…or maybe downright weird. Maybe you’re picturing me at my desk dressed like a high school gym teacher with an old school stop watch hanging around my neck. Well, a) phones and computers have timers so no need for a stop watch, and b) STAY WITH ME…

When I decided I wanted to curb my procrastination, I tried to identify what was causing me to put stuff off in the first place. And I found that usually it was because, in my brain, whatever I needed to do would just take too long. It would be a whole thing…an ORDEAL.

“Why start now? What if I can’t finish?”
“I’ll just edit this copy tomorrow when I have more time…”
“Oof, do a load of laundry?! That’s gonna have to wait until the weekend.”

For whatever reason, my conception of time was on the long side.  Like, for EVERYTHING. Mostly for things that didn’t sound appealing…but sometimes for things that did! (I’m lookin’ at YOU self-care!)

So I thought – “Let’s nip this temporal uncertainty in the bud once and for all!”

How long did it actually take to do the dishes and compile monthly analytics reports for clients and post fun Instagram stories? *Spoiler alert* Way less time than I initially thought! Suddenly there was less of a foreboding excuse looming nearby when I needed to get something done. I didn’t need to wait for that mythical 3 hour chunk of free-time later in the week. I had 10 minutes NOW.

how to stop procrastinating

Recently, I was doing some work for a client as I waited for a flight in the Lexington airport (free WiFi yay!). The gate agent came on the PA and announced that boarding was about to begin. A quick wave of panic washed over me because I still needed to create and schedule an email to go out to my client’s email list. My brain immediately tried to shift the work to later. “I’ll just have to buy WiFi at my layover airport, ” I thought. When I realized…WAIT. I know this will take me twenty minutes, at most! I’m in boarding Section 4… Let’s DO THIS!

Because I KNEW I could get it done in the allotted amount of time, I had no reason to procrastinate. I just banged it out and boarded the plane when I was done. (And subsequently spent my whole layover reading an awesome novel!)

Will this work for everyone? Maybe not. Your procrastination might be caused by a completely different thought-spiral than mine. But just in case you find yourself pushing things back in your calendar (and back…and back again…)–GIVE IT A TRY! The results may surprise you. Now, go be productive! You’ve got time.

How do you deal with procrastination? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. The one small thing I do every day to put myself in a good mood…

 

Nine Activities to Break Up the Day When Working from Home

After I’ve worked from home for a few hours, I tend to get fed up with my surroundings, and need a change of scenery. You too? There are definitely benefits of having a place in your home that allows you to get shiz done. Whether you work for yourself, remotely, or hustle on the side. At the same time — when you wake up, punch the clock, and fall asleep ALL within a few steps of each other? It can get a little monotonous! So let’s talk about how to break up the day when you’re hard at work in your humble abode…

Stand Up Every Hour

To protect your lower back and improve circulation, stand up and stretch every hour. I use the Pomodoro app to set timers for work and when I need to peel myself out of my office chair. (I love a good power hour followed by a 15 minute break!) Oh, and if you’re feeling uninspired, use the time to get some fresh air (outside or open a window). The fresh oxygen is great for your body and brain! 

Coffee Break Around the Corner

Instead of having coffee at my desk, I like to take a walk to the ventanita up the street for a freshly brewed treat. Breaks like these give you something to look forward to when you are hitting a wall. Plus, motivating yourself with a coffee…or a healthy smoothie or a cupcake(!) or whatever treat might be close by is a great way to incentivize the big push you need to meet a looming deadline.

Check the News

Instead of checking the news on my computer or phone, getting a newspaper to flick through or flipping on the TV for a few minutes allows me stay tuned in to current events throughout the day. WITHOUT getting sucked into the inevitable internet rabbit holes.

Five Minute Yoga Routines

No matter how small your home office is, you can always find a spot to unroll a yoga mat! Look on YouTube for a few yoga stretching routines you can complete in five minutes or less. Bookmark your favorites so you can return to them whenever you need to stretch, restore your breathing, and energize. Your attention span will thank you!

Call Your Friend or Colleagues

For a complete break, return that phone call to your mom or give your friend a ring to hammer out weekend plans. Want to stay on task but still have an excuse to pace away from your desk? If you generally collaborate with your colleagues through email or Gchat, switch it up and call them instead. You can talk about the project you are working on, ask about the next steps, or simply clarify issues. 

Water the Flowers

One thing I really want to start getting more into is houseplants! And I’d like to keep up with their maintenance by choosing a set day and time to go around the house and tend to them. This would give me a short break, a reason to unchain myself from the desk/computer, and a sense of accomplishment. You can create your own schedule based on the watering and care needs of your plants. For example, Hawaiian flowers (my current obsession) need less water less often to stay healthy and bloom, while some houseplants need attention every day.  

Plan Your Office Redecoration

Feeling like your home office needs a reboot? Take some time to brainstorm how to improve your home office to suit your needs better. Think about the colors you want to use, the carpet, look for inspirational images and quotes, and think about ways of improving your lighting. You might even download an online app that allows you to design the perfect space online. Get ideas from blogs and magazines, and use your imagination. My current set-up is fine for now but I love daydreaming and planning for a future office overhaul! 

Complete a Mandala

While you might think that coloring is for kids, it is actually a super relaxing activity. You can print a mandala (for free!) and get your crayons or colored pencils out to complete and design it. Sometimes when my work is feeling more monotonous than creative (think: spreadsheets and analytics), I like to bust out the art supplies for a little bit to break up the monotony. 

Watch Funny Videos

For some fun and energizing entertainment, save your favorite YouTube videos for when you need a pick-me-up. Get a collection saved on your desktop or bookmark bar, so you can access them when you need them.  A bit of laughter goes a long way. It will help you release stress  so you can carry on with your daily work more focused and motivated. I’m starting a new playlist for this very purpose! So far I’m feeling this one and this one.
LEAVE ME LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE FUNNY VIDEOS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 

Thanks so much for reading, friends! Happy working (and breaking!!) ❤

Collaborations Can Take the Loneliness Out of Working from Home

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

If there is one thing I hear most freelancers complain about, it is working from home. Sure, not needing to leave the house for work might sound fantastic at first. After all, you can create your own schedule and even stay in pajamas all day if you want! (Plus, you don’t have to deal with a horrendous commute twice a day.) Sounds like the dream, right? Well, not always. In fact, you may find working from home lonely and isolating – longing for someone to chat to throughout the day. Even as an introvert, I’m right there with ya! And no, chatting with my clients via email or on Slack doesn’t count! 

So, how to cope with the loneliness of working from home? One simple solution is to collaborate with other people who are self-employed. That way, you can work with others on some cool and exciting new projects.

Not too sure how to collaborate with others or how to find people who might be willing to team up with you? Here are some great ways to do it!

Side Hustle in Reverse

Lots of people choose to work for themselves, either freelancing or starting a small business, as a side hustle. Since you’re already working for yourself (or at least working remotely), consider taking up this idea in reverse. If you’re interested in a specific industry, why not pursue a part-time job outside the home? This is a great way to meet new people while also learning new skills and broadening your networking scope. After writing for a client in the wine industry a couple years ago, I decided I’d love to learn more about wine. I looked into some classes near me but settled on applying for a job instead. A couple nights and weekends spent in a wine store is a small price to pay for tons of on-the-job training and a chance to spend time with actual people…instead of just my computer screen. (Oh, and I get a paycheck, too!)

Find Tools To Help You Collaborate Remotely

In some cases, you won’t be collaborating face-to-face. Depending on the project you want to work on, you might have to work with people remotely. There are lots of tools that can help you with this. Set a time to check in via Skype or FaceTime so that you can have some proper conversations about your work. This will be a lot more effective than messaging via gchat or email. To ensure you can schedule in these calls, you might want to find out more about scheduling tools and platforms. These can help you arrange meetings and also schedule your work. Sticking to schedules and sharing those schedules with others I’m working with (clients AND collaborators) has gone a long way in helping me feel like my home-job is a REAL job. 

Work In A Coworking Space

Even if you don’t fancy collaborating with another freelancer, working from a co-working space a few days a week can feel like a breath of fresh air for most extroverted work-from-home folks. These spaces are just like offices, only usually a lot more casual, and give freelancers the chance to work around others. Most of them require you to pay a monthly fee, though there are some free ones out there. (Some even have office kitchens so that you can enjoy coffee and snacks! And you know what you miss most about an office is the snacks, lol!) 

Attend Networking Events

Most cities and towns have regular events that are aimed at small business owners and freelancers. You will find that there are a lot of casual events to help freelancers connect with others in the area. These are great for meeting new friends and collaborators. But there will also be a lot of professional networking events as well, which will be the best bet for you if you’re looking for a serious collaboration that could blossom into a new professional venture. It’s worth getting in touch with your local business network to see if there are any events coming up. You can also have a look on the Meetup website for what’s popping off in your area.

Use Social Media

If you want lots of chances to connect and collaborate, you could consider joining social media groups designed to bring together folks in your industry. Think: A Facebook group for yoga instructors or a message board for copywriters. Looking to branch outside your field on a collab? Instagram and Twitter are great platforms to link up with like-minded people in your area. Either way, social media is a great place to gain feedback from others, ask questions/for help, and share online resources. There are so many ways to connect online if you open yourself up to the possibilities. My very first work-from-home position came about through interacting in the comments section of a blog! 

Consider Becoming A Mentor

If you would prefer to work with someone on a one-on-one basis, you might like the idea of becoming a mentor to another freelancer. You can take a newbie under your wing and help them on the road of self-employment. I’m sure that there will be lots of things that you can teach them about. For instance, you might want to give them some tips and pointers on budgeting or time management. Not only will this give you some human contact through the week, but it will also feel rewarding!

How do you guys take the loneliness out of working from home? Any paths to meaningful collaboration I’m missing?

P.S. Want an inside look into someone else’s “hustle”? I have a whole series dedicated to just that!

P.P.S. Have an idea about how you and I could collaborate? Let’s chat! Drop me an email – ebeth.berger@gmail.com – don’t be shy!!

Showing off my new home workspace!

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home office

The folks at WeWork, a co-working company that builds communities to empower people to do what they love,  inspired me to share my current workspace and what I love about it. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! This past weekend, after a morning trip to Ikea and a good few hours of flat-pack furniture assembly, I got to work setting up my NEW home workspace! I thought I’d give you guys a peek at the finished product. I’m already SO in love with it! I can’t wait to spend my days creating and writing at this gorgeous command center. I knew I wanted a color palette of white, gold, and Tiffany box blue so the Micke desk was a perfect fit for that aesthetic. Add to that my custom desktop computer, a few gold trinkets, and some stationery from the Target dollar spot and – wam BAM – the perfect little corner for productivity. Shall I show you around?

Mounted monitor.

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My monitor was painted white to match this mounting arm, a feature which allows me to position based on my viewing needs. And since my work-space is in our bedroom, those needs CAN include watching Netflix in bed.

Bits and bobs to keep me smiling.

bits and bobs

I’ve picked up quite a few desk accessories from Target over the past few months, including; post-it notes, page flags, bulletin/chalk board, and owl pushpins. All super affordable. I believe everyone should have a few desk trinkets to personalize their space. The stone was a gift from a co-worker. It says “Trust” and is the perfect size and shape for rolling around in your hand when you’re having a good think. The dino skeleton was a present years ago from my friend, Katie. And the gold wheel was thrifted. I’m sure it used to belong on a contraption that spun around but I just liked the way it looked and it functions quite nicely as a coaster. The bird mouse was a must-have as soon as I saw it.

Custom computer.

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Chet built me my very own computer, including painting it to my aforementioned color scheme, and presented it to me for Christmas last year. I’d say not many people are lucky enough to have a computer cute enough to proudly display on top of their desk LET ALONE such a tech savvy individual as their BETROTHED!

Plenty of drawer space.

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A big selling point for me for this particular desk were the 2 large drawers that run the whole length. They’re the perfect place to stow my notebooks, stationery, cords, current reading materials, folders, and adult coloring book(!).

Thanks so much to WeWork for encouraging me to share this post. I always find other people’s creative spaces quite inspiring so it’s fun to have an excuse to show off my own!

If you’re a freelancer (like me), run a small business or startup, or work remotely, and you’re interested in joining a coworking community, do check out WeWork. They have lovely office spaces located all across the world and offer tons of benefits.

Details – Desk/Ikea, Office chair/Ikea, Bulletin board/Target, Owl pushpins/Target, Mouse/Amazon, Wedding notebook/Moleskine, Purple polka dot notebook/Moleskine, Grey notebook/Baron Fig, Kindle case/Amazon, Blah blah blah folder/Target, Secret Garden coloring book/Morris Book Shop

P.S. Check out Chet’s home office setup, too!