Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Tips for New Bloggers

So you started a blog. You even wrote a few awesome post—now what? How do you, like, BE a blogger? It's kind of intimidating, right? Or maybe just confusing? But also exciting and fun. You read blogs all the time. You know some of them are huge. And maybe some of them aren't. Could you be like them? Could your blog take you places? Get you freebies? Make you money? Better yet, could it introduce you to amazing people in real life or maybe just via the Internet and social media?

Yes, yes it can. It can do all of that and more on a small, medium or large scale.

It can also make your head spin (even when you think you've got the whole blogging thing down).

Let me back up.

When I started A Daily Dose of Fit, I really had no clue what I was doing. I was a writer who wanted to write, so I wrote. Some posts where better than others, sure. Some probably never garnered much of an audience. But that didn't bother me because it was fun. It still is fun. But I've learned a lot since then.

Am I a big, huge blogger with millions of readers? No.
Do I know everything there is to know about blogging? No.

Am I still learning? Yes.

So today, I'm venturing away from fitness and health for a quick post about blogging. (I know, crazytime.) Because even though I'm still learning, I've definitely learned some things along the way that I wish I had known before. See, there are a number of forums I participate in where people ask for help. And I feel like newer bloggers are always asking the same questions.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I'm always giving (and seeing) the same answers. So I thought, well...maybe I could corral some of my two cents into one post for those of you that are interested.

1) Write from the heart, always and forever. Because when you write from the heart, you exhibit your true self. As with anything, you'll feel the pressure to blog a certain way or about a certain thing—rise above that. Just do what feels right and natural. Keep it real and tell YOUR story, not someone else's. And if you feel like going off topic (like writing a post about blogging when you typically write about fitness), just do it (from the heart).

2) Dive into the social media platforms that interest you and interact with the users that share your interests and/or interest you in some way. Sure, brands love accounts with a high number of followers, but they also love to see engagement. If you follow and/or like people just to get them to follow and/or like you back, well...that's an approach that feels spammy and disingenuous. And it usually fails to work. Especially if you unfollow/dislike people AFTER they follow/like you.

Bonus tip: If you intend to grow yourself as a brand, create social media platforms that express your brand. Using private Instagram accounts for a public blog, for example, just doesn't work. Solution? Create two accounts. And if you're on Twitter or Facebook, use a service that automatically pushes your new posts to the platform.

3) Don't hesitate to reach out to brands that you want to work with. Craft an e-mail that explains what you can offer and why you want to work with them, then make an ask. It doesn't matter how big or small you (or they) are. If you're polished and professional, they just might bite. What's the worst that could happen? You know the answer.

4) Join the community. Social media accounts aside, there are a number of different blogging communities that are worth participating in. If you're a fitness blogger, you obviously know about SweatPink and FitFluential. But those aren't the only two. And for those of you that aren't fit based, consider The SITS Girls and POPSUGAR Select. This, of course, takes social media engagement to another level. They're like extracurricular activities, really, and they can open doors to new opportunities.

Bonus tip: The doors to these clubs aren't always wide open for entry. If you apply and get turned down, return the focus to your blog then apply again later.

5) Lower your expectations. And then create expectations that make sense for you, your life and your availability—because we can't all be full-time bloggers, nor do we all want to be. So if your goal is to post three times a week and you do just that. Hooray! Walk away from that feeling successful. Additionally, you might consider building a blog calendar, rather than going at it randomly from one day to the next. This not only helps you meet the expectations you've set forth, it also keeps your sanity in check.

Bonus tip: I mean, I could go on forever. 

Just know that the Internet is saturated with blogs. To get noticed, you have to be original. You have to be genuine and true, and professional and polished, too. Don't lose yourself in the race to be the best, because there really is no such thing. Just be you, because you know what they say (whomever "they" is): No one does it better.

PS: You might also like these posts...

• "The Key to Successful Blogging (and how it translates to life itself)"
• "Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog"
• "Easy Ways to Improve Your Fitness Blog"
• "6 Writing Tips for Bloggers"

PSS: Don't forget to enter my Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bar giveaway.

Question: Seasoned bloggers, what tips can you add to this post for any newbies that might be reading?

Friday, September 12, 2014

I'm making healthy snack swaps with @SkinnygirlDaily. #SGSnackSwap

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential, LLC on behalf of Skinnygirl. All opinions are my own, as they always are.

I could eat all day long. Seriously...all day long. Between the running, the breastfeeding and everything in between—I'm the human equivalent of a garbage disposal. I want all the food and I want it now. But unlike a garbage disposal, I prefer to consume the good stuff. Food that will support me throughout my day.

Like apples and peanut butter.
Or rice cakes topped with raspberries.

But I don't always have time to stop and make these yummies. I'm on-the-go all morning at the gym job and chasing two kiddos when I'm not. So, convenience is a must for those moments when I need something, like...pronto.

Sometimes, convenience isn't really that healthy.

So I have to really focus on stocking my kitchen with ready-to-eat options that ARE healthy. But even when our crispers are full of fresh fruits and veggies, and granola bars that fit the bill, I want the sweet stuff.

I'm looking at you, chocolate.
It's so easy to grab a handful of chocolate chips, amiright?

Enter the Skinnygirl Snack Swap. When FitFluential presented the opportunity to explore this campaign from Skinnygirl, I jumped at the chance. I'm all about getting new snack ideas, and the Snack Swap website makes it easy.

First, it asks you what your favorite snack is:

I picked "sweet," it narrowed it down to a few snacks, and then I picked the chocolate chip cookies in the top-right corner.

After presenting you with the guestimated nutritional stats of a standard chocolate chip cooking (woah), it gives you the opportunity to swap them out for something healthier:

I mean, sign me up for all three.

Now, as part of this campaign, Skinnygirl so graciously sent me a little care package of Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bars complete with a tee and headband.

I pretty much honed in on the bars. With flavors like Banana Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter with Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Pretzel, can you really blame me?

I've already tested the first two flavors and OHMAHGAWD. So tasty. At 170 calories or less, these bars dish out the good stuff (like protein and fiber) without compromising flavor. (Because seriously, some bars just taste like cardboard.)

If you're wondering, they're also gluten-free, Kosher and void of any artificial sweeteners or flavors.

The Dark Chocolate Pretzel bar is currently packed in my gym bag and may or may not have already been eaten by the time you read this. (If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know.)

One thing's for sure, I still have a ton of Dark Fudgy Avocado Brownies in my 'fridge. I mean, come on with this deliciousness:

You can find the recipe on the Skinnygirl Snack Swap website. It's one of many nutritionist-approved healthy snack recipes. (Seriously, I want to make them all.)

Can we just talk about putting an avocado in brownie batter for a second? I've always wanted to try this, but...um, avocados are for guacamole. Except apparently they're also for brownies because, yes. Everything about these brownies is perfect. I'm not a chocolate cake person, I love fudge. These brownies merge the two. And they're healthy. #winning

But, again—Not always easy to transport brownies in a gym bag, or eat them quickly without getting brownie fingers. (You know what I'm talking about.) So, the bars. They're good, And perfect for on-the-go, need-something-quick snacking.

Go to the website and find your snack swaps. Order some bars if you want to. (Use code SNACKSWAP15 at checkout to save $1.) You can also find them in retailers like Walgreens and Target (among others). Or (drum roll), you can win some. Skinnygirl is giving one lucky Daily Dose reader an assortment of Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bars. Use this Rafflecopter widget to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. PO Box addresses will not be accepted. Contest ends on Friday, September 26, 2014 at Midnight EST. Visit the Skinnygirl Snack Swap website for an opportunity to win a $1,000 Target gift card, too. And for more information on the Skinnygirl campaign, link up with Skinnygirl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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