Category archive for Uncategorized

Blogging Basics: Create a Real + Professional Blog in 20 Minutes

 

 

How to set up wordpress blogAs a non-technical person, the first time I tried to install my first real website it really sucked. I did something stupid and had two domains running and couldn’t figure it out. After a lot of attempts, I can now install a site and customize it very quickly.

I wanted to offer a course showing others how to do this. I mean a very simple, step-by-step guide that shows you how to install the site, what plugins to use, and easy customizations.

By the end of this course, you will have installed your very own, real website and will have a beautiful blog ready for you. This is for non-technical people and you will get video instructions from the first click to final customization touches.

The course will use WordPress.

WordPress is one of the most powerful pieces of machinery a writer has ever had access to. I’m not talking about WordPress.com (the more popular consumer version), but WordPress.org, the professional version that you have to install on your own database. I mean there are solo writers out there building audiences of millions and turning down publishing deals (I rejected one last month as you don’t really need a publisher anymore, I figure).

There are tons of free options (like Tumblr, Squarespace, Blogger), but there is nothing to compare with WordPress. This blog runs on WordPress.org.

There are three reasons for this:

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The Best Online Resume Tool I’ve Found

I had 15 minutes to create my resume

Last summer, I was busy enjoying my life and sitting in my office. I checked my LinkedIn and saw an email that led me to where I am right now.

The email was from a recruiter and he wanted me to apply for a position at his company. The company is a cool, global brand. They have one of those Google-like offices and tons of perks.

It was a great new opportunity for me. A dream job, really.

The problem was this. I hadn’t been searching for a job. I loved my company and the work was great. So, this meant that I had to put a resume together right away.

God, I hate Microsoft Word. It’s such a piece of crap. I hate formatting resumes with Word. And from being on the other side of the hiring table, I knew that your resume really needs to be visual and sharp.

That day, I did some searching and found ResumMonk.

I love this resume tool.

You can build a resume really fast and I used it that day.

  • It makes your resume look visual and the templates stand out
  • It takes 15 minutes instead of 2 hours in Word
  • Your resume looks WAY better than other candidates

So how did the story end?

I created my resume in about 15 minutes. I got the job. I moved to a different city. And I never spent a minute in Microsoft Word.

Go here to try ResumMonk

 

Extra resources for creating a resume

I also wrote this post on how to write cover letters that actually book interviews.

My eBook offers complete guidance on creating resumes and selling degree to employers.

This resource page has 20+ career and resume resources.

Here are 5 more jobs for English majors you likely didn’t know existed.

Why Your Stupid Goals Never Get You What You REALLY Want

Career course

And here comes a young man filled with stupid promise . . .

Many years ago, I was young. I walked into a financial planning office without an appointment. I wanted to invest 20% of my income. That was my goal. At 16, living at home with a part-time job, it was feasible.

“You keep this up,” said the woman at the desk. “And you are going to become a very rich man.”

The woman was so happy for me. She watched me walk out the door into the bright street. I could feel her hope.

I did become rich. I had 3K in investments by 18, which I spent in one drunken college summer, with the vague plans of returning to my goal of 20% after I started making 100K with my university degree.

That was a dumb goal.

Since then, I’ve become better at setting goals and actually reaching them.

The key to getting what you want is really accepting tradeoffs.

You see, last year I was trying to write a novel and write music and practice singing and write new songs and also write non-fiction.

I had zero outcomes.

A bunch of half finished ideas. A shitty singing voice. A Google Drive full of new non-fiction book ideas.

Bleh.

I wasn’t being creatively satisfied as my writing was crap. I also had all these good songs unrecorded that are very important to me, things I want to say, and they were just sitting there unrealized. That makes you unhappy.

So, I finally took a step in my goal planning and have tweaked my process for this year.

Now, I have 4 categories. And I can only pick one yearly outcome for each.

In this post, I’m going to share my personal system and some advice that I’ve picked up from reading a lot on the subject.

Because in 365 days from now, I’m going to achieve everything I list in this post.

I’ve done it before.

And I’m going to do it again, goddamn it.

The question is—you gonna come with me?

The three things you need to remember

  • You’ll achieve more, if you stop trying to do everything.
  • You have to make tradeoffs.
  • Focus on tangible outcomes, not desire.

All will become clear. Let’s set some goals!

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How to get the benefits you deserve in your job offer

Samantha Stauf contacted me on Twitter and wanted to share her experience finding a job with her English degree and making sure that you get the employee benefits you deserve. Here is her advice. 

When I graduated a couple years ago, I got a job at a pawn shop. I’m sure I could’ve done better if I actually tried to market myself, but I couldn’t be convinced that my English degree could garner anything better.

During my interview, my interviewer’s eyes lit up as she read my CV. “You’ve got an English degree! That means you can use words well, right?” A part of me died as I nodded and forced a smile. “You bet!” I said. So I spent the next 6 months telling people their priceless family heirlooms were actually phony costume jewelry and not worth anything and I watched the light in their eyes fade. But the employee benefits were outta sight! … Literally. I did not see any.

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7 Unexpected Ways to Save Money as a Grad Student

Heidi is a reader of this blog and personal finance enthusiast. I’m currently writing a book on personal finance (very slowly) and asked her to share some more excellent tips. You can get more finance tips from Heidi at the excellent blog www.thriftytricks.com.

Today I’ll talk about 10 best tips for saving money. There are a ton of money-saving tips out there already, but I won’t bore you with the obvious tips like “stay at home and watch Netflix instead of going to the movies.” These are tried-and-tested things you can do to radically lower your expenses for a short period of time of a few months.

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The Most Important Piece of Advice for Picking a Career

 

how to pick a career

 

A friend of my became a graphic book artist. He draws beautiful pictures and creates new things everyday. He isn’t rich. But it appears he is happy. The other day, I commented on one of his new creations, telling him “it was always a secret dream of mine, to be a graphic novel artist.”

Now, my father, who saw this on Facebook, is a talented landscape painter. He phoned me and said to me, “You have worked out your career now. You have a good job and you’ve sorted out all of that. But these creative dreams they won’t go away and they’ll keep bubbling up. I promise. Just draw 15 minutes a day. You’ll get good and you could create a graphic novel.”

You see my father followed his bliss. And I love him for always pushing me to follow mine. He is an artist and when I was growing up  he taught children art and painted at nights. He creates everyday. He has never won massive fame or earned huge amounts of money. But he makes the same as most and has been able to create his art. That’s worth a lot, I think.

The point of this story is that you can never really orphan your true ambitions. Because if you do, you’ll be miserable and unhappy, no matter how much money you make. You’ll live between being and the promise of becoming and the older you get, the more you’ll want to get out everyday.

The most important career advice is simple. Don’t focus on your passions. They can be misleading. Instead, focus on your core strengths.

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11 Excuses That Stop You From Becoming a Writer

 

Today, I take a break from career advice to talk about excuses like ‘I want to become a writer but don’t have anything to say’ and other excuses preventing you from becoming a writer. 

I wrote this article for myself to remind myself of all the excuses and lies I tell myself, preventing me from actually trying to write something meaningful.

#1 You need to have something to say

I work in advertising. One thing I’ve learned is that the ideas and stories come once you start creating and pushing through the cliche garbage at the top of your mind. You will never create a story until you take that first stab.

I read an interesting interview with George R. R. Martin, the original author of the Game of Thrones series. He said that his novels began with a single scene in his mind. It’s not like he invented the entire world and plot-lines before he ever started.

Ideas come to those who start. Start creating. The big ideas will follow.

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Budgeting tips for broke English majors, freelancers, & grad students

Heidi is a reader of this blog and personal finance enthusiast. As I’ve really come to love personal finance over the last few years, I asked Heidi to offer some advice for broke English majors and grad students who want to create a budget. This post offers some practical advice about how to create a budget when your income is irregular. You can get more finance tips from Heidi at the excellent blog www.thriftytricks.com.

I used to imagine freelancing as the perfect lifestyle; working anytime and anywhere you want, having no boss, and receiving as much money as you want, or rather, can.

As I started freelancing, all these expectations turned out to be very close to the truth, except for the money part. I found out that managing clients and projects takes a lot of time – time that would otherwise be spent on productive things like, well, making money. I believed that I can’t make a budget because of my irregular income and so I easily burned away all my monthly income.

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Want to get ahead in your career? Four principles you’ll find in 90% of personal development books.

 

Last month, there was a very inspiring career thread on Quora. The topic was “I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?”

Image: 'runners (cc)' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/10014117363

Image: ‘runners (cc)’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/10014117363

James Altucher, a popular blogger and all-around fascinating guy, gave some good advice as usual. After going through a long-list of famous people who reached success later in life, he ended with the advice that it really doesn’t matter. You don’t need success to be happy.

You might never have your “great” thing that you do. I’m not even saying “it’s the journey that one should love”. Because some journeys are very painful. And nobody says you get special marks in death if you wrote a great novel at the age of 50. Or came up with a great chicken, or a way to stuff lots of people into factories.I’ve stumbled and fallen and got up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that thinking of a “purpose” entails. Fuck purpose. It’s ok to be happy without one. You don’t need to pay with lots of unhappiness to buy happiness.

I think that is true. That said, I’m not ready to abandon my life goals yet.

When I first left grad school, I thought personal development was bullshit and snake oil. After reading a few of the better authors, though, I realized that most personal development offers very sensible advice. They don’t hide the work that goes into achieving great things.

Yet personal development is like personal finance or personal fitness tips. There are only so many things you can say. The basics are the basics.  People desire to be told a secret but the reality is that most success in life comes from action and a disciplined approach to improvement rather than searching the internet for another top 25 tips for ‘starting your novel’ post.

I’ve read dozens of these books now and hundreds of personal development blog posts.

Here are the four principles that I’ve found are common to most personal development. Follow them and you’ll see results in your career search.

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For sale: Master’s degree in English. Never used.

My Dear Friend,

I’m writing this to let you know that I’m selling my Master’s Degree in English Literature. It has never been used and remains in exceptional, out-of-the-box condition.

So what will this piece of paper do for you?

I say this with absolute sincerity, purchase my MA from me and your life will change in unimaginable ways.

Here’s how.

Imagine you — a literary scholar!

One day, you are scrubbing toilets and earning minimum wage. Life is a meaningless hellscape. Then BOOM.

Suddenly, you are attending fancy intellectual parties, drinking wine under the plump stars with your new professor friends, and strolling down a campus pathway, your pockets lined with a lucrative teaching gig at a two-year college.

If this sounds like a fairy tale, then read on.

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