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rise of the real, how to blog, blogger, blogging, daddy bloggers, women's rights

Rise of the real blogger are the five sweetest words that I’ve ever heard. The most important thing I took away about social media and blogging from Disney Social Media Mom’s Celebration was to just be myself online and trust in who I am as a blogger. The universe not so subtly reminded me to get back to what I’ve always done and trust my gut. Recently, I was told that I was being “too real” when I blog. I’m not even sure how that’s possible but from my understanding, authenticity cannot be manufactured. Real life is seldom perfect and when you present it in a way that is… you’re lying, either to yourself or your audience.

“Rise of the Real, be yourself, Be Authentic, connect with your audience, emotional connections,” these were just a few of the ways I heard the universe telling me to be myself. It is the very premise on which my website was built.

I kept hearing it over again at the Disney Social Media Mom celebration like a whisper following me around. It felt like the universe telling me to stop worrying about what other people were doing. You’ve heard the truth will set you free? Well, I believe it. The moment I started second guessing myself, doubt crept in and it manifested itself in a crippling fear of failure.

READ ALSO: How Mom 2.0 Renewed my Faith in Blogging and in Myself

I saw other people doing it better and getting bigger and I thought, hey, maybe they know better than I do. But doing what they do didn’t feel right for me because writing for me is more than a means to an end, a creative outlet or a career choice. Writing is a big part of who I am as a person and how I move through the world. I tell my stories because it’s how I process and make sense of life.

Rise of the real is confirmation of what I’ve always believed; honesty is the only way to blog and live.

I share with others because I think we are all connected by our experiences and while they don’t all play out the same way, we all experience them. Life is universal, some of us just do it differently than others. We all do what works for our family, for our lives but we all have those moments of failure and success and even though they may be different, the gut-wrenching pulls of failure and the elation of success (whatever the scale may be) is the same.

I’ve always shared my stories because I knew that people could relate on a human level. But then someone told me to think before I “speak” (write) because being too real can be a turn-off. I almost believed it. To be honest, it sent me into shut down mode. I got a terrible case of writer’s block. Turns out that I can’t overthink every single word I write because if I question every single thing I say or do, I’ll never do anything. I’m a leap first, ask for forgiveness person. It’s who I am and I don’t want to change that.

READ ALSO: What Every Blogger should know about Blogging

My stories connect me to you and your comments and responses connect you back to me. So often the online world feels like throwing something out into the abyss and leaving it there but that is not how blogging and social media have worked for me, not at all.

Blogging started for me when I was a new mom, completely disconnected from the outside world. Drowning in motherhood, my blog was me reaching out for someone to throw me a buoy and my readers, those connections/ their stories and ability to relate to what I was going through, they were what kept me afloat. If the stories I share can do that for someone else, it’s all worth it. I know they can because I’ve read the comments and I’ve made the connections with people all over the world through our stories.

A million page views a month may not be in my near future but I have posts that people all over the world have connected with and commented on over and over again. Some of my most personal stories that, if I had used common sense, I would have never hit publish on are some of my most popular because everyone is not perfect. Most of us have a hard time of it. We struggle, we fail and our success, our stories, are in the fact that we keep getting back up. Not that we never fall and never fail but that we keep trying and we overcome.

Someone once told me that people don’t want to read reality because they live it. They said reality is not “positive” enough. I say seeing someone I can relate to triumph through their hard times and succeed in their good times empowers me to do better. It makes me feel like I can do anything and it makes me happy for them. When they are in pain, I cheer for them. I don’t block them from my feed because they are bringing me down. I check in to make sure they are doing okay. My readers and followers are not just names of people I don’t know. We’ve connected. They know my family and in many cases, I know their stories too because they’ve shared in response to my stories. It’s a very organic and symbiotic relationship and I love it.

I get it. Too much negativity is a bummer but life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows and beaches. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s ugly cry, raw and hard. But mostly, it’s minutia and daily moments peppered with a good mix of profound bliss and misery. All of those unexpected, uncontrolled moments are what make up a life; beautiful in its glory and agony.

So, I ask you, do you prefer to read about how great someone else’s life is all the time? Or do you prefer the truth? The sometimes amazing beyond anything you could imagine, sometimes horrible and sometimes humorous day-to-day of life. Some days, it’s even downright boring but even in the minutia, it is relatable because who hasn’t been bored in their life? The thing I’ve realized it that it’s not about changing the truth, it’s about the way you tell your stories. It’s all in the narrative.

How do you prefer your blogging, transparency in the blogs you read or a blogger who edits reality to make it prettier?

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Have you ever heard the names, Elle Darby or Paul Stenson? Me neither until today. Talk about an influencer’s nightmare, I’m not sure it gets too much worse than this. A British Youtuber, Elle Darby, had the “audacity” to privately email a hotel, the Charleville Lodge Hotel, and ask for accommodations in exchange for “exposure” of their property. The property owner, Paul Stenson, clapped back by not only refusing and ostracizing her but doing it publicly on the establishment’s social media channels.  Therein lies the snafu and now, in response to Influencer backlash, he has banned all influencers from his establishment.

Obviously, I am being facetious. If you have worked in this space for any amount of time, at least in the United States, you know this is a common practice. Not necessarily that all influencers cold pitch businesses to ask for product in exchange for promotion. That’s a bold move and to do that, you need to have some serious confidence and influence to back it up. Seasoned influencers know this. We also know if you don’t ask, it’s always a no but there is always a chance of a no and it does not feel good, even in private.

Just to put this in perspective, brands and PR firms have absolutely no qualms about reaching out to influencers on a daily basis and asking us to work for free, for “exposure” (I keep putting this in quotes because I find it simultaneously hilarious and insulting because I can’t feed my children “exposure” and if I am spending my time away from my family working on promoting a brand, I need to be compensated) or for product. I prefer cash because that’s how I pay my bills but if the product/event is something that I am interested in and the value is equivalent to what I charge for work, then I definitely do consider it. Everything is negotiable except for my opinion, which is honest and if not positive, I always give the brand the option to opt out of the post going live. You know, the whole if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all thing.

I’ve been pitched, in the early days, to write positive reviews on products without even being provided the product. Obviously, I didn’t do that because I can’t tell you about or promise a positive review on a product that I’ve never tried. Also, crafting a well-written post, editing photos, creating video and promoting on social media all takes time and effort. No one would expect a marketing executive or an advertising firm to work for free, why would you expect an influencer to work for free?

First, I think a couple things need to be defined in this space. Why does anyone care if I (an influencer) promote a brand? How do I influence anyone? Why does my opinion matter? For any of this to make sense, you have to understand what being an influencer means.

What is an influencer?

A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

Why does this matter?

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you. Whether an influencer’s audience is small or large, an influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your brand may not be able to.

You see while some influencers may have little influence, some have a huge influence. It’s about more than numbers, it’s about engagement, credibility and connecting with your audience. If an influencer has developed a following over time and that audience has become invested in that influencer’s life, they do care what that influencer has to say, in the same way they might value a friend’s opinion over a brand’s commercial. Of course, there has to be taken into consideration the influencer’s integrity. Are they going to give an unbiased review? That really depends on the influencer.

After years of influencers being approached by brands to work in exchange for hosting, attending events and product we know that this is common practice. It is not unreasonable or even rare for an influencer to make this ask in return. In fact, many venues/events have media inquiry pages with forms just for this sort of ask.

I am fully aware that it sounds sketchy and maybe even entitled when you randomly find out about this practice from a salacious story on the Internet about a ghastly influencer who dared ask for something like this. Pay your own way, you think. But that’s because the general population is not aware of these practices in the digital space. I can tell you, and any brand will agree, it is easier to get paid $20000 in product than it is to get paid $1000 in cash but sometimes you don’t want $20K worth of kidney beans or bras or baby toys. That has everything to do with budgets and write-offs for the companies.

Again, if you work in this space, you already know all of this but the average person does not. My brother still doesn’t understand how “the internet” pays me. I think he thinks checks fall from the sky out of thin air. I tried to explain it once but his eyes glazed over and I could see he was hearing the Charlie Brown “Wah wah wah wah” thing. So I gave up but not today, Satan.

Elle Darby, who I had no prior knowledge of before this story blew up was just trying to “live her best life” (Generation Z you make my chuckle) working with what her mama gave her. We influencers know that if a company isn’t willing or doesn’t have the budget to pay us so we can pay for those things we need to live, it’s perfectly acceptable to (what I call) work for food, or in this case a holiday. The end result is the same.

We promote their brand to our audience (which is usually their target audience because we do our research) and in exchange they provide us with a good or service that we would have bought with the money had they paid us. We’re the new pioneers. It’s called bartering. It was the original form of payment. Google it. I’m kidding…don’t Google it. I’m sure people paid for goods and service with rocks or some shit a long time ago in caveman days

The problem is the person who did the clapping back is a skilled shit stirrer. Elle Darby made one fatal mistake and that was of asking the wrong person, Paul Stenson. The wrong person got her email or rather since he is the owner, she should have googled him before she emailed and then she would have known better.

Don’t get me wrong, full disclosure, I went to his blog and Paul Stenson is funny AF and I quite enjoy the wit and honesty, with which he writes. He gives his truth and doesn’t give a flying flick what anyone else thinks, generally, I admire that quality in a human being. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and I think that may be why he was so annoyed by the Youtuber’s gall to ask for this hosting in exchange for her work. I don’t know for sure but his blog seems like a personal blog and maybe he doesn’t work as an influencer for his own blog. After all, he has owns The White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge that I’m assuming his salary is in cash money. Lucky bastard.

Here is where my problem stems from, the message Paul Stenson posted on FB along with his message (both below) were not coming from his personal account but from the business account which was very unprofessional. He could have simply replied with a, “No, thank you.” No harm, no foul.

Had Mr. Stenson did the same thing from his personal account, that would simply be his opinion but as he did it as a representative of the resort and released a private business email then proceeded to chastise Ms. Darby over standard practice on behalf of the establishment, reflects very poorly on his establishment. I don’t think he’s a bad person, I just think he did a social media f*ck up under his business account. He should have hashtagged that shit #hacked.

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),

Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. 

If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?

Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.

In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from. (just Google it)

Best regards, 

Paul Stenson

P.S. The answer is no.

And Paul Stenson isn’t changing his mind anytime soon. Of course, now that I see this tweet, I feel a little skeptical about the entire situation. Was it all a media stunt for publicity? Maybe the two did collaborate, after all?

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

I do have to say, Ms. Darby’s “over 30” reference left a bad taste in my mouth too but let’s chalk it up to youth.

Either way, what are your thoughts on this situation who do you side with the Elle Darby or Paul Stenson?

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conquer, word of the year, words, how to live with intent

Every year, for the last few years anyway, it has been popular to choose a “word of the year“. A word to guide you, subconsciously fill up all the air around you and permeate your every action and allow you put it into the universe and manifest your destiny. I like the idea because words are what I do. Writing is how I process and move through life. Words are everything to me and predicate everything I do, whether I planned it or not. It’s who I am. I am a writer.

This year, I chose not a word of the year but words because words matter to me and I believe that we do manifest what we put out into the world, whether it be by thought, word or action.

I believe they go hand in hand and where one goes, the others will follow.

This time it wasn’t so much about a word of the year but more of an idea. This year isn’t about resolutions so much as intention. It’s not about black and white, there is no room for absolutes. I have goals and intentions for this year but they are more about the kind of life I want to live and not so much about hard fast boxes to mark off. If that makes sense?

My word of the year for 2018 is “conquer” by my definition.

Conquer: To successfully overcome with intent and purpose.

My supporting words, my words of intent to help me get to conquer in my best possible way?  Grace, bold, brave, out of my comfort zone, growth and abundance.

I picked these words because I want to grow in all aspects of my life and I want to grow abundantly beyond my comfort zone. And all this I want to do boldly with grace and bravery. I need to break my own glass ceiling, conquer my fears and the limitations that I have put on myself and go for it. That’s always been my problem. I put myself in a box. I want out of the box. I put it there, so I believe I can remove these shackles. It starts with changing the way I approach things.

I have always believed that where there is a will, there is a way. I don’t believe in outside factors being able to stop me. They may detour my path but no one else can stop me from getting to where I want to go. It is me; my procrastination, my fear, my self-doubt, my preference for quitting rather than being rejected that has gotten me stagnate. It’s the voice of being undeserving that overwhelms me and freezes me into not pushing past my comfort zone but I want to move past it. What I want lies beyond where I have allowed myself to dream, so I am pushing towards the unknown. pushing through my own fears and self-doubt to get there. Working my ass off to learn what I don’t know and get myself there.

Which leads me to my next decision, if the answer is not a loud siren-like, “Hell, yeah!!!” then I am going to say no. I am tired of bending and pulling my life in 27 different directions, wearing me too thin for things I don’t really care about. I want to put 1000% towards the things that do matter to me and not waste any time or energy on those things that don’t matter to me. In doing this, I want to pay it forward or laterally or however you want to see it, and share opportunities that are not for me on to others who might be everything to them.

I want to work and live with intent. There has to be a purpose for everything, even if that purpose is just pure joy. That is still a purpose but I want there to be intent in all of my actions.

When I first thought of “conquer” as my word, I wasn’t sure because it sounds a bit too aggressive but considering that the first word that came to mind was “revolt” I guess it’s a better choice. The thing is I don’t mind being aggressive in my pursuit of my dreams but I don’t want to be abrasive. There is a difference between being strong-willed and determined and being confrontational for the sake of causing conflict. Life doesn’t have to be hard all the time. I just learned that. Life is beautiful and malleable and can be whatever we want to make of it. Happiness is different for all of us. Conquer is what is going to bring me to my happiness. 2018 for me is going to be the year of the word.

What word of intent is going to bring you to your happiness? What is your word of the year?

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What would anissa do, Anissa Mayhew, Aiming Low, online friends, rest in peace

Yesterday, as I was laying on a beach watching my daughters frolic in the surf , a gentle, quiet happiness settled on my soul. The kind that can only be found in moments of calm simplicity. Those that are so few and far between in everyday life that we hardly even expect them. Then, I glanced at my Facebook page and my joy hit over the head with a brick and left in its place profound sadness.

I read the news that, my friend, Anissa Mayhew had died. I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know what exactly stole this woman that I respected and admired from this world. The point is moot because the result is the same; a bright light has gone out.

You see, Anissa was the first person who ever asked me to write professionally. If you’re not a freelance writer it’s hard to describe so I’ll say it like this, imagine the 1 thing you love to do in this world, then imagine there is someone who not only appreciates it, reads it, comments and tells you that you’re talented but then offers to give you actual money to be able to share your talent with the world! She gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion and chase my dreams, when I had no idea what that looked like or how to get there. She gave to me hope and inspiration like she did for so many others, not with just her words but with what she did.

What would anissa do, Anissa Mayhew, Aiming Low, online friends, rest in peace

Anissa and I met online through social media and blogging and one day, she offered me a place (besides my own site) to be as bold and silly with my true voice as I wanted to be. In fact, she encouraged it. She hired me to write for Aiming Low and it felt like being selected to be a part of the online version of SNL. I was not only humbled by her request, I was honored. Through my time at Aiming Low, I really got to know Anissa and see her for the force of nature she truly was. 

If you are a fellow Aiming Lower, you know what a magical group of people it was and you know it was carefully curated by Anissa; a woman who saw something special in each of us and our voice in this world. She had a knack for telling it like it was and doing it with complete love.

She loved me for my crazy, even when she knew how deep the crazy ran. That’s the kind of person she was. She was good and she was real and she saw that in others. She also had no qualms about calling an asshole an asshole and you have to respect that. She built me up before I even I believed in me.  

She gave me permission to own my funny and all of my stories, no matter how big or small. But more than that she made me part of her magical, insanely kooky Aiming Low family. She gave me the gift of my people and I’ll always love her for that.

What would anissa do, Anissa Mayhew, Aiming Low, online friends, rest in peace

I’m sad. I’m truly fucking gutted. When I was sobbing on the beach, full on ugly crying. I’m sure someone YouTubed it. I’m also 1000% sure Anissa would have loved to have seen that video. She probably would have shared it? Laughed and sent me a message that said,”Debi, stop being such s little bitch!”

I loved Anissa for her giant heart, wicked sense of humor and that smile that only she could give that let you know it was all okay. She taught me that life is hard and so what, get over it. Get your shit together and get through it. There was something special about her way of looking at the world and the way she loved her people. And boy, did she love her people. If you are one of the lucky ones to have been loved by her, you know, she had you back….your front and your side, all the way. 

I hate that the world has gotten in the way and none of us have been as connected as we once were because life and kids and the mundane shit of real everyday life but the love was always still there. I’ll miss Anissa more than words can convey. I hope she’s enjoying all the bacon someplace with really fine men fanning her with palms. I think she’d like that, especially if they smell of bacon.

What would anissa do, Anissa Mayhew, Aiming Low, online friends, rest in peace

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling like from now on we get back to 2009 blogging. When you write ask yourself, what would Anissa do? And just write from your heart, comment like it matters, make connections, talk and care about more than just who will pay you the most to promote their product. Remember what we do counts… the human connections are real and far-reaching. Our words have weight and how we interact/ the way we care/love/laugh that’s part of our legacy. That’s how we’ll be remembered.

Thank you, Anissa, for giving me the balls to continue living my truth even when it wasn’t popular, the friendship to keep going during the excruciatingly hard times and for making all of us misfits feel like snowflakes, even when you had your own shit going on.

I could talk for days about how amazing Anissa was. I know many of us share similar stories and I hope that you will share your favorite moments about/with Anissa in the comments below. I want to reconnect with all of you because one thing Anissa’s passing has taught me is that life is too short.

But mostly, I want to send all of my love and prayers to Peter Mayhew and Anissa’s 3 beautiful children who she loved so very much. You’re in our thoughts.

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Intuit Quickbooks, self-employment, freelancer

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

Are you self-employed? In today’s digital world, more and more people are working as freelancers, contractors and quite frequently, remotely. Brick and mortar businesses are quickly becoming obsolete dinosaurs. With the Internet, many jobs can be done online from anywhere in the world.

It’s not like when our parents were starting their families. Moms don’t have to stay home with kids (unless they want to) and dads don’t have to leave the house for a traditional 9-5 corporate job because now, almost everything we can do in an office, we can do from home, and it costs less overhead for the company. Not to mention, it’s a savings for the employee because you’ve eliminated the cost of gas, lunch and even a car.

The fact is that today many of us do work from home and with contract work and freelancer gigs, that freedom, has a price. we have to figure out the logistics of the accounting; not only doing the work but filing the invoices, following up for payment, keeping track of receipts and, on top of all of that, we have to make sure that we are setting aside the right amount for taxes. It’s a lot a work but totally worth it to be your own boss.

With a lot of hard work, dedication and a great accounting software, being your own boss doesn’t have to be a dream; it can be a reality. Honestly, who doesn’t want to be their own boss? But you have to take yourself and your business seriously. Just because you are not working in an office, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be professional.

Since I am self-employed and I make most of my income freelancing, keeping track of invoices and receipts for business costs is an absolute nightmare. My secret weapon is good accounting software. Intuit QuickBooks is a game changer when it comes to keeping track of your hard-earned money whether you are self-employed or just want to be in control of your finances.

Why Intuit QuickBooks, you ask? Let me count the ways.

• The Intuit QuickBooks Resource Center has free resources for starting, running and growing your business which is awesome when you are trying to manage running the financial aspect of a growing business.

• There are in depth guides, free tools, helpful articles, and even videos to help you succeed.

• The Intuit QuickBooks Resource center is not just for small/medium businesses, but also the self-employed, freelancers, creatives, like myself.

• And one of my personal favorite resources is A Woman’s One Stop Resource for Starting and Financing a business.

Intuit QuickBooks Resource Center features or articles that can definitely be helpful to you.

a. Free self-employment tax calculator for self-employed people to figure out how much they need to pay for self-employment tax. This is an important one, you do not want that surprise when doing your taxes. Believe me.

b. Article on 10 tax deductions every freelancer needs to know:

c. Users that use the automatic mileage tracking feature can save an average of $7,393 in tax deductions each year.

d. There is also a paycheck calculator for employers to figure out how much to pay their employees.

e. Free income statement (profit and loss statement) template, example, and guide.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that maybe Intuit QuickBooks is something your business needs, here are some quick facts about Intuit QuickBooks to make your life as a freelancer so much easier.

1. Intuit QuickBooks is the #1 accounting solution for small businesses.
2. Intuit QuickBooks users save an average of 11 hours per month.
3. Intuit QuickBooks users find on average $4,350 at tax time by linking expenses and receipts on their phone.
4. Customers agree that Intuit QuickBooks gives them peace of mind their books are accurate.
5. Customers are more efficient and productive with Intuit QuickBooks.
6. Intuit QuickBooks Online customers find an average of $4340 at tax time by linking expenses and receipts on their phone.

You work so hard for your money, shouldn’t it be easier to keep track of it? For more information visit Intuit QuickBooks on Facebook and on Instagram.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

 Thank you TaxSlayer for sponsoring this post. Get simple pricing with no surprises when you e-file with TaxSlayer this tax season!

The life of a freelancer is one of excitement. Seriously, you never know from one week to the next what your income will be for that day, week, month or even year. You can set goals but sometimes you exceed them and others, you fall short.
Some people might call that nerve wrecking. I call it hustle motivation. I’ve never done anything the easy way. I like forging my own path but let’s not get silly, I don’t like making things harder than they need to be. Though I’ll admit, figuring out how to file taxes as a freelancer was difficult in the beginning.

For me, freelancing was an answer to the dilemma of how to be in two places at once; at work and with my children. After giving birth to our first daughter, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew that I wanted to be very hands-on and, lucky for us, we could survive on one income as a 3-person family. That worked for a minute until we got pregnant again and suddenly, we needed that extra income. Babies aren’t free, ya’ll.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

I learned real fast that babies burn through money at an alarming rate and when there are two, they go through it twice as fast. I took a job tutoring college students in English and editing college research papers online. It really was perfect but it reminded me how much I truly loved writing myself, and my daughters provided more material than I could have possibly imagined. It seemed like they were always getting into one thing or another so after a couple years of blogging on the side, I was able to quit my tutoring job and focus on freelance writing exclusively.

This gave me the freedom to work from home while staying home with my girls. I had the best of both worlds. I never had to miss a recital, match, meet or dance. I didn’t get much sleep in those days because work-from-home mom is code for most exhausted woman on the planet but we were all so happy, I didn’t care.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

That’s where I am still today, blissfully exhausted doing what I love while getting to spend time with the people that I love. Being a freelance writer is a dream come true in most aspects but it can be a little trying at tax time because when you’re a freelancer, taxes are not withheld from your check. I used to joke with my husband that it was “free money”, you know, like in college when they were handing out credit cards in the quad with t-shirts to anyone willing to take them? Credit card money isn’t real money, right? WRONG!

It’s awesome getting your entire paycheck until you actually do your taxes and realize that you need to come up with thousands of dollars in a short amount of time because you owe the government. Then it’s not so awesome not having taxes withheld. Freelancing is an act of restraint. For me, it took a few times for the lesson to take. I’ve finally learned.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Here are a few easy, practical tips that I’ve learned over the years to make doing taxes as painless as possible so that you can enjoy your life with the people you love;

Receipts: Keep your business receipts in a safe place. Don’t crumple them up in jacket pockets and in car consoles. Have a designated place for those receipts and if you are really thinking ahead, I like to write exactly what I used it for (which post) because believe me on April 14th, they all look the same. If possible, I highly recommend digitally scanning all receipts in ASAP.

Know Your Deductions: As a freelancer, you really need those deductions to off set the amount you will owe, especially with all that “free money” floating around. Remember, you can deduct things like your home office up to 300 feet at $5 per SQ foot, domain and web hosting, telephone and internet expenses, legal and professional services to maintain your website, education (all those online courses that you bought to improve your SEO), office supplies and equipment and even a percentage of business meals and so many more. Oh and don’t forget about these Top 5 overlooked deductions.

Put money in a designated business banking account: My personal suggestion is to have business savings and checking accounts. All that “free money” that should be withheld in taxes, be smart, put it in that savings account and let it gain some interest. Take the rest and put it into your business checking account. Then, not only do you have your business earned money readily available to you, you will have a digital trail of what you spent. You might need that for reference later.

We normally do our own taxes at home. TaxSlayer helps me to navigate my complex freelance tax issues and allows me to file my taxes from the comfort of my own home. With TaxSlayer, you choose your level of service, everything else is included. TaxSlayer offers free live phone and e-mail support to all customers. It’s simple and affordable. TaxSlayer has over 50 years of tax preparation experience. It is the total package. File now at TaxSlayer.com

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions about how to file your taxes as a freelancer expressed here are all my own.

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freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Do you know the difference between a cyber fan and a cyberstalker?  Because there definitely is a difference and if you work online you should be aware of what cyberstalking is. You should also familiarize yourself with what catfishing is because there are some really desperate individuals out there.

I live and breathe online. I get it. I make my business public. That’s why I’ll never get to live out my dream of being a politician.Well, that and the fact that I actually have some morals and ethics. Those are hard qualities to reconcile with being a politician. My personal business is just too damn public. It served its purpose. It was cathartic but the downside is…everyone knows my business. I’ve had to forfeit some of my expectation of privacy by doing this.

It wasn’t important at the time. At the time I wrote some of the pieces, believe me, my mental status and processing were much more important than who knew my business. But then the dust settles and it’s out there and, as we all know, once it’s out there. It is out there so be somewhat cautious with your online presence.

A couple months ago, I had a real life face-to-face meeting with a reader. Well, she wasn’t so much of a regular reader as my bank teller who handled a deposit from Pop Sugar once and from there on decided to Google me and follow my writing…everywhere. First I thought maybe she was a fellow writer who wanted some tips on how to pitch Pop Sugar. Normally, I would have been flattered but she did one of those things where you go just one step too far. You know what I mean. We’ve all done it. You know you’ve gone too far fangirl when the other party gives you the “the hell?” look. I think she saw mine all the way from my car.

Anyways, I was a little bit creeped out that my teller not only went fangirl on me but then started telling me how she Googled me and had read my pieces on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Latina Mom.me, Parenting, She Knows, The Stir and even stuff as far back as Aiming Low. But, I let it go. I mean after all; I make my life public so what did I expect? Someday I was bound to run into someone other than my family, friends or fellow bloggers who actually read my blog.

But then a couple weeks later I returned and again she referenced things I had published online. Now, again this might not have been creepy except when I write online there is a tiny bit of privacy. For instance, most of you don’t know where I live, have my actual address and social security number at your disposal and know where my kids go to school and what they look like in person. You guys don’t know my husband’s name and I probably won’t run into any of you at the local grocery. Basically, I’m not in any immediate danger of you guys coming to my door and boiling my dog or using me as a skin suit. Her on the other hand, she was creeping me out. And now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be writing this at all because SWF might be reading it. Anyways, here’s hoping she’s not!

I’m not going to lie. I started avoiding my bank. I just felt uncomfortable with her level of comfortableness with me. It’s one thing to Google, someone, it’s a completely different thing to actually tell them and continue on like that is normal to do. It certainly wasn’t professional.

I didn’t think it had really affected me until I realized I have 4 very personal posts in my drafts folder. Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don’t leave posts in the drafts folder. I publish it all.

Then last night, I had a very weird and long dream. I’m not going to go all into detail but let’s just say it involved a very not well-thought out panic room, a weirdo and my entire family. The scariest part of all was that after the entire situation was resolved and the aggressor was apprehended in my dream, the creeper looked at me and (Scooby Doo ending like) said very eerily, “It’s okay, I’ll find you again. You’ll be x, y, z, doing x, y, z again soon.” And that was very scary because they mentioned very specific posts from my blog and I woke up ready to shut the whole thing down. But then I remembered, that’s not who I am and I’m not 5-years-old. Nightmares don’t send me running to my mom’s bed anymore. So, I’m hitting publish and I’m leaving it all on the blog.

The moral of the story is that if you don’t want to be labeled an online stalker, don’t tell people you meet in person that you’ve never met before that you’ve Googled them. It’s just weird unless you are vetting someone for a job or a date and definitely don’t do it every time you see them.

Have you ever had an cyberstalker cross over into real life and how did you deal with it?

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shark week, PMS, living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

Disclosure: This post about living authentically online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Whenever I am asked by digital influencers new to the space or get emails from people contemplating starting a blog or becoming a digital influencer, my first word of advice is to be true to yourself; be authentic in the version of you that you present to the world. The bottom line is that there is only one you and that is what makes each person’s voice online special. Why even try to be someone else? Imitation is not flattering and you are almost always guaranteed to fail at trying to be someone else.

Of course, it is hard to be yourself in life and even harder in the digital space these days. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week, two separate posts landed me in hot water. I spoke my truth, my opinion on what turned out to be a very controversial subject and then, I had to put on my big girl panties and live with the consequences. After all, if you chose to live your life openly and authentically online there will be repercussions, at some point.

Still, I choose to be who I am, flaws and all. Sometimes I rush to snappy judgements or let my emotions guide my writing. This is not always a good thing. There is authentic, then there is too much information and that’s what happens a lot of the time with me and the fact that I lack a filter. People who know me can be forgiving of a rash jump to a conclusion or one time lapse in judgement, the general public who don’t know by by anything other than one singular loud, opinionated post are not usually so forgiving.

In one way, it’s awesome because if you follow me on social media and my blog you know the “real” me but at other times, when I make snap judgements or speak out before I know all the facts, it’s bad because I’ve already put that bad first impression out into the world. I think, it’s only one bad choice but to someone who doesn’t know me, I am just that one bad choice. I think it’s best to find middle ground.

Here are my tips to living authentically online:

Be yourself.

Don’t over edit yourself and write in the way that you speak. No one’s life is sunshine and rainbows all the tie and no one speaks like Shakespeare in real life.

Be honest but hold the nasty.

Put your real thoughts out there. You are allowed to have an opinion. My only word of advice is if it is a heated topic, go ahead and write it out. Mull it over. Come back to it in a few hours and then hit publish if that’s still what you want to say. Believe me, this is the thing I still struggle with.

Develop a thick skin.

If you decide that you want your brand to be all in your face, all the time, then be prepared for backlash. Someday, some time on some topic, someone will disagree with you. In fact, you may just have the most unpopular opinion out there and when you do, the public will let you know. They can be cutting with their words and sometimes they even go for the jugular by attacking not only you personally but your family, thoughts and beliefs. My advice, if you choose to be 100% authentic all the time be prepared for this and either let it roll off your back (easier said than done) or don’t read the comments.

Be a Big Girl.

If you still decide to put your views online to be scrutinized (and they will be) be a grown up. If someone calls you ugly and stupid (and at times much worse) for having a contrary opinion, the best response is not to hurl insults back at them. Be a professional. If you can’t respond civilly, then walk away from the conversation. I don’t like to delete comments because I feel like if I put a topic up for debate, it is my reader’s rights to be heard too. However, sometimes reading the comments can become so consuming and overwhelming that I just have to not read them anymore. I am a professional, this is my job but I’m also a human and, not going to lie, sometimes my feelings suffer collateral damage as a result of my opinions and choice to live authentically online.

Last but not least, don’t take it personally.

I know this bit sounds crazy because, after all, if you are living online authentically, it is all very personal for you. When people attack your opinions, your choices, your beliefs it definitely feels personal but remember this, they’ve never actually met you. They don’t know you. They are disagreeing with your stance on a topic, not you the person even though it usually feels like they are. This is a very important thing to remember always.

These are my tips for staying authentic online. There is an understanding of culpability when you live your life online. You have a venue to broadcast your words and thoughts to people all over the world, so even when you are being authentic you should still consider the effect your words can have on those around you. There are ripples to every action we do in the world and online is no exception. Be yourself, but be responsible. Obviously, this too is something I still struggle with but I’ve come to a point where when I make mistakes, I am adult enough to admit it and say sorry if need be.

Living authentically online doesn’t mean you have a license to be mean, judgmental or bully others. It means you have a responsibility to be true to yourself while being watched by the world. So be yourself but remember you are a part of something much larger than just your thoughts from behind a computer screen.

A fun way to let people know who you are and what you’re about from the very beginning is to obtain a .ME domain name as the perfect way to stay authentic online. For example, if you are a homeschooling mama from the south how about SouthernHomeschoolingMama.Me. See it’s fun and it lets the world know what you’re about before they even click into your site.

If you are living authentically online what would your perfect .ME domain name be?

living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

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authenticity online, authentic online, real me, mommy blogger, blogger,mommy guilt, parenting fail, missing firsts, tap, dance

Disclosure: This post about authenticity online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I started this blog, The TRUTH about Motherhood, I was known to the Internet as Truthful Mommy. I picked this pseudonym because I planned to bust every parenting myth that ever existed and I was a little leery about putting my face to my truth. I didn’t plan on being the poster child for authenticity online but I had every intention of being the real me.

I wanted to be the voice of the “regular” mom but I wasn’t sure that I was a “regular” mom because I felt like I was doing it so wrong. I didn’t think I was special in anything but my inadequacy. I just wanted to have an open and honest dialogue with other moms online or offline about the ups and downs of motherhood and life. I exist beyond just being a “mommy blogger” on the internet. I am a real person and people need other people. This isn’t just my job, it’s my life. I just wanted a place where I could be my own authentic self.

When I had my first daughter, suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed and completely out of my depth as a parent and as a human being. Every other mom I met made everything look so effortless and they weren’t telling me otherwise. I felt like the ultimate failure. I had so many questions.

Why was my 9-month old crawling backwards? Why couldn’t I ever make the arm to bed transition? Were my kids going to co-sleep until they left for college? Did no one else’s 2-year-old drop the F bomb? Why wouldn’t my toddler eat anything other than damn chicken nuggets? Why was I making all the wrong parenting choices when everyone else was making the right ones? Was I born missing the mom gene?

All the other moms looked so put together at Kinder Music and the Little Gym and I looked like death warmed over.  Motherhood looked effortless on them; like those 18-year-olds who just wake up and look gorgeous. Those were the days before Zombies were all the rage but I’m pretty positive I was the original Mombie. I was perpetually exhausted and about as far away from perfect as I could get. I mean, I was a nice person, trying my best but my best just felt like it fell short.

Then I “really” got to know the other moms and I realized those broads were just as exhausted and out of their depth as I was but they had something called dry shampoo and they never told me about their mommy woes because they were afraid I was going to think less of them. ME? The woman who hadn’t slept in 2 years. The woman who only wore pony tails and makeup she could put on in 2 minutes or less because little people needed every bit of my attention. That’s when I knew, I had to tell the truth for all of our sakes. So I did and it was glorious.

I had to be honest to have authenticity online or it was pointless.

To be fair, I’ve never been much of a liar anyways and my poker face is completely nonexistent so it’s not like I really had a choice but I chose to be the voice of honesty, not necessarily reason, on the internet and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years. I hope I’ve helped a few people along the way. If comments and private messages are any indication, I’ve had my moments of truth that have landed on desperate ears that needed to know they weren’t alone. That alone was worth bearing my soul naked on the Internet.

I can’t imagine not being my authentic me online or anywhere else in my life. I don’t have the time or desire to be anyone else. I’m definitely rough around the edges, I’ve been known to curse on occasion, and I don’t always say the right thing but who I am online is who I am in person. In fact, the best compliment I’ve ever received has been when meeting readers in real life and having them say that I am exactly who I am online.

I am fully aware that there are times when I overshare and maybe should keep some things to myself. There are times when I hit the publish button and it terrifies me to think what a reader half way across that world might think of me; after all, my skeletons are not hiding neatly in some closet, they are right here for anyone with Google to read. But I can’t over censor myself and pretend that my life is all rainbows and sunshine all the time because it’s not. Sometimes it is but sometimes it’s really shitty; so I share it all here.

For me, being authentic online is the only way that I know how to be. Life is too short to spend all of my time trying to create some fake perfect virtual world that only serves to make others feel bad about what they’re doing. I refuse to be part of the problem. This is me and if you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I’m not perfect but at least with me, you know what you’re getting.

How do you stay true to yourself in life?

What is your definition of authenticity online?

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Nielsen, Nielsen App, Tap Influence, How to partner with your dream brand, Entertainment

As a brand influencer, I have worked with a lot of brands; little ones and huge ones and each one is different and each one was important to me for some reason or other. In the beginning, I accepted campaigns that maybe were not my dream campaign but they were something my kid’s would actually play with or I would use in my everyday life but I was just so excited that someone wanted to work with me. I was excited by the thought of being wanted as an influencer. I think we’ve all been there.

I’ve never taken a campaign that I wouldn’t use in my every day life. If I’m against cigarette smoking and the Marlboro man offered me a million dollars to write about how great his cigarettes were I couldn’t take the money because it doesn’t fit my brand, my blog or my life and if I took campaigns just for the money, I’d lose my credibility with my readers. If I lose my credibility with my readers, well, then brands won’t want me so the key is to be true to who you are and eventually, things will fall into place. If you want to work with brands on your blog, you need to stay true to who you and your brand are.

I was asked who would be my dream brand to work with. For me, it’s simple. If I had the chance to work with my dream brand on a dream campaign, it would be either Apple or Nikon. What can I say? I am a very loyal brand consumer. These are two of my favorite brands and I use them every day in my life and I make no secret about that.

My dream brand partnership would involve first and foremost, me partnering with a brand that I truly love. For example, I currently use an iMac to edit my photos, apple TV to view my home movies and photos, my mac mini to store my movies and music, an apple laptop to complete my daily assignments, I use my iPad for when I travel and I never leave home without my iPhone. Apple is a very important brand in my life.

I am a writer and it is my dream job, without Apple products, this dream would not be possible. Well, it could be possible but not as easy, professional and cohesive as it currently is.

My dream partnership with Apple would look a little something like this; me as a brand ambassador, speaking on behalf of a company that I truly love. You’ve heard that saying, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life? Well, that’s what a partnership between myself and Apple would look like because I would just be expressing my authentic, organic love for the products; products that I have known and used in my own home with my family for years.

None of this is possible without first knowing; using and supporting the brands you love. It all begins with being true to yourself and then just naturally writing about those products and services. I always feel like it is my duty to my readers to share the products that I know and love, like I would do with any of my friends. It is not my duty to be a commercial. I don’t want to sell my readers anything but I do love to share the things in my life that I know work for me, especially when my readers ask.

By working with Tap Influence over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many great brands that I have loved. This would not have been possible, or at least less probable, had I not been affiliated with Tap Influence.

It’s so easy. I signed up, years ago. I set my rate and my profile is always available for brands to peruse. I never have to waste time filling out applications or looking up my statistics because they are always available through the back end. I set my own rates and if a brand wants to work with me, they contact me. It’s that easy.

Who would be your dream brand to partner with? Maybe Tap Influence can make a connection with you and your dream company.

Brands are searching for voices like yours. A TapInfluence profile is a great way to attract attention from top brands who are eager to work with influencers on sponsored content. To get started, create your free profile here. What are you waiting for?

Tap Influence, How to partner with your dream brand

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TapInfluence, the leader in connecting influencers with opportunties to collaborate with brands.

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