Monday, April 30, 2018

Andrew Charlton: A Bold Voice For Australia

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to visit Australia. From my coastal Virginia hometown, I dreamed of what the view from the coast of a country across the world would be like. I would spend hours in the library reading and researching everything I could.

And, of course, I particularly loved the pictures and stories of kangaroos, koalas, and The Great Barrier Reef

Once the internet came along, I had all of the information I wanted at my fingertips. As I got older, my interest in Australia went much deeper than just the wildlife. 




I found many articles written by Andrew Charlton that were fascinating. Andrew Charlton is an Oxford University Rhodes Scholar who has a doctorate in economics. He is the co-author of Ozonomics, Fair Trade for All that he wrote with Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. He also served as senior economic adviser to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from 2008 to 2010.

The most interesting article I came across is Man Made World, winner of the 2002 John Button Prize, which chronicles the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Conference. From the article:

"This was the conundrum in Copenhagen. A fraction of the world’s people had become rich by plundering our planet to the point of exhaustion; now the still-poor majority wanted to do the same. “We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves,” a German colleague said to me. “We have to be realistic about the problem. The world is split between those who want to save the planet and those who want to save themselves.”

This essay is about that split: rich versus poor; planet versus progress. Copenhagen was just one global summit, but it was a symbolic battle in a broader conflict between economics and the environment. That conflict is defining the most important choices facing Australia and the world in the twenty-first century."

His writing is both inspiring and educational. As I have written about before, environmental issues are extremely important to me. I was enthralled with his writing and could not digest it fast enough.

In The Dragon's Tail, Charlton chronicles the banquet held for the prime minister at the Australian Embassy in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic games. The meeting was to discuss the twenty six proposals to acquire Australian resources companies by  China. Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of both iron and coal, which literally fuels the life force of China. I knew none of this and found it extremely fascinating. It put a lot of the world economy and how it works globally into perspective for me. 

Somehow, I must have always known that I would find the answers to my deepest concerns in Australia and because of the writings of Andrew Charlton, I want to visit there more than ever.




Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Most Essential Blogging Tool

There are many things I cannot do without when it comes to blogging. The internet, a writerly brain, social media, a quiet room, a desk to bang my head on. 

You know, the important things.




The number one thing that I absolutely NEED is my daily planner! I would be 100000% lost without it! Since I am a freelancer, I have jobs coming in from all over the place with sporadic deadlines, certain guidelines I have to follow, and things I absolutely cannot forget to include. Without my planner, I would fail and fail hardcore.



My current planner is so perfect for the way I organize my work. First of all, it's not one of those planners that has the dates already written in. You can fill in the dates yourself. Along with the large area on the pages to write down what you have for that day, it has sections for notes, priorities, daily, weekly, and monthly reviews. It also comes with bookmark ribbons and a pocket in the back to hold the stickers that come with it or loose papers/notes/whatever. It is super convenient!

If you're a blogger and want to get organized, I highly recommend this planner! 


                                                                         affiliate link

What is your most essential blogging tool? Let me know in the comments below!

Current mood


Handlebars - Flobots

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nationwide Debt Reduction Services Has A Surprising Offer

Raise your hand if you're in debt.





Right. That's what I thought.

I, of course, am in the same boat. This is what happens when you send your daughter to Japan. When you own a car. When you breathe.

As I mentioned before, one of my goals in the near future is to buy a plot of land and either build a house (because, you know, I'm handy like that), or just buy a house. So, what's the first thing you must do in order to acquire a mortgage? Lower your debt and clean up your credit.





As you can probably guess, I have been searching for debt reduction services. Luckily, I don't have too much debt, but I have enough that it bothers me and I want it GONE.

I found some interesting information. For example, I was extremely confused about debt to income ratio but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explained it quite succinctly:

"To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, you add up all your monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income. Your gross monthly income is generally the amount of money you have earned before your taxes and other deductions are taken out.  For example, if you pay $1500 a month for your mortgage and another $100 a month for an auto loan and $400 a month for the rest of your debts, your monthly debt payments are $2000. ($1500 + $100 + $400 = $2,000.) If your gross monthly income is $6000, then your debt-to-income ratio is 33 percent. ($2000 is 33% of $6000.)"

Awesome. I get it. Now, more (not) great news via Debt.com:

"Americans now have record-high credit card and student loan debt. Auto loan debt also broke some records last year.
According to the latest 2018 data from the Federal Reserve:

Americans hold over $1 trillion in credit card debt ($1,023,000,000,000)
Nonrevolving debt (loans) total over $2.8 trillion ($2,842,400,000,000)
According to a Y charts investment company:

To kick off 2018, the total outstanding auto loan debt totals $1.22 trillion ($1,221,000,000,000)"

After I went outside and screamed into the wind, I came back in and continued my search. I came across National Debt Reduction Services and instantly breathed a sigh of relief. There is a plethora of information and resources AND they don't even charge you for their help until your debt is settled.




As I was perusing the website, I came across a great surprise! They are offering a $1,000 scholarship to any high school senior that has been accepted to any university or any college student not in their final year! To enter you just have to write a 500 word essay and fill out this Nationwide Debt Reduction Services entry form!

Debt is on the rise, but I am determined to stomp it out on my end. How about you? 




Friday, April 20, 2018

An Icy Future

As I have mentioned before, I'm pretty goal driven this year.

2018 is the year of SERIOUS BUSINESS.





I have been starting to amass the things I am going to need for these future goals and plans so I was super excited to try out this New Air Clear Ice 40 Portable Ice Maker!

It is seriously awesome!

Why would I need a separate ice maker, a portable one at that? One word. 
Camping!





RVing (is that a word? Well, it is now because I say so), specifically. This thing is going to come in handy, absolutely.

It took no time at all to set it up and get it going. The instructions are easy and you literally just fill it, let it go, and in thirty minutes...





It's really simple and you guys know how much I like simple. 

Once the ice is made, it sits in the reservoir and if not used it recycles back into the ice maker to make more ice. I've been running it all week to test it out and have had zero problems with it. 





I can not WAIT to get on the road with this thing! I will never ever have to worry about buying ice again! It's incredibly well made and not even close to as heavy as I thought. New Air Appliances has other great products as well and right now if you use my code STEBBINS, you will receive 20% off! https://bit.ly/2Fb8tsJ  Yay! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Customer Onboarding And User Adoption Strategies For Your Business

Business strategies fascinate me. I could sit and read about how to run a successful business all day. I don't think I would ever have a business besides freelance writing/blogging, but a lot of these tips I read about are actually quite useful for my blogging "small business." 





For example, a lot of helpful blogging tools come as a free trial and after a set amount of days, weeks, or months, it expires and you begin your paid subscription. I am always thankful for the free trials and freemium products and usually keep my subscription to the most useful ones. I have even thought about offering my own tools or e-courses to help other bloggers and/or writers, along with my own freemium product or free trial.  Then, of course, I wondered how many people would actually stick with it once their trial was up.

Confidence level = 0




                                                  photo via

So, I decided to research and came upon User IQ and found a lot of great information! After searching and searching it was definitely refreshing to find a website that had all of the information I needed in one place!

According to this article on user adoption, I should utilize a WOW! moment:

"Once you know who your best customers are, you can start to identify the WOW! moments that got them there. Invented by David Skok, a WOW moment refers to the moment where your user suddenly sees the benefit they get from using your product and says to themselves WOW! Even better, a WOW! moment might result in a conversion activity for you, like trial to paid or an upgrade from one version to the next."

I had never even thought about that! As a matter of fact, there are so many really helpful things about customer onboarding there that I found myself reading long into the night. I learned about good user adoption and engagement, how to improve time-to-value, and how user adoption and customer onboarding are the most important for growth. 






I don't want to tell you everything about UserIQ, you should definitely visit their website and check them out. They have a plethora of strategies and information and they even have an User Adoption Toolkit that you can try for free!

These are great tips for the way business is conducted these days. I found it to be incredibly helpful, even for my business of blogging and freelance writing. I am much more confident in offering an ecourse and/or software as a service (SaaS), definitely. Now, imagine what this knowledge could do for you!

Monday, April 9, 2018

You Should Become A Blogger

A decade ago, people probably saw blogging as a fad, or, at best, a useless hobby, but it’s now 2018, and blogging has not only become one of the most popular forms of writing in the world, but it’s also a lucrative business. There are so many things that you can do with your time, but few of them have the potential to change your life quite like blogging does. If you’re considering starting your own blog, but aren’t really sure why you should, then here are six reasons for you to think about. 






To Promote Yourself

We live in a time completely dominated by technology, and as such, technology is often needed when you want to promote yourself or a product or service that you sell. Blogging is a perfect way to sell something, as it allows you to advertise and promote without being pushy and obviously looking like you’re trying to make a sale. 


To Change The World

If there is one thing that I’m certain of, it’s that the world needs bloggers. Most blogs are written to provide advice and give opinions on certain things, and although you won’t be able to help everyone, your blog is going to be able to help someone, and it could help them in a huge way. The comments section also provides a forum for readers to talk and help one another. 


To Have Fun

Most bloggers write about something that they enjoy or know a lot about, and as such, blogging can be really fun. If you’re a fan of a particular TV series or love music and have Begin Your Drumming bookmarked on your phone, tell people about it. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing about, it will shine through in your posts, and people will enjoy reading them much more. 


To Improve Yourself

Blogging doesn’t just make a difference to other people, it can make a difference with you too, and it does so in a variety of ways. As fun as blogging is, it requires a lot of commitment, discipline, and a healthy lifestyle to be successful. You will also improve your writing and will learn a lot about specific topics the more you write about them in your posts. 


To Meet New People

The more your blog grows, the more comments, follows, shares, and emails you will receive, and the easier it will be to meet and develop relationships with like-minded people. You will also make connections with other bloggers and will be able to help each other and share ideas, which will further help to improve your writing and blogging


To Make Money


It takes a lot of work to turn blogging from a hobby into a successful business, but it can be done with hard work and dedication. Of course, you don’t need to be making money to love blogging, but it is incredibly rewarding to earn money  doing something that you genuinely enjoy and are passionate about. 

If you’re considering starting a blog, stop considering and get online. I promise you won’t regret it. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Back And Forth And Around Again

Around this time last year, I was in the process of moving. And so it goes, I'm getting ready to move again.

City life is not for me.

We have been looking all over in quiet little towns to find our perfect place. Where I'm from and where I am right now, the noise never stops. I thoroughly enjoy our trips to the mountains because it's so very peaceful...

Yes, yes I am a little cliche...you know, a writer and shady forest hideaway...



Anyway, I think we have found our perfect little place, but I don't want to say it's ours for sure yet because I did that last year and we ended up in our current terrible apartment.

I lovingly refer to it as "The Box In Rat City."

It was hard for us to decide what we were going to do after my husband retired from the Navy. We want to convert a bus into a camper, we want to travel all around, we want to find land, we want to buy a house...

We ended up in the city where my daughter is attending college. It's her first year so we wanted to make sure she was all set. I thought it was going to be weird for her at first, but it worked out. Her best friend from back home got accepted and they are going to room together next year. So, now...



I will officially be an empty nester. All of my butterflies have grown up and flown away. 

My point is, it's gonna be weird.

Therefore, I am going to need to be busy.
All of the time.
No time to miss my sweet babies, busy busy busy.

I have been thinking about those goals a lot more seriously lately. 

I think my husband and I are finally in fairly stable financial shape. Well, better than we have ever been in our lives.

So, maybe we will convert a skoolie, maybe we'll get an RV instead (I've found some nice new campers for sale in PA). Maybe we'll buy a house on a giant piece of land or maybe we'll find something better. I have definitely been spending A LOT of time on living room design websites, that's for sure!

Who knows? It could all change by next week.



What kind of goals or plans do you have? Have they changed as life changed? 

Monday, April 2, 2018

You Should Call Your Mother

Hey, kids.

Mother's day is coming and since that is the best holiday ever in my mom opinion, I'm already thinking about gifts.







I got this amazing Mom ring from ThinkEngraved.com and I thought it would be a great gift for Mother's Day. My mother is so hard to shop for. I'm always ok with a gift card or cash as a gift.

My mom likes thoughtful gifts.

So, this seems perfect for her. Mine is engraved with my children's names and their birthstones. They have all kinds of other jewelry, and they will engrave anything you'd like.

I really hope my mom likes the gift I got for her as well. Finally, I can win most thoughtful gift. 

Maybe

There's some new items and all kinds of sales going on. Shopping for Mother's Day, DONE.

You're welcome!

Now, go call your mother.