3 Tips for Planning Your Escape - Campfire Chic
Today’s “3 Tips” post is an interview with Krystal of Krystal’s Kitsch. She lives in Florida where she enjoys sunshine, palm trees, and a good sangria…and blogging! She recently took the leap into freelancing full time and has some tips to share with Campfire Chic readers.

Krystal, tell readers a little about yourself and what you share on your site.

I’m Krystal, and I’m officially a full time blogger. It wasn’t always that way though. I worked in radio, marketing, public relations, and even retail while working on my Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. I thought that there had to be a way to blend blogging and education together, so that degree made the most sense. When I graduated, I wasn’t met with very many opportunities so I worked for a university. I did the typical 9-5 grind for way too long advising students, creating newsletters, and goofing off too much on Facebook.
When I had to move unexpectedly when my husband got a new job, I sort of hit the “reset” button. I was in a new area with new people and opportunities. I didn’t find steady work, and I was left pooling my pennies together to make a living. It didn’t seem to be something that I could do forever. When I did finally find a professional job in my industry, I hated it. I felt bored, uninspired, and just plain uninterested. This wasn’t for me.

How you did you decide it was a good time to make your escape from your 9-5?

When blogging began filling up my weekends with money-making opportunities and I started writing more on the side, I knew it was time to make a change. I waited until I received a few high payments for my work, and I fled. I couldn’t have done it without REALLY working double duty for a few months. I needed that cushion of extra cash when it became time to take the big leap.

What 3 tips do you have for somebody who is planning her escape?

  1. You might have to work 80 hours a week at first. I juggled a full time job, a full time blog, a family, and a toddler for many, many months. I can’t say that it was easy. I had to let certain things slide sometimes (dishes are optional) or come up with creative ways to publish a blog post while at work (I do not condone that!). But, hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
  2. Don’t take no for an answer. My husband didn’t think it would work if I left a stable job with benefits for the freelancing world. And, you know, it might not. But, at least I am trying. I have more work now than I know what to do with, and I am grateful for the opportunities.
  3. Wait for the right moment. There were many days I wanted to quit hastily without a good excuse. I knew that wouldn’t work though. I still needed a paycheck. I put in long hours and did a lot of assignments in one big burst. When I received that payment, I knew I could do it. I took the leap and didn’t look back. Give yourself a date (mine was actually June 13th but I left two weeks before then!) and work toward that.

What are some online resources that you use everyday and think potential-escapees should be using, too?

Learn Photoshop* if you think it will be helpful. It has certainly elevated my photography which has helped me secure more writing and photography gigs. I have a plan where I pay by the month for a subscription to Photoshop, Lightroom, and Bridge. Also, TinyScan helps me with scanning in photos as PDFs (contracts, etc.), and Pocket helps me remember to read things later. I’m a big fan of Buffer, Dropbox, Workflowy, and Google Docs.

What tips do YOU have for cubicle-dwellers looking to escape?

*Photoshop Elements 12 is currently 40% off on Amazon. This is an affiliate link. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may receive a small commission. To find out more about Krystal, you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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How to Write an Awesome Book Review - Campfire Chic

My elementary school had a summer reading program where you send in postcards to the school listing and describing the books you read over the summer. I would get back to school in the fall and see hundreds of postcards displayed in the small school library and point out the ones I mailed in to my friends…we were big fans of the program and each year our summer reading lists grew and grew. Now that I’m a little older (okay, a lot older), my summer reading list has changed a bit…and instead of mailing postcards I have the opportunity to review books here or on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

I asked the Campfire Chic mailing list subscribers to contact me if they were interested in contributing to my “3 Tips” series and Kristin was one of the first people to respond. After following her blog for years and working with Kristin on previous guest blog posts and 30 Days of Lists, I knew she would have amazing things to share. Today, Kristin shares a little about her love of reading and tips for writing an awesome book review.

Kristin, can you tell Campfire Chic readers a little bit more about who you are?

I’m a middle school teacher and an academic at heart. During undergrad, I majored in Literature (predominately Early Modern and Victorian) and Japanese, and now spend my free time doing what most normal people do – drafting essays and arguments in my head. Reading and writing have always been my passions, and I love that my job allows me to do both in wildly different settings!

Typically, I’m drawn to classic literature (the boring, stuffy, “old white guy” stuff) but also enjoy contemporary literature, sci-fi/fantasy (particularly of the urban fantasy and steampunk-paranormal varieties), and Young Adult fiction, just to name a few.

I first started reviewing books via Goodreads as a way to catalog my recent reads for my own purposes. I wanted to remember which genres I liked, which authors I enjoyed, and particular things I liked about a book to help me better understand which elements and themes I’m drawn to, and to help me discover new reads. Reading critically is certainly a departure from reading for pleasure (even though critically might mean, in the most basic sense, reading to comment on later for personal reference), but even making mental notes about language and the pacing of a story can provide invaluable information for understanding what you’ve read, whether you plan on writing a review or not.

I’m also tremendously addicted to Batman, swing dancing, and Earl Grey tea.

Kristin of My Life as a Teacup - Tips for Writing Book Reviews on Goodreads

What 3 tips do you have for somebody want to write better book reviews?

  1. Take notes – I don’t care whether you write them in the book itself (gasp! – the horror!), keep a separate notebook, jot things down on sticky notes and paste them into the book, or write them on your hand – TAKE NOTES. Those notes might be full sentences and ideas, exclamation points at parts that you find interesting, a smiley face of shock when something happened you didn’t expect, or a question mark where you’re confused. Whatever the thought is, keep a log of it, every single one! It’ll help you to remember key points you want to talk about when writing your review, not to mention help you become a more active and observant reader.
  2. Keep it succinct – While I encourage you to take all of the notes you can, bear in mind that critical essays and responses are different than book reviews. If you want to explore the themes of a story more deeply, consider writing a critical piece. If you’re looking to entice fellow bibliophiles to pick up a book for themselves, think succinct and persuasive (the longer your review, the less likely I am to read the whole thing). You want to give enough information to captivate your audience, but not reveal the ending.
  3. Open with a good thing – If there’s one thing I’ve learned from both academia and teaching, it’s to try to find at least one positive thing, and lead with that. It could be the most atrocious storyline ever, but maybe the setting was well imagined, or the prose particularly visceral. It’s still another human being’s art, their pride & joy that you’re critiquing, and offering constructive criticism is different from bashing. Don’t be a troll. If something isn’t good, say so – claiming that everything is “a wonderful book!” when it’s clearly not will weaken your readers’ trust of you – but do so in a classy way.

It’s the time of the year when we start drawing up our Summer Reading Lists…what is the one book we should add to our lists this year?

Summer to me means curling up with something enjoyable and adventuresome, and The Archived by Victoria Schwab is a great combination of just that (with a dash of mystery here, a bit of YA there…). I’m reading the sequel this summer myself, but I’d gladly reread the first book every day if I had the chance!

Mackenzie Bishop is a Keeper, charged with making sure the souls of the dead, or Histories, stay undisturbed in the Archives. It’s bad enough that restless (and often violent) Histories can sometimes wake up of their own accord, but when someone starts rousing them on purpose, Mackenzie has to find out why. Bonus points: Urban fantasy-paranormal YA, with a sassy female protagonist who isn’t annoying, a creative world, and a mystery to solve.

What is on your summer reading list?

 

Kristin is a list-addict and bookworm who gets way too emotionally attached to fictional characters. When she’s not scribbling a list on any scrap of paper that graces her path, she can be found sipping a cup of chai and discussing the literary merits of Batman with her Pittsburgh English Nerd posse. Grab a cup of tea, get cozy, and follow My Life as a Teacup for writing and organization tips, literary discussions, and all things bookish! Kristin is also on Twitter and posts reviews to Goodreads.

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Productivity Resources for Bloggers - Spark Ecourse by Campfire Chic

I love a good article on productivity. In fact, I made sure to include plenty of productivity resources throughout the Spark ecourse to remind participants that productivity isn’t something you think about once in a while…it’s something that needs focus so habits are formed. It would be a waste of time to read a lesson about productivity and finding what works best for you only to turn around and sit for hours working on perfecting your Pinterest boards. Productivity takes practice.

Each Spark ecourse email comes with a handful of resources…and guess what? Many participants reply to the emails with even more resources that they think would help others! How cool is that? Pretty soon these emails will be overflowing with resources!

Want to get a taste of what it’s like to get one of these emails?

The emails start with a quick introduction and possibly a reminder of a past lesson. The main part of the email goes into the main lesson for the day — there may be some journaling, some listing, an invitation to create something with your hands, or a request to step away from the computer for a little while. At the end of each email there’s a question…and then the resources follow. Here’s an idea of what it looks like…

Spark your interest?

 

Like what you see? You can enter to win free registration to the Spark ecourse through Friday of this week. Two will win!

If you’re ready to rekindle your passion for blogging and get your site meeting your expectations, register for the Spark ecourse. This 30 day email-based course is the right mix of inspiration, motivation, and kick-in-the-pants that you’re looking for.

Blogging Ecourse by Kam of Campfire Chic

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I am a big fan of podcasts. I like that I get to pick and choose the topics I want to learn about and I can binge-listen on archives of well-developed shows. It makes me feel like a much more active participant in what I am consuming when compared to listening to the radio. I listen to podcasts while on my way to work, while cleaning the apartment, while in the shower, and Alex and I will save specific shows for when we are on the road and can listen to them together.

With the rise in popularity of creating and hosting podcasts, I thought it would be a great idea to chat with somebody who co-hosts a niche podcast (a podcast with a very specific audience) to get a better idea of what exactly goes into starting a podcast that is on a topic so near and dear to your heart…

3 Tips for Starting a Niche Podcast You Love from The Last Adventurer of In Ice Axe We Trust Podcast - Campfire Chic

The Last Adventurer, is the co-host of a podcast (and corresponding website) that covers hiking, mountaineering, and climbing. I sent him a few questions via email and was surprised to find out that he and his co-host keep things simple with their podcast…You don’t need to invest in a high end microphone or editing software to get started! What he doesn’t mention is that the podcast is taped live, so you can listen in as they chat…a nice change from the sometimes overly edited podcasts out there.

Can you tell Campfire Chic readers a little bit more about who you are? Where did the name The Last Adventurer come from?

I think the simplest way to describe me is an “outdoor aficionado” or if I’m being wordy, “outdoors jack-of-all-trades” who’s been out in the field for the last 25 plus years. I like to explore strange spots; I like to see new things; I like to try new things; and I like to experience all that life has to offer. In short, I get out and do things rather than talking about doing things. And, even though this is a written interview, I’m laughing about the second part of your question. Your readers should be aware that my blog name, “The Last Adventurer” is definitely tongue-in-cheek; I don’t actually think of myself as the last adventurer to walk the planet! Around eight years ago when I started my blog, I needed a good, catchy name (like Campfire Kam) to attract readers. During that time, I had a weekly meet up with my friends to talk about life; and during those conversations, they would tell me that I was a crazy adventurer who needed to stop exploring before I ended getting in trouble and ending up on my last adventure. Rather than go with “Crazy Adventurer”, which didn’t have the best connotations to me, I went with “Last Adventurer”, and from that point on, the name has been my alter-ego, just like Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego of Batman.

You co-host the popular mountaineering podcast, In Ice Axe We Trust (iiawt). Can you describe what you cover? How can somebody listen to your podcast?

Well, I’ve had doubts about whether in Ice Axe We Trust (IIAWT) was popular, but now that I’ve landed this interview, I know we are on the road to fame and fortune. (Again readers, I’m just kidding around – I’m a big fan of what Kam does, and I’m honored to be giving this interview). In terms of what we cover, we are a mountaineering podcast that covers all aspects of mountaineering or as we say, “from the trailhead to the summit”. Our show is primarily geared toward novice to intermediate mountaineers, and focuses on the basic information people need to climb mountains – the who, what, where, why, and how questions. The other unique thing about our podcast is that we have a different guest co-host each show who has familiarity with whichever mountain and whichever region we are discussing. The podcasts can be found through our website, iiawt.com, on Facebook, or through iTunes simply by searching “In Ice Axe We Trust”.

What 3 tips do you have for somebody wanting to start a niche podcast?

Uh-oh, we’ve reached the tough questions now!

The first tip I would give is to pick a subject you are passionate about, because doing a podcast is a fair amount of work; and if you’re going to put in the work, it should be about something that is important to you (the potential podcaster).

Second, I would say that you need to know your subject. I realize this may sound obvious, but in order to have a successful podcast, you really need to know your subject, because sooner or later – you – the host – are going to have to fill some airtime on your own; and depending on your show, you may need to fill a lot of airtime.

For my last tip, I would say that you should play to your strengths, whatever they are. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to copy anyone else’s format; and you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment a little to find your groove, your format, and your strengths.

What is one piece of must-have podcasting equipment (it can be something like a specific microphone, Garage Band, or Skype) that you use to record iiawt?

I don’t know if I should admit this, but I don’t have any specific pieces of equipment that I use for the podcast. Right now, I am using my iPhone5 to call into the show; and my co-host uses his laptop to operate the show through our hosting service, Blog Talk Radio. We’ve also used Skype for some of our guest co-hosts, but other than that, we are a fairly lean operation. But let me assure you, when we’re discovered and become a world-wide sensation and have our own studio with fancy microphones, you can be our first guest.

What is one piece of mountaineering/adventure gear that you refuse to leave home without?

I think I’d be selling my show short if I didn’t say my ice-axe! Even though I live in Southern California, it travels just about everywhere with me as I usually forget to take it out of my car.

Since we’re on the topic, what podcasts are you listening to right now?

I know this is going to come off as me having a big head, but the Podcast I listen to most is my own, as I want to hear how it sounds in order that I can learn from my mistakes and cringe-worthy moments to become a better podcaster. After that, I listen to a lot of TEDTalks, the Dirtbag Diaries, and lately I’ve been listening to Inspiring Adventurer, which has great daily stories from a variety of people.

You can connect with The Last Adventurer through Twitter, Instagram, and his site. For information on the In Ice Axe We Trust podcast, check out their site, follow along on Twitter, and see what beautiful images they’re sharing on Instagram.

For additional podcast recommendations, I listed a handful of outdoor adventure-related podcasts here.

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Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way Review - Campfire Chic

My collection of business and blogging resources is a little out of control.

I have PDFs, Kindle books, workbooks, classes, courses, workshops, and actual books on topics like digital marketing, social media strategy, productivity, blogging, and owning a handmade business. It’s a lot. I know.

When I was approached to review a new business book, I was a little hesitant: How can this book be any different than the other books?  What can I learn from this that isn’t already included in the other books?

A little about the book: Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way: Sustainable Success for the Creative Entrepreneur was written by Jennifer Lee, the author of The Right-Brain Business Plan. The book is 235 pages long and the suggested retail is for $21.95 (Amazon seems to have it for much cheaper!). This book takes a different approach to starting (or continuing) your creative business — instead of going through the basic steps on how to set up shop, Jennifer emphasizes what you can do right now to make your business last longer and be more profitable. Jennifer’s writing is practical and straight to the point while also funny!

 Topics Covered:

  • Defining your own success
  • What is your core message?
  • Attracting, engaging, and learning from the right people
  • Switching from selling to serving
  • How to plan a product/service launch
  • Making more money
  • Growing your team
  • Establishing systems to ease day-to-day operations

Review of Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way - Review by Campfire Chic

What I like about the book:

  • What I really like about the book is that Jennifer encourages you to jump to the section that best addresses your needs at that moment. If you don’t need to read about setting up your social media accounts, skip it! Move onto the importance of establishing multiple income streams.
  • The book is full of playsheets (Jennifer’s term for worksheets), spotlights, action steps to take at the end of each chapter, reflections, and more.
  • The visuals throughout the book are helping me imagine how to format some documents I need — I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so Jennifer’s doodles are very helpful!

What I’m not a fan of:

  • The problem with a print book is that it gets dated very quickly — while the resources listed in the book are available now, they may not be available in a year or two. It’s a fast-paced digital world, I have a book that talks about how amazing picnik.com is for photo editing but it is no longer around. Not a big deal, but it’s something to consider.
  • The photos used in the book don’t seem to match the quality of the book — it’s probably the type of paper used, but I think the book would be more visually pleasing if only the hand-drawn images were used.

If you were a fan of The Handmade Marketplace and Blog, Inc., you will enjoy this book. There is some obvious overlap in topics, but this book covers more of the business aspects of running an online (and offline) creative business. As somebody who works full-time in addition to what I do online, setting up and committing to systems that are designed to help me be more productive and serve others better is important. This book really emphasizes the importance of working now to create a sustainable business so I’m not burned out in a few months.

This book isn’t for people who want quick results without putting in the work. This isn’t a passive experience, you will be drawing in the book, writing notes, reflecting, and taking action more often than you expect! If you aren’t interested in a process, skip this book.

What are your favorite business/blogging resources?

Get your copy of Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way on Amazon in paperback or Kindle-edition. I reviewed The Handmade Marketplace & Blog, Inc. in previous posts. Let me know if you have questions about any of the books discussed here.

New World Library, the publisher of Jennifer Lee’s Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way: Sustainable Success for the Creative Entrepreneur, sent a copy of this book to me with the hope of a review or mention. While I received the book for free, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I use all items/services before discussing them on this site because I know Campfire Chic readers deserve the best. To read a more legal-ese version of my Disclosure Policy, click here.

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