Why I Still Drink at Starbucks Although It’s Overpriced

Last Sunday, I showed up to Starbucks relatively early in the morning to get some work done before meeting a friend to talk some shop. Here’s a timeline of the morning:

7:15AM: With my own personal Starbucks mug in tow, I went up to the register to get a huge cup of Casi Cielo (I had to inquire about the pronunciation). I forked over some cash, sat down and got to work.

7:16AM: Damn, this is good. Time to get to work. Spotify loaded. Tyrone Wells playing. Pages opening.

7:20AM: After perusing Facebook for several minutes, updating this status, and enjoying some more coffee, I get to work.

7:32AM: Cup of coffee done. This might be a record. I head to the cashier for a refill which only costs me $0.80. I consider this a triumph for my bank account and flash my Starbucks app to pay.

8:00AM: Article coming along nicely. This caffeine must have some sort of creativity side effect because the words are flowing onto the page rather effortlessly. I reread my work to make sure it sounds like an educated, literate individual and not Larry the Cable Guy after a few Buds.

8:13AM: Coffee done. If I had a caffeine monitor on my blood stream right now, I would be approaching very high numbers. A Starbucks fan for quite some time, I know they don’t skimp on the coffee.

8:15AM: Down another $0.80, I have another warm cup of Casi Cielo (or as I call it – Heaven) in my hand. All is good.

8:17AM: Article done. On to the next one.

8:30AM: Friend arrives. Waits in line to get cup of coffee. I’m not one to let a friend wait alone so I hop back in. I believe the barista is impressed by my coffee drinking abilities. Hard to say. I make the smartest decision of the morning and opt for decaf.

9:00AM: Apparently decaf still packs a caffeinated punch – either that or the other drinks are beginning to catch up to me. I feel as though I possess limitless amounts of energy and productivity.

10:00AM: Conversation over. I rip through the rest of the second article and head for home. Decaf in tow. Hands jittery. Starbucks card down a grand total of $5.15.

Starbucks and I have an interesting relationship. When I’m in search of a good cup of black gold, I’m a monogamist – heading straight to the first sign of the Siren. She’s a polygamist, servicing hundreds of thousands of individuals everyday with expensive coffee drinks that last for 15 syllables and take two breaths to pronounce.

But I love it.

Sure, I’m open to other coffee chains, and I realize that there are other places that serve potentially better cups of coffee. Still, I spend countless amount of dollars at Starbucks every year culminating in winter when the good ‘ol red cups don shopping plazas and coffee tables alike.

October 10, 2011 marked a big day in my relationship with Starbucks. I hit Gold Card status which equates to spending roughly 25% of a year’s salary on mochas, frappuccinos, and venti coffees. After speaking with several clients, I was quick to realize that not only did this Gold Card offer relatively few benefits – namely a free drink every 12 purchases. It cost me a fortune.

I’m well aware that I could save a good amount of money by driving past the coffee conglomerate. But, I don’t care. Here’s why: coffee is one of those things that I enjoy, and I’m completely fine with spending money on it. Another one: good beer. I’ll pass up a Miller Light in favor of a good craft brew 90% of the time provided it’s early enough that I can taste the difference.

Starbuck-aholics get their caffeine fix under the posh roof for one of two reasons: they enjoy good coffee OR they just want to be cool and hip.

I’ll confess I’m a little of both. The coffee is delectable, but there’s also something cool about sitting at a coffee shop and writing or working. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important. Take surfing Facebook for instance. At home, I’m wasting time on my computer. At Starbucks, I’m increasing my social media presence.

Starbucks has created an allure of importance and a cultish following hooking followers that are caffeine addicts like myself and gaining traction from individuals that hate coffee. They do it with the environment, the friendly baristas that know your order, the free wi-fi, and the whole experience they create.

It’s got me hook, line, and sinker…and they know it too.

Enjoy Starbucks? Hate it? What’s your favorite drink? I want to hear it in the comments below.

Four Ways to Increase Your Presence on Twitter

how-to-change-your-twitter-handle-788565cdc8Twitter is currently taking over as a major news and networking site. The number of active Twitter users is actively on the rise, passing 200 million in December of 2012. Chances are, if you watched the Olympics last year or any of the presidential debates, you tweeted your thoughts, feelings, and funny moments in 140 characters for the entire world to see. The amount of traffic on Inauguration Day in 2013 even crashed Twitter for some users disabling them from sharing their thoughts, hashtags, and @ replies to the world.

It’s getting hard to avoid at this point. Heck, every Senator and 90% of House members are now tweeting their thoughts and feelings.

Twitter can be an extremely effective tool for creating and delivering your brand as well as networking with top professionals. The problem? Many individuals aren’t using it correctly. Is your Twitter profile important for your brand and reputation? Absolutely.

A quick Google search for my name listed my Twitter profile as the seventh listing down, after my LinkedIn profile, website, and several author bios on a variety of sites. Yours may be even higher.

www.google.com 2013-1-22 7:32:36

If you’re looking to strictly improve your search results and you have your own personal website, I highly recommend finishing up your Google + profile. Who knows how long the network will stay alive, but it will help with your Google results. Here’s an awesome article from Brian Gardner on claiming your Google authorship of your site.

So, you realize Twitter may be important in helping you develop your brand, whether you’re a personal trainer, sales rep for a nutrition company, doctor, or just someone looking to network. What now? Here are the top tools to help you develop your own brand in 140 characters or less.

Finding Who to Follow

In order to network with top industry professionals, you have to be following someone along the way. Following others is the quickest way to gain interaction. You’ll be on top of the latest news in your particular niche. Here are some tools to figure out who to read and follow.

Listorious

While I don’t use Listorious a ton, it can be extremely useful for anyone starting out or just looking to change up their social media presence. It highlights the top Twitter users (ranked by influence and stats) and subdivides them into categories. Many of the profiles listed are going to be celebrities and top brands. That doesn’t matter. If they are in your niche, follow them anyway.

Tweepi

This may be one of the easiest ways to connect with people who share your same passions and interest. For instance, say you’re extremely interested in health and fitness. Adam Bornstein (@BornFitness) is a key player in the health and fitness realm on social networks. Tweepi allows you to follow individuals that are following Adam, as well as see who Adam is following himself. This is a great opportunity to expand your network and interact with others.

*Note: Tweepi now makes it mandatory to sign up for a membership – something I hate. But, it’s worth it for the amount of information it provides.

Managing Your Twitter Account

There are tons of apps out there to help you manage your social media presence. Here are two I love:

HootSuite

hootsuite_icon

Many of the top brands and individuals use HootSuite as a method to managing their Twitter presence. On top of just Twitter, HootSuite allows you to manage Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other top networks from the same app. They also make the screen extremely easy to follow.

On top of that, HootSuite just added a new feature called auto-schedule which takes into account peak volume of your social network and schedules your posts accordingly. I’ve used it intermittently in the past few weeks. I can’t really say it’s unbelievably effective right now, but only time will tell.

Tweetbot

Screen-Shot-2012-03-13-at-18.13.35In the search for the most user-friendly app out there, I stumbled across and currently predominantly use Tweetbot – and for one primary reason: lists. While your Twitter stream is constantly updating with mindless ramblings intermixed with sponsored stories from top brands, it can be hard to keep up with the people you actually care to hear about. Lists are extremely effective at narrowing down the individuals you follow, and I haven’t seen an app display them better than Tweetbot.

Finding Tweetable Content

This greatly depends on your particular niche, and the direction you’re headed with your content. Here are a few ideas:

Mashable – technology, business, and viral content

SInce it’s updated constantly all day with social media and tech pieces, this is almost a no-brainer. Anyone involved in that space likely already peruses the site for interesting info. Choose a few articles and tweet them out. Mashable also includes indicators to let you know what’s going viral and what’s not.

Fast Company – business, innovation, and technology content.

This is a relatively new one that I’ve stumbled upon. They have a great compilation of interesting content that is broken down into several categories.

Storify – a quick search yields the top stories being discussed across the internet

Want to find out what the top brands and individuals are tweeting out? Enter a keyword into the search up to and Storify will dig for the best stories out there so far.

Huffington Post – breaking news and popular blog columns

As one of the largest online sources for breaking news, the HuffPost is constantly being updated with columns, articles, and news stories. If you want to find out what’s happening in the world, check here.

Forbes – Best for: business, technology

Forbes is a leading business site. I haven’t used a ton of their content since the majority of my interests come from health and fitness, but a few of the articles due cross the boundaries.

Perhaps the best method of finding tweetable content comes from your own RSS feed or Google reader. When you find a site or blog that peaks your interest, add it to your RSS reader. Search through the accumulated files on a weekly basis and tweet out interesting findings.

Need to update your reader? Here are some to start you off.

Scheduling Posts

Posting all of your thoughts and interesting articles at one time can backfire. Inundating your followers with information can lead to being unfollowed. Spreading information out throughout the day both increases your presence by increasing the amount of times you tweet throughout the day while also delivering content in a digestible format. As I mentioned above, Hootsuite has an autoschedule to help you space out your posts. Another option is to use Buffer.

Buffer

images-3Buffer is an app that allows you to set designated times to send out your tweets. While you’re perusing informative content, you can add the interesting pieces to your buffer and the app will send them out at scheduled intervals. With the Pro (paid) version of Buffer, you can dictate different times for different days in case you want to post differently on the weekdays vs. weekends.

So, how are you using Twitter? Has it been helpful in increasing your brand or distributing your product? And, of course, follow me on Twitter

Attitudes, Viewpoints, and Why the DMV Actually Isn’t That Terrible

The other day, I had the fortunate opportunity to take a huge chunk of my afternoon and devote it solely to getting new tags for my car. Apparently, you’re legally obligated to do that within three months of moving into a new state. Not to be one to waste my day for some silly tags that weren’t even near the expiration date in the first place, I waited eight before bowing my head and heading for the land of long lines and pissed off individuals.
Tell nearly anyone that you’re headed to the DMV, and you’re bound to hear nightmarish stories that would make even Stephen King shudder in his sheets. Friends and coworkers will go on and on about the terrible wait, misinformed workers, and hoops you must jump through in order to follow some crumby state laws. My experience was no different. After mentioning that I was headed to the department of motor vehicles and crying adults, I had several people tell me they were sorry or jokingly jab a “have fun” while I headed out of work.

After hearing of such experiences, I was shocked when I was in and out within 30 minutes holding a new registration and plates in hand. To my surprise, the lady was calm, nice, and understanding when it took so long for me to produce the required documents. Hell, she even let me run out to my car when I forgot my proof of insurance. No one was yelling. There were only about 12-15 other people in a line that was moving quite speedily along. An officer stood at the front door calmly directing customers to the appropriate lines and ticket dispensers.

If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I had ended up at the wrong place after all.

Now, I’ll admit I owe much of my success to my girlfriend, who had gone through the same process about a month prior and passed along all of the juicy details on what to bring, where to go, and who to see. Because of her, I knew I needed to go get an emissions test done before heading to the DMV or else I would get turned away (like she had before).

But, the point is that the DMV is one of the most stereotyped offices on the face of the planet. Nearly everyone I spoke with had a negative opinion of the whole encounter. All of the experiences were about the time that they were sent away and had to return later to wait in a never-ending line because they were missing some trivial piece of information.

Two things prevented my experience from being horrific. First, my girlfriend had tipped me off as previously mentioned. Second, I took a few moments to call ahead and ask a very helpful receptionist about the documents I needed for my adventure.

Now, not only was I armed with the papers necessary to make this whole thing happen, but she also tipped me off that anyone paying with card had to pay an extra 3% of their bill. Completely understandable – yes. Would that piss you off if you didn’t know ahead of time – most definitely. With the stack of papers under my arm and wallet in hand, I proceeded to have a fantastic experience. I even had enough time in the afternoon to write a few blog posts, go for a run with the dogs, and make dinner (okay – Charlotte made dinner but I was encouraging from the sidelines).

Adjusting Your Viewpoint on the DMV

The DMV is just one example of a negative stereotype that pervades our society. Theme park lines could be another one to parents that are tired of taking their kids to stand in lines in the hot sun and pay for overpriced food. The main gist is a overwhelming negative attitude that contagiously affects everyone and anyone that hears about your particular experience.

Picture hearing about Disney world from an eight year old. You’d likely leave the conversation with the idea in mind that Disney is indeed the most magical place on earth. Now, picture hearing about the same place from a father of four that just spent half of this year’s earnings on a hotel, day park passes, and cheese fries to feed his minions while riding It’s a Small World more times than he could possibly stomach.

Get the picture?

Your experiences dictate your viewpoint on people, places, and services. It’s your civil duty to pass along your thoughts and experiences to others lest they suffer the same plight. However, in the land of the DMV, there are far more grumpy fathers than there are eight year-olds.

Picture walking into the bank.

You’re running late for a friend’s party, but you want to stop by and grab some cash to have for a night out. You walk in. Stand in line for five minutes before reaching a teller. You reach for your wallet and start to panic. Not only did you forget your check that you wanted to deposit, but you also forgot your wallet. Since you need your ID for the night out, you grudgingly walk out of the bank and rush home to grab your financials before heading back to the bank just before closing to hop back in line and get the cash you want.

Now, do you storm off and tell your friends what a damn nightmare the bank is? Probably not. Do you complain about the tons of items they forced you to bring just to do one simple thing – deposit your check? Do you blame the teller for not being helpful and sending you away without your wallet? Of course not.

But, when the customer service representative at the DMV tells you that you need to return with your proof of insurance or your registration before renewing your tags, you go off the deep end and vow that the place must be full of morons with the sole purpose of ruining your day.

Your Attitude Means the World to Someone

Alright, enough about the DMV. The whole purpose of this post is not to convince you that the DMV is a little corner of heaven. Rather, it’s to help you realize the importance of your perspective and how it can influence the masses. Somewhere, someone had the first negative experience at a DMV. Maybe the service wasn’t even that bad, but instead, that individual was having a bad day and was easily pissed off. They told a bunch of their closest friends over dinner about how dreadful the damn place really is.

Then something happened. One of those friends went to go to the DMV. Immediately upon walking in the front door, he remembered the horrors of his buddy’s encounter. Without even realizing it, he shifted his opinion and expected terrible service.

One thing that’s definitely true about opinions: it’s hard to reverse a negative one once it’s firmly established in someone’s mind. Ergo, that individual had a poor experience irregardless of the quality of service.

It’s akin to the first time you ate broccoli as a kid. Maybe you heard from someone else just how terribly it really tasted or perhaps just the idea of eating something green gave you shivers. There it was sitting on your plate for dinner and you couldn’t help but think about how terribly it was going to taste. Maybe you ended up liking broccoli. Maybe you didn’t. The point is it wasn’t nearly as bad as you anticipated.

The same goes for the DMV and any other experience you have. Our perceptions are based on several things – namely our own previous experiences and those of ones we trust. Far too often, we let the opinions of others cloud our perception on our own experiences. Therefore, others end up making the decision about how much we enjoy a certain movie or how good the food really was at that crappy restaurant.

Forming Your Own Perspective

Don’t let others influence your own opinion. It’s hard to do, especially from close friends and confidants that you really trust. It’s imperative that you form your own thoughts and viewpoints with the consideration of others in mind. Bring an open attitude to each situation and avoid falling prey to the common associations like dynamite and the DMV. You truly don’t know what kind of experience you’ll have unless you go in with an open mind.

Oh, and stop criticizing the DMV. Do your homework. Call ahead or surf the internet and prepare your documents ahead of time.

Have you ever wanted to burn down the DMV or Disney World or both? Have you ever been surprised by an experience you thought was going to be negative? Tell me about it below!

Finding the Perfect Padding, Spacing, and Formatting for Your Life

railroad-to-nowhere

A few weeks ago, I posted a lifestyle development piece titled “Double-Spacing Your Life” which focused on giving yourself more room for enjoyment in your life and less room for worry. I received a lot of great feedback on that piece so I thought I would expand the thoughts and analogies between writing and lifestyle design.

Building Padding and Spacing in Your Life

Remember when you were younger and reading a long novel like Wuthering Heights? You flipped through pages, hoping to reach the end of a chapter so you can finally put the book down when you stumble upon a few pages with constant streaming text – no paragraph separation, no spaces, just words. It’s almost as if the author wanted to drive you absolutely insane. You count the pages until the next chapter only to realize there are several other dreadful full-paged doubles in the near future.

With the constant struggle for success (more money, power, relationships, and what not), the masses are constantly encouraged to work more to make more leaving them powerless to a schedule that includes hours upon hours of work and little time for enjoyment with their loved ones. Padding makes your life – and a good book – easier to comprehend and enjoy. Including a few breaks in your day allows for time to recover and enjoy the simple pleasures in life like a good cup of coffee or a great craft beer.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon

Including time in your day for Walking Dead reruns or endless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy is easier said than done. We are slaves to schedules, planning out every individual moment of each day to ensure that we maximize our time and leave no moment wasted. It shouldn’t be so difficult to plan out things we enjoy, but in my opinion, we often feel guilty for taking time out for life’s little pleasures in fear that we are missing out on a shot at success.

Rather than scheduling your busy hours, I’ve found it helpful to schedule when you are not going to work. For instance, I’m going to sleep in on Sundays rather than wake up and write. For me, Sundays are my Saturdays being that I have Sunday/Monday off as a non-traditional weekend. Monday, I’ll get up like normal and work, but Sundays are reserved for a little sleeping in and a huge brunch (I’m talking monster.).

Set Your Own Working Rules

If you have the liberty, set the times that you’re going to take it easy and not feel guilty. Maybe you aren’t going to work late at night. Whatever it is, set the rules and follow them. Then, don’t feel bad when you take the time off and enjoy it with your loved ones.

Formatting Your Perfect Life

The majority of Americans are moving along working their daily jobs hoping everything works out perfectly. They follow the same mundane schedule, work till 5pm, pick up the kids from daycare, help them with homework, make dinner, and fall asleep exhausted and somewhat less eager to tackle the next day. It’s similar to having someone else pack your luggage before you go on a trip then getting to your destination pissed off that everything you wanted wasn’t included. If you want to have all of your favorite clothing items in your bag, you better pack it yourself.

Similarly, if you want to live the life of your dreams, you better plan it out in advance. Nothing great ever happens by chance. Awhile back, I wrote a post about planning out your mornings for more success and productivity. That process extends far beyond the hours of 6AM and 10AM.

Living the lifestyle of your dreams doesn’t happen by chance. It requires intense planning, forecasting, and visualization. Do you want to be working three full days and have a four day weekend every week? If so, you better identify a career early on that leaves such a lax work schedule available. Do you like flexible work hours or more of a rigid schedule? All of those choices reflect the past decisions you’ve made.

The most powerful tool for forecasting your perfect life in the future is visualization. What kind of house do you want to have? How comfortable do you want to live? Are you okay with a modest income or do you need a substantial spending account for luxury items? Take a second to think about everything you hope to accomplish then set plans in effect to make those things happen. The worst thing you could do is bust your ass for a job that leads you to a life you don’t want to live.

Live Spaciously

I’m a huge believer in creating personal space within your day – time to reflect or do whatever the heck it is you want to do. Don’t live like an old novel: packed with great information that everyone is too intimidated to read. Instead, live with the space to watch endless reruns of Bones on Netflix or go for a walk without having to worry about work deadlines. In fact, stop worrying all together. It isn’t productive at all.

Stop worrying and start scheduling times when you aren’t going to work. It’s far more effective than scheduling tasks or work items. If you schedule work duties, they will expand to fill the time you have sectioned off. Instead, schedule times when you’re going to take a break and abide by them religiously.

Thoughts? Comments? Are you going to start scheduling times not to work? Let me hear it in the comments below!

On Writing…and Sex

I began writing as a whim but it has turned into quite the passion. What started as a lowly little blog on WordPress has turned into a passion that has translated to a secondary (hopefully primary) career opportunity. I’m still amazed to look back at prior blog posts or written articles. I often laugh so hard just reading the sentence structure and word choice. I think back to how difficult it was to put pen to paper and drum up some ideas to jot down.

I’ve gotten quite a few questions on writing and blogging. My own personal blog hasn’t made it big time and still attracts a very modest amount of views but, I have had considerable success improving my writing process and making it into some mainstream online media sites. The journey was painful to say the least. I sat at my desk many of mornings with a full cup of coffee and an empty head staring at a blinking cursor.

I’m a huge fan of analogies. I use them daily to explain the process of personal training and why everyone should invest their hard-earned money in three months of coaching.

Writing is a lot like sex.

Why? Let me explain.

Your first time will likely turn out terrible.

You won’t know what the heck you’re doing or what words to put where. You’ll likely be embarrassed by your first time. That’s okay. You aren’t going to show it to anyone. Hide it, but review it for further practice for next time.

I still remember the first blog post that I wrote. I detailed a new show by Jamie Oliver that highlighted the crisis of cafeteria food in our school system and sought to educate and improve school lunches. I thought the show was informative and awesome so naturally it seemed like a good topic to put out on the blog. The writing was forced, choppy, and didn’t flow well together. That’s completely okay.

Through reading the work of other writers and tons of practice, you will get better.

Different strokes for different folks.

Your style is going to be different than everyone else. When I first started reading blogs on the internet, I was immediately hooked on the quirky and sarcastic posts by none other than Tony Gentilcore. He exudes wittiness and a smart-ass but extremely intelligent demeanor in all of his blogs. No matter the topic, he manages to get me to read all the way to the end. That’s a skill that needs to be developed. A few others that I caught on to right away were JC Deen, John Romaniello, and Roger Lawson. They all have a different language that they use with readers. In the beginning, I tried to emulate their style, but I’m just not the same person they are. It was far too forced, and I couldn’t drum up jokes and jabs on a whim.

Use other writers as an example of what is possible. Don’t try to emulate them to a “t”. Your writing should sound natural. Practice the style of writing that makes you feel comfortable.

Is this going to be a one-night stand or something that lasts?

Are you starting a blog or writing to make money or just to express your thoughts and let your family members know how you’re doing? Making this choice in the beginning dictates what you write about, the look and feel of your site, and how you approach your blog. Those looking to make money need to blog fairly often but spend even more time on promotion of their posts and hitting mainstream.

Now, I’ll be forthright and honest – I have no intention of making money through my own personal website or blog. Honestly, I think anyone that sets up a personal blog to make an outlandish amount of money is a bit insane. The blogs that make a lot of money are those that serve a huge audience like ProBlogger (which is directed towards – you guessed it – bloggers). If you have a website domain, say JeremeyDuVall.com, you’re mainly going to attract people that care to check out what you have to say, which in my case is perfectly fine with me. You may be different.

Your answer to this question may change throughout the history of your blog. Originally, I wanted to pull in some expendable income through my site. Just realize that if you eventually want to make your blog profitable, you can’t be writing about Aunt Matilda’s grey sweater that she got you for Christmas. That doesn’t serve a huge audience. Figure out who the blog is for and write accordingly.

Practice, practice, practice.

Just like in the sheets, it’s hard to get better at anything by just watching the highlight reels. You have to get your hands dirty. I’ll write about anything – honestly. You just may not get a chance to read it. Experiment with different styles of writing in order to see which ones suit your personality. If you want to put them up on a blog for feedback, go for it. Just realize that these posts may have a splatter affect since they might not be related to each other. In my case, I’ve set my blog up to be open to a variety of posts. If your blog is about fitness, but you want to write a short fiction piece, it probably doesn’t fit with the other posts on your blog. (Note: It can be done. Roman did it and received exceptional praise BUT he had a goal in mind – his product.)

Here’s some good advice from Lou Schuler (an award-winning journalist and author):

As you can imagine, my own view of writing is more nuanced. I think there’s a process, which I compare to learning a sport like basketball.

Writing a blog about whatever is the equivalent of practicing shots in your driveway. You spend some time on free throws, and you also screw around with trick shots that you’d never use in a game. But if you want to get good, at some point you have to play with others. Writing for pay is the equivalent of joining a team. You have someone else calling the plays, and if you want to stay on the team you have to run those plays.

Borrowed from Jon Goodman’s post Should You Write for Free.

Don’t just lay there. Do something.

The best piece of writing I ever received came from a book called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

What’s this bird talk have to do with you writing a blog post or an article? Writer’s block is real – and it’s going to hit you at some point if you write long enough. Writing can be a real pain in the ass when you absolutely have to get something done but just can’t seem to put words to paper. It’s frustrating to say the least. The process of taking the piece ‘bird by bird’ means formulating the article one piece at a time. Don’t focus on the entire post as it will be overwhelming. Direct your attention on putting sentences on the page one at a time. Don’t even worry about if they go together perfectly. Hopefully, no one reads your first draft anyway. Just focus on getting your thoughts on paper then review them later and polish them up. Rather than allowing yourself to get frustrated, work on the post ‘word by word’ and write something.

Oh the mistakes I’ve made…

I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way transitioning from the kid that hated English class to a guy that wants to write full-time. Don’t make the same ones:

Read your work before you publish (out loud if possible).

I’ll admit: I hate to proofread my posts before I submit them to editors or publish them on the blog. On the blog, I don’t really care if I have some things misspelled. Published works are different. Learn to always reread your works before someone else stumbles across your mistakes. If you aren’t in a public place like Starbucks (or if you don’t particularly care), read your articles out loud. You’ll get a true feel for how they sound.

Don’t end your sentences with a preposition. They’re terrible to look at.

This is almost as faux pas as sleeping with your best friend’s sister. You just don’t do it.

Stop misspelling common words.

Learn the differences between their and there, effect and affect, it’s and its, and other common words created to trip you up. Here’s your guide from The Oatmeal.

Learning everything else

Want to figure out how to start your own blog or get published in your first magazine? Here are some resources to get you started:

Start-a-Fitness-Blog-BlueprintStart a Fitness Blog Blueprint

You could be the best personal trainer in the world but it doesn’t matter if nobody knows who you are. Blogging is the best way to get known and generate countless passive income streams.It’s a confusing and time-consuming world. This book starts with the steps you need to set up your website and continues with systems on everything you need to know to become a blogging pro and set up tons of passive income streams to last a lifetime.

how-to-get-published1How to Get Published in the Fitness Industry

Three of the fitness industry’s top writers and editors – Lou Schuler, Sean Hyson, and John Romaniello – show you how to improve your skills, build an audience, get the attention of magazine editors, create a revenue-generating business, and even achieve the ultimate recognition of your expertise: a published book

Alright, that was a humorous jab at what I’ve learned over the past two years of blogging and writing.Do you have ambitions of writing for a fitness magazine or just writing in general? Pass along your best resources. I love to read difference sources and would love to hear your thoughts!

Looking Ahead to 2013

Well, the ball has dropped again in Times Square unleashing a new year. After everyone awakes from their sleepy hangover and ventures back out into the world on the 2nd of January, they’ll be planning and scheming how to make 2013 even better than any year previous. To say that 2012 was a success would be a vast understatement. I’ve been fortunate to explore many different business avenues, publish a ton of blog posts, and network with top professionals. Here’s a run-down:

I published over 57 different articles.

If you would have told me I would have this much success in writing and publishing in 2012, I would have called you crazy. To someone that had a hard time making it through English class during high school and college, writing seemed like a very daunting task not to mention creating new ideas and somehow separating yourself from everyone else out there looking to see their name in print and online.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to network with a few top individuals in the fitness industry that have allowed me to do the things I did in the previous year, but it wasn’t without road bumps along the way. The opportunity that started this whole thing was a contributing writer position open at Greatist.com. I applied once, working on two pieces until I thought they were nearly perfect, but was deflated when I received an e-mail saying that I wasn’t selected for the position. Well, if I learned one thing, persistence pays off. I reapplied and rewrote the two posts. Being selected to write for Greatist was one of the best things that could have happened as it launched a part-time career in writing that has taken my professional aspirations in a completely different direction.

There will be many more to come in 2013. Probably not the same quantity as much of my focus in the new year will be hitting bigger avenues and expanding my writing portfolio to topics outside of fitness.

Here are some of my favorites in 2012 that deserve a read if you haven’t had time to check them out:

I Want to…Run a Half-Marathon – I consider this to be one of the best pieces I have written so far.

Three Strength Standards for Men – How do you stack up?

I graduated with a Master’s Degree.

With all of the chaos that ensues moving across the country, starting a new job, and building up clientele, the fact that I graduated with a Master’s degree somehow gets lost in my mind. It’s not until I check out my diploma that it really hits home. After six exhausting years at the University of Florida, I can finally say that there will be no more official schooling in my future. I’m extremely thankful to several key individuals that convinced me to continue my academic career after my Bachelor’s degree. Although my career will likely go in a different direction that Human Performance, the relationships built and discipline developed during my tenure as a Gator will forever stay with me throughout my life.

I started this blog.

I started to blog back in 2011 at a domain titled JDStrength.com. After many blog posts and tireless hours spent with the design, I decided to shut it down in October of 2012 and start this site JeremeyDuVall.com. That choice was made for several reasons, one of which was name recognition within the industry. To some, it seems a little crazy to shut down 1.5 years of hard work that eventually built up JDStrength to an average day of 200-300 visits (which definitely isn’t much, but it was growing quickly). I made that decision after really sitting down and figuring out what the hell I want to do with all of this writing. In the end, I decided that I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in fitness. I’m interested in a variety of other topics that don’t include the gym (namely cooking, coffee, social media, marketing, and lifestyle design). By changing my blog name, I’ve freed myself to write about a variety of topics not limited to fitness. Sure, I don’t get nearly as much traffic because I don’t really care about my SEO or the ranking of my blog posts.

The only thing I care about is how beneficial the pieces are to those that read them. 

This blog serves two purposes: informational and as a resume or calling card for my freelance services. As a result of switching my domain, my average visit duration (on Google Analytics) has gone from 30 seconds at JDStrength to over 2 minutes. If you come here and read my work, it’s because you care about what I have to say. That’s what matters to me, not the total number of hits I get.

Picture or it didn't happen.

To top of 2012, here are two of my favorite blog posts that I wrote on this site (my personal favs not by traffic or likes):

How to Fail at Twitter

Rock the First Hour of Your Day

Reverse Engineering Happiness – I consider this to be one of the most important posts I have out there.

We moved across the country.

After much debate and countless hours scouring the internet for jobs, my girlfriend and I decided to move to Denver and train full-time for Life Time Fitness. We threw all of our stuff in a U-Haul and made the two day (30 hour) trek across the country. In hindsight, we couldn’t have made a better choice. The people we have been able to meet in Denver have been nothing short of incredible. The city is absolutely amazing and happens to have one of the densest populations of microbrews in the world which can never be a bad thing. I’m surviving my first snow-filled winter, and we’re both blessed to work at a gym that really embodies a holistic view of health and wellness. Best of all, the move brought us both closer together as a couple, and I couldn’t ask for more. 

We did a photo shoot.

If you have no other fitness goals, but want to stay motivated, make a date for someone to take shirtless pictures of you in a gym setting. If that isn’t enough motivation, I don’t know what is. After debating back and forth, Charlotte and I decided to do a photo shoot in November of 2012. To say it was grueling would be an understatement. Foregoing the delectable treats of the holidays was torture. But, we made it. For details on how that shoot turned out, check out this blog post:

The Pursuit of Aesthetics

Looking forward to 2013.

I am determined to make 2013 even better than 2012. Here are some of my professional goals in the new year:

  • Get my name in a print magazine. I have my first print article coming out in February/March of this year. Plan to see a lot more of me in print coming soon.
  • Work full-time in writing. I want to eventually transition to a content manager or staff writer position at a digital or print media company. Training will always be part of my life. However, writing has become such a big part of my life that I want to pursue it full-time. Ideally, I want to combine both so I can utilize my past experiences in a staff writer position.
  • Write about something other than fitness. I’m going to expand my portfolio to include non-fitness pieces. Get excited.
  • Contribute to this blog at least once a week. Look forward to posts about writing, lifestyle design, and stress management.
  • Network and help others succeed. Your network is your net worth. Figure out how to help others and you’ll succeed in return.

And now for my personal goals of 2013:

  • Explore my passions and become inexplicable knowledgeable and good at them. This includes brewing coffee and beer. You can look forward to posts detailing the process of both.
  • Read a book a month. Up this month: The Power of Habit
  • Learn more about finance. When it comes to investing, I’m as green as they come. Some of the books I’ll be reading will be about financing and investing…you know, to round out my personality.
  • Spend more time doing nothing. Well, to clarify, I mean more time doing the things I want to do with Charlotte. This year has been marked by less sleep and more work. I’m going to reverse that trend in 2013.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for a wonderful 2012. If you’ve ever liked, shared, commented on, or tweeted any of my posts, you’ve contributed to my success immensely. I’m so glad that I can help others with what I do.

To help me help you more during the new year, I need you to comment below with what topics interest you. What do you want to see on here?