Q+A Part 2: Blog Stuff [Growing, Making Money, etc.]

 Any advice on finding paid writing work as a brand new blogger?

First and foremost, I always tell people that if you’re starting a blog because you think it’s a good way to make a side income, you’re looking at an uphill climb. I’ve been blogging for almost five years, and I’d say it’s just been within the past year and a half that I started making a steady “paycheck.” Prior to that, it was random $75 gigs here and there, or more frustratingly, I was writing for a free sample (keyword: free.)

While there is NOTHING wrong with writing for a free sample, it’s a lot of work for peanuts. Unfortunately, as a brand new blogger, I think working for peanuts is a given until you’re able to build an audience and a track record. Stick with it!


via my HIRE ME page

That said, I suggest applying to marketing networks like Clever Girls, Pollinate Media, and Mode Media. These are the main three I work with, but there are tons of other marketing networks out there! Most of them require an application process where you’ll be asked to provide things like monthly page views and numbers of followers on various social media channels.

Another option is always writing for other publications (i.e. Scary Mommy) who will pay you for original content. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at your favorite websites and magazines!

How did you grow your blog?

I get super weird about answering questions about “growing” my blog, because even though I’ve been at this for almost five years, I’m not a big, successful blogger by any stretch of the imagination, so I feel unqualified to offer advice. That said, it has grown over the years, and it’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication (because I’ve wanted to quit a million times.)

When I think about it, my blog has seen the most growth in the past 18 months because I finally hit my stride. I’ve found my voice, and I don’t attempt to emulate other bloggers like I used to. I forever wanted to blog like Julie or Courtney, but – newsflash! – I’m not either of them. Once I became okay with my style of blogging, people started to notice and stick around.

I also grew my blog by writing for other publications. For example, when this post was published on Scary Mommy, I gained several hundred followers on Instagram within 24 hours, and since then my blog traffic has reflected a significant increase as well.

Lastly, I’ve created genuine relationships with other bloggers, readers, and brands. As soon as I realized the value and power of a girl tribe, I went after it!

What blogs do you read every day?


1. Megan

2. Julie

3. Melissa 

4. Courtney 

5. Stephanie 

I read lots of blogs and websites, but these are the 5 that I check every morning while I eat breakfast :)

I’d love to know some of your favorite blogs! 

Double Dipping (With a Twist)

Oh, thank the LORD, it’s Friday! Dude, it has been one of those weeks. Like, the kind when it’s noon on Monday and you’re like, Seriously, is it the weekend yet? 

I’ve done a poor job this week balancing blog writing and freelance deadlines, so I’m going to double dip with a twist today. I’ve been having a blast being a contributor at Best Kept Self for the best few months, and I’ve written some of my favorite articles over there. Maybe you’ve seen them, but I thought it’d be neat to give you a few sentences about the why behind my three favorites.

5 reasonsI actually wrote FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD DO THAT THING THAT SCARES YOU as a pep talk to myself because there is something I’ve had on my mind and heart for about a year now, but I’m scared. I’ve been letting Fear drive and I’ve talked myself out of it for way too long!

positive thinkingThe past month has not been an easy one for me. It’s been the worst, actually. I’ve been having an extremely difficult time maintaining a positive attitude, which is so uncharacteristic of me. I wrote FOUR WAYS TO HONE YOUR POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING because I needed to remind myself that I have the ability to make my own happiness, even when it’s hard and feels impossible.

mil I really like this article I wrote about WHY MILLENNIALS MAKE EXCELLENT ENTREPRENEURIAL CANDIDATESI think Millennials get a bad wrap for no good reason. Our older counterparts tend to think we’re all whiny and in need of constant approval, but it’s so far from the truth.

So that’s that! If you read them, I’d honestly love your feedback. It’s been fun flexing my writing muscles and discussing topics that don’t necessarily fit on The Lunchbox Diaries. I hope you like them!

Have a fantastic weekend, friends!


PS – If you’re a Twined user like myself, please help them out by taking this quick survey! They’re giving away ten $25 Amazon gift cards as a thank you :)



Friday Shout Outs [7.10.15]

Happy Friday, my friends! I’m sorry I missed Shout Outs last week – I wasn’t able to get it all done and scheduled before leaving for our trip to Florida. But without further adieu, here are some people who stood out to me this week!

shout outs



I’ve been following Megan since her Sunshine ‘n Spice blogging days, but this shout out is specifically for her Instagram account. I’ve literally watched Megan transform her body over the years, and I’m creepily so proud of someone I’ve never met ~*IRL*~. But what I’m most proud of is how she’s been so open about her struggle with anxiety. Megan could easily just post pictures of her amazing body with a caption like #beastmode but she really spills her guts and opens up about how lifting has been her healthy coping mechanism for her battle with anxiety. If you just look at her, you might think I could never relate to someone who looks so perfect but she’s a shining example of embracing her human side and preaching “progress, never perfection.” She inspires me and I adore her!



Lindsay and Tim are a wife + husband duo who have dedicated their lives to helping others get healthy. I’m part of their current 60 day challenge, and it’s a totally free (private) accountability group on Facebook where they provide support, advice, and a sense of community for people on their healthy-living journey. It’s awesome! This specific shout out is for Lindsay, because not only has she inspired me, but her recent transformation “after baby” has caught the attention of the big wigs at BeachBody, and they’ve asked to talk to her in person this month! Again, I’m so proud!



I have to give Lindsay a shout out because she’s so nice. Earlier this week, I sent her a scatter-brained email out of the blue asking her about blog things, and she responded to me within minutes. I’m actually shocked by how quickly she responded, because she wrote me an in-depth, candid email and I am so appreciative! Some big-time bloggers take days, even weeks to respond, and I was simply impressed by her kindness, candor, and willingness to help me.

Friday Shout Outs 6.26.15

Friday Shout Outs

Before I decided to stay home with Jack, I worked for a great company, although it was unique in the fact that most of us were spread across several states. I’m all for boosting employee morale, so one thing my boss let me implement was a Friday Shout Out email.

I’d email the entire company every Thursday, asking for “shout outs.” I encouraged everyone to be on the lookout each week to ‘catch’ their co-workers doing awesome things. I’d then compile all the shout outs and send them out first thing Friday morning. I thought it was a fun way to lift up and encourage one another!

I miss my Friday Shout Outs, so I figured I’d bring the idea over to the blog. So without further adieu, here’s who I caught being great this week!

shout outs

// JENNIFER // When I just so happened to see that Jenn was offering a free ecourse titled 7 Days to Self Employed, I jumped on that bandwagon real quick. I’ve started every morning this week with Jenn’s lesson of the day, spending time thinking on her “homework” and basically being overly inspired by what she’s doing. I love when women follow their passions and do what they love. It’s brave and cool and I dig it. (While this ecourse is already in session, I know she has future plans to distribute it to the masses, so stay turned!)

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.58.35 PM // ANGIE // Angie blogs over at My So-Called Chaos, and a few months ago she held a contest in which I was voted the winner in the “funniest blog” category (thank you everyone, your checks are in the mail.) My understanding was that I’d won a month of free ad space on her blog, and I was totally stoked! But Angie has gone above and beyond, not only giving me ad space on her blog, but she tweets about my posts, and she’s even doing an interview post with me. If you’re looking to invest in ad space with a fellow blogger, I’d HIGHLY suggest Angie!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 7.14.09 PM

// MEGAN // Megan’s blog is downright beautiful. She has gorgeous photos in every post and she’s a sublime writer. I’m always friend-jealous of how she partners with great brands in such creative ways, and it’s apparent to me that she’s a genuinely hard worker (she even started a podcast.) I just think she’s cool. Her dog, Ender, is also super cute, so there’s that.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 7.24.40 PM

That’s it for this Friday, folks! I could shout out from the roof tops about all my amazing, creative friends (and people I creepily follow who have no idea I exist) but we’ll just have to save them for future Fridays 😉 Have a great weekend!

Complaining vs. Bragging vs. Real Talk (?!)

Okay, real talk for a sec.

Since I started blogging, I’ve been called dramatic and a complainer on more than one occasion. To be honest, I totally get it. I tend to be over the top or to one extreme, but it’s intentional. When I choose to write about my “life” I’m really just taking a single moment or experience, putting it under a microscope, and sharing it with you. My whole life isn’t, like, THIS IS HARD AND IT SUCKS.

I write the kind of material that I enjoy reading, you know what I mean? I haaaate reading fluffy, happy, my-life-is-perfect blogs (or knowing those kind of people in real life.) It’s boring, and honestly makes me kind of uncomfortable. Like being in a fancy restaurant when all I really want is chicken tenders and fries.

If I wanted to believe that I was the only person in the world who spent her weekend binging OITNB covered in chip crumbs and/or was the only person who cannot figure out her good angle for a selfie, I’d stick to Instagram.


Here’s the thing: I think I have a really good life. Like, my life is so good I can’t even believe it sometimes. I’m hashtag blessed, man.

But if that was the angle of my blog, I’d be criticized for bragging. And to me, that’s THE WORST. In my opinion, the tackiest thing someone can be is a braggart.


Social media gives everyone the perfect opportunity to let the world view your life — but only the pretty parts. And I think that is such bull shit. Sure, my life is good, and yours probably is, too, but so what? I have no interest in having a pissing contest with the entire world about the pretty parts.

do have an interest in connecting and relating to people, to real life humans who mess up and have bad days and who feel like they don’t have this life thing figured out yet.

I want to know that you tried really hard for something, came up short, but lived to tell the tale. I want to know that you had a bad day and ugly cried on the phone with your mom and then came home and ate cereal for dinner because you just couldn’t “adult” for one more minute that day. I want to know that you’re a parent who sometimes lets ketchup count as a veggie or  can’t remember when you last bathed your infant (because how dirty can they get, really?)

I won’t think you’re a complainer for talking about your particular struggle (even if I can’t relate) and I won’t judge you for being dramatic when you tell me your day was thee worst ever (even though you and I both know it’ll all be fine after a good cry and a good night’s sleep.)

The worst I’ll do is think you’re human and want to be your friend.



Taking a Break

A break!? From what?!

I’m tearing a page out of Lindsay’s book and taking a break from the blog. 

Forever? Heck no! I’m stepping away for the month of August. I’m thinking of it as a summer break of sorts. I haven’t done this in the two and a half years that I’ve been blogging, and I think it’s needed.

I’m hoping I’ll come back in September with a fiery passion to pick up where I’m leaving off.

To my fellow internet voyeurs, don’t fret. I’ll still be on Instagram, Twitter, and maybe Facebook.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, my friends! I hope to see you back here in September! (If you subscribe to the blog, you won’t miss a beat when I return 😉 )

Blogger Guilt

I don’t know if this is a real thing that anyone else can relate to, but recently I’ve been feeling something that I’ve coined as blogger guilt.

It’s this feeling that I get when I don’t post 5 days a week because I either don’t have the time, creative energy, or desire to do so.

I think it’s closely related to the comparison trap.

I blog because I like writing, but apparently there are a few of you who enjoy reading this blog for entertainment, and that’s where some of my guilt comes in to play. Not keeping up, not entertaining, not being as creative as other bloggers.

SO DUMB, right?

I’m in awe of bloggers who post every day (or multiple times a day!) Seriously, I don’t know how they find the time, or lead such interesting lives which can produce entertaining blog material that often.

(FYI: What a blogger had for lunch does not qualify as interesting IMO)

I mean really, to be honest, I am not that interesting! I go to work, I eat the same boring foods every day, I go to the same workout classes, and sometimes I put a crude and/or humorous spin on a casual situation and then write about it.

As much as I tell myself, “Colleen, don’t be a dumb bitch. Your blog is so underwhelming, it truly doesn’t matter when you post” I still have a tiny bit of nagging when I don’t get to it, or frustration when I can’t think of anything interesting to say.

…And now you know how crazy I am.

Have any other bloggers experienced blogger guilt? Maybe if you’re not a blogger, you’ve felt this way about another aspect of your life?

Or maybe I’m just a diva.

Strange Search Terms

When I first started blogging, I was totally obsessed with my “site stats.” I’d check them daily, sometimes twice daily, to see where my measly stats stood.

These days, I check my site stats once a week? While I clearly look to see where my stats are, my real joy and entertainment comes from seeing the most popular search terms that lead people to my blog and guessing where they ended up.

Below are my weekly favorites:

It’s no secret I have a total girl crush on Jillian. I mention her on occasion.

I won’t lie, for a split second, I was embarrassed when I saw that several people got to my blog based on my poor fashion choices. Then I recalled which kind of “ugly sweater” people are looking for. Good thing I have thick skin 😉

Next up, story of my life:

Not sure, buddy. But I remember my first spray tan. Sounds almost as awkward as being totally nude.

What can I say? I’m honest ;)

Caps lock, OMG. Right?!

Let’s chat – Bloggers, any favorite “strange search terms” that led people to your blog?  

I’m Back!

Hello, friends! Oh my gosh, I can’t begin to express how I truly needed that break from blogging and not being fully “plugged in” to approximately 17 social media accounts at all times.

While I stepped away from the blog world, I was still fully existing and functioning in Real Life 😉 It’s amazing how much time I had to devote to other people and things when I took blogging off the to-do list.

– Cory and I made the trip up to Alexandria to spend Christmas Eve with my family. And I wasn’t overly concerned about snapping pictures for the blog. 

As a side note, my cousin Lindsay, who I adore, just chopped off all her hair and I couldn’t help but notice that we kind of sort of definitely look like sisters.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

– Cory and I hosted Christmas dinner at our new home! It was shockingly not stressful at all. While not everything went according to plan, I think we did a good job.


I even had extra time to dedicate to making the table cuter than I normally would have.

– I started a new hobby as a Stella & Dot stylist. I can’t tell you how much I love this jewelry. Seriously.


More on this later, but I have to gush about the fact that I’m able to work with ladies who want to host online shows. If you’re interested in hosting a jewelry show on your blog – email me!

– I’ve spent a lot of of down time here.

– I’ve spent time with my bestest friends, which is not something totally out of the ordinary, but I’ve been extra thankful and appreciative lately.

– And, because I dig honesty, I’ve also had a few struggles. We’re been beyond busy and I think I got to the point where I ran myself into the ground. More on that once we get into the New Year!

– Most importantly, I’ve indulged and not worried one single bit. Dessert? Sure! Sweet Frog twice in one week? Absolutely!

I know that I haven’t written a real post (unless you count this one) in almost two weeks, which is like, a year in the blog world. While I enjoyed every minute of my break, I’m ready and excited to be back. So, if you’re still here as a reader, I genuinely appreciate it.