Professional development

7 Creative Writing Apps Every Writer Needs

Whether you write for a living, for your blog, or just for regular email, it’s important to create quality content and work.

Regardless of your expertise, here are apps you need to excel as a writer.

Grammarly

Free and easy to use, Grammarly can be installed immediately on Google Chrome. Essentially, Grammarly is like your own virtual assistant for writing. This app can detect errors as you draft emails and offer suggestions for word choice, comma placement, and more. Additionally, Grammarly integrates with other project management platforms and social media.

Hemmingway Editor

Hemmingway Editor is an app that serves to help you create content that is bold and clear. It can easily be installed on your desktop and highlights even the most complex of grammatical errors in your content. 

The Brainstormer

The Brainstormer helps combat writer’s block by generating new ideas and topics to write about. With ideas regarding various topics, this app will help tap into your creative instincts with prompts to get you started, allowing thoughts to flow more naturally.

Wordbook

An easy and accessible dictionary, Wordbook allows you to search rapidly for language to use in its dictionary and thesaurus. It includes pronunciations and etymologies for increased understanding in addition to bookmarking and notetaking features to broaden your vocabulary and enrich your work.

Scrivener

An all in one solution, Scrivener allows writers across genres with long-form writing. More than a typical word processor, Scrivener includes different features like outlines and organizational tools, keyboard shortcuts, side by side editing, and much more. 

IA Writer

The perfect solution for shorter projects, IA Writer is a clean and distraction-free writing environment to focus your mind. Highlighting their plain text and total focus solution, this easy to use software serves as a word processor to allow you to focus on your craft.

MindNode

For visual learners and processors, MindNode allows you to get thoughts out with a visual representation of your ideas. If you’ve ever enjoyed mind maps in school, MindNode will enable you to take your ideas to the next level by providing a clear and cohesive structure to your thoughts.

How to Make Time for Professional Development

Making time for professional development can be a challenge, especially when we already balance work, volunteering, family time, and other activities. Learn to leverage what extra time you do have for professional development. It may just be the difference between where you are now and where your 5-year plan says you’ll be. 

Establish your goals

To make the most of professional development opportunities, it’s important to understand WHY you want to grow. Determine if you’re motivated by a career change, increased wages, or to boost your confidence. Clarifying your priorities will help provide a clear vision for your next steps.

Schedule time

Though professional development doesn’t necessarily need to be part of your daily routine, it does need to be on your calendar. You never know when you’ll be ready to look for a new job or start your own business. Put a few hours on your calendar every month, or look for networking events in advance so that you ensure you prioritize your future for when the right opportunity comes.

But nevertheless, establish a designated date, time, and place to make certain you follow through. 

Read regularly before bed

Despite reducing stress, improving cognitive performance, and increasing creativity, reading is an excellent opportunity for professional development. Books are an excellent medium to learn timeless professional principles and reading before bed will allow you to implement the most important takeaways before you enter your next workday.

Write regularly in the morning

A popular, but accurate, rule for this decade has been to create before you consume. Because we are bombarded with thousands of messages and notifications daily, creating before the noise enters allows you to generate new ideas and implement them.

Establishing this discipline first thing in the morning will allow you to enter a creative state before you consume any other information. It reinforces the information you glean throughout the week and can become a quick habit to capitalize on a new strength before the weight of your day is on you. 

Make podcasts apart of your routine

Even when life is busy, podcasts are a great way to access industry experts during your commute, time spent getting ready, or even during your exercise routine. Take some time every few weeks to research and subscribe to your favorite podcasts.

That way, as new episodes are released, you receive a notification directly instead of searching for episodes every time. The GaryVee Audio Experience, Marketing School, Tropical MBA, and Sales Gravy are some great ones to help you start.

Find a way to grow in your role at work

Sick of your job, but need a way to pay the bills? Take some ownership and see if it’s possible to grow in your role with different skill sets. Whether it’s creating processes for marketing efforts or event planning, there are ways to further your career while in your current position. Be vigilant for ways to expand and gain more responsibility.

Take an online course

Though we’d all love to go back to graduate school, realistically, student tuition continues to rise, and the value of a college education is sharply declining. Before you embark on an MBA program, look for established skills you can develop and find an online course or certificate program. Google, Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera are excellent resources to consider. 

Find a community

Instead of attending networking event after event, choose an organization or recurring event to invest time in. Change your presuppositions about networking, and see it as a long term vehicle to foster mutually beneficial relationships instead of taking shortcuts to have a longer contact list.

Cast your net deep instead of wide by developing valuable connections you can trust. The Chamber of Commerce in your city, a BNI group, or a community like America’s Future Foundation is a great starting point. 

Ultimately, take time to refine your goals, choose one opportunity to further your professional education, and find a mentor or community to hold you accountable. Do these three things over time, and you’ll have a bright future ahead.

6 Productivity Hacks to Stop Wasting Your Time

Though many of us wish for more time in a day, we’re all given the same amount. And fortunately – or unfortunately – many of us are better at maximizing our time than others. If you’re feeling stuck and ready to get back to the grind here are some productivity tips to get your life back – and out of a Netflix rut.

Batch your time for similar tasks

Many of us still have a “to-do” list mentality, where we try to complete as many tasks on our list as we can.

“Task fatigue” can occur, however, so it’s best to group similar tasks together or group unrelated things together. So, if you have to send invoices, try to draft them at the same time you’re planning your budget. Or if you’re calling leads at work, do them all at once instead of every day for 15 minutes.

Turn off your notifications

Notifications can be distracting and divert you from bigger tasks you need to accomplish. They’ve become a substantial enough issue that even Apple CEO Tim Cook agrees. To get more time back, start turning off notifications to the apps you spend the most time on. (I’ve personally turned off all social media notifications!) Don’t be afraid to take the leap to turn off text notifications either. Be sure to limit your screen time and look into apps that help you monitor how much of your day is spent staring at electronic devices.

Try to get your primary “inbox to zero”

Though having an empty inbox may bring anxiety at first, this productivity hack may save you hours in the long haul. Schedule a few hours to do some spring cleaning and sift through your inbox for any important emails or ongoing projects that need to be saved. Then, create folders designated for important tasks.

Then, delete everything else. Make it your objective every day to have an empty inbox as you file and archive completed emails. Though it may take some time on the front end, your life will be a lot less cluttered.

Break up with Netflix

The obvious. Though we all love Netflix, track how much time you actually spend watching television. Instead of making Netflix your fall back, try to schedule times where you relax and watch TV, instead of running to it as your comfort whenever you’re stressed or procrastinating.

Use site-blocking plugins

Believe it or not, there are plenty of plugins on Google Chrome and other web browsers that will enable you to block distracting websites during specific hours. So if you’re reading articles on Buzzfeed all day, you can list distracting websites on your “blocked” list. Block Site also allows you to go into work mode!

Track your time

Plenty of project management solutions exist to keep track of your time, but you may also consider creating an excel spreadsheet or diary to track everything you do. When you really and truly do the math, it’s easy to see the holes that can be filled with more productive activities.

Know your priorities

Set firm boundaries, know your priorities, and know what you won’t commit to doing. Having a firm idea of the commitments you will honor will enable you to gauge where to spend your time to make it productive, and what to avoid.

Remember, you can always make time for what’s important to you.

The Power of the Professional Headshot

Presentation is everything, especially online. And you cannot build your brand without a professional headshot.

Unfortunately, many people think they can get away with using an image taken by an amateur, or even a poorly lit “selfie,” only to find out later that nobody trusts a professional who can’t – or simply won’t – take themselves seriously. In the end, you’re better off going to a professional photographer for help.

So when weighing the pros and cons of going with a professional photographer for your headshot, it’s important to keep these factors in mind, especially if your goal is to create an online brand that speaks for itself. 

Making a Great First Impression

Back in the day, word of mouth was everyone’s favorite marketing strategy. Ads, as a matter of fact, seldom spoke about the men and women providing a certain service as the product did all the talking. But with the introduction of the internet in our daily lives, service providers themselves became the product.

While today, word of mouth is still important, people want to see who they are dealing with before making a final decision. And when the time to choose comes, they pick someone who inspires true confidence.

When shopping for a professional photographer for your headshot, keep in mind that your image is, for the most part, how potential clients will see you. And unless you want to leave a bad first impression, investing in a professional headshot will make or break your career.

Good Photography Highlights the Best in You

Good photography is not only about proper lighting and finding the best angle. A professional photographer can help to communicate what we can’t say with words by bringing out the best in us. (They also should be able to point you to a seasoned hair and makeup artist or a stylist if you really want to go the extra mile with your photos!)

Instead of simply snapping a photograph, a pro will be able to guide you so that you may convey the confidence, professionalism, and warmth you want to communicate.  

Without this, clients may not believe what you say about your own accomplishments. 

Stand Out in the Crowd

When you use a professional headshot for your online portfolio, you let prospective clients have a better idea of who you are.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And it is precisely because it speaks volumes that you want to use a professional photographer who can capture your personality with ease.

Furthermore, you want your headshot to be authentically you so anyone who sees it will be able to identify you in a crowd!

By familiarizing potential clients with how you look, you also make them more likely to trust you. 

In a world that is saturated with professionals competing for the same clientele online, having a good following on social media isn’t enough, but having an exceptional headshot will get you where you need to go.

Boost Your Morale (And Your Pocketbook)

Adding a personal touch to your professional website isn’t just about adding an image that speaks to your audience, it’s also about feeling good about yourself!

When we boost our self-confidence, we also feel more likely to take on more challenges.

And while headshots are key in building a prosperous career online, they serve an additional role: to make us feel confident in ourselves. 

I had my latest headshots taken by Meagan Gilbert Photography and my hair and makeup done by Ashley Troxel, Professional Makeup Artist. I am beyond happy with their work and fully recommend them for professional headshots and all your photography or styling needs!

Ditching the 9-5: How to Find Remote Work Opportunities

Digital nomads use telecommunications technologies to earn a living. I’ve been working remotely since 2016 and have been a digital nomad since July 2018. I often work remotely from countries other than the United States, coffee shops, public libraries, and sometimes co-working spaces.

It’s starting to become the newfound “millennial dream,” but without hard work, it can be difficult to make it a reality. The daily grind, cultural norms, and rising student debt can also get in the way. Though landing a remote position may seem daunting, nearly 38 percent of workers will be able to work remotely in some capacity over the next decade, according to Remote.co.

Here are some easy ways to get started researching opportunities regardless of your background to begin settling into remote work.

Earn your way there with your current company

Though it may seem impossible to earn remote status with your employer, step out of the lens in which you view your position and ask yourself: “Is it possible to work remotely within my current role? Does anyone else at my company do this?”

Even if only one person works remotely, you may have the leverage to begin initiating conversations with your employer if you’ve paid your dues.

Though it may seem to be a risk, if you’ve been loyal to your company, nothing is impossible. Though it may mean moving to a different position or leveraging odd hours, be open to discussing new possibilities.

Pick up clients as a freelancer

If you’re interested in this workstyle but are unsure if working remotely may be the right lifestyle for you, consider taking on several clients as a freelancer, initially.

This way you can begin to establish work rhythms that will benefit you if and when you do make the decision to transition into remote work.

If you have a skill like graphic design or photography where you could grow your client base, consider starting your own small business.

Look for startups on websites like Angie’s List and note the companies

There are websites that can guide you on your search to finding the right remote positions, just like Angie’s List. Many tech companies offer remote opportunities directly from this website. As you search for positions online, Google also offers “work from home” as a filter as you aspire to search for positions as well.

Consider making a spreadsheet of all the companies you find that have these opportunities, and connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. Though there may not be a position you qualify for immediately, begin scoping out companies you would like to work for and continue to check back for the right opportunity.

Look into creative circles

Creative Mornings and Creative Circle are great resources as you continue the search to help you land remote work, in addition to networking with like-minded digital nomads.

Co-working spaces are another creative outlet to network and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. Seek out any opportunity to cultivate relationships with people who currently work remotely and aspire to learn from them.

Take on multiple jobs and passions

Though some may find certain jobs unappealing, a compromise to obtain a remote lifestyle may mean sacrificing your full-time salary, in exchange for a lower paying job.

Therefore, taking on multiple passions – like your remote position that gives you work flexibility in addition to another revenue stream – may make this lifestyle possible for you a bit sooner. Explore different options and combine the passions that generate revenue.

Go all in! 

Even if you hate your job, remember that no one is forcing you to work there. Be thankful for the income, development, and stability your company provides no matter your frustrations.

But when the time comes, don’t be afraid to take the leap and go all in to embrace remote work.

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  • Here’s a #TravelTuesday tip: GET ✈️ ENOUGH ✈️ SLEEP ✈️! I can sleep on planes, trains, automobiles, and have even slept through tornadoes and one Earth quake. (And through a riot in the occupied part of Israel...😬) When changing time zones, adjust as quickly as you can. A 5+ hour difference may not seem like a big deal, but it can catch up to you quickly if you’re not used to it. 😴
  • You're engaged! Congratulations! So...now what? ⠀
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The first few days (or weeks) can feel totally overwhelming, but they don't have to be. I asked Kyle for his advice for folks who are newly engaged and they lined up EXACTLY with my list. (Read them all on my blog #linkinbio)
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What advice would you give to newly engaged couples? ❤️💍#WeddingWednesday
  • According to a 2015 survey, only 29% of Americans have ever been abroad. 29%!!! ⠀
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Europeans are lucky – most countries there are about the size of our individual states and public transportation and quick flights make weekend trips such a breeze. Although the U.S. is HUGE, there is a lot more of this world to see. ⠀

Is one of your New Year's Resolutions to get your passport?  Visit a new country? A new continent? ⠀

Take my advice: pick a location, buy the ticket, and just GO. 🌎✈️
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(Taken at one of the thermal pools in Switzerland where cameras are prohibited, oops!)
  • "Twice in the 1930s, censors in Washington, D.C., sent letters to the American Institute for Economic Research demanding that we shut down our presses. Twice our founder E.C. Harwood refused to do so. Twice government backed down.⠀
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What were we doing wrong? We had published articles taking issue with New Deal economic policy. Nothing more. In those days, however, dissent was rare, first because it was dangerous and second because there was such an overwhelming intellectual consensus in favor of the policies of Franklin Roosevelt.⠀
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Why were they so worried about some small newsletters and books being printed by AIER? Because ideas are ultimately more powerful than armies. Ideas can turn history on a dime, and in defiance of even the world’s most fierce states." ~ Jeffrey Tucker⠀
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Beyond proud that we published 33 works, old and new, in 2019. The best is yet to come. 📚❤️
  • Woke up Jan. 1 like, “oh, sh*t, we’re getting married this year.” 🥂
(We’re taking engagement pics soon I swear.) #GetYourLiverReady #WeDontReallyHaveAHashtag
  • 2019 was probably the best way to end the decade. Clients served, opinion pieces written, publications on Amazon, long stays in Europe and the Middle East, and FINALLY got engaged to @kylepierce17. Oh, and writing more for FUN! I put together a list of readers’ favorites from my site this calendar year. My goal is to share as much as possible about my travels and how I make #remotelife not only work but flourish. Thank you for following along with me! #linkinbio
  • Helllooooo from Miss America FINALS! 👸✨
  • “Chloe Anagnos: cultivating a career beyond borders.” 🌍✈️📝
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SO HAPPY with how my logos turned out for my website refresh! Kara is an amazing designer and helped me come up with the perfect tagline for the purpose of my site – writing about my travels, career, and best #digitalnomad tips. Check out my blog for more. ❤️
  • The dream of the 90s is alive in Great Barrington 🥂
  • “Just add three letters to Paris, and you have paradise.” – Jules Renard ✨🇫🇷
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I had to spend my first time on the European continent in Paris. I studied French from grades 7 – 12 and even earned a minor in college! I wish I would have had the time to study abroad when I was younger, but I’m grateful that I was able to experience Paris in the winter of 2018. ⠀
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There’s something magical about wandering the halls of the Louvre and warming up with a café au lait during a light snowfall.⠀
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From the art to the food, the fashion and awe-inspiring architecture, the City of Lights has a little something for everyone.⠀
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Read 21 quotes to inspire you to experience one of my favorite European cities #ontheblog #linkinbio
  • "You should dye your hair."⠀
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"I hear Americans get drugged."⠀
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"Are there terrorists?"⠀
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I've stayed in a lot of places that are considered "dangerous" and these are the comments/questions I get the most. ⠀
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My response is always the same.⠀
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Altering my appearance to "blend in" is silly and not all parts of Central & South America or the Middle East are dangerous. In Israel, you're going to see soldiers with machine guns in public places. Expect to see the same in most of Latin America outside of resorts. ⠀
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If you're looking for trouble you're bound to find it, regardless of location. (And as a writer who covers oppressive/corrupt governments, I know I'm not always going to be the most welcome wherever I go.)⠀
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But, I choose not to live in fear. ⠀
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(#TBT to these crystal clear waters in the Dominican Republic)
  • Drunk or just drunk in love?? 🥂😅🧐

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