Writer, Christian, SEO/Social Media Marketer, Book Reviewer, Deaf and Loud.

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Image Credits: Rhythm Agency

Hey guys! Happy New Years Eve! It’s about that time of year again where I look back at the past year and reflect on some of the greatest moments of the year. I came into 2016 pretty broken. I was in the midst of dealing with a difficult breakup, I was stuck in a job that I could no longer stand, and I was about as miserable as could be.

2016 was by no means a perfect year. I’ve been battling a terrible illness for the past couple of months and was recently diagnosed with bronchitis. My beloved cat and friend, Gizmo also passed away at the ripe old approximate age of 21.

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Rest in Peace…Gizmo

But overall, despite how many people claim that 2016 was their “worst year ever”, 2016 ended up being pretty good for me. Here 6 of my best moments from 2016.

  1. FINALLY going to NYC…(Twice, actually).

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I have been obsessed with NYC ever since I was a little kid. I swear, I must have been born a city slicker. However, up until 2016 I’ve never actually been to NYC, my loved was based solely on what I read about it o seen on TV or in movies.

I had plans in the past to go. I was supposed to go to see the Statue of Liberty for a field trip in 7th grade, but when the terrorists attacked the twin towers on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade, so naturally that field trip was cancelled.

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I was also going to go on September 11, 2013 for a job interview I had with the Christian Post. However, at the time I wasn’t exactly in the same place as I am today with my faith. I was on the fence about the job and unsure about it being in NYC which was pretty far from where I lived. I received another job offer to work at a local SEO agency the day before my scheduled interview, so I decided to accept that job offer instead.

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Fast forward to 2.5 years later and my magical job suddenly wasn’t so magical. I was unhappy and more than ready to move on.

I applied to more than 100 jobs, some of which were in NYC. When I got a call back to interview for an Assistant Digital Producer job at Scholastic I was stoked. Working for Scholastic seemed like a dream to me. I grew up reading every scholastic book imaginable and was obsessed with the book fairs. This love and obsession carried on to me even in my adult life.

The interview was pretty much a disaster. The recruiter was super nice and that preliminary screening went well, but when I met with the person who I guess would’ve been my boss it all went down hill. I thought a digital producer was basically the same thing as a content coordinator but I quickly found out I was completely wrong.

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I still don’t know what an Assistant Digital Producer does at Scholastic, but I know it’s definitely not blogging, social media, or content marketing…

But I had a great time in NYC anyway. Just being able to see the office was amazing and NYC was everything I thought it would be. I definitely still want to move there.

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I loved my first trip to NYC so much that I decided to come back there to celebrate my 26th birthday. I went to eat lunch at Black Tap NYC. This restaurant was all the rage at the time thanks to their famous milkshakes. The restaurant was actually really disappointing and the staff was horrible, but the rest of the trip was great. I was really just in complete awe of the city. I enjoyed going to the M&M Factory and Bubba Gump and exploring Times Square. I can’t wait to get back there again.

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2. Seeing Good Charlotte…Twice.

For those of you who don’t know, Good Charlotte is by  far my favorite band. I saw them perform for the first time in 100+ degree weather outside on Father’s Day at Festival Pier in Penn’s Landing back in 2010. Since then I’ve seen them Cherry Hill, at the TLA multiple times, and most recently at the Fillmore. I’ve seen them a total of 5 or 6 times, two of which were in 2016.

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Seeing them in 2016 was especially special for me because it was the first time I could REALLY hear them. They sounded just as amazing as I remembered. I liked that I could hear everything they said when they were just talking, too. Before receiving my cochlear implants in 2014 and 2015 I would miss out a lot on their talks to the crowd and teasing each other. The Madden twins have such a great sense of humor that really comes out when they play shows together. It was great to finally get to hear it in these shows.

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Both of the shows were amazing. The TLA will probably always be my favorite venue, but the Fillmore was pretty awesome, too. I like the atmosphere of the TLA better and have a lot of great memories at the TLA, but I think the sound quality at the Fillmore was better. While both shows were incredible I’ll have to say the one I saw in November at the Fillmore was probably their best show ever. It was the perfect blend of old and new songs and so very nostalgic. It was like my childhood come to life in musical form.

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I can’t wait to see them again. For those of you who really, really, really love me they will be performing/traveling with this amazing warped tour/emo/punk cruise ship package thing in October. If you buy it for me I promise to love you for forever…just saying…

3. Working at Becker’s School Supplies

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Image Credits: Becker’s School Supplies on Facebook

This one probably comes as a surprise for most of you guys.. My job at Becker’s didn’t really work out. I actually didn’t get this job originally. It’s kind of a funny story. I found the open SEO Marketer position accidentally on Monster.com, a website I rarely ever used during my job search (I was pretty loyal/exclusive to LinkedIn). I applied and got an interview pretty quickly and thought I had nailed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better interview. I got along with everyone  so well. Being obsessed with school supplies and wearing paperclip earrings to my interview also helped a lot haha.

Imagine my devastation when I received a phone call while at work on April Fool’s Day of all days. I couldn’t believe it.

But the story didn’t end there. I got another call from them about a week later. Apparently things didn’t work out with the first person they hired, so I was next in line. Eager to get our of the miserable job I was currently stuck in, I quickly accepted.

Becker’s wasn’t a bad job at all. It was actually almost anything you could ask for in a job. It was pretty much the complete opposite from my current job which was a plus. It was a family owned business that benefitted the education system in a positive way. I was honestly just excited to get out of the agency life. I also liked that it was a small family-owned business that was around for many years. But my favorite parts? Everyone was sooooooooo nice and professional and there was none of the typical office drama or politics.

I got along great with everyone and was well-liked. It was refreshing to see and work with various members of the Becker family each day. They owned the company and were at the top of the tier, but they never made you feel like you were below them. Everyone was all part of the same team. They valued and respected all of their employees. I’ll never forget how the first thing Kurt Becker, the company’s treasurer, asked me was what I thought about the website and what I’d fix. I was an employee at that time for less than a week and he still valued my opinion and expertise enough to want to know my ideas for change.

As great as Becker’s was though, it wasn’t right for me. I spent years working in SEO in the past, but it was much different. I learned that when it comes to SEO, I’m all about creating content such as blogs and other website content that is optimized for SEO. I’m not much for Google Analytics (although I’m learning!) or any of the data/analytical side of things which this position dealt a lot with. Also, while I loved school supplies my love for school supplies didn’t quite match up with the products the company sold. I thought this was a company that sold a bunch of notebooks and pens, but it was really all early childhood education supplies like furniture for childcare centers.

I used to love product meetings where vendors will show us their stuff and try to persuade us to purchase it, mainly because I’m a child and I love to play with fake sand and dinosaurs and legos and read picture books, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around early education. I never went to pre-school, let alone daycare as a kid. It was a whole new field for me.

When I accepted the job with Becker’s I still had a lot of other job applications out and was negotiating with Penn Medicine. I wasn’t sure what would happen with that opportunity. It sounded good, but I have also been negotiating for several months and nothing was happening and I really needed a new job. I was also looking into grad school and applying for the TEP program. My future was so unclear. Everything was a risk.

I have absolutely no regrets about Becker’s. I learned so much about my career interests, job preferences, and how to turn down a job that isn’t working for you. I left them with the best gift I had to give: I referred them to a former co-worker who I saw as an expert in SEO that I knew was interested in the position. She could do for them everything they needed and wanted in terms of SEO that I didn’t know how to do. They hired her almost immediately. The rest is history.

4.Working at Penn Medicine

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Image Credits: Henrietta Hudson 

While it was quite the long process, I did end up getting hired by Penn Medicine in 2016. I initially turned down the position to work at Becker’s, but they begged me to reconsider. Isn’t it funny how things work out? I applied in January and was finally hired in June.

I honestly wasn’t sure about Penn when I first applied. I previously did an internship with Slack Medical journals and really, really, really hated it. It was so boring and technical and confusing. I was afraid Penn would be the same, yet for some reason this felt really different. I almost backed out of this interview several times because of other interviews I had (first with Scholastic and then with Bernie Robbins jewelers). I am so glad that my mom and some of my friends and former colleagues pushed me to go and keep pursuing this opportunity, even when it seemed hopeless.

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Working at Penn has been a blessing to me in so, so, so many ways. First off, I really love the location. Like I stated previously, I’m a city slicker. We’re located right in University City. It’s a safe part of Philly and there’s so much stuff going on! We’re within walking distance of many restaurants which makes lunch time fun, especially if we have a new member to our team. I recently tried an Indian buffet with my co-workers and in the summer we’d frequently meet up for green smoothies from the fruit lady’s food truck or frozen yogurt from Kiwi yogurt.

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The content team at the #LoveFest Pep Rally

Secondly, I love my job itself. I get to do my two favorite things: write a lot and work on social media. I also get to teach my co-workers what I learn, specifically with our new social media content management system, Sprinklr. I’m never bored. I learn constantly and am always challenged. I didn’t know much about medical conditions initially, but have since learned so many incredible things. I’m in awe by Dr. Carl June’s work with immunotherapy and cancer. All of the neurological conditions constantly blow my mind (did you know there’s a procedure where they turn off and test different parts of the brain to see what if anything will be lost if they cut away part of it?). It’s fascinating stuff!

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My co-workers are also the best. They are so talented, kind, and hard-working. It’s also a very professional atmosphere free of office drama and politics. While everyone is always working really hard, we also have fun together with team building exercises such as monthly full staff meetings, our pep rally, and our Christmas bowling party. We are also starting a professional development book club which should be fun.

5. Becoming an Adjunct Professor AND a Grad School Student at Rowan University

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Image Credits: Rowan

Of all of the possible things that could’ve happened this year, I never imagined I’d become a college professor, but that is exactly what happened.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school to earn my MA in Writing for years. I didn’t want to get my MA originally. I was tired and burnt out after earning to BA’s and I didn’t think an MA was all that important to be honest. But after receiving bilateral cochlear implants I wrote a book and now I want so additional help to finish writing/revising it and publish it.

Still, I wasn’t sure how this would work. I didn’t know at the time that Penn has an amazing benefits package that would cover the cost of my tuition. I just knew that financial aid wasn’t an option with grad school, so I was on my own and grad school doesn’t come cheap.

When Professor Block emailed me about grad school and mentioned the TEP program which allows students to teach while earning their MA and pays for at least part of their tuition costs, I saw it as a sign that I was meant to go to grad school and apply.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I knew I like teaching, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I ultimately did. I didn’t expect to get so attached to my students. I think teaching is one of the best things to ever happen to me, honestly. I love it so much. I love feeling like I’m making a difference and seeing my students improve as writers.

Grad school’s not bad, either. Some of the writing projects for Core were fun. It’s not the most interesting year for me though. I feel like I have a lot of pre-reqs which can be a little dry to take now to get to the good stuff like writing the memoir and non-fiction writing. But still I’ve really loved just being back in school again. I love the challenge of it all. I love learning.

It hasn’t been easy. Juggling a full time job in the city, teaching three times a week, and taking 2 graduate level courses a semester is no joke. But I love the thrill of the challenge and being constantly under pressure. I feel like I am constantly working towards a goal and I feel I’ve been fairly successful so far.

6. Going to Washington DC

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DC is another place I had plans to go to multiple times, but never actually went to until this year. I was first going to go on a field trip in 7th grade, but alas the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade caused the trip to get cancelled. Then in 2014 or whenever it was I was going to meet Casey there and get back together with him, but in a really bizarre turn of events he cancelled our plans and ran off and got engaged and married to some other girl…but that’s another story…

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Every year Rowan picks a book to have the University read together as a whole. This year the book was Americanah! by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don’t know what the book was about because I didn’t actually read it lol. Anyway though, the book inspired the University to take a free trip to DC that was open to all students and faculty and since I’ve always wanted to go to DC anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to go.

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I was nervous about the trip at first since I didn’t know anyone who was going. Who would I hang out with so I wouldn’t get lost? Should I go as a student or a faculty member since I was actually both? I hung out with faculty originally until I met a faculty member’s son who was a current senior at Rowan and closest in age to me. We hung out for the rest of the trip and became fast friends and had a blast.

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We went to the museum of African history, an African art museum, and one of the Smithsonians, though we didn’t have much time at the Smithsonian. It was a really cool trip. I’m a museum and art nerd so I love looking at and learning about this stuff. The only down side was that the main African history museum was realllllllllllllly crowded and you could hardly move.

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We also ate at a soul food restaurant. I don’t eat soul food much, if ever, so it was a different experience for me. I had these oysters cooked in some kind of a hot sauce that were really good.

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It was a really nice trip especially since it helped me to get out of my comfort zone. I am glad that I did end up befriending someone despite not knowing anyone and that I took the risk to go to a new place with no one I knew. I’d definitely do something like this again in the future and I hope that in 2017 Rowan provides me with more opportunities to do so!

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7. Going to Kentucky.

My trip to Kentucky was incredible and perhaps the highlight of 2016.

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My mom and I went with Gloucester County Community Church (GCCC). I’ve been following the making of the Ark from day 1 a few years back and when I heard it opened in the summer I couldn’t wait to go. We previously looked into driving down for my mom’s birthday in August, but it was too expensive. However, going with the church would save us money and we’d take a bus with everyone so transportation wouldn’t be an issue.

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Our trip lasted 3 days and consisted with a few hours at the Creation Museum followed by almost a full day at the Ark.

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The Creation Museum was okay. Not quite as good as I was expecting, but still pretty cool. I really loved the dinosaurs. I always liked dinosaurs ever since I was a kid. About a year ago I realized that the bible never mentions the word “dinosaur” so I started to ponder why. I turned to Answers in Genesis and they explained how dinosaurs did exist and were referred to using different words. To see and learn more about this at the museum was neat. Most of the dinosaurs weren’t as big as made out to be and the dinosaurs used to only eat plants as did all animals which the bible clearly states, but few people realize. It was very informative.

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Noah’s Ark was amazing. You don’t realize how big it is until you see if for yourself. It was also incredible biblically accurate. They had all of the animals that they had back then and the cages and everything so well done. I enjoyed learning about Noah and his family and the work that they did on the Ark as well. It made me thirsty to learn more.

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Overall, 2016 was an incredible year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!

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Image Credits: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics Editor

Hey guys. So today I’ve left off on Day 16 of the 30-Day Writing Challenge. Today’s challenge is to bullet my entire day. Pretty boring, if you ask me. But here we go, here is a bulleted view of a day in the life of Kimberly Erskine.

  • Approximately 3am: I wake up from a deep sleep. I check my phone and see I have a few messages. I glance through them. Nothing too alarming. One more hour of sleep, I tell myself.
  • 4am: I’m hot and sweaty and don’t feel like getting up. It feels like it’s 1,000 degrees in my room. I check the weather on my phone and try to decide how to dress for the day. I can manage to sleep until 4:30 and still look decent,  I tell myself.
  • 4:30am: I still don’t want to wake to up. I check the weather on my phone again. I see the humidity will be 85%, so straightening my hair will probably be useless anyway. 15 minutes. That’s it. I need to have enough time to read my bible.
  • 4:48am: I didn’t do a good job at keeping with the 15 minutes of extra sleep, but I should still be okay. I finally get out of bed and start getting ready. I realize that I have nothing at all appealing to wear. I don’t feel like getting dressed up. I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt, but that’s too sloppy. Jeans are fine, but I need a shirt. I pick up my blue striped shirt with the ties on the side. I haven’t worn it in years. I remember back to the last time I wanted to wear it for one of my first dates with Larry but my mom told me not to because if I moved around too much, it could be a little too revealing. I try it on. Today it looks fine. I try to move around a bit. It still looks fine. I’m a little self-conscious about my sunburn though. I burned all down my chest and my skin is now peeling. You can see it a little bit with the shirt if I move too much. It’s good enough. I’ll be sitting at my desk all day anyway. I tell myself. Then I move on to my next problem: there’s nothing for breakfast. I usually eat fruit, but there’s none left. I don’t feel like cooking anything and I don’t have time for that. I don’t feel like eating almonds. I open my freezer. Chocolate covered banana popsicles. The breakfast of champions, I think to myself. 
  • 5:36am: I’m almost done getting ready. I just need to get my darn contacts in my eyes. The one in my right eye pops right in. My left eye has astigmatism and the lens is bigger and doesn’t like to go in all the time. I struggle with it and smear all of my eye makeup in the process. Why didn’t I put my makeup on after I got my contacts in? I ask myself. I finally get the little bugger in my eye and then fix my makeup.
  • 5:40am: I’m pretty much done getting ready, so I sit at the table with my bible and my cup of coffee and read through my bible reading plan and daily devotion. Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I’m on Job and 2 Corinthians. I’ve been enjoying Job lately. It’s new to me and different. 2 Corinthians has always been my favorite book of the bible.
  • 5:58am: I finish my bible reading and coffee. I head back in my room and put my jewelry on: cross ring, rose gold crystal watch, and my cochlear implant medical alert bracelet. I look at the clock. 6:am. Time to (attempt) to wake up dad. 
  • 6:00am: I brush my teeth and use mouthwash. I’m using a new mouthwash today. It’s Colgate. I usually use Listerine. I like the way Colgate take more like mint than alcohol. I welcome the change. After I finish rinsing I make sure my dad is up. He actually is for once.
  • 6:15am: I grab my lunch, my book, my purse, and my work keys. I take my dad’s car key off his set of keys and head out to the car. I began my daily prayers in the car as I wait for dad to come out.
  • 6:28am: Dad comes out with a cup of coffee in hand and we head out as he drives me to work at Becker’s School Supplies in Pennsauken. I help him with traffic pulling out and then take my cochlears off and finish my prayers. When I’m done, I doze off to sleep a little in the car.
  • 7:12am: I arrive at Becker’s. I don’t have to be here until 7:30, but I’m always early. Today I’m actually later than usual. I’m amazed by the full parking lot. Why do people always get here so early?
  • 7:18am,I say Hi to my boss, Rob, and Leslie who’s next door. Rob asks me how I made out with my medical testing and I talk to him about my tests. He tells me he’ll catch up with me later. I head back to my desk and finish unpacking. Then I grab a tea  bag and head to the kitchen to  make tea.
  • 7:20am: I open my email and catch up on all of the ones I missed while I was out. I proofread the new born corner post and activity pages that Leslie just wrote and Terri uploaded on the website. I notice an image is incorrect so I confide in Terri and let her know it needs to be updated. She thanks me. I optimize all of the pages for the web.
  • 8:58am: I receive an e-mail from Rob asking if he can see me in the next few minutes in the Conference Room. We met and went over my time card, progress I’ve made so far, and future plans.
  • 9:10am: Continue optimizing book sets while performing competitor research and answering emails as they come through.
  • 10:11am: My office roomie, Wendy, arrives and tells me about her trip to Baltimore for a convention.
  • 10:15am – 12:30pm: Optimizations
  • 12:30 Finally lunch time! I grab my lunch from my cabinet and eat in the kitchen. As I’m eating, I text my mom about my new job, check my email, talk with my former co-worker who tells me she’s accepted a new position which is actually ironically the one I’m leaving.
  • 1:00pm: Lunch is over. Back to work!
  • 2:22pm: My lunch wasn’t very satisfying today. I’m starving. Let’s see what I can find in the vending machine…
  • 2:25pm: I couldn’t decide between the animal crackers and a candy bar, so I got both. I’m disappointed though because I wanted a Snicker’s but I accidentally hit the button for Peanut Chews instead.
  • 2:26pm:Back to work eating my snacks.
  • 3:42pm: Dad texts me to tell me he’s on his way. I switch gears and spend the remaining work day looking at articles on LinkedIn to see what’s trending in my industry. I’m surprised to find out that all of Mark’s Zuckerburg’s social media accounts were hacked. He should’ve known better, I think to myself.
  • 4:08pm: Dad is here. I clock out, gather my belongings, say goodbye to Leslie and Debbie, and leave the office.
  • 4:10pm – 4:423pm: Dad and I head home, except we’re not really going home, we’re headed to Acme like usual Dad is happy because traffic is lighter than usual.
  • 4:23pm: I receive a phone call from Penn and immediately panic thinking something is wrong. We’re stuck in traffic on the highway and the car is pretty loud, so I let it go to voicemail.
  • 4:24pm: I listen to my voicemail, but I can’t hear it. Dad is playing the radio and my volume isn’t up high enough.
  • 4:26pm: I turn the radio off and play it again. I need to get a booster shot because my blood work shows my level of immunity against chicken pox is very low. I have to get it done before Monday. I like the girl’s pleasant tone. They tell me I can come anytime and don’t need an appointment. I discuss options with my dad and we agree Friday should be the best day to go.
  • 4:50pm: Dad and I arrive at Acme.We go over all of the things we need and hope we have enough money.It’s been a tight week for money.
  • 4:53pm:I’m really excited because salads are buy one get one free. So is most of the fruit, but I only have enough money for the salads.
  • 5:13: We’re done with shopping, but Dad left his wallet in the car. He runs out to get it as I stay with the cart. I look at the Christian books and color books as I wait.
  • 5:22pm: We’re finally done our store trip ad on our way home.
  • 5:37pm: I stop for the mail on the way in. I’m disappointed we didn’t get anything.
  • 5:40pm: I get home, put away my things then get changed into my gym clothes.
  • 5:45pm: I get a Yasso coffee frozen yogurt popsicle and eat it as I read a lost chapter of Brian Humek’s book, Purple Ducks.
  • 6:27pm: I finish reading the chapter and send Brian a Facebook message with my feedback.
  • 6:30-7:15: I use this time between looking up directions for Penn including bus and train routes, talking to my dad, working on this blog post, and talking to Glenn, Wayne, and some others on Facebook.
  • 7:30pm: I finish getting ready for the gym.
  • 7:45pm:Dad and I head out again. He drops me off at the gym and then goes to pick up my mom from work.
  • 7:47-8:37pm: I work out at the gym. I spend all of my time on the arc trainer (my favorite piece of equipment) while watching The Goosebumps movie on my phone via Netflix.
  • 8:37pm: My parents pick me up from the gym and we head home.
  • 8:40pm: I arrive home, put my things away, and get a quick shower. Before I get in,I preheat the oven to 425.
  • 8:58pm: I finish my shower, get dressed, and proceed to making biscuits to go with dinner.
  • 9:14pm: Biscuits are in the oven. I set the table and make the butter sauce.
  • 9:32pm:Biscuits are done. I let them sit in the oven for a few minutes before taking them out and pouring the butter over top.Then I wait for the beef stew to heat up.
  • 9:48pm-10:30: My family and I eat dinner. I go crazy over the biscuits. Dad loves them too. Mom is not a fan. We all talk about our day, mainly about me and my situation with Penn, and then discuss our reservation for the Pelican on Thursday. Thursday is my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary.I also finish up this blog.
  • 10:31pm: How did it get to be this late? I’m going to be so tired tomorrow! I need to get to bed.
  • 10:32pm-10:46pm: I waste a few extra minutes finding an image for my blog post, writing tags and categories out, and promoting it on social media.
  • 10:46pm-11:12pm: Still not asleep. Need to mess with my phone. I notice it’s 11:11, so I make a wish before calling it a day.

 

 


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Image Credits: Amazon

Evan Bailyn’s Outsmarting Google is one of those books that have been on my “To Be Read” list for forever (which isn’t at all surprising if you look at that mile long list…). I actually got this book from a former co-worker when I worked for a digital marketing agency 2 or 3 years ago. After accepting an offer to work as an SEO Marketing Strategist for Becker’s School Supplies, I knew it was time to pick up the book and take it out of the “To Be Read” pile and move it along to the “Currently reading” pile.

I expected that much of this book would be things I already knew, and I was right. I worked for a digital marketing agency for nearly 3 years. I started as an inbound marketer working my way up to a social media marketer, assistant project manager, and later a digital marketing manager with an emphasis in social media. Since my main focus has always been social media, I’ve always just had working knowledge rather than expert level seo knowledge, but have always kept informed by reading blogs, news, and in the case of Outsmarting Google, books. I’d say I do have a lot of experience with SEO, but not as much as I do with writing or social media and I’m not sure I’d refer to myself as a “expert”, which is why I need more help from books like Bailyn’s.

I already knew that Title Tags and Meta Tags were important along with linkbuilding, so some of these chapter simply repeated what I already knew. There are some parts of the book I questioned and wasn’t sure how much of it I agreed with though. I felt like Bailyn’s really discredited the importance of having strong content on your website. He seems to operate more on the idea that on-site content doesn’t really matter at all for SEO. He does emphasize the importance of having a well-designed website which I agree with — but I don’t think that’s enough. If your website is beautiful but has little to no content or poorly written or outdated content, why would anyone want to go to it? Maybe you’ll see obtain website traffic and great rankings in Google, but your conversions may suffer and your bounce rate may be high, neither of which will do your website or business any justice.

In contrast, I feel like Bailyn over-emphasizes the importance of linkbuilding. Yes, it is important. I know that this is one of the most important ranking factors for Google. However, I question Bailyn’s methods. I wonder how strong his linkbuilding is and whether or not much of it is just spam. I also really don’t agree with the way he thinks and advises readers to simply ask webmasters, bloggers, etc. for a link. He makes it sound like the easiest thing in the world to do. Go ahead and try it, I guarantee you’ll receive one of these responses:

  1. Who are you and why should I link to you?
  2. That will be (insert price here, often more than $100)
  3. Google considers that spam and will issue my website a penalty if I do that, so no.
  4. No.

Or simply no response at all. Approaching bloggers and other quality website owners/media members for a link is definitely a much more difficult and more thought out process than simply shooting a completely transparent email asking for it. I learned that the hard way from my agency days, trust me.

Also, some of the links just didn’t seem that good. Bailyn seems to think if a website is anywhere somewhat (but not really) close to being in your industry, a link on that site is good enough. He also recommends linking all of your websites together. So, say you have a website about pizza, a website about leather, and a third website about pets. Bailyn thinks you could link them all together. I suppose it could work. Maybe you want to write on your pizza website an article on leather pizza fashions or a pizza shirt or a piece of pizza your pet is wearing/eating. It’s hard, but not impossible. But I don’t think this is always going to work and I’m not sure I would push for it as much as Bailyn seems to.

Another thing that bothers me with this book is the way the author, Evan Bailyn is constantly bragging about his success and referencing his business, First Page Sage, and yet when you try to look it up and even Google it, there’s nothing too spectacular about it. For example, on page 28 of this book, Bailyn uses First Page Sage as an example to show how his website is ranking #1 on Google for the term “expert Google optimization”. I just typed that in to Google and he’s not on page 1. He’s actually all the way on page 5…the very bottom of page 5, almost page 6.

first page sage page 5

 

Looking at Bailyn’s website, it’s not hard to see why he isn’t ranking better. Some pages such as the homepage and the “About Us” page are great. But other pages, well it’s obvious Bailyn is putting into practice his belief that on-site content isn’t important. The pages for “Our Culture”, “Careers”, “Blog” and “Contact” pages are all without meta descriptions. The blog also isn’t updated as much as you’d expect. On average, it only gets updated around once a month. Maybe this is what’s hurting his rankings?

Of course, it might not have anything to do with Bailyn’s on site content. This book was published in 2011, maybe he just changed his keywords, or even his whole focus of his business, which seems to be exactly what he did. I did some keyword research and analzyzed his website and it looks like “thought leadership” and “thought leadership marketing” is more of what he’s focusing on now, so I googled that as well. He’s number 8 for “thought leadership”:

thought leadership #8

And he’s #2 for “thought leadership marketing”:

thought leadership marketing #2.PNG

I’m not sure how I feel about this information. “Thought leadership” is a whole different concept and completely different keyword to target. Why the sudden change? Is it because he failed at SEO marketing so he decided to become a thought leader instead? #2 for thought leadership marketing is more reassuring, but it’s still not #1 and it’s for a whole new concept. I’m just not sure how much I trust his word as an “SEO expert”.

Bailyn’s social media presence was also disappointing to me. He has over 100,000 followers on Facebook, but he hasn’t updated his page since January — that I know is not good practice. He only has 243 followers on LinkedIn and I believe no posts. His Twitter also hasn’t been updated in over 2 months. It just make it hard to trust this guy and any of the advice he gives on digital marketing…

There are still some points that Bailyn made that I liked and learned from though. I especially enjoyed the sections on PPC and Google Adwords. I don’t have much hands-on experience with PPC advertising at all, so I’m always trying to learn more about it. I like how he explained what makes it different from SEO and the advantages/disadvantages of both. The information on display URL, negative match, and negative  keywords were all things I didn’t know about previously. Having this knowledge now I think will be very beneficial for me if I work with PPC advertising in the future.

The highlight of Bailyn’s book for me was the last part where he wrote about his predictions for Google in the future. This book was published back in 2011…5 years ago, but he was on the right track for most of these predictions. I thought it was interesting how much of a threat he thought Facebook was to Google. I have to say I do agree with this ideology. He’s right in saying that Facebook is much more of a threat than say Bing or Yahoo. The social search was an interesting concept because of how unexpected that prediction was for me. I don’t think it will ever actually happen though because I think that would make it like Facebook 2.0. It seems pointless. Facebook and Google may want to compete, but they should still exist as separate properties with their own unique features, not mere copies of each other.

Bailyn also predicted that Google would launch a social network and that it wouldn’t be well received. Spot on. Google tried with Google+, but it definitely isn’t a huge threat to Facebook by any means and many have predicted over the years that Google will kill it off. Bailyn’s book was published in March of 2011. Google+ was launched in June.

I think that he’s also right with how much he stressed how important localized search will become. Google has been releasing more and more options and features for local  businesses to help them with their SEO especially lately. There’s never been a better time to be a local business interested in SEO marketing. I think he’s also right on Google trying to encourage people to use their phone’s more and releasing features that lets people know where they are or when they visit a certain place. It sounds slightly creepy to read about it in Bailyn’s book, but we’re already pretty much there with apps like FourSquare and the ability to check in places on Facebook and Instagram. Will this really be any different from that? I can see that being a success. However, the reviews probably won’t be as big of a deal as Bailyn thinks. Let’s face it: people are lazy. Most people don’t want to take the time to leave a review unless their service is really bad and they need to vent. Overall,  think that Google reviews will pretty much stay the same over the next few years.

Evan Bailyn’s Outsmarting Google wasn’t a terrible book; I still learned a few things from it. However, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be; it was just okay. It’s worth just 3 our of 5 stars from me.


Is the internet still free?

cost of internet

It seems like ever since the internet was invented, there’s been a belief that using it comes at a high cost. Sure, you may have to pay a monthly fee of around $70 a month, but considering the high frequency that we use the internet and our extreme dependency on it, $70 a month is a price that most don’t mind spending. It sure beats being charged for every search query and website visit, right? For these reasons many individuals still see the internet as being relatively “free.”

But is it really free? It seems like users are paying more and more to use the internet, especially marketers. Gone are the days where $70 a month for hosting was all a marketer would have to pay to be present on the web.  Now it’s becoming more costly to stand out online.

Paying to be social

No digital marketer would refute the importance of having a presence on social media in 2016. But that is no longer enough. Now marketers must invest in a variety of Facebook Ads if they want to be seen on the network. Just when we started to accept that we’ll have to pay if we want to see any website clicks or conversions or gain any new followers, Facebook dropped yet another bomb on us. They began to show organic content less and less in news feeds. The way around this? Boosting posts. Simply put, if you want to be seen, you better pay up.

Facebook isn’t stupid. It knows that it has become a powerhouse for marketers looking to advertise their businesses, and that they will jump through all kinds of hoops to get results for their business even if it means coughing up some dough. Now, after seeing Facebook make billions of dollars (last quarter alone Facebook reportedly made over $5 billion thanks in a large part to ads) off of its paid advertising platform, other social networks are jumping on the bandwagon.

Twitter and LinkedIn have been offering sponsored posts and other ads for years. While their organic reach isn’t nearly as terrible as Facebook’s, many marketers and users are catching on to the fact that paid advertising will allow them to reach a larger audience at a quicker pace. For many, it has been a worthwhile investment. And it doesn’t stop there.

Pinterest launched its Promoted Pins platform a few years ago. While still in limited release (you have to apply and be approved for them first), they have quickly grown on users looking to receive maximum engagements. I have personally observed that my organic Pinterest pins typically go unnoticed and receive little to no engagements, but when I invest even just $20 in a promoted pin, I’m guaranteed to get hit with a number of repins, comments, and likes. With over 50 million pins cluttering Pinterest, Promoted Pins seem one of the most effective ways for growing your Pinterest presence and increasing engagement.”

Instagram also jumped on the advertising bandwagon this past summer by allowing users to invest in paid ads in the form of website clicks, video ads, engagement ads, app install ads, and more recently, promoted posts. This is not at all surprising being that Instagram is owned by the champ of social media paid advertising: Facebook. In fact, many of the Instagram ads are only available if used in correlation with a Facebook ad. This just further drills in the point that effective social media marketing is no longer free.

Going beyond social media

If you think the answer to avoid paying to use the internet is to simply cut all ties with social media, think again. Social media may be the front-runner in internet marketing expenses, but they aren’t alone. SEO marketing comes with a slew of hard costs now, too.

Simple tasks that used to be free like guest blogging or creating business listings for SEO purposes are beginning to come at a high cost. Many blogs refuse to publish guest contributions (especially if it contains an affiliate link) unless you’re willing to pay. The average cost is usually around $100-$150, with some of the more popular and well-known bloggers charging as much as $500 or more for a single guest post. As for local directories, while some are still free, the most effective ones seem to be a part of Yext, and a subscription will cost you a minimum of $500 a year.

Some marketers are choosing to abandon SEO marketing altogether now since it takes a lot of time and effort and doesn’t always guarantee results. Why bother wasting time and effort on something that is essentially a gamble when marketers can simply pay Google for pay-per-click advertising and have their ads displayed at the top of search results? This seems like a much more efficient means of marketing, and naturally, Google agrees.

In fact, Google is now making pay per click advertising even more expensive. More recently, Google decided to remove pay per click listings from the right side of search results, meaning that they now only display at the top of the results. This means that pay per click advertising is more competitive than ever before. If you want your PPC campaign to be successful, you may need to reconsider your keywords and ad bids, which could mean paying more.

Where do we go from here?

Why are we paying such a high cost to use the internet these days? The answer is simple: because we want to be found. We invest a lot of time and effort into our businesses, blog posts, and social media pages. If nobody sees it, it all goes to waste. The only way to guarantee that our content is easily visible to our target audience is to pay to have it promoted and made visible. And because we keep paying for it, people keep charging for it.

If we want to make the internet free and eliminate all of the hard costs that are now associated with using it, then we need to stop paying into the ideology that the only way to advertise a  business is to pay for social media advertising, pay-per-click, and other paid promotions.

We need to get back to the way things once were – back to engaging with users organically on social media by responding to their content and making a genuine effort to connect with them. We need to stop advertising and marketing to people, and instead build relationships with them. There is no price that can be put on the foundation of relationships. It is the most time-consuming form of marketing, but also the most effective and rewarding.

The internet is no longer the “free” service we always thought it was. It’s getting more expensive by the day and we have no one to blame but ourselves. However, we do have more power to stop it than we think. It is up to us to determine the fate (or the expense) of using the internet in the future.



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