Where are you from, what did you study in school, and what do you do for a living?
I’m a native Marylander, and I grew up in a rural area, about an hour outside of Baltimore City. My international readers always ask: “Is that near New York City?” Baltimore is about 90 minutes from Washington, DC, and 3 hours from NYC.
I went to Washington College in Chestertown, MD (an even tinier town than my hometown!) and graduated with degrees in English and Political Science.
I started working in the nonprofit sector immediately after graduation, and I LOVE THIS FIELD. My focus has been in development and communications.
I also do some freelancing (writing and content creation, primarily, with some social media strategy thrown in on occasion), and very much enjoy it. I would love to work with you! Simply visit my Contact page or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and references.
How did Grit & Banter begin?
For a long time I was very social-media resistant. I didn’t get a Facebook until college, and I only just caved to all the other main platforms a few years ago. But once I started working in the nonprofit sector, I realized that social media was a critical tool for connecting with supporters and sharing our mission, so I caught myself up to speed, fast.
It quickly became a great way for me to also stay in touch with my family and friends; former colleagues, volunteers, and teachers; and people I’ve met while traveling. But there was an unintended side effect: I would do something like post photos from a trip to London, and then somehow find myself typing up an entire suggested itinerary, dining recommendations, and other tips for my former co-worker’s cousin’s roommate. (The Internet is weird, OK?).
Finally, last year, I thought that maybe it would be worth writing a blog. I was spending more and more time writing trip recaps (among other things) for friends, and even more significantly, I was starting to use Facebook as a platform to share my thoughts on certain topics and passions – and it was resonating with total strangers.
I was still very hesitant to create a blog, because the reality is that I don’t have a large social media following and that most of my readers would be friends and family, but I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.
It’s been such a fun experiment and a great way for me to flex those old English major muscles and build some new tech skills!
How did you set up your blog? Do you have experience with web design or coding?
HA! Hahaha! I’m completely self-taught. Thankfully, WordPress is very simple to use. You just need some basic computer savvy and patience.
I’ve learned a lot through trial-and-error, and through Googling and watching YouTube tutorials whenever I get really stuck. I’ve even taken continuing education classes in marketing at my local community college and have LOVED being back in the classroom. I am a big believer in lifelong learning (this is what happens when your after school job was at a public library!) and think that you can figure out almost anything with a proper Internet connection.
I recently re-branded the entire Grit & Banter site, and it was much easier to set up the second time around, now that I know what I’m doing!
Are all the photos on G&B your own? What photography equipment do you use?
A lot of my photos are my own, and (shhh, dirty little blogger secret!), I don’t actually have any camera equipment. I take all my photos on my iPhone X, and use a lot of apps to help make them web-ready. Sometimes, though, I don’t have the appropriate images for a post. Most of those photos come from Pexels, a free stock photo site.
What’s something you wish you knew before you started blogging?
I wish I had been less afraid of starting a blog. I held off for so long for a number of reasons, but eventually I realized that I missed writing, and that even if no one read Grit & Banter, I would still enjoy having a creative outlet. It’s been a very freeing feeling, and the blogging community is so supportive and encouraging!
It’s also led to some very cool freelance writing gigs, and so far everyone I’ve worked with has been incredibly welcoming to the “newbie.”
What’s the hardest part about blogging?
Sticking to a regular blogging schedule! I hardcore sucked at this last year, but I’ve resolved to be more consistent about writing. It’s challenging to juggle a full-time job, a social life, a gym routine, volunteering, and still find time to do your laundry, run to the store, read a good book, AND blog.
Do you get paid for your content? Do you ever collaborate with brands or write sponsored posts? Can I hire you to do some freelancing for my site?
I do some freelancing (writing and content creation, primarily, with some social media strategy thrown in on occasion), and very much enjoy it. I would love to work with you! Simply visit my Contact page or shoot me an email at email@example.com for more information and references.
I am very picky about sponsored posts, because I want them to be a proper fit. (I’m never going to be a rugged outdoors adventurer, LOL). G&B is mostly just a fun hobby, and so I’m fortunate that I can say no to things that I don’t think align with G&B’s goals.
I am certainly open to collaborations should you think your product, company, cause, etc., fits with G&B’s style.
P.S. Bloggers are legally required to disclose sponsored content, so I promise you’ll know if this is the case!
You travel a lot. How do you afford to do so?
I actually wrote an entire blog post about this! Travel can be very affordable if you take the time to plan, and skip out on the luxury accommodations. 😜