My Top 12 Posts in Honor of HSL Creative's First Birthday

My 2nd birthday.
My 2nd birthday.

I’ve had a stunning revelation: HSL Creative, in its most recent incarnation, is officially ONE year old!

Cue the streamers, candles, and of course cake (my favorite.) In honor of our first birthday I thought I would share a countdown of the 12 most popular blog posts from the last year. (Get it? 1 for each month?)

Over the past year I’ve shared observations on social media trends, productivity hacks, career advice, information about our services, and even personal reflections about not living in a major city or overextending myself. So I give you the top 12 posts of our first year as voted by your clicks. So take a look, check out the ones you may have missed. And thank you, thank you, thank you for coming on the journey.


Here’s to year 2. Cheers.

12. Finding Margin: Confessions of a Wayward Blogger Whether you're an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, or an employee of a giant corporation, there are always priorities and choices to make. And sometimes we have to say "no" to good things in order to say "yes" to great things.

11. 7 Hacks for Shaking off the Blahs and Getting Out of ProcrastiNation I have a war within me: lazy person vs. driven person. That conflict can easily manifest itself in procrastination. Here's some ways I combat it.

10. How to Launch Dual Careers I'm a passionate advocate of kicking the status quo in the face. If you are a soon to be college graduate, an early career professional, or just know in your gut it's time for a change, this post gives you the first steps to making the move to dual careers.

9. 10 Secrets to Getting Started in Freelance Writing If you've wanted to get started freelance writing but you're not sure where to begin, this post gives you tips on how to get paid to write.

8. 6 Reasons Someone You know Did the #ALSIceBucketChallenge Why the heck did the Ice Bucket Challenge raise over $100 million? How did that happen? Here's some reasons it worked amazingly well.

7. 10 Social Media Resolutions to Adopt This Year Need a cheat sheet for social media etiquette and smart habits (like knowing your privacy settings)? Here ya go.

6. 10 Ways I've Made Life Easier for Other Businesses, And How I Can Help You Too Don't really know what all we do here? Here are some of the most practical ways that organizations and individuals have used HSL Creative services in recent months.

5. 9 Surprising Things I Learned When I Met a Client in Person Bottom line: in this incredible digital age where I (and many other people!) make a living by never seeing anyone in person--the face-to-face communication remains irreplaceable.

4. The #1 Reason I Feel Ok Even Though I Don't Live in a Major City My industries are media and the arts. Of COURSE, I have a desire to be in a major city where patrons and potential clients flock. But here's why I think this small city life has been GREAT for me and my career.

3. 6 Ways Grad School Launched Me into the Career of My Dreams Grad school gets a lot of flack in creative fields. "It's not worth the money," they say. "You're avoiding the real world," they say. Well, I say it was the exact right move for me. Here's why.

2. Will You Do Anything Social Media Free This Year? Do you ever feel like you've become a little too attached to your technology? Do you twitch when you accidentally leave your phone in your car? Have you never left your phone in your car because you always make certain it's on your person? This one's for you.

And drumroll please...the most popular post of the last year is....

1. 5 Lessons We Can Learn from the Most Retweeted Selfie of All Time Did you retweet it? Do you know exactly which one I'm talking about? What makes us take part in viral activity online? These are a few of my observations from both academically and professionally studying people and their social media habits.

There ya have it! My 12 most read posts of the 1st year of HSL Creative. Do me a huge favor and comment here or on Facebook or Twitter with some feedback on what kind of posts you'd like to see more of in the future. I'm listening!

6 Ways Grad School Launched Me into the Career of My Dreams

Three and a half years after I finished my bachelor’s degree in journalism I was stuck. My degree could’ve gotten me a job at a fledgling newspaper or perhaps an internship at a magazine. So far it had helped me make about 10% of my income annually. I knew none of that was where I wanted to be. I wanted to have a magical career where I had autonomy and got to help people communicate their stories better. Oh, and I still did not want to give up performing in theatre. I needed more options so I decided to go to grad school. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here are six surprising ways grad school got me to my dream job.

1. I actually saved money. You read that right. No, graduate school did not leave me $100 Grand in the hole. Quite the contrary--I had a graduate teaching assistantship and got paid (not buckets and buckets but something) to dip my toe into the deep end of teaching while I got an education. By spending 20 hours a week teaching and grading freshmen work, I was able to get a free M.A. and get a stipend that helped me pay my bills and function like a 20-something who was not dependent on her parents. Score. This was an integral next step in the process of getting on my feet and starting my business. No debt!

2. I suddenly got credibility in my field.  Over night, the fact that I had decided to go to graduate school to study communication and media gave me major street cred in my field. Suddenly I was called a social media expert because people saw that I was serious about studying the inner workings of digital media. By studying a subject in graduate school, people saw that I was serious about it. I was no more passionate about learning about how people connect online than I was 6 months before, but now people saw that I meant business, so they listened to me and opted to hire me.

3. I was surrounded by people who got excited about the nerdy things I did. I, perhaps like you, perform better with fierce competition. I didn't know to be grateful for my classmates' commitment to the books at the time (sorry guys) but the fact that I was in small classes with people who were at the top of their classes in undergrad lit a fire under me. We had conversations (for fun!) about marketing, social media, and the digital landscape. We debated advertising techniques and product placement. This not only happened in the classroom, but it happened when we left class and went back to our cubicles, when we went to grab mexican food, and it continues to happen through mediums like Twitter. If I hadn't been surrounded by people who were passionate about this field, I would not be as knowledgeable in my field as I am now.

4. It bought me some time to figure out how my dream and reality could jive. I think this is really the reason a lot of people go to grad school. Not knowing what your next step should be is neither a bad reason or a good reason to go to grad school. For me, going to grad school gave me a little time to better formulate my vision for my future. I knew I couldn't and wouldn't be giving up performing any time soon (or well, ever permanently) but I also knew that during time between performance contracts I could not indefinitely go back to folding sweaters (as much as I LOVED that Anthro discount). I knew I needed a second marketable skill to support my arts habit. Grad school gave me time to figure out exactly what that could be and how I could make it all work.

5. I became a better writer. In elementary school I learned to write imaginatively. In high school I learned how to write a snazzy college essay. At university I learned how to write articles. In grad school I learned how to write a well-researched thesis. All of these different kinds of writing have helped me become a well-rounded writer. The academic writing is no replacement for professional writing but it certainly did not hinder my writing skills. It only helped me improve them. The more ways I know how to connect with an audience, the better.

6. I honed the skill of balancing. By taking classes, teaching classes, and working part-time freelance gigs, I learned the art of managing multiple tasks for multiple "clients" (whether it was 19 year-old students, my graduate school professors, or a client who wanted a press release). This delicate skill of balancing has transferred beautifully into my sole proprietor work. On any given week I knock out work for 8 or more clients. I need to balance deadlines, client personalities and their business goals. Grad school prepared me perfectly for that.

So often today experts are saying not to go to grad school. I know for me it was the absolute right decision. What about you? Did you regret going? Do you have plans to go? What are your concerns? Sound off in the comments.