Marketing

How I Grew My Pinterest Engagement by 400% Without Really Trying

How I Grew My Pinterest Engagement 400% Without Really Trying | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post for a while now. Here’s why: I think Pinterest is a bit of a mystery to a lot of people, especially woman-owned businesses. They might use it personally (nearly every woman I know has a Pinterest account), but they might not be using it for their business. And if they are, they might not be using it effectively.

This blog post isn’t just for bloggers looking to increase traffic, by the way. This blog post is for:

  • Business owners

  • Anyone selling a product to women between the ages of 18-45

  • Bloggers

Here’s the rundown of what I’m about to tell you: I increased my engagement on Pinterest by 400% without…

  • paying for Tailwind (too expensive)

  • spending hours on Pinterest

  • more effort than checking in once a day

I noticed this increase most starkly this month, but it’s been steadily building for the past 6 months, ever since I put in renewed efforts to build a strategy. I am cheap, however, and didn’t want to pay for something like Tailwind. This is all just me, Pinterest.com, and the Pinterest app.

Let’s jump in.

(Pst, if you’d like to check out my Pinterest, you can do so here.)

Analytics

Here are my analytics on Pinterest for the month of July:

July 2019 Pinterest Analytics

And here are my analytics on Pinterest for the month of August:

August 2019 Analytics

Between May and June, my impressions varied between 19,000 and 21,000 per month. (For whatever reason, I don’t have full analytics for those months on Pinterest. It may be a switch in their built-in analytics programs.)

That’s a pretty significant jump over 4 months, right? And like I said, I didn’t spend money on it and I didn’t dedicate hours of my day to it.l

So what did I do?! Let me tell you.

Methods

When it comes to me and basic methods for social media, there are no secrets. I realize a lot of people would put this information behind a paywall and it’s one of my biggest annoyances. I’ve signed up for tons of free Pinterest (or Facebook or whatever) webinars and sat through them, only for it to be 10 minutes of basic information (like “make a Pinterest account” DUH!) and 20 minutes of selling me a bigger webinar or e-course.

Sorry, not interested.

Here’s what I did over the last 4 months:

  • For each blog post I posted (which admittedly wasn’t a ton), I created 3-4 additional Pinterest graphics. This was because I was testing what worked best on Pinterest. I don’t have a concrete answer on that, by the way.

  • I then pinned each blog post at least the week it was posted. Usually, I did this all as one on Saturday morning. Then I would schedule the different Pinterest graphics over the next few days. All of these pins initially went to my specific board for my blog posts.

  • From there, I pinned each blog post pin to my group boards.

  • Throughout the week, I would check each day and pin each varied Pin as it posted to my group boards.

That’s literally it! That’s all I did! I just kept up this weekly and daily task list every single week for four months.

It does seem time consuming. But let’s break it down.

  • On average for the past few months, I’ve been posting maybe 2 blog posts a week. In total, each blog post might take me 2 hours.

  • It might take me an additional hour to great 8 different Pinterest graphics.

  • On Saturday, it took me on average about 2 hours to write unique Pins for each blog post and Pin/schedule.

  • Every day, sharing pins to my group boards took maybe 30 minutes.

In total, that’s 7 hours for writing blog posts, creating graphics, and posting on Pinterest. However, 4 of those hours I’m already doing anyway in the form of writing and scheduling blog posts. Then, in total per week, I spent 3 1/2 hours on Pinterest throughout the week. That’s definitely less time than I spend on Twitter and Instagram. (Is that embarrassing?!)

Here’s a few additional things I did throughout these 4 months as well:

  • Checking daily Pinterest trends (if you press the search box to type, you can see trends for you specifically as well as trends throughout Pinterest). If I saw any trends that correlated to blog posts I had, I immediately repinned those blog posts to my group boards.

  • If I had seasonal posts that I thought might be relevant, I would also repin those. In mid-August, I started to notice a steady increase in engagement on my Blogtober pins from 2018 and 2017, so I began sharing those Pins to my group boards as well.

  • I created Pinterest-specific graphics for my affiliate codes, announcements, and sponsored posts. These included information that people needed without having to jump to my blog; it helped increase uses of my affiliate codes as well as my traffic. I was slightly worried that giving away the free bit wouldn’t help my traffic, but I was wrong. It helped a lot!

A Note on Group Boards

As you can see, I rely on group boards a lot on Pinterest. I am hesitant to make suggestions for group boards, as these aren’t ones I own. I don’t necessarily want to be held responsible for the rules or content should anyone disagree! However, if you would like suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send me a note and I’ll send a few links over.

As well, if you would be interested in a group board with me, let me know.

Do I expect to see results forever?

“Forever”—what a funny way to phrase that!

To I expect to see these massive increases in engagement (and subsequently, my blog traffic) forever using these methods? No. I think this was a good way for me to get started and get the ball rolling, so to speak. As I continue to tweak my methods, I expect to have to change things and, eventually, I know It will be beneficial to me to start using different methods, including paying for tools and streamlining my methods.

However, I wanted to share this method I’ve used because I see so much advice about Pinterest that literally boils down to “pay for this tool!” I don’t know about you, but I am so hesitant about paying for things that I feel I can do for free, at least for right now. In the future, that may not be the case, but it is for me right now at this moment (given being recently laid off!)

Now, it’s time for you: do you have questions about Pinterest?

Blogging & Business: I'm Going Freelance (& You Can Too)

Blogging & Business: I'm Going Freelance | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve sat down to write this blog post over and over, not knowing really what to say. Originally, I knew it was basically going to be all about what happened to me, and my job (which I loved, as most people knew), and how I am now seeking out different opportunities in order to keep doing what I love. But I realized that when it comes down to it, it’s not just about me: it’s about me, and what it’s like to work for a business as a woman or a mother or both.

Every mother I know has looked for ways to work from home, or work for themselves, in a way that is meaningful. Working full-time, or even part-time, as a mother is incredibly challenging. But I don’t think this is confined to just women who happen to be mothers: I know lots of women, from college age into their 40s wonder if working for themselves would be more beneficial. It’s something I toyed with—taking on freelance clients if they specifically reached out to me, but not actively seeking them out—for years before now.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the big bad: what happened.

As I’ve alluded to in posts, and written about on Instagram, I got laid off mid-way through July. July 17 to be exact. It’s definitely going to be one of those dates I remember forever, you know? July 17, the day the company I worked at for 5 whole years closed forever. It was devastating. I spent most of that day sobbing off and on. We’d only been aware for a week in total that it might happen and thought we had more time; until the end of July at least! It’s the worst position to be in: to know you’re going to get laid off in the future, then have it happen about 2.5 weeks early.

Before we knew it, it was over and we were out of jobs and everything felt very up in the air. Everything is still very confusing and there’s a lot going on.

But that’s not really the point of this post. The point of this post is this: I knew it was time for something different.

Sometimes, we all know when our time with a company is coming to an end. It might not be a big thing that happens—it might not even be totally negative. It’s just a moment where you think, it’s time for me to move on or this isn’t working for me, even though I love my job. I had had lots of little moments like that before being laid off, but I loved my job, I loved my boss, I loved what I did… and going freelance scared me. Really bad.

Changing jobs scared me too. I was so used to working for one company: I understood my boss and my coworkers and all the processes I needed to be successful.

No matter what, I was in a position where I was going to be incredibly uncomfortable. I got laid off—that sucked! Now I had two options: go freelance or find another job. Both were scary. But both were my only options.

So on July 18, I put on my big girl pants and went for it. I dove in. I sent emails to all the contacts I had. I started posting blog posts and regular posts and articles on LinkedIn (and interacting on LinkedIn in ways I never had before. I even impressed myself, honestly). I made phone calls and signed up for a CRM (seriously). I let people send emails for me, connect me to other people. I got a lot of Nos in the first week. And then in the 2nd week.

I’ve thankfully managed to sign a few clients for the month of August and into September so far. But thankfully, I already had the groundwork covered (by being 25% focused on freelancing even before deciding it was going to be my 100% set up)and I had some contacts who I could thankfully turn to when I needed help.

On Instagram on Tuesday, I asked for any questions people might have about going freelance, or working for myself. I wanted to share a few of them and answer them here to give you a better idea of how I make it work (so far—I’m by no means an expert at this point!) and if you can make it work yourself.

1. What skills do you need to freelance?

This totally depends on what freelance work you are actually doing. I am a freelance content strategist and copywriter. That means, I need the following “hard” skills (that is, the skills that actually allow me to have the expertise to offer my services):

  • Copywriting for digital marketing

  • Copy editing

  • Knowledge of all aspects of copywriting I’m offering (social media, blogs, email marketing, and website content)

  • Strategy writing for all aspects of marketing I’m offering

However, in addition to these hard skills, freelancers universally need soft skills too. Soft skills are not related to the services you offer whatsoever, but rather area entirely focused on customer service and prospecting. Here’s a few examples of soft skills:

  • Networking

  • Customer service

  • Invoicing

  • Sales

Yeah, unfortunately, freelancing includes a lot of sales skills. Thankfully, by working at an agency (and before that, in sales-focused businesses), I have absorbed some basics of sales by osmosis. It’s definitely not my forte, but it is something I know I need to do. Networking is a secondary part of that that has also never been my cup of tea, but is becoming increasingly necessary as time has gone on. And again: sometimes trying something new means being uncomfortable for a while.

2. What do I need to know about getting clients?

The truth is, getting clients is hard. You will have a ton of people reach out for services if you network, advertise yourself, and make an effort—but if those people all end up paying you, I’ll eat my hat. And my socks. And my whole house. Because it’s just not something that happens.

I’ve had a lot of prospects that I was sure would be immediate Yes’s. Without going into too much detail, the first people I reached out to were clients of my work, who I already helped with their marketing writing. I thought it would be a slam dunk to sign them on for at least a few months, even with me as an “interim” solution while they found another agency. Every single phone call went like this:

Me: So the amount I would charge would be $xxx each month, and that includes writing, graphic design, and scheduling.

Them: super sharp intake of breath followed by an intense gasp

Every. Single. Time.

A younger version of myself would have immediately said, “But it’ll be less for you! Ha ha ha! I was just joking!” But I set my rates in a very specific way to ensure that I would have the money I needed to 1) live and 2) pay for all the tools I need. (More on this later.)

I guess what I’m saying is: even if you have everything set up correctly, getting clients can be really difficult. But you can’t let yourself be discouraged. That’s easier said than done, obviously.

Getting clients that work for you requires knowing what kind of clients you want to begin with, knowing how to talk to them, being firm about what your prices and what you need from them to succeed, and perseverance. You know, simple things.

3. What’s the tax situation?

First things first, we’ll found out in January.

Just kidding. The tax situation is this: I found a (freelance) accountant almost immediately and asked a ton of questions. Then I called my local Chamber of Commerce to ask if they knew the process. From there, I was able to determine how to set up my business (as myself) in a way that made sense.

I highly recommend that if you’re thinking of going freelance, and you’re reading this blog post, you call local people to help you. Don’t follow the advice of some random article you find on the internet that tells you what to do specifically. Not only will you make connections with your local government and another local business, you will be able to better understand what you need to do.

Long story short, talk to people you trust about the situation and that means professionals in your specific area. You don’t want to mess up this portion. (I know I definitely don’t; it’s been my number one concern.)

4. How do you set your rates? / How do you budget for a family?

Oof, isn’t this the biggest question? I got probably 20 different versions of this question:

  • How do I set prices?

  • How do I know what to charge?

  • What if I charge too much?

  • What if I charge too little?

The truth is, what you charge will depend on the market rate for services in your area. Unfortunately, that means having knowledge of what other freelancers charge and potentially what agencies are charging. As well, what you charge will depend on your own personal budget. Here’s what I did.

  • I knew that I had to charge what would 1) cover the cost of my workflow products, 2) cover my own bills (aka pay myself a wage that is livable), and 3) allow me to save enough to cover any potential tax burden.

  • I knew I had to charge competitively, but as only one person, I also could not charge as much as a full-scale agency.

  • I knew I needed to charge differently for one-time services versus on-going retainer-type services.

My prices are based almost entirely on how many hours I think something will take, plus how much I think I’ll need to retain for taxes; my hourly rate is based purely on making sure that after taxes, I have enough leftover. I realize that sounds more complicated than it needs to. For the sake of transparency, as of right now, here’s what I charge for everything:

  • $500 full SEO audit for up to 1,000 pages (any huge websites will cost more, obviously)

  • $800 for social media strategy & workflow

  • $800 per month for on-going social media content creation, scheduling, and reporting

  • $500 for blog strategy, plus $250 per blog post including keyword research

  • $50 consult fee to discuss needs

These prices allow me to determine how many things I need to do each month to pay myself a livable wage. Let’s say that at the very least, I need $1500 pay to pay my own bills; that needs I need at least $3000 in client services. That means I have space for:

  • 6 SEO audits

  • 3 social media strategies

  • 3 total social media clients

  • 6 Blog strategies

  • or any combination of them

If there are spaces on my roster, I will post about them to LinkedIn; let’s say I’m at $2000 for the month of September in booked services. So I’d post on LinkedIn that I have space for: 1 social media strategy and 1 blog strategy, or 2 SEO audits.

I hope that makes sense.

(As a note, if I get any comments telling me that my prices are too low/too high, or I shouldn’t share my prices, just an advanced warning: I don’t care what you think!)

(If you’re interested in freelance services, you can send me an email here. I do offer some need-based discounts.)

5. How do you budget for a family?

This is the number one question I got and I totally get it. I have a family, a new house, a car payment, everything. How can I feel secure and stable as a freelancer with that? Knowing that my income is based entirely on my work ethic and hustle for the month before.

The truth is: right now, I don’t really have an answer. Right now, I don’t feel super stable in my freelance business, because it’s very new. I’m sure I will eventually as I get into a rhythm and find a way of making it work for me. The best advice I can give is to set your prices to be fair to you and your business; don’t lower prices just because someone says you should or says they can’t afford you; take jobs that you think will be beneficial to you and your family. And most importantly, work hard and do good work so you get more high quality clients.


Well, that’s it!

Is freelance the right career for you? I think it so depends on you and your circumstances. Only you know the answer to that, but if you are, I’m here and ready to chat. Send me a DM on Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!

5 Tips for Managing Your Blog's Facebook

5 Tips for Managing Your Blog's Facebook Page

I'll be the first to admit that my blog's Facebook page is often the last thing on my list. I can stay on top of Twitter and Instagram easy; Pinterest, I tend to fall behind on; and Facebook? If I have time, I'll throw a post Facebook's way... but not usually. 

However, I've been researching and researching to find out the best ways to manage Facebook without actually spending a ton of time on it. My time is limited and I'd rather have my 30 minutes of relaxing by scrolling through Instagram than having an extra 30 minutes of work (is that lazy?). Here's what I discovered. 

1. Use a scheduling tool that doesn't suck. 

The secret to managing social media, as most people know by now, is using a scheduling tool. I'm on the record as hating Hootsuite; it's probably my least favorite app, and yet, it's insanely popular. It's ugly; it's wonky; and accounts constantly need refreshed to stay connected. No thanks. 

I recently started using Later and it's a game changer. Later allows you to connect 3 accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are my go-tos) and you have about 30 posts per platform per month in the free version. That's one for each day. Not bad! Later is also visually based, so it allows you to store your best photos and use those, instead of having to constantly uploard and re-upload each individual photo. Genius. 

2. Pick a schedule that works for you. 

Some articles suggest that you should post on Facebook as much as possible. Obviously, this naturally increases your reach--but it doesn't necessarily increase your engagement. In fact, it puts you at risk of annoying your followers. I post once every two days on Facebook (when I, uh, make the effort) because I just find this works best for me. 

3. Write Facebook-specific content. 

Occasionally, it's nice to write a Facebook-specific post--like a special announcement, a giveaway, something, anything. You can promote it in your other social media channels, but since Facebook has a higher character limit, it's a great place to play with micro-blogs and experimental content (like, say, a baking feature you've been thinking of adding to your lifestyle blog). 

4. Tease blog posts. 

Facebook is a great place to tease future blog posts: to provide that little sneak peak at what's coming next. Again, you can promote these sneak peaks on other social media channels, but thanks to that character limit, Facebook is a great place to get feedback and hype people up.  

5. Don't stress about numbers. 

One thing I've learned from my day job is that Facebook numbers deviate more than any other social media channel. Facebook's algorithm (like Instagram's these days) is incredibly wonky. Some days, I will have only blogs I follow have posts in my timeline; the next day, it's all my mom friends. There really doesn't seem to be a correlation. So above all else, if the numbers jump around week-to-week, don't stress about it. It will even out! 

10 Quotes to Use on Instagram

I've written before about how I struggle with Instagram captions. It's definitely a challenge for me to write engaging content both on my blog and on so many social media platforms! But I'm trying... I started thinking recently about quotes that can be used in captions to add a bit of humor, thought, and, of course, engagement. I found a few great ones on Pinterest that I thought would be perfect to share. 

  1. Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud. 
  2. Better an "oops" than a "what if." 
  3. "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ee cummings 
  4. We look up at the stars and see such different things. 
  5. "Maybe one day we'll finally learn to love ourselves and stop apologizing for the things that make us who we are." R.M. Drake
  6. "Of course I feel too much, I'm a universe of exploding stars." S. Ajna 
  7. We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. 
  8. You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we're ready to see it. 
  9. Don't let someone dim your light, simply because it's shining in their eyes. 
  10. When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars. 

For more great Instagram captions, I always turn to Pinterest. You can follow me here


Thanks for reading this blog post. If you loved it, you should sign up for my newsletter here

How to Write Better Instagram Captions

Instagram is a social media platform that I really struggle with. I don't like themes (expect a post on this soon) and I don't really get the need to make my house, or life, or child, or self, seem perfect. Sometimes, I feel really jealous over curated Instagram profiles because it just seems to take so much work

One of the most challenging parts of Instagram is writing captions. Seriously, captions. I can have a good photo and a good idea. But then I'm stuck, staring at that caption box. Like, what do I put here? What works? 

I gathered up a few resources to come up with a few ideas. Here they are. 

1. Write to engage. 

This is something I struggle with. When I post photos, I try to post something I think is funny or related to the photo. But on Instagram, when it comes to getting people's attention, there is a benefit to writing something that engages other people. This is a great post on doing just that

2. Be brief. 

Does this feel like it is at odds with that first point? A little bit. But here's the truth: it's possible to write engaging captions, without going on for sentences. I definitely try to keep my captions two sentences or less. Although I follow some great accounts (like my friend @poesyross) who use longer captions to great effect. For more about writing with brevity, click here

3. Make sure to edit. 

This goes without saying: before you hit post, make sure to proofread. I've definitely hit post before write as I notice a glaring, huge typo on my post. Oops. Not the most professional looking, for sure. For more on editing for length & more, click here

4. Use a quote. 

Here's the thing: sometimes, there just aren't words. You have a great photo. You know what time you need to post for maximum engagement. You have everything ready. Except words. Grab your favorite (related) quote, add a question, and post it with your favorite hashtags. Easy peasy. Pinterest is a great source for great quotes. Click here to view some

3 Ways to Improve Your Flat Lay Photos

It took me a long time to get good at flat lay photos. I have some doozies on my Instagram from back in the day. I've just recently started to get good at it... probably because I only just recently started really, you know, trying. Mainly, I started spending a lot of time looking at flat lay photos that I like (you can view a collection of them on my Pinterest) and really figuring out how to do it. 

A few notes: 

  • I really believe in having your own "style." A lot of flat lays seem to follow a similar formula: white or marble background, gold or rose gold accents, truly random props. I'm not into that. I use two plaid scarves as my backgrounds because that feels a little more "my style" for Fall and Winter. Come Spring, I'll figure something out. 
  • Don't feel the need to take flat lay photos if you just don't like them! I like them: they're simple, they're pretty, and the more you practice, the easier they are to take. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect. You don't need a DSLR. I use my iPhone. 

Ok, let's talk tips now. 

1. Have the right apps 

I use my iPhone to take all my flat lay photos. Here's why: It's easier. I can take one really quickly while Forrest is halfway destroying my kitchen, then get back to business. I take photos with my iPhone camera. I have the grid option turned on--you can turn this on in settings--because it helps center things and make sure you're getting a good angle. Then, I edit using A Color Story from A Beautiful Mess. You can use a variety of filters (and buy some extras), but I use the same filters every time: Magic Hour (25%), Ginger Tea (25%), Disco Ball (50%), then either Everyday (50%), Lite Bright (50%), or Ruby Haze (50% or less). If you feel your photo wasn't taken in the best light and has that slightly "yellow" look, you can adjust the white balance in A Color Story as well. 

2. Take photos near a window. 

Point blank: the best light is indirect sunlight. I take photos in my bedroom, with the curtains open, on my bed. So set up your photo station near a window and snap away. If I miss daylight hours (which I often do), it's a bust: I'll never be able to edit photos taken at night, under artificial lights, to look as good as I want them to. Sometimes, I still post them anyway, but only when desperate. 

3. Crop accordingly. 

I think the number one mistake that I continue to make is feeling like I should't "crop" a photo. But sometimes photos look better when you crop out extra space. Prime example: When I post flat lays of books (like this one or this one), I end up cropping out a lot of "extra space" so you can focus on the cover. Don't be afraid to crop and that means, maybe cropping something partly out of the photo (like I cropped out my Kindle partially in this photo). 


Most importantly, don't be afraid of being perfectly imperfect. Like if your nail polish is looking rough. Or it's something you don't want to, um, put down on the ground. Or if you son decides he wants the book you're trying to take a photo of. It's ok. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's just Instagram! 

5 Tips for Starting a Newsletter

I launched my newsletter in mid-December, so when it comes to newsletters, I am by no means an expert! However, if you're looking for someone who is working through the process in real time, I'm the blogger for you. If you're wanting to launch your own newsletter, here are a few tips, from one newbie to another. 

1. Pick a platform you know. 

I was very lucky that I knew how to use an email platform previously. Mailchimp was what I had experience in and even though I know there are actually better platforms out there, I went with Mailchimp simply because I knew it was easy to use. If you don't have experience with email platforms, I highly recommend doing a little research beforehand, watching a few videos, and knowing what you're getting into! 

2. Stick with a schedule. 

Pick a schedule to start with--nothing too strict. Once a month, or every other week. Put those dates on your calendar and start a document with topics so you're never scrambling at the last minute. I've signed up for a few new newsletters and ended up getting inundated with emails in the first two weeks--bloggers get excited about their newsletter and end up sending out a ton of them early on. Not only is that really annoying for subscribers, but you'll end up getting exhausted at the amount of work you're putting in! 

3. Don't expect instant success. 

Here's the thing: it will take a while to get into a groove with writing newsletters. It's important to remember that it will not only take time to build your subscription list, but it will also take time to write newsletters that people really want to read. Focus on writing great content and figuring out what your readers want first--not necessarily on being instantly successful! 

4. Promote (of course). 

Funny thing, but you've got to promote your newsletter! I have sign ups on my blog, but I also tweet a link to sign up at least every few days. Encourage your friends to sign up and to share it on social media as well. Promotion is the only way you'll get anywhere, so don't just set it and forget it! 

5. Have fun

Listen, it's not the end of the world if you launch a newsletter and it ends up falling flat! Most importantly, just have fun. Send the newsletter that you would be excited to see in your inbox; write the things you want to see. When you are passionate and having fun, it will resonate with people! 

And of course, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, sent out every other Wednesday, here!

6 Tips for Surviving Internships

As you all remember, internships were my bread and butter for several months of my life after graduating college. At one point in time, I was working part-time at a grocery store deli and doing three (yes, three!) internships at once. It was exhausting. 

I learned a lot from doing internships and more than anything, I gained experience that made me seem invaluable to employers. With new graduates every year, there are a new league of unemployed and terrified graduates who have no idea what they are doing and no idea where to start. Hopefully, these tips can be a help to them. 

I'm certainly not an internship expert, but I do know a few things. These tips are for current students, new graduates, and anyone who is wanting to start a new career. 

1. Yes, you do need to do an internship or two. 

Or seven, in my case. In college, I did two substantial internships, but I was a rarity. A majority of the people I knew did one internship, or independent study, as they were considered the same thing. This, unfortunately, means there is a substantial portion of college students graduating with one three-month period of professional experience. That's... not great, guys. Do an internship; if you can, do two. If you really can, do more than two. Do as many as you can when you are in school and can afford it. An internship can be anything, really: writing articles on the side for a local publication, volunteering your services as a local animal shelter, or working the counter at a women's shelter. There are tons of internships out there that are not in offices. 

I realize this is hard for people who are paying for school, and housing, and everything else, entirely by themselves. You might feel you have to decide between part-time (or full-time) work or an internship: one benefits the now, one benefits the future. Which leads me to...

2. Do know that you'll have to make sacrifices. 

Something like 99% of internships are unpaid. And paid internships are basically like fighting a gladiator: the very, very lucky receive paid internships. That's not to say "don't apply for paid internships"; it's more of a "don't put all your eggs in one basket" life tip. 

If you need to work part-time, but you want to do internships to make sure you get a job after college (which, really, I hope that's why you're in college), know that you'll need to make sacrifices. This applies if you're a new graduate working a weird part-time job, as well. You'll basically be working over full-time, but only be paid for part of it. You'll be exhausted, but the experience is ultimately worth it.

One last note on this: I know this is an unfair and messed up system. But, here's the thing: it's easier to tear down a broken system from the inside. Once we're all the CEOs and leaders of the world, we can change this--and I'm 99% sure we will. For now, however, these are just the facts, as crappy as they are.  

3. Do know that you can use part-time job experience to impress employers. 

Do you worked through college, or the months after college, at a retail job, while doing internships? Don't tell potential employers you were just doing internships. Say the reality! "I was going to school full-time, working part-time at McDonald's, and then I did 3 internships in 6 months." Excuse me, but that's impressive. What did you learn working that hard? What did it make you realize? What skills did you gain (prioritizing, budgeting, time management)? These experiences can be used to your advantage. Don't be humble. Brag. 

4. Do know that you can consider blogging an internship or even a job.

I always include my blog on my resume. I always talked about what blogging and social media has taught me and how I could apply those skills to the job I was interviewing for. For this reason, keep your blog up: keep it professional and make it awesome. In short, make your hobby count for something and know how to talk about it, professionally, in interviews. 

5. Do know you can e-mail any business asking if they need interns. 

So, you can't find any local internship opportunities. What's stopping you from emailing local businesses to see what you can offer them? You're not asking for money. Ask if you can job shadow, or intern, for a week or two. Ask if you can at least meet them to talk. Mention why you're interested in interning for the company and what you hope to gain from it, and why only they can offer it. People love to feel special; make HR feel special when they receive that email. 

When I first graduated, I spent hours applying to jobs and emailing local businesses -- mostly PR and marketing firms, some publishing companies -- I wanted to work for. I heard back from some; I never heard back from others. But it was a way to introduce myself and set myself apart. If they do have job openings in the future, I can always slyly mention that I emailed them as a new graduate and how I'm still so excited to have the opportunity to work for them. Sneaky, huh? 

6. Don't think internships are magic job machines.

They're really not. I did seven internships after college and it still took me eight months to a get a job that didn't include orthopedic shoes. It took me another nearly two years until I got a job in my field. An internship is never going to magically get you a job; you'll still have to work for it, remain interesting, and interview well. And sometimes, the timing has to be just right.  

In short, when it comes down to it, internships are an important stepping stone for entering the real world; you can't ignore their importance, but they certainly aren't magic. Work hard, do your best, and no matter what, do things that will set you apart from the crowd, whether it's starting your own freelance business or managing an amazing blog.