My article was published on HelloGiggles!

Hi everyone!

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I’m super excited to announce that an article I wrote exclusively for HelloGiggles was published this morning. You can check it out here, and I’d love it if you would. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers!

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14 things i’ve learned in my first 3 months of freelancing

14 things-3

I’m sure I’m not the first person out there to want to quit my day job and start working on my own thing, so roughly three months ago, I did it. I took the plunge. I signed up for a few freelance sites, made a writing-only resume, pulled together some samples, and I began to apply. After some trial and error, I’ve figured out a few things that work…and a lot of things that don’t. I’ve had a lot of people ask me for tips or ask various questions about how to get into freelancing, so below are 14 things I’d recommend when you want to start freelancing. That being said, I’m sure these could apply to more than just freelancing.

  1. Start small. When I first started applying for jobs, I knew I needed to build up my feedback before anyone would want to hire me for long-term positions. I started by applying for small, low-paying jobs in order to get some 5-star feedback and make myself more marketable. I looked for jobs I could complete quickly, and I applied to a ton of them. oDesk has since changed its application process, but it’s also started to match freelancers up with more relevant jobs. Good call!
  2. Make goals. For me, these goals were financial. I set an amount that I knew I wanted to make each week, and I did whatever I needed to to reach that amount. I started with just $100 per week, but I’ve surpassed that every single week since creating the initial goal, and usually by quite a bit. That’s obviously not enough to replace anyone’s full-time job, but it’s a start. After the first quarter, I’m going to review where I’m at and create new goals.
  3. Follow up. Several of the clients I’ve taken on are long-term clients. That being said, they don’t always need work each week. In order to not be forgotten, I check in with them once each week at the beginning of the week to see if there’s any work that week. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn’t, but sending them a friendly reminder has definitely paid off.
  4. Go the extra mile. Whether it’s a nice email, lengthy 5-star recommendation, or a great referral, always go the extra mile for your clients.
  5. Don’t take on too much. This is something I learned the hard way. In addition to working from home, I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I have to do my best to keep all of my tasks balanced. I don’t work when Isla is awake and I try my best not to work nights or weekends, but if I take on too much, I lose the free time weekends and week nights provides. If you know you can only work 2-3 hours per day, only give yourself work that will fit into your tight schedule.
  6. Stick to one site. While sometimes I break my own rule and work on Elance, I usually just stick to oDesk. I chose oDesk simply because I like it better, and it keeps all my recommendations in one place. I’ve recently had some clients move off oDesk and I’ve also had people coming to me (on sites like LinkedIn), but overall, most of my work comes from oDesk. With too many sites, your feedback is spread out and it’s harder to keep track of everyone.
  7. Set up an email that’s strictly business. I tried using my personal email, but it was hard to keep personal and business emails separate. I am in the process of setting up a business website, and I bought a Google account with it. All my business emails now go to taylor@taylorbasilio.com.
  8. Keep copies of everything. All my feedback, emails, invoices, etc. are all stored not only on oDesk/Elance, but also on my computer. That way, I have everything on hand if one of the sites crash or there’s an issue with my profile.
  9. Take advantage of free time. While I love reading during nap time, I only get 1-2 nap times per day. Take advantage of downtime by getting ahead on your work. You’ll thank yourself later. Plus, more free time = more work = more money.
  10. Explore different niches. I’ve always read that you should pick one specific niche for writing. I haven’t done this yet, and while it makes for more work, you’ll also find you prefer writing in one specific genre over the other. My favorites? Military, parenting, and advice topics. My least favorite? Well, I used to write blogs for a rug pad website, so…
  11. Set up a space that’s used only for work. We have an in-home office at our house, but if we didn’t have this, I would set up a desk somewhere at home that was used strictly for work. I tend to get easily distracted when I’m working somewhere that isn’t my designated space–like the living room or in bed–and I find this issue is eliminated when I only work in the office.
  12. Take breaks. If I don’t take a 5-10 minute break every now and then throughout the day, I start to get stir crazy. On my breaks, I read something other than work-related emails/pieces, work out, go for a walk, or just relax. Of course, when Isla is awake, that entire time is a break and we play, go outside, etc.
  13. Use calendars. I use three calendars to keep track of due dates, money, what I’ve done each day, etc. I have a monthly wall calendar, a kate spade planner (though I use this more for personal stuff during the day, and mine is white with gold dots), and a large weekly planner (mine is bigger, purple, and from Target). I would say having this many planners, though excessive, is what single-handedly keeps me sane and prevents me from losing track of what I’ve done and what I have to do.
  14. Structure your days. On Monday, I figure out all things financial. Tuesdays-Fridays are for getting done what’s due that week. Saturdays and Sundays are catch-up days. I plan to have even more structure to my days in the future, but right now, having these days designated towards a specific task makes a huge difference and keeps me organized.

If you work from home/run your own business and have any tips, let me know! I’d love to hear them.

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currently | april

Can you believe it’s already April? I certainly can’t, but I don’t hate it. We’ve planted our gardens, decorated the outdoors, and had our first bonfire of the year with some of our favorite friends. Not a bad way to begin spring!

april currently

LOVING: My sister stepped up to the plate again with awesome gifts. It was my birthday on the 29th of last month, and she got me two things I can’t stop using. One of them was It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye, which, I kid you not, is the best under eye concealer I’ve ever used. Not only does it have awesome coverage, but I literally use about 1/8th of a dime size amount–probably even less than that–and it hides everything like a dream. The other thing she got me hooked on is Batise Dry Shampoo. If you haven’t tried this stuff yet, you’re missing out. I’ve used the coconut & exotic tropical before which I really like, and she got me the floral & flirty blush scent this month and it’s seriously perfect for spring. Looooove it. I put some in my hair before bed and a little bit again in the morning, and you’d never guess that I haven’t washed my hair. Another scent I adore? sassy & daring wild. It’s probably my favorite, but they all smell incredible.

READING: I finished two books this month (so far): The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins and It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. If you missed it, I talked back in January about my goal of reading 24 books in 2015, and I have seven done so far. I need to step up my game! Anyway, here’s what I thought about these two:

  • The Girl On The Train. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and comparing it to Gone Girl, so naturally, I had to check it out. It was on hold at the library for basically forever, but it finally arrived to me. Before I actually started reading it, I listened to a few chapters as an audiobook on my way home from mine and Isla’s trip to Ohio last month. I’ve only ever listened to one other book as an audiobook, Lolita, and I was pleasantly surprised. I love Megan’s voice, and it made my trip fly by. When it actually came down to reading it, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much until the end, and even then, it was somewhat predictable. It was good, and I’d give it 3.5 stars, but I didn’t love it like I loved Gone Girl.
  • It Was Me All Along. This one started off slow, but I got into it pretty quickly. I loved hearing about Andie’s life, and I don’t know what it is about people describing food, but I adore it. I could really relate to a lot of what she talked about, and I couldn’t put it down once I hit the middle. When it ended, it seemed sort of unfinished, and I would have loved to hear more about her blogging experience. Other than that, I really adored this book. Perfect match to me currently participating in a PiYo and healthy eating challenge.

WATCHING: “Secrets and Lies.” OH MY GOD, I love this show. Ryan Phillipe was like the sexy bad boy of my childhood dreams, so I don’t hate seeing him walking around shirtless 75% of the time on this show. Dom and I started it three or four days ago after we caught up on some of our other shows (like “The Following”), and we finished all six episodes by last night. So good. It can be a little predictable at times, but overall, I can comfortably say I’m addicted. I won’t say who my guess is for the killer. Other show we love is the same as last month. I think “The Following” is getting better each season, and I don’t say that for many shows. Joe seemed like child’s play compared to this new killer/”number one student” (I don’t know his name), and I can’t wait to see how wild it will get before the season is up. And then I will mourn until the next season.

ANTICIPATING: Nothing, really. That’s a nice change! We have some family coming in town for Isla’s Baptism this week, but other than that, nothing too crazy. Things are finally calming down, and I love it.

LISTENING TO: 1989. Still. I will probably have this album on repeat until two years from now when T. Swift comes out with a new one. Also, her and Calvin Harris? Match made in musical heaven.

PLANNING: Beach trips! Mine and Dom’s fourth (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!) wedding anniversary is this month, so I think we are having a little Wilmington getaway. We went to Nashville together last summer, but other than that, we haven’t done anything just the two of us since Savannah before I got pregnant. Can’t wait for this trip, even if it is just a short one!

WORKING ON: Business ventures, and I am so so so excited for the future. There are few things better than your goals and dreams coming together. I’m also working on my personal business website, and it’s coming on nicely (albeit slowly). No complaints!

WISHING: I had more time during the day. With work building, my plate is getting rather full, and it’s exciting (but also nerve-wracking) to turn down jobs I would love to work on because I have so much going on. That being said, it’s always something to be grateful for! Hard work pays off, folks. — What are you up to this month so far? Anything fun happening on your end? Any book or TV recommendations?

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looking good on paper

flaws

These days, it seems everyone is trying to look good on paper.

Thanks, in part, to networks like Pinterest and Instagram, everyone is always trying to seem as though they have it all together. They have the perfect friends, the perfect house, the perfect education, the perfect job, the perfect kids, the perfect spouse…

And it had me thinking.

I’ve known so many people who seem to have it all together, but do they really?

People who post a picture of their husband with a caption about how much they love them and how amazing they are when—five minutes prior—they were screaming at or ridiculing them.

People who talk about how much they hate their job and how miserable it makes them, but the next time you see a post on Facebook, they are talking about how #blessed they are.

People who consistently talk badly about their friends or family, but when it comes to Instagram or Facebook or their blog, they talk about how supportive and wonderful they are.

All I can think is this: What’s the point?

Wouldn’t you rather be real than really full of shit? I know I would.

I can’t say I’m not guilty of the aforementioned crime. While I try to refrain from posting things on social media that I don’t mean, I find myself guilty of trying to look good on paper even if I’m not happy or things seem to be falling apart or I really, really can’t stand the people around me. Like I said before, we all want to have the best job; the best husband or wife; the best kids; the best house on the block. But part of appreciating what you have is acknowledging and admitting that it’s not perfect, and that’s okay. Part of being a real person is admitting when you’re having a hard day or being real with your friends instead of putting on a mask. It’s being honest about who you are.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who are fake. As Dom said to me recently about a not-so-fun situation I’ve been dealing with, “Being nice because you want people to like you isn’t the same thing as being nice.”

Even when you seem to be the nicest person around with the sweetest family and the most money and the best friends, there’s always a background story. We can’t be perfect, so why bother lying to everyone’s faces? Why try to prove how extraordinary you are on an imaginary paper nobody is really reading when, in reality, the paper is a little wrinkled from wear and maybe has a few tears or coffee stains? Being real is what makes you relatable. Being honest is what makes you likable.

In this so-called journey to self-discovery I’ve been on, I’ve been working on not always trying so hard to have the wrinkle-free, tear-free, stain-free paper. I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not when I meet people just so they like me. I’m not going to ever pretend that Isla never cries; never whines; is always perfect. I’m not going to say I have the perfect marriage because, in reality, none of us do or ever will.

While I am so glad with where I’m at and that I’m learning every day how to have a fulfilled life, I’m going to stop trying to look good on paper.

And start trying to look good in real life, imperfect days and all.

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becoming a better person

It’s something all of us strive for, right? But what if becoming a better person means you have to face — and take responsibility for — all your demons?

Sylvia

It’s not as simple as recognizing deep down inside what you’ve done; who you are; the mistakes you’ve made. I’ve tried that path, and I can tell you first-hand that it doesn’t work. You can journal, pray, blog, or beg for forgiveness in your own mind, but I’ve personally found that the only way to start fresh is to admit out loud who you are. To take responsibility for your demons and your actions and your past. To drown yourself in the bad things you’ve done…because only then can you come up for air. Only then are you admitting the person you are is better left behind you. Only then will the guilt screaming at you in your head, trying to burst out through your vocal cords, quiet itself. Starting anew is refreshing, but damn, if it isn’t hard. We all want to spring clean our souls and follow our resolutions, but we wonder days or weeks or months later why we’ve fallen short. Some of us hate our past, some of us are embarrassed, and some of us are simply disappointed, restless, and so, so exhausted. So we make more promises we can’t keep. We want the ending, but we don’t want to do the work. After so many times where I’ve sworn this was it — that this time, I would change — I’m forcing myself to do the work. I’m forcing myself to own up to what I’ve done, who I’ve been, and the dark thoughts I’ve found myself wrestling with for years. I’ll admit, it’s scary. It’s scary to not know how the world around you will react when you take off your mask, but it’s worth it. After all, don’t we all just want a fresh start?

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learning to step outside my comfort zone

I wish I could say I’m a firm believer in regularly stepping outside of your comfort zone, but I’m not.

self-confidence

I’m often quick to greet new people, I’m not shy in the slightest, I don’t mind public speaking (likely due to majoring in Communication Studies), and I love trying new foods. These things are arguably difficult for many people — outside of their comfort zone — but I handle them with ease.

That being said, one thing I struggle with is speaking openly about my personal feelings on religion.

I grew up in a Catholic family. We went to church almost every Sunday, we said grace before dinner, and I went to CCD/PSR (essentially, church class) on Wednesday nights. This continued fairly regularly until high school. Eventually, we fell off the bandwagon, but I still alternated going to church and youth group with an old friend and my high school ex-boyfriend. It wasn’t consistent, and it was a different religion, but it was church.

That being said, I became as quiet as a mouse when it came to discussion any personal feelings about religion whatsoever. My mom says this is because I’m Catholic, and that’s just the way we are; we don’t pray publicly, we don’t talk about God, and we certainly don’t do it in groups with our friends. So when I was invited by a friend to go to Bible Study this past week, my initial reaction was to crawl into a hole.

For years, I wasn’t even sure I believed in God. This probably started in high school when I began attending church-related functions with my ex-boyfriend, Cory. I listened, and I thought, but the way his family openly prayed together during dinner — with conviction and deep, meaningful discussions — made me uncomfortable. Before I moved, his parents had us hold hands and pray in their living room together about the future, and my hands shook uncontrollably and I thought I might vomit. Not a great reaction, but it wasn’t because I was against it — I just freaked out at the thought of doing it aloud with other people. I didn’t understand why we were doing it. I didn’t even necessarily think anything would come of it. However, my feelings changed later when Dom and I found out we were going to have a daughter of our own, and for some reason, I suddenly couldn’t imagine not raising her around religion. It didn’t make sense to me. It was just something you did, and I wanted to try.

So we started going to church this past November. We attended a Baptism class, and we’ve made changes. We don’t say grace before dinner, but we are there in the “crying room” at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s every Sunday at 9am. This is all a big leap from years before when I had nothing to do with it, though Dom would have always enjoyed going.

But back to Bible Study.

Fear can be overpowering, but I had recently gone through a pretty awful experience with people I thought were my friends, and I had been craving a fresh start. Maja’s invitation couldn’t have had more perfect timing, but I was still hesitant. I called my mom, and we talked about everything that had happened — the drama and the feeling that I should be more involved. I also spoke with my mother-in-law about positive surroundings, both for me and for Isla. So I agreed to go. After all, it was just reading a book and discussing it, and I love to read. What did I have to lose?

On Thursday at 10am, I walked into a soon-to-be new friend’s home. My mind was sort of a nervous blur, and Maja made me some coffee while I met all the new girls who were attending.

Everyone was so nice. So normal. So not the crazy shove-the-Bible-in-your-face type people I wanted to avoid. Everything felt fairly natural as we made a list of people or things we wanted to pray for and assigned someone to do it. The Earth didn’t fall crack down the middle…even if I was a nervous wreck. Everything felt…nice. Simply nice.

I left that day with a powerful new feeling. I felt I met women who were kind, smart, loving, and just all-around great people. I felt positive and…enlightened, for lack of a better word. I didn’t feel I would spontaneously combust the following week when all the ladies came to our house and I had to speak my feelings out loud again. I felt a great change of pace from how life had been years before.

And I realized that it’s amazing what stepping outside of your comfort zone can do.

quicktolisten

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currently | march

Now for March’s “currently” post…because nothing that interesting has occurred in the past few days, and because, well, it’s a new month.

march

LOVING: The 14-months-old age. I told Dom the other night that I think this is my favorite age Isla has been yet. Sure, we have to deal with temper tantrums and a whole lot of boundary-testing, but I just think she is so fun and so sweet right now. The nonstop hugs, kisses, and cuddles are something I never want to leave, and I’m almost sad for her to get a little older because I really think she is perfect right now. I love that she’s learning to talk, giggles at everything, and her drunken sailor walking. I can’t wait to have 50 (or just one) more children.

READING: Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist. And I can’t stop. It’s not a read I’m speeding through, but that’s only because I really want to take in every chapter. I love what she shares about her life (from kids to life lessons to important events) and how she incorporates a favorite home-cooked recipe into almost every chapter. She writes beautifully, and I know I will be really sad to finish this. Definitely a book I would buy (I borrowed it from the library). For more of my favorite books, follow me on Goodreads!

WATCHING: House of Cards season 3 on Netflix. And who isn’t? (Note: if you answer “me” to this question, you may want to reevaluate your TV-watching activities.) While it’s not as action-packed as seasons 1-2, I’m really into what’s up with Doug right now. Also, did anyone else have a weird moment where they thought Claire might be pregnant? Because we did. We are also watching The Following (Mark is super dysfunctional, and I miss Lily and her beautiful face/hair/everything), and I’m, as usual, watching The Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars.

ANTICIPATING: Like last month, I’m looking forward to this trip to Ohio at the end of the month. Baby showers and hair cuts and family, oh my! Plus, my birthday is the 29th. Always a reason for anticipation and celebration. I’m also really excited to take Isla swimming this summer and to build her a swingset in the backyard.

LISTENING TO: A whole lot of throwbacks. Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, and Christina. Check out the #throwbackthursday playlist by Spotify. Isla and I sing it a lot in the car.

PLANNING: Business ventures! Last month was more successful in freelancing than I expected, and I’m really excited for some upcoming projects.

WORKING ON: Gardening. It’s almost that time. And (Mom and Dad, you’ll think this is gross) Dom and I are getting chickens! Both for the eggs and life lessons for Isla. And because we’ve always wanted them. And because we are wannabe farmer hippies.

WISHING: It would just consistently warm up…though I’m not totally ready for the 90-100 degree temperatures we are sure to have in roughly a month or two.

Anyone have book/Netflix/Hulu recommendations?

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