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grammarly

tools for bloggers for your best writing ever

Posted in Blogging by
This post contains affiliate links from Grammarly.

best writing ever

So you’ve worked hard on filling up your content calendar and now you’re writing your posts. You want to make sure that you’re not using “filler” content – higher quality posts will help you get more traffic and build a dedicated base of readers. (Plus, high-quality blogs will attract more brands and sponsors!) These are some of my favorite tools for bloggers that can help ensure you’re putting your best writing forward.

Hemingway: Hemingway is an editor that you can paste your writing into and it will grade it (their recommendation is to write for a ninth grade reading level), offer feedback for hard to read passages and more. You can even write full posts in Hemingway now (including formatting, for easy pasting into your post) and download a desktop app if you prefer to work in a window without website distractions. Readable is a similar service and can grade URLs as well, but their free version only lets you grade a few links at a time.

Grammarly: I’ve posted before about how much I love Grammarly (including screencasts of it in action!) and it continues to be one of my writing must-haves. Since it works in real-time, it really serves my internal editor and helps me make sure I’m not missing any misspellings or errant commas. I highly, highly recommend checking Grammarly out because it’s the number one thing that has helped my writing out more than any other app or service.

Thesaurus: Grab a desktop copy from Amazon or use thesaurus.com – this is one of the most relied upon tools in my kit. Especially when I’m writing a series or very focused post, I might find myself repeating the same word over and over. A thesaurus helps me mix it up and adds variety to my writing!

Byword: A full-screen program for writing, Byword is great for those who get easily distracted when writing in web-based apps. It’s downloadable for Mac and Apple mobile devices, and I love its simplicity. It also lets you export formatted text to PDF, rich text, or HTML for Blogger, WordPress, and other blogging platforms. If you don’t have a Mac or prefer a web-based editor, sign up to find out with Quabel Writer launches. Or for a more extreme option, try BlindWriter – it lets you set a time limit, then blurs out your composition until the time is up. If you’re a merciless editor (like me,) this is a great way to start exercising editing after writing.

Rough Drafts: While blogging shouldn’t bring back nightmares of homework assignments from school, writing drafts of your posts before scheduling them can help you make sure you’re putting the best content forward. I really like Krista’s five question method and printable – her questions help you really focus on your content.

BlaBlaMeter: If you’ve ever wondered about “junky” words in your writing, BlaBlaMeter is a great judge. Paste in your text and it will grade the quality of your writing – if you’re using all the other tools, your writing is probably checking out pretty well here!

Other Bloggers: There’s no substitute for another pair of eyes. Facebook Groups can be a great resource – many of them have weekly schedules, and some of them (like Rock Your Blog & Biz) even have feedback days scheduled in. Check out a subreddit like r/blogging if you’re more comfortable there. Use these opportunities to solicit advice from readers – they might have some advice you’d never have thought of!

Do you use any of these tools for bloggers? Did I miss out on any that you swear by?

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May 24, 2017
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19 gift ideas for high school and college graduates

Posted in Living by
This post contains affiliate links.

gift guide for graduates

It’s that time of year again – every May, high school seniors and college graduates prepare to head off on their next great adventure, and the people who love them try to navigate the best gift ideas for them. I’m a little further away from my graduations than I’d like to admit, but I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of what “the youth” need 😉 here are some ideas for both high school and college grads!

Both

Packing up was always my least favorite part of college, whether it was packing to go to or leave from the dorm. Lighten your grad’s load with a virtual gift – Amazon Prime Student offers their Prime features plus special offers for students (and you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, just like regular Prime services) or gift an Audible subscription – whether they’re walking to class or driving to a new job, audiobooks are a great way to find time to read more.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their phone die at the most inconvenient time. Whether the battery is draining while sitting in the library late at night or while exploring her new city, a Mophie phone case or external battery can be an absolute lifesaver.

Grammarly premium is a great gift idea for anyone (and it’s no secret that I love it). The free version corrects your spelling and grammar, but the premium version makes suggestions on formatting, word choice, and even more – it will make his writing much stronger, whether it’s in Freshman English or the boardroom!

A first aid kit is probably not on your grad’s list – which makes it an even better gift idea. I love this one from Amazon – it’s packed full of stuff and the fabric storage bag means it’s going to be durable no matter where it’s stored. It’s also great to toss in a car trunk or weekend bag.

You can never have too many throw pillows – the more whimsical, the better. I’m a huge fan of this one from Look Human (much to my roommate’s chagrin.) Get something playful for their dorm or new living room, or opt for something a little more discreet.

No matter if they’re leaving their parents house or the dorms, they’re sure to have walls that need decorating. Head over to Etsy and find some artwork inspired by their college to keep their days on campus close to their heart, or show their burgeoning pride!

I never thought that I would lust for a backpack as an adult, but here I am. Quality backpacks are pricey, but totally worth the investment. High school grads might like something whimsical by Vera Bradley, or consider a Tortuga backpack for college grads (perfect for travel or the daily city commute.)

High School

Subscription boxes are super fun, and there’s one that’s curated just for college students. Campuscube lets you send themed care packages – maybe he’s stressed about exams coming up, or her first birthday away from home is coming. Or maybe you just want to send an unthemed box her way – there are options for both boys and girls. (I’m especially into the Sunshine box for her – that Flamingo cup holder though!)

If your grad is anything like me, I just guzzled down coffee in college (so really, nothing different than a normal day now.) I love these “long distance” mugs, and they can be customized so no matter how far from home she is, she’ll always have a reminder.

Sunscreen is super important. Your grad might be spending more time outside than ever, especially living on campus and walking to classes and anywhere else. Gift her some SPF – it’s something most people out on their own for the first time might not think to put on their list. My favorite is Sun Bum (and not just because of the fun name and great packaging!)

Another thing that newly independent grads might overlook is toothbrush and toothpaste – help them out with a subscription service like BOKA, which will send a dental care package every few months!

Dorm rooms can feel so stale and institutional. Using cute lighting can help tint the walls to make them feel less dull, and introduce some warmth to the room. I’ve had a sea salt lamp for a few years and love the added health benefits they tout, but no first year dorm room is complete without twinkle lights.

Bullet journaling can be a great way to organize your life, but it can also be pricey to get started. Set her up with a notebook and some pens – or if she’s not the crafty type herself, the Passion Planner will help map out her classes and stay on track with homework and social activities.

College

It’s really easy to get down on yourself after graduation during the seemingly never-ending job hunt. You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job from Workman Publishing is something she can turn to on those days when she’s not feeling so optimistic.

Get a four-piece coffee pourover set: it includes everything your grad needs to make a great cup of coffee, like a coffee maker, grinder, kettle and matching travel mug!

Whether she’s working in an office setting, living the remote life, or even navigating the part-time world, a crossbody bag like this from Free People will carry all her essentials, whether it’s her laptop, change of clothes, or padfolios.

I love candles – they’re so calming, and they give off a great ambiance. No matter what kind of scent your grad likes, it’s easy to find something that fits (even if it’s a candle that gets tucked away in a dude’s bathroom. In that case, PLEASE HEED THIS GIFT SUGGESTION!)

In theory, graduating from college should also mean moving on from red solo cups, so upgrade their cocktail game with some fancy rocks glasses. Sisters of Los Angeles has the cutest stuff, and you can mix and match cities to pay homage to a hometown, college town, and brand new city!

Graduation should mean a skincare upgrade as well, and Glossier is a line I’d love to try splurging on. Their packaging is even so cute you won’t want to hide it away in a medicine cabinet, and the reviews are consistently great.

May 12, 2017
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how to improve your writing with grammarly

Posted in Blogging by
This post contains affiliate links from Grammarly.

Writing can be overwhelming and tough – sometimes when you have the great ideas going, your fingers might not want to keep up and you have some spelling to go back and fix, or some grammatical mistakes don’t get caught right away. Last summer I was looking for an extension that worked a little better than the built-in one offered by Chrome: enter Grammarly. Grammarly is an app that adds to your browser that double checks your work, underscoring any mistakes you don’t catch so editing is much easier. Not only does it catch typos, it also alerts you with suggestions to improve your writing.

Because Grammarly runs as you type in real-time, you can quickly and easily update those typos or misspellings. It also allows you to add words to your own personal dictionary (super helpful for those of us with less common first or last names.) That way,

improve your writing

You can also create a new document in their online interface, or upload existing documents to scan them to improve your writing. In this preview, you can see how it checks your writing and grammar to help improve your blog posts, emails, reports, papers, or any other copy!

grammarly

Having clean and well-written blog posts can help your engagement – the easier your blog is to read, the more people will want to follow along! High-quality blogs also rank higher in search engines, so Grammarly can even help you with your SEO.

Grammarly also features a plagiarism checker, which is another way to improve your search ranking. The more unique your content is, the more favored it will be by search engines as well.

In addition to the free version that checks your spelling and grammar, there’s also a paid version that can improve your writing even more. Grammarly Premium checks out your sentence structure, word suggestions, and corrections based on what you’re writing specifically. Grammarly Premium even integrates directly with Microsoft Word!

I’m a really big fan of Grammarly and highly recommend checking it out!

Do you use a spelling or grammar checker as you write, or do you prefer to run a check after you’re done?

April 12, 2017
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