Is Pinterst Your New Google?

When I need to find a v-neck white blouse with a bow, I search Pintrest. If I have no clue what to make for dinner but I’ve got a pound of shrimp, I search Pintrest. More and more often I find myself frustrated with the search results I’m getting from Google or Bing but entirely happy with what I find on Pintrest. Why are so many others making this same switch?

While Pintrest doesn’t have the same saturation as Facebook or other social sites, yet, it is growing quickly both in the U.S. and internationally. Some still see Pintrest as a place to store some recipes or craft ideas, but it has become so much more. According to Penny Fox in an article on Busines2Community.com, “At it’s core, Pintrest is the place for people to plan and aspire about what they can do to enrich their lives.” So yes I have a board for recipes and one for crafts, but I have about thirty others too. I have quotes that inspire me, images and quotes that evoke the right mood for the novels I’ve written and pins that just make me think or laugh. So all the results I get when I search the site are important things that were worth saving to other people. I get search results with a personal touch.

In the article Ms. Fox also notes that understanding your search results on Pintrest is much easier because, “Most people are visual learners. We connect faster with images because it’s easier to scan visual search results over a list of text links.”

So on Pintrest my search for a blouse or recipe will net me images that I can scan to find what I am looking for. But the benefits don’t stop there. Once I find an image I like I can click on it and follow it to it’s source. More and more often that source is a retail site where I can purchase the item I want. Large retailers and one-woman Etsy shops are quickly tapping into the power of the Pintrest search and creating their own searchable pin boards.

But it’s when I am looking for ideas more than a specific item that Pintest far exceeds the other search engines. If I’m planning a cruise I can find ideas for things to pack, excursions in each port, hints from others who have already taken the trip, and pictures of the ship and ports. I can combine all of these and save them to a board that I create. When I’m ready to pack or book excursions,I can refer back to that board and easily find what I need (again, the images help a lot). Or, I can just look at them and dream (which is half the fun of planning a trip).

Finally, through my searching I can find others who share my interests and connect with them. Another feature that is not available on the big search engines. When I log onto Pintrest I see pins from people I follow, people I share interests with. The latest fall fashions, best healthy recipes, hottest pictures of beautiful men and uplifting quotes that speak to me are lined up on my home page and change often. It is easy to get pulled in and just keep scrolling and clicking and scrolling (you get the idea).

source: 5 Min for Mom.com
source: 5 Min for Mom.com

If you need a Euro to dollars conversion, go with google. The web address of your local dentist–bing it. But for most of life’s other dilemmas, I say, throw it up on Pintrest and see what comes up. I think you’ll be amazed at the results.

Is Pintrest your new go to search engine? What’s your favorite way to use Pintrest? As always I’d love to hear from you.

Advertisements

3 Things You May Have Not Considered About Working From Home

My favorite futurist, Faith Popcorn, predicts that most workers in the future will have multiple income streams. They may contract with one or more companies as well as have one or more home-based businesses. This system not only protects people from losing it all if they lose a job, it also allows you to pursue several areas that interest you as opposed to choosing only one. In this scenario almost everyone will be involved in some form of a home-based business. To many this sounds like a fantastic set-up but as a current home-based entrepreneur I predict that this scenario will be rosier for some than others.

For the past sixteen years I have been working from home in some capacity. My latest gigs are teaching work from homeonline classes for the past eight years and now self publishing too and I admit that most days I love working from home. However, I know others who have moved their offices home then changed their minds once the reality set in. Setting up a desk in a corner of the dining room or the extra bedroom is only the first step to making it work.

I always like to get the negative out of the way first so let me start with–isolation. This is the big one that is often under estimated and can be so bad that people choose to go back to drive-time traffic and cubicles. It’s extremely easy to become a home-based hermit. It starts with not changing out of your PJ’s, all day. Which leads to not going to the gym or out to meet someone for lunch because, why change for one hour? Weeks can go by with the only human contact you have being the FedEx driver and your immediate family–if you let it happen. This is why so many flock to coffee shops and other places with relative quiet, tables and free wifi. While this helps a little, it doesn’t solve the problem of actually needing to interact with others who understand your business. It is crucial that you make plans to get dressed and leave the house to meet with people with whom you can share ideas and frustrations (introverts especially take note of this one).

Time flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse. On days that I need to be there for my kids it’s a fantastic bonus but on days when I’m having trouble getting organized and focused it’s definitely not. An office provides structure: a start time, lunch break, meetings, etc. Some home jobs have a built in structure, but many can be worked on anytime of the day (or night). To make this aspect work for you, you need to let go of classic ideas about work versus home time. Figuring out your personal best schedule is key. Are you the most focused early in the morning? Are there jobs that are route and dull and can be done while on a speaker phone? Is there a class you want to take that is offered during the day? (that will be a great reason to change out of your PJ’s?) Personally, I never go shopping on the weekends unless I absolutely have to. Costco on a Tuesday morning is a breeze compared to Saturday afternoon. It isn’t efficient to focus on work during the day and family or personal tasks on nights and weekends.

Time flexibility also allows you to create your own schedule; deciding exactly what you want to accomplish, when and how–your goals are now your own too. This freedom sounds great and can be once you do a little soul searching. You might have specific goals set by your company, but even then you now get to (have to) incorporate those in with your other non-work goals in a new way. Unplanned time will disappear into the same place half your socks go  and it’s easy to lose balance. If you are running your own business it’s tempting to keep working and not stop for things like food, water, friends. Setting my own goals has been the most challenging part of working from home. They change as I change and my family and business change. Without a boss to establish them for me and with more time (no commute, shorter lunches, etc.) than most, figuring out exactly what I need or want to be doing and when has been an ongoing challenge. The key to success is setting time aside to establish goals, make action plans and also note your accomplishments. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you.

If Faith Popcorn is right (and she often is) working from home is in your future. Maybe you are part of the growing number who are already there, living the dream of owning their time, but working with the challenges too.

I’d love to hear from other home entrepreneurs. What surprised you most about working from home? How do you make it work for you? Comment and share below.

The Introvert Workout

Late summer trailYesterday we had a break from the oppressive heat and humidity that is Memphis in August. I jumped out of bed, excited to hit the trail. It’s the same trail I walk often, but I knew it would be different. The trees would have changed from the last time I hiked it; a denser canopy, a few possibly just starting to turn for fall. Storms had fell a few and made new clearings. A new season of wild flowers had bloomed. It was like meeting up with an old friend after months apart to see how they had changed.

I ran into a few other people along the trail but we were content to exchange nothing more than a smile, a nod, or a quick “morning.” (Possibly more introverts.) I was mostly alone, allowed to be lost in my thoughts; fleshing out characters and scenes in my next novel or overthinking all kinds of mom stuff.

It was easy to walk 3 1/2 miles. It passed quickly and I could have easily gone longer if I had the time. On a crisp fall day I can walk 5 or 6 miles and be surprised when I reach the end. I burn calories and accomplish the “goal” of a workout but I do it in a way that clears my mind, sparks my creativity and feeds my soul.

My husband goes to the gym almost every morning. He not only gets in a workout but he also gets a social rush out of it. He keeps me updated on stuff happening in our community that he knows about from gym gossip. As an extrovert his morning workout fuels both his body and his social mind. I tried that route but I have to admit that I cringed a little every time I entered the building. The small talk between classes or over equipment was a struggle when my brain was busy working on processing my day ahead. If the weather even hinted at being nice I felt drawn to stay outside. I suggested we move class to the parking lot more than once. Everyone thought I was joking.

In American culture working out is a huge part of socializing and yet another place that an introvert can feel out of step, literally in my case. What is a grapevine step and why does everyone else in class seem to know but me? I want to be healthy in both mind and body and I’ve discovered the only way I can achieve both is by hiking. And ironically, my solo sport led me to a social group. Through Meetup I joined a hiking group that regularly hikes a trail that it is particularly easy to get lost on, which works for me in so many ways. I’m not left meandering alone on the confusing trails and I’ve met more quiet people who understand the pull of time in nature. It meets my need for a connection with the exact people it can be hard to connect with (because we all enjoy being alone).

So what is your introvert workout? Introvert or extrovert have you found a way that charges your physical and mental batteries? Share in comments and if hiking is your thing too check out my Pintrest board All Who Wander Are Not Lost.

Work From Home Wardrobe – Fall 2015

It’s true, when you work from home you can spend all day in your PJ’s. (Trust me, I have.) But eventually you’re gonna need to leave the house and it’s nice to put on something besides yoga pants and an over-sized tee shirt (standard writer’s uniform).

Since I don’t work in an office it’s hard to justify spending much on clothes but I like to get a few new pieces each season. I’m rushing fall, I know. It’s still closer to 100 than 50 degrees here in Memphis but the new season of Project Runway and back to school have fall clothes on my brain. I perused my go-to fashion sites (see list below) and a few stores and came up with the following list of key fall pieces.

  1. Utility Jacket. utility jacket collageMy niece wore one on her two-week trip to Europe. It was a great choice because it went with almost all her casual clothes, had a ton of pockets and was roomy enough to layer another jacket or sweater underneath on cold days. I have one that I picked up a few years ago at Target that I love to wear with jean or dress it up more with black pants and animal prints.

 

 

click image to see more on my Pintrest fall fashion page
click image to see more on my Pintrest fall fashion page

2. Leather leggings. I would be more accurate to say Pleather leggings (no way I’m springing for the real thing). They look a lot like black skinny jeans but with a little more edge. Bonus: they are super comfy for travel. Most of the mall stores will have them for around $15-20 a pair. A small investment to look a little more cosmo or dangerous.

 

click image to see more accessories on my Pintrest page
click image to see more accessories on my Pintrest page

3. Gold Jewelry. It’s easy to stack necklaces, rings and bracelets in simple geometric shapes and not have them look overwhelming. Charming Charlies has an entire wall of short, medium and long necklaces for you to mix and create your own look.

 

 

 

There’s a few other trends I’ve got my eye on like fringe. It would be easy to add a fringy skirt or sweater to pieces I already have for the holidays. Chunky heeled shoes are growing on me too. I’ve already pinned a few pair of leather ones to my Pintrest accessory page (click here to see.)

What trends are you adding for fall? Which ones are you avoiding? Comment below and link to your latest pins or favorite sites. If you’re not sure yet, here’s a list of links to a few of my favorite fashion bloggers. Click on each name to visit the site.

Wendy’s Lookbook

Penny Chic

The Budget Fashionista

 

This Ain’t No Rest Home Missy

My kids and I had a conversation about brains yesterday, specifically how our brains are changing. As teenagers theirs are forming new connections and changing like crazy. We listened to a TED podcast that explained how their cerebral cortex is changing and unfortunately my brain is changing too. As a middle-aged woman, mine would like to turn off a few connections and start to relax a bit–to which I reply, “nope.”

By choosing to self publish and become a midlife entrepreneur I’m telling my brain that we will be forming new connections by learning new skills and pushing my creativity to new levels. Some days this plan definitely works better than others. 

Currently I am writing the second novella in an eight-book series that I have committed to releasing in early 2016 (January? fingers crossed). I’m also reading “Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kristen Lamb and exponentially expanding the underdeveloped social media section of my brain. Whether it’s due to being introverted or just not growing up with social media, I recommend this fantastic book if you, like me, need to decode the strange land of cryptic conversations on Twitter and other social media sites. No matter what type of business you are running this book will help. 

I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that I’m smarter than the average monkey so I will figure out (usually with the help of a book or YouTube video) anything that confounds me or stands in my way. Marketing my books was falling into that category. And it gets tempting to just walk away. Social media changes so quickly I would imagine it is hard for those in the know to keep up. For me it’s like going after a moving target or a finish line that’s perpetually moving another foot away. But I don’t give up because I’m just too damn stubborn and doing so would be to finally acknowledge that the average monkey is now smarter than me. (That day is coming, I know, but I’m fighting the good fight to stall it.)

Today I’m revealing my new author bio and redesigned website. It seems I’m not the only one in our family who has a relentless push to keep learning. My son Beau has been on a self-taught quest to improve his programming skills and I’m his favorite guinea pig. If you like it and are looking for someone to create a site for you (at amazing small-business friendly prices) you can contact him at Beau@DigiPhreakDesign.com. 

OK, enough pimping my kid. Now for the big reveals, the result of choosing to forestall my trip to the rest home by not resting on my laurels, by firing up all kinds of new creative brain cells. My new author bio:

I was sure I could never be a writer. I grew up too ordinary—a suburban, lapsed-Catholic, Irish, white girl who drank too much beer and kissed too many boys. I wanted to be different, unique; to live my life in some extraordinary place because I was sure that was where all the action was, where the fun was, where somethinginteresting was going on.
Then I grew up (sort of) and discovered something; there is passion and angst in suburbia along with pain and hope, it’s just hidden behind tan and beige exteriors and banal discussions about potty training and tree rot.  I discovered there is an art to reading between the lines and looking for clues, to finding raw humanity in a place designed to hide it.  I’ve always watched and studied people, questioned their motivations and agendas, wanted to know the stories behind their stories. As a writer I tapped into my over-active imagination to create those stories.
I tell the love story of the teens no one remembers at the thirty-year reunion, the ones that stood out to no one but each other. The woman who no one would vote as most likely to succeed but who does succeed by being the same quiet, smart girl they all overlooked. I write about the hysterically silly moments, inspiring wins and crushing letdowns that happen to us all and make everyone’s life extraordinary.
I still live in suburbia and have retained my embedded Catholic guilt. I’ve replaced beer with whiskey and boys with one man, who I kiss often. My life is still pretty ordinary, but my writing isn’t.

If you’d like to see my redesigned site you can click here

I welcome feedback on both so I can keep growing as an author. I’d also love to know what you do to keep your brain active. My kids are trying to sell me on gaming to sharpen my brain. Thoughts?