Emails that brighten my spirits.

As some of you may know, from time to time I will have one-on-one chats with fellow bloggers to try and give them some extra tips and tricks to the trade in hopes that it’ll help them in their blogging journey.

I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel when they send me notes about just how excited they are when they make improvements and good things happen for them!

A couple of weeks back I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and she was expressing her excitement that, for the first time ever, her blog hit 100 views in 24 hours. I was excited to hear her excitement, but I was also excited for her because I know what a talented blogger she is and I also know what an interesting person she is. She has a lot to share with this world and a lot of value to bring, and I know that as people continue to find her blog, they’ll see in her everything that I see in her.

This afternoon I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and he was expressing his excitement that his blog has reached 200 followers and the interaction he’s receiving on his posts is increasing daily. I was elated to hear his excitement, but I was also excited for him because, after so many years of pouring his heart and soul into his written work, his blog and sharing his story, people are really starting to find him and resonate with what he shares and who he is.

It makes me happy to see fellow bloggers finding success and being appreciated for what they do and the content they create. I feel a great sense of pride in myself when people ask me for advice, and I am grateful that people trust me enough seek help from me. But, more importantly, I feel a great sense of pride in seeing these bloggers succeed. Because, the bottom line is, there success is because of them, not me. All I did was remind them of what they’re capable of.

Digital marketing can sometimes seem silly, but I promise you that if you really take the time and effort to pay attention to the small things, it’ll make a world of difference in your blogging journey. If you’re ever feeling disheartened, burnt out, or you’re just plain struggling with your blog, remember this: success is not a limited resource. There’s room for every blogger at the top, so keep focused. Your time will come!

She's pregnant.

A couple of months back I shared this post: Getting pregnant to ‘trap a man’ is THE WORST IDEA ever.

To sum up the entirety of the story quickly, my cousin is manipulative and decided that she was never going to get another boyfriend as attractive as her current boyfriend so, by her logic, she might as well find a reason that would make him have to stay. So, her plan was to get pregnant.

I did manage to get in touch with her boyfriend to try and let him know about her plan but, by the time I’d done so, she’d manipulated him into believing that I was a liar and that he shouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, the conversation was brief.

Well, she’s pregnant.

Her mom(my aunt) phoned my mom the other day to share the news of how excited she was to have her first grand child on the way. My aunt said that no one is allowed to know because she’s only five weeks along. So… my cousin told me her plan was to get pregnant in late November. It’s now February 4 and she’s five weeks along. If you do the math… it took her very little time to execute on ‘Operation Trap My Boyfriend’.

When my mom told me that my cousin was pregnant the discussion came up about what my cousin told me in November, how this was her plan. My mom’s response? ‘No, that’s definitely not true. She has PCOS, she was told it would be difficult to impossible to conceive naturally’.

Yeah, she doesn’t have PCOS.

‘Where did you hear that she has PCOS?’ I asked my mom.

‘[Your aunt],’ my mom said.

So, my cousin convinced her mom that she had PCOS and was going to have a hard time having kids if she ever wanted them. Her mom then then in turn convinced my mom that she had PCOS. Who wants to bet that she convinced her boyfriend that she had PCOS so they didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant?

*Note – It is worth noting, I am aware that PCOS makes it difficult to get pregnant, not impossible. I am also aware that there are women in this world who use PCOS as an excuse when they don’t have it. Nevertheless, I digress.

Apparently, the boyfriend is happy. Apparently he’s, and I quote from my mom, from her mom, from her, ‘he’s over the fricken moon’ with excitement.

Also, apparently, the boyfriend is from a religious family. And, religion being something that baffles me to my core, his family is completely okay with him living with his girlfriend out of wedlock, but, his family is not okay with them bringing a child into this world out of wedlock.

According to my aun they might get married to appease the family, and then have a ‘real wedding’ after the baby comes.

Of course all this is hearsay at this point because I have since been… ex-communicated from her life for trying to tell her boyfriend of the plan. So, the information I am being provided I am taking with a grain of salt.

Breaking this down for my own brain: Cousin plans to trap boyfriend by getting pregnant. Cousin tells me this plan in November. Aunt delivers news that cousin is pregnant in February. Cousin’s boyfriend comes from a family that believes you cannot bring a child into this world out of wedlock. So… cousin and boyfriend could potentially be getting married in a ‘quickie ceremony’ to appease religious family.

I wonder how cousin’s boyfriend(and his family) feel about divorce?

I also wonder how cousin’s boyfriend will feel when they inevitably have a fight that leads to him learning she intentionally got pregnant. Because this will come out. Things like this always have a way of coming out.

I stand by what I said in November… getting pregnant to trap a man is the worst idea ever. Even if they do get married, even if they do try to stay together for this child, this entire situation is going to put some serious strain on their relationship. And imagine how this poor child is going to feel when their fights happen. I feel like ‘plans like this’ always come up in fights over the years. I feel like this child is destined for a life of tug-of-war parenting.

Her boyfriend is a cop. I don’t know him well, but I reckon in being a cop (and now from learning he comes from a religious family background) the concepts of honesty and integrity are important to him.

I wonder how he’s going to feel when he learns how manipulative his girlfriend is.

Also, this poor child that’s going to be born into this.

Search Engine Results

Just to share the random ways in which people can find you and you’re blog, I’m sharing some of the searches people have used to find me via Search Engine over the past year. (If you don’t know, this means someone has gone to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc… and searched these things and my blog has come up in their search results)

  • Ice Carving at Lake Louise
  • Natalia Grace
  • Life in the Rocky Mountains
  • Grow through what you go through
  • The Struggles of being Male
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency personal stories
  • Yolo so you don’t waste your life
  • What causes people to do bad things
  • When your day is a shit day
  • How to decorate inside a teepee tent
  • Job hunting rant
  • Natalia Grace bone density
  • Natalia Grace on Dr. Phil
  • Another year around the sun
  • Millennial Job Interview
  • How do you spell milenial?
  • Feeling the need to call HR
  • Natalia Grace still has baby teeth
  • Whats it like to be homeless
  • Amazon

I hope this serves as a reminder that you really can’t fathom the extents to which your posts can reach. You can implement SEO and try to be strategic about it, but sometimes people are going to type a random sentence into a search engine and somehow, your blog will appear. I mean… I’ve never written a darn thing about teepees on my blog but somehow that’s how someone found me.

What are people typing to search engines to find you?

Photo Editing 101

I would like to preface this post by saying that some people prefer to leave their photos unedited. The #Unfiltered look is big on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even WordPress, so if you don’t have any desire to edit photos, please don’t. Please ignore this post. It’s not a requirement. It’s not even an ’ement’. This is just something that I’ve done over the years, that I know a lot of people who use social media do and I wanted to share some shortcuts with you. That is all.

Okay, so I’ve heard it said many a times that a picture is worth a thousand words. To that notion I say that if my photo’s going to be worth a thousand words, I better make sure they’re important words being portrayed through my images.

For nearly a decade, there wasn’t a photo that I posted, sent or printed without edits. Many edits were small… editing out a logo here, blurring a child’s face there… just small things to ensure we were in compliance with FOIP (the Freedom of Information Protection Act) in Canada. Some edits were major… reconstructing the facial shape of someone as a means to ‘filter’ distinguishing marks, fudging the dollar amount written on giant cheques (though I regret to admit to that) and changing out the people who were holding the cheque, or even completely photoshopping someone out of one location and into another. Over time I became a master at turning a photo into pretty much anything that I wanted it to be. And that says a lot because I am very picky when it comes to photos.

Luckily, from a blogging perspective, the editing (if one chooses to do so) need not be nearly as complicated as what’s practiced in the corporate world.

Before I get to the edition notes, I will say that things are a lot easier if you take good photos to start with. Take advantage of natural lighting where possible (the sun). Make sure the lens is in focus before you take the photo. If there are people in the photo that differ vastly in heights, do something to balance that height difference. These are all small steps you can take to vastly improve the quality of photos you’re taking from the get-go.

Okay, onto photo editing:

*Note – This information is from the perspective of photos being taken on a phone, since smartphones are everywhere and you use your phones to upload to social media platforms.

The number one thing that I would recommend a blogger do to edit photos is download Adobe Lightroom to your phone. There is both a free and a premium version of this app. Please do not purchase the premium version, you will not need it. Everything you need to make a photograph beautiful, you can find in the free version. Free Adobe Lightrom will allow you to:

  • Crop Images
  • Auto adjust the lighting to your photos
  • Manually adjust the lighting to your photos
  • Edit the colour balance of your photos
  • Sharpen, blur, correct, create frames or vignettes for any effects that you might like
  • Attempt to correct the focus as much as possible (if it’s an extremely blurry photo, it’ll likely just make it less blurry…)
  • Allow you to select between ‘presets’ created with specific intention to do all of the above steps in one

Examples of before and After using Adobe Lightroom:

The number two thing that I will recommend with respect to photo editing is to stay away from Facetune. Facetune is a demon that is changing the way that we see ourselves and other people. It contributes to low-self esteem because people are creating unrealistic standards of beauty and attractiveness based on what they can make themselves look like with a few minutes spent editing in Facetune. There’s a big difference between editing out a zit and changing one’s waist from being 30 inches to being 13 inches.

Now, all that being said, photo editing is all about you and what you find to be the magic factor in photos. If you like black and white images, Lightroom gives you the option to convert all of your images to black and white. If you like bright and light photos, Lightroom gives you plenty of functions that help with turning a photo that was taken in a dull/dark room into something that really pops off the page.

I am someone who likes bright photos. I want the colours to carry, the details to shine and even the dullest of days to look like a postcard. I’m providing some examples of my photos below and as you will see, even on a dull day (first, middle and last photo) it’s still possible to make the photo look like a postcard.

These are some of my photos from various locations and times over the past year. I’m not sure if you can tell just from looking at them, but they’ve all been edited to very much carry the same tone to them. I wanted the whites to be clean, the greens to pop, the skies to be the bluest that could be while accurately depicting what a camera on my phone couldn’t catch on the day the photo was taken.

I used what is called ‘Adobe Lightroom Presets’.

I know what you’re thinking and I hear you. ‘Presets, Vee? That sounds so extra. Who would bother?’

These presets are used by people far and wide on social media. If you’ve ever looked at someone’s Instagram page and seen similar tones to all of their images, it’s a safe bet they’re using a preset for their photos.

The ‘Preset’ is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a preset collection of edits for LightRoom to apply to the photograph in one step. It’s a matter of hitting one button in LightRoom and your photo is brighter, more vivid and depicting the image you want to convey in a matter of seconds.

Extra. I know.

But, if you’re particular with photos, it is a big time saver, helps with branding, makes your photos aesthetically themed and ensures you always have a beautiful photo, even on the dullest of days.

The presets that I use I developed several years back to cover my basis when I needed to turnaround press-releases in a hurry and always seemed to get sent shitty looking photos. They’re a ‘formula’ that I keep a tight secret around and will stay in the vault to one day be passed down to my children and grandchildren. (joking)

If you would like to delve into the option of presets, you can do one of two things:

  1. You can make your own. I highly recommend this option because it allows you to draw out the aspects of photos that you most appreciate.
  2. You can purchase some.

I highly recommend, if you download Lightroom yourself, that you try option one before option two. I say this because creating your own presets will allow you to create edits that you find most important in photographs.

It’ll also give you an appreciation for the photo editing process. It’ll also make you appreciate the photos you’re taking that much more and it’ll cause you to stop and think about your photos as you’re taking them. You’ll find yourself stopping to think ‘can I get better lighting if I make my subject face the window instead of against’, and various other thoughts of what’s going to make your photos better. Then, when you’re taking better photos, there’ll be less editing to do.

After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, you might as well make those words important.

If you tried your hand at creating presets and you didn’t like it, or if you’d just like some help and believe you’d like to purchase some Lightroom presets, the place to do is on Etsy. Using your phone type ‘Mobile Lightroom Presets’ in to the search bar and you will be innundated with different presets made by different designers.

I’ve seen them range anywhere from $3.00 USD to $350 USD. And let me be abundantly clear, you do not need a $350 package of Lightroom presets. There’s a lot to choose from, so it’s a matter of you taking a look at what you find most aesthetically pleasing and what’s the price you’re ultimately willing to pay.

With 17,034 listings to go through, though, I thought I’d provide a couple of suggestions if you decide to purchase presets:

  • A good Lightroom preset package will have 3-4 Presets. Don’t buy a package that has 99 presets (and they are available on Etsy) because you don’t need 99 presets
  • Realistically, if you wanted to use a preset, your criteria should be to have one preset for outside photos, one for inside, one for without people and one for with people
  • Don’t get sucked in by the ‘gimmicky’ presets like the one titled ‘Peach’ in the screenshot above. Might it look nice if your presets always make you look like you have tanned skin? Sure. But, it’s winter and unless you live in California or Florida, people are likely going to see through the artificial tan your adding to your photos. Try to select a set of presets that will be applicable to all of your photos year round, whether you’ve got a tan or you’re in the deep of winter

To finish off this exceptionally long description of how to edit photos, I would like to add a reminder to please leave face structure and body shapes alone in your editing process. You, your friends, your family and any subjects your taking photos of are perfectly beautiful just the way they are.

Yes, we all have insecurities, but that doesn’t mean that you need to edit the length of your fingers to make it look as though you have larger hands. (If you understand this reference, we’re soulmates) Insecurities will NEVER be fixed by making it look as though they don’t exist in photos. That and there’s a big difference between bringing out the beauty of someone and completely changing their entire being. People are beautiful just the way they are.

If you like editing, if you want to get into editing or even if you don’t like editing, thanks for reading and for making it this far. Go forth and do good, grasshopper. I have the utmost faith in you.

Find out who your friends are…

I’ll probably be posting a lot today. I tend to post more when I’m sad, and today I am really sad. I guess that’s life though. Some days you’re up and some days you’re down.

Also, I have a lot to say.

Also, I just like this place.

Alright, I’ll stop justifying myself and start.

The song ‘Find Out Who Your Friends Are’ is ringing true today. Actually, it’s been ringing true to me for most of this year. When I got fired, I thought that I had friends at my job. I thought that I had people who would be there for me, people who cared, whether I worked with them or not. To my shock, my being fired was met with dead silence, or messages of ‘That sux!’ from the people I worked with.

‘That sux!’? Yeah, it does suck getting railroaded because your boss is breaking the law. You knew what was going on, you saw that I got railroaded and you’re still going along with it.

The people that were there for me when I got fired? Knight. My two best friends in Vancouver, volunteering to get on planes and telling me to come live with them. The people that weren’t there for me? The friends I thought were friends at my work. Guess our getting along was contingent on my being their coworker.

Nevertheless, I’ve heard from former coworkers four times over the past ten months, the most recent of which being today. Each time it hasn’t been to check on me, to reach out, to see how I was doing or any of those things. When they reach out, it’s been to ask me how to do things, or how I did things.

Each time my response has been: “That sounds like a problem for Clint (former boss)!”

Today one of my former coworkers texted me with an offer of a trip. When I said ‘No thanks’, they responded with ‘Shoot, I was hoping you’d say yes so that I could ask you for something!’.

Go figure eh?

I don’t like associating people who only offer something when they know they need to ask for something from you. To me, when you give something, there are no strings attached. When I give something there is certainly no strings attached to it.

I was not shocked, nor surprised to hear that they wanted something from me. The song reads:

You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get their fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’
They just show on up with their big old heart

And with people like this, they’re always asking ‘What’s in it for me?’

All I can say is, I know who my friends are. I know who’s been there for me, always, no questions ask, nothing required in return.

Oh, also, to my former coworker who wants something from me today… go ask Clint. No amount of trips or money or anything that you could possibly offer me would make me want to do anything for your office. Leave me the fuck alone.

Switching gears entirely…

I wrote a Guest Post for a friend’s blog. If you haven’t heard of ‘Rethinking Scripture’, please go and check out Dwain’s blog, and read my guest post. I’ll admit, it might be a little sad. But, people tend to appreciate my ‘Dear Self’ letters, so if you want to see it – this week’s ‘Dear Self’ is on Dwain’s blog. Go to Rethinking Scripture >

Blogging opinions from a Marketing/Communications/PR Perspective

So, I’ve been working in the Marketing/Communications/PR realm for a decade. I’ve held numerous positions with numerous companies which delved into the world’s of digital marketing, print marketing and television marketing.

When I speak these thoughts, please know they are my own personal opinions so please take them with a grain of salt. If you disagree with them, don’t take my word as the only, and please do what is right for your blog.


Your ‘ABOUT ME’ page is the most important page on your blog. If you don’t have one, you need to make one. And if you do have one, you need to make sure that it’s a page that will simultaneously tell the readers about you and your niche/niches, whilst enticing readers to come back.

The ‘About Me’ page should be the second item on any and every menu. This is because when people who don’t know you come to your page and read something they like, the next page they’re going to look for is to find out more about you and see if you’re someone they could see themselves following. If your ‘About Me’ page is hard to find, then you’re missing the opportunity to tell potential readers who you are.

Stop asking what’s in it for you and start asking what you can give. I saw someone on twitter the other day complaining that they commented on four blogs and no one came back to comment on their blog so they weren’t going to comment on anyone’s blog anymore.

Firstly, I can appreciate the hustle of just starting out. I can. And I am sure they are a very nice person. But when you say stuff like that you sound like a bit of a whiner, and also, verrrrrrrrrrry entitled. Please don’t just expect that if you comment on someone’s blog they’re going to come and leave a comment on your blog. They could, they might, but they’re not required to.

What if they don’t like what you write about? Or share about? Should they be required to comment on your blog solely because you commented on theirs? And if they are required to comment on your blog, solely because you commented on theirs, are they really going to leave that great of a comment?

If you want to bring something to the blogging community, then bring something to the blogging community. But stop asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ What’s in it for you? An opportunity to share your thoughts, an opportunity to connect and communicate, an opportunity to share and to hear other perspectives. But it’s worth noting you’re not entitled to any of those things. And you likely won’t get them if you’re going to complain and whine about it.

Layout of your blog matters. It always matters. If you’re just blogging for you, as an online journal and you don’t care who sees your blog, or if anyone ever does, then your layout only matters to you. But, if you’re blogging to find a community, grow an audience, hopefully become an established place for people to come and hear/see your thoughts, then your blog layout really needs to be clean, simple and easy to use. While you might like that neon green look, or the eight giant photos at the top of the page that need to get scrolled through to get to your actual content, most people likely won’t. And if you want their attention you need to make your blog layout appeal to them.

Think of it like the age old lesson they teach in real estate: a home with white walls is a whole lot easier to sell than a home with neon colours on the walls. This is because when people walk into a home with neon walls, they have a hard time seeing past the colours and cannot possibly picture themselves living there. A few people may walk into a home with a neon green kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that I want to live here’. Probably 90% of people can walking to a home with a white kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that and want to live here’.

It’s a simple fact of life, neutral colours appeal to more people. Neutral colours appeal to even those who loved the neon. So if you’re looking to grow an audience and want people to find your blog and fall in love, make sure that your layout is one that is neutral, one that can appeal to the most eyes that see it.

If you’d like to see what I speak in action – view the website of Nike, Nordstrom and even the WordPress homepage. All of these websites have something in common – they’re neutral to allow the content to speak for itself.

People focus far too much on getting readers to “click here for more” when they should be focusing on spreading their posts as far and wide as possible. I see a lot of people complain about how people just don’t click their ‘read more’ buttons. Well, I mean… I don’t really blame them. Unless you’re an established blogger, or my best friend, I’m likely not going to kick your ‘read more’ button either.

Without an established, guaranteed audience to read your content each day, the only thing you’re doing is making it harder for people to access your content. The more clicks required to actually view a single post of yours, the more potential audience members you’re going to lose in the process because they just can’t be bothered with clicking further.

Imagine someone clicks on a post and really likes what they’re reading. They then have to click back to your homepage to click another post to be able to read that. I’ve seen some layouts where you have to click on a photo to get the ‘read more’ button to click on that to actually read the text. In a world where there are 75 million blogs on wordpress alone, you’re really making it easy for people to just completely move on from your blog and forget it ever existed.

And hey, if you think ‘If they’re not going to click to read more then I don’t want them on my blog’, that’s fine, I respect that opinion. If that’s how you truly feel, though, then stop complaining about a lack of audience. Because if you really want to grow your audience, you need to make it easy for them to view your content.

Social media is not mandatory, but you will find more success with blogging if you have social media accounts for your blog. Social media is a beast that, if you use properly can benefit you immensely. I’m talking bringing hundreds, if not thousands, of organic hits to your website just with the sharing of a link to twitter, facebook and pinterest.

For reference, I have had a Pinterest Account for maybe 2 or 3 weeks at this point and the only posts I’ve actually posted to Pinterest are my travel posts. I have more than 3,100 hits to my Pinterest Account and more than a tousand referrers from those hits to my blog. You can say that 33 percent turning into actual hits isn’t that big, but I’d still say that 1,000 organic hits from Pinterest is more hits than I had before.

You do not have to have social media accounts. Not in any way, shape or form. But, if you make them, and you use them properly, they can drive organic traffic to your blog that you haven’t previously had. So I would strongly encourage you consider it.

If you don’t like what someone has to say, don’t leave them nasty comments. It’s a fact of life, you’re not going to agree with what everyone says on their blog. If that’s the case, find a new blog. You don’t need to leave them nasty comments calling them names or telling them they’re an idiot. You can simply just move on.


If you have any questions about anything I’ve said, feel free to ask.

If you’d like to read more of my posts about blog marketing, click here>

I would like to hear your opinion.

If you are so kind to oblige, I kindly ask that you please share your opinions on the following:

  1. What is the most difficult thing about blogging?
  2. What annoys you most about blogging/the WordPress community?
  3. What do you not understand about blogging/WordPress/Social Media?

I ask out of curiosity, but also out of a desire to find out if my thoughts align with others.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!