Thursday, November 5, 2015

My New Book For Job Hunters

Write what you know, they say.

So I did.

After 15 years' experience in recruiting, I managed to store up a lot of knowledge about job hunting and resume writing. I reviewed countless resumes, and interviewed multiple people a day. I checked references, made job offers, and followed up on employee performance. I'd say I know a thing or two about how to be a successful job seeker.

Over the years, so many people have asked me for feedback on writing their resume or interviewing at their dream job, so I thought I would put it all together in my new 55-page booklet intended for anyone who needs advice on job hunting. It is perfect for high school and college graduates or someone looking for a refresher course in the basics.

It is available in both paperback and Kindle editions at 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Photo, New Direction

As you can see, I have a new photo. It was taken by the wonderful Gabriel Craft. Gabe made a trip up to my tiny house and was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of me that I could to use for my blogging and professional sites.

That being said, I am looking at making some changes to my personal brand after the first of the year. After the success of the first-ever NotMom Summit I want to expand to add speaking and event assisting to my stable of business. But, of course, blogging will still be my bread and butter.

Join me on my Facebook page to help me with some redesign ideas over the next few months.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The First Ever NotMom Summit was a Fantastic Success

I'm still processing all the thoughts and experiences from the first ever conference for women without childen.

We had attendees from all over the world including from Iceland, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, China. Everything went truly beyond my wildest expectations - and my expectations had been high.

I just want to thank everyone involved. All of the speakers - I was so impressed by the maturity of everyone involved. And I want to thank Karen Malone Wright, the founder of the NotMom, who did all of the back-breaking work to make this happen.

Now we will begin the work on future NotMom Summits! 

I am available for speaking engagements on a wide variety of subjects, including NotMom issues, tiny houses, and even beer!  Contact me to learn more.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The First Ever NotMom Summit

In 2012 I couldn’t have imagined that I would be getting ready for the biggest event of my career.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I could imagine it. I did imagine it. But in 3 years? That was 

I imagined The NotMom Summit back in 2013, not long after I started writing for the website. 
Would it be useful for women like us to have a place to go and share our experiences and lessons learned? Whether we have chosen this path or have come to it under other circumstances, we all have stories to tell.
And, so we did it. We really, really did it. I can’t take that much credit. Karen Malone Wright has been the fearless leader that this kind of event needs. I helped out when and where I could and on Wednesday I fly to Cleveland to meet Karen face-to-face for the first time – a woman I’ve been working with, very closely, for the last three years. 

This reality is somewhat overwhelming. All of the work we’ve done comes down to this and now whatever happens, happens. 

This weekend attended the wedding of two of our closest friends here in Asheville. I put the NotMom Summit out of my head for two days as I celebrated with an amazing group of people – moms and NotMoms alike. There is always a combination in any crowd whether you realize it or not. The wedding was a beautiful distraction. But today is back to reality, and the reality that I am about to step on a plane and get off in a strange town where I’ve had a hand in bringing together what I hope is the largest crowd of women without children in one place. 

Here we can share our stories, enjoy our company, learn from each other, and celebrate our lives.  

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this dream come true. 

Will I see you all in Cleveland?

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Am I Reading on Facebook?

Facebook gets a lot of bad press these days. Many people have threatened to jump ship but the alternatives haven't proven to be sustainable. Facebook is a machine, for better or for worse, and many of us still use it to not only connect with our friends and family but also for our businesses.

I manage 16 different pages for clients or projects. It was 15 until a couple of months ago when I finally decided to bite the bullet and create a professional page for my writing work. Why did it take me so long? I really have no idea but now that I have created it my job is to keep it updated and grow my audience.

I have noticed that Facebook is becoming inundated with types of content pages. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of them all. For instance, my business page has almost the same name as my personal Facebook timeline. Laura LaVoie and Laura M. LaVoie aren't that much different when you see it quickly scroll past, but for me that M is the distinguishing mark between personal and professional.

So how do you know what you're reading when you're on Facebook?

There are three primary categories:
  1. Timeline
  2. Page
  3. Group
And all of these appear on your Feed. 

So what is the difference?

A Timeline is the basic page that everyone who logs into Facebook creates. This is what connects you to your friends and family. On your timeline you add all of your "about me" information, a cover photo, a profile picture, and post all about your daily activities.

A Page is very similar to a timeline but it is used primarily to promote a company, project, artist, or other professional ventures. MacDonald's has a page, so does Apple. But not every page is for a business. For instance, my cat has her own page. That was just a fun project I started years ago but became very useful when she was going through cancer surgery and recovery. I could post her updates there and not clog my own timeline.

As a Facebook user you "like" pages rather than send a friend request.

A Group is exactly what it sounds like. You can join groups that are related to your interests and discussion is facilitated between members. Groups are run by Administrators (Admins) or Moderators and they have the ability to create rules for the community to follow and ban people who break these rules.

Groups are either open, closed, or secret. In an open group anyone can join and anyone can see updates. A closed group is visible through Facebook search but requires a request and approval by an Admin to join. A secret group is not searchable through Facebook. It is invite only and only visible to the members.

For example, I am a part of several tiny house groups that are closed. I also belong to a secret group where several friends talk about planning upcoming events. 

All of these things make up your Facebook Feed. When you log in you will see posts from friends and family. These are what they post on their own timeline. You will see posts from Pages you've liked. And you will be anytime someone posts in group you belong to. Sometimes, depending on page settings, you'll even see your friends post on business pages or groups in which they participate.

It is helpful to fully understand the difference so you don't find yourself making an unnecessarily comment in the wrong place. For instance, your friend may post on a business page in her town that she likes a certain product. You find this amusing so you make a comment in response but it refers to an inside joke that doesn't translate well outside of your friend group. Now, because it is on a business page, anyone who follows that page can see your comment. These situations can be easily avoided by checking the type of post to which you're responding.

How do you use Facebook on both a personal and business level?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Meeting Jen Yates of EPBOT and Cakewrecks

In 2012 I had just begun writing for The NotMom. I pitched an idea to Karen to interview childfree (by choice or by chance) bloggers to get their perspective. I aimed high for my first conversation: Jen Yates of the popular blog Cakewrecks. I was absolutely giddy when she responded to my request and the interview has remained one of the most popular posts on The NotMom.

Jen writes another blog called EPBOT about life as a geek. I knew she and her husband John were my people. Every year we both go to Dragon Con but never had a chance to run into one another, until this year.

I found Jen during her official Meet and Greet but my friends and I also ran into her and her wonderful husband, John, every other day of Con. Sometimes twice. They are such fantastic people I was so happy to get to know them, even during such brief encounters.

You can read the original interview here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Writing for Exposure: How To Just Say No

Recently I received an email from a gentleman who owns a website presumably about "man caves." He wanted to know if I was interested in contributing to his site. He referred to my involvement in the tiny house community as his reason for reaching out.

At first I told him that I didn't have any experience with man caves and that I might not be the best resource.

But he asked again. He said that he was envisioning a piece that shared what I had learned about living in a small space that someone could use when designing their back yard retreat. So I said certainly, and I gave him a quote.

His response?

"I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. I'm not able to pay but this blog post should get you lots of exposure."


Yes, that is a word that professional writers hear a lot. Many companies look for writers to contribute content to their own blogs or websites for 100% free and only the promise of "exposure."

These sites tend to prey upon inexperienced writers who might be willing to get their work out there to build up a portfolio. And, in some cases, there could be a strategy to this. But after a while a professional writer really needs to make the decision to value their work or no one else will value it either.

These opportunities can be difficult to refuse. The website owners act as though they are doing the writers a favor by offering to publish their piece. But I have learned that it is critical to my success. And here's why.

This particular blog post about man caves would require extensive work on my part. The same amount of work that it would usually take me to produce a product for one of my paying clients. It would involve research and editing just like any other piece I produce. I needed to weigh the value of that time against the clients that I work for or other important tasks that come along with running a freelance writing business including additional marketing (for more paid jobs) and accounting (so I can get paid).

So how do you tell someone "No" without burning bridges? Well, sometimes bridges will be burned no matter what you try but I find that honesty is the best solution in general.

What did I say to Mr. Man Cave?

"Thank you so much for thinking of me and offering this opportunity. As a professional writer I'm not in a position to volunteer my time right now. Best of luck to you moving forward and please let me know if you need anything in the future." 

How do you know when you should do something for exposure? For professional bloggers the best way to get exposure is to partner with other blogs in the same theme as yours for "Guest Posts." You won't get paid for these but it will promote and link back to your personal blog.

So, what is the difference?

While some guest post offers come directly from the blog owners most often they are solicited by the writer themselves. For example, I have a new book coming soon (stay tuned!) and I might reach out to blogs I know who write on a similar subject and ask if I can create a new piece exclusively for them. In this case, it would be marketing for my own business.

Exposure, on the other hand, tends to be what markets offers when they reach out to writers but don't feel as though they can or need to pay them for their  professional services.

Our job, as professional writers, is to discern when either scenario will be valuable to us. I generally feel that if a website is popular enough to get me "exposure" they can probably pay their writers. For the most part, organizations that solicit pieces from writers without any compensation are just trying to get something for nothing. Enough writers are willing to give away their work for free that this is still a thing.

Freelance writing isn't easy. It takes a lot of effort and there are no set-in-stone rules when it comes to pay scale. This is the approach I've taken:
  • Create a range of prices for my work. A certain amount for blog posts between 350-500 words and double that for any blog posts closer to 1000 words. 
  • I will, sometimes, take less than this amount depending on the company what they're offering and, if I can find out, why. 
  • Never take less than half the rate I have set for blog posts up to 500 words. 
This has served me well and has provided me the opportunity to build an excellent portfolio while also running a successful business.

How do you handle rates for your work or requests to write for "exposure?"

We have to value ourselves before anyone else will value us.