Pug in a Blanket, 100 Brilliant Books, Why Dating Can Suck Big Time, and Other Links

Photo by Matthew Wiebe

Photo courtesy Unsplash by Matthew Wiehe

I don’t know about you, but a pug in a blanket makes everything okay! And I rrrrreally needed that! The first months of my 2016 have been busier, crazier, more hectic than any other year. I’ve worked 50 hour weeks, applied to writing residencies, gone on some cute and some awkward dates, done a nude photoshoot, revamped my Neatos interview series, started a new interview series on my burlesque blog, started a words as art project, considered moving to London, joined artScene Vancouver, and more! This week I’ve decided to share a few links that help keep me sane when everything else seems to be insane.

* This collection of photographs is free to use, and, PS, they’re hiring

* Have you heard of the Bullet Journal? It’s revolutionized how I organize my life! It’s great to keep my journal-type entries + my day planner in one place

* I’ve read a few, but would like to read all these 100 Canadian books that make our country look GOOD

* Do you cringe as much as I do at these suspenseful still lives? If you have time peruse the full site, it’s delightful

* Ever wanted to meet the artist up close? Small Stage (the dance organization I’m a Board Member with) is hosting a salon series where you can hang out with the artists before the show

* This article struck a cord with me. It describes to the men we love how we feel about the men who scare (and why sometimes a simple interaction to you is terrifying to us)

* I’m single (!!) but sometimes I really hate dating

* I’ve been thinking of doing the Whole 30 diet and this recipe looks damn good

* There’s a podcast for Vancouver writers

Now, you tell me, what’s inspiring you this week? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Meet Melissa Ferreira, Owner of Adhesif Clothing

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Photo by Rebecca Blisset

Photo by Rebecca Blisset

Tell us about yourself. What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?

My mother worked in garment production factories in Montreal throughout my childhood. I grew up with her sewing at the kitchen table after work, doing alterations for extra income.

Naturally, I learned how to sew from her. I taught myself how to design from taking apart vintage garments and seeing how they were put together, after spending many years as a vintage clothing buyer right out of high school. I love everything vintage and it remains to this day my main source of inspiration. Vintage clothing, music, historic + modern architecture, vintage cars, vintage appliances…they have all withstood the test of time because things were built to last. And, because they’ve lasted, the pieces leave behind a legacy with abundant stories to tell.

I have always been an extremely independent, resourceful, and creative individual. Since childhood, I’ve always been dreaming, inventing, creating, drawing, imagining, making. With never ending ideas brewing, it was a natural direction in my life to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. It was only after I completed a self employment program at Douglas College many years ago that I was able to start a business as an independent artist/designer.

I started Adhesif Clothing in 2003, opened my own boutique in 2010, and never looked back. Upward and onward…

Adhesif Clothing is a Vancouver, British Columbia clothing company that produces handmade, memorable, one-of-a-kind garments. Each up-cycled piece is made with up to 95% vintage + reclaimed materials + 100% heart, a truly well thought out process made by designer Melissa Ferreira. Every article of clothing has its very own distinctive personality with a visual array of eclectic prints + color compositions. The result brings a striking presentation of polished yet playful pieces that are also eco friendly.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

My inspiration comes from a love of quality over quantity and the culture that goes along with this mentality. It’s called “slow culture” and in my case “slow fashion” specifically. I’m inspired by anything created from the heart that has a story to tell.

I get inspired by vintage designs + original street styles. Effortless, natural style of people just doing their thing. I love watching people in their own element. The ideas are endless…catching up with them all is the challenge.

What advice would you give emerging designers and shop owners?

For designers :: Find your demographic. No matter how great your design, it has to fit well, never stop working at being better. Do something that makes you stand out, but remain authentic to your concept.

For shop owners :: Make a business plan, you’re going to need one! Always stick to regular business hours, have great customer service, go the extra mile for your loyal clients. Hire individuals who have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, and share your vision. Change is good; always have something new to offer, at least on a seasonal basis. Keep things fresh.

What do you like best about the fashion community in Vancouver?

Some of the most talented and inspiring creatives I’ve ever met and worked with in my career with Adhesif Clothing have been coming out of the West Coast. Overall, I find the general vibe with the West Coast aesthetic to be at times rugged, but mostly relaxed and whimsical. There’s a lot of diversity with the locals in the design scene and that’s not just specific to fashion. There’s a lot of great decor, mixed media, ceramics, metal work, sculpture, leatherwork, food, craft beer etc.

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What are the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs in Vancouver? In Canada? In general? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

Regardless of being male or female, going into business for yourself is a roller coaster ride of bumps, jumps, heights, and lows. Knowing how to overcome challenges and never give up when presented with a hurdle is the key regardless of where you live or what you do. Determination and perseverance IS the key to success. Never stop challenging yourself and never stop learning. They say the most successful people in business are the ones who NEVER GIVE UP! I don’t think there’s any such thing as the grass being greener on the other side. Every place has its challenges.

With that said I think Canada’s biggest challenge currently is bringing manufacturing back to this country. The majority of what is available in the commercial market (aside from the exploitation of natural resources) is imported and there’s no reason why a country this size with a population of over 36 million shouldn’t be able to be self sustaining.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

My studio…it’s where the magic happens + it’s the mad scientist to the pretty face (my boutique) it’s my happy place + the best spot to brainstorm.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

No matter how talented you are as an artist, if you’re thinking of being an independent, self sustaining designer than I highly recommend taking some business courses or hiring out that part of the business to someone who likes accounting, bookkeeping, PR + marketing etc. Or else you’re going to be the one who’s wearing all the hats!

What’s in the works for you right now?

I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy tapping into the European market. I am Canadian but with European citizenship, so Germany has become my second home now. I’ve had the opportunity to have photo shoots with a creative team I work with there for Adhesif Clothing’s past three years/fall-winter collections, including our upcoming FW 2016 Collection.

Also, the 9th Annual Nifty for Fifty Sale is coming soon ::

30 local designers and artists will gather under one roof for the 9th annual Nifty for Fifty shopping sale happening Sunday April 10th 2016 from 11am-8pm at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street). Find everything from accessories to clothing and trinkets, all for $50 or
less. Just in time to revamp that spring wardrobe!

Did you connect with Melissa Ferreira and Adhesif Clothing? Check out my interview with GOONHOUSE or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Larissa, Vancouver Glass Artist

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

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Meet Larissa Blokhuis. She’s a glass artist in Vancouver and I had the pleasure of meeting her recently. Have a read through her interview!

How did glass become your medium?

I became a glassblower by chance. I have the good luck of being from Calgary, where I attended the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). At the time when I went to school, this was the only post-secondary school in Canada with a glassblowing bachelor’s degree program.

As a child I had decided to go to ACAD after high school, but I didn’t know what I would major in. When I was 14, my parents said I could take a summer course at ACAD, and glassblowing was one of the options. I think this was the first time they were offering the course to people under the age of 18. It was usually restricted, I think because of safety concerns and the cost of insurance. Glassblowing was unlike anything else I’d had the opportunity to try, so that was what I picked. I decided to major in glassblowing, and in 2008 I completed my bachelor’s degree with a major in glass. If I hadn’t had the chance to try glass, I would still be an artist, but I’m not sure what kind.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

I’m inspired by life cycles. Both short-term as it applies to individual beings, and long term as it applies to evolution. Many of my artworks have to do with seed pods, or a specific time in an organism’s life. The life forms I depict are generally plants, fungus, or colonies you might find in a coral reef. These kinds of life forms can be quite strange, and when you start looking at historical forms, they become even more strange. There can be a great deal of visual crossover between sea creatures and plants in fossil records. One example that always comes to mind is a sea creature fossil found in the Canadian Rockies, (Siphusauctum gregarium), which looks like a tulip.

The historical crossovers of form and function become an avenue for exploration of strange mutations and evolutionary paths. With my current work, I project strange evolution into the future, to create sculptures based on potential future evolution. Our environment is shifting rapidly due to human-caused climate change, and we don’t know what the future will look like. In creating my sculptures and installation pieces, I am placing humans in the future. We can choose to be part of the future by being good stewards of the environment. If we don’t choose to do that, we may miss out.

What are the biggest challenges for artists? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

In Vancouver

The biggest challenge for artists in Vancouver is the biggest challenge most people living in Vancouver face: prices for land, housing, and rents are not linked to the local economy, and have become too expensive. Finding affordable space to create work is difficult, on top of the cost of living. Many people are house-poor, and living in small spaces. It can be hard to sell sculptural work to people living in small spaces with overpriced mortgages.

One solution is for our government to restrict foreign ownership. As the child of immigrants I welcome people who want to live here and contribute to the life of the city. But our land prices should be tied to the local economy, to ensure a vibrant and functional future for our city.

In Canada

In Canada, our art scene is a bit conservative. Canadianart.ca published an article in April 2015 about the average demographics of artists awarded exhibitions in Canada, 2013-4: 56% white men, 33% white women, 8% men of colour, 3% women of colour. About 25% of Canadians are people of colour, and of course half of Canadians are women. There are many Canadians who are not getting a fair chance to exhibit their artwork, or to see art exhibits produced by someone from their demographic.

Galleries could easily fix this by adding some explicit language about inclusiveness and accurate representation to their curatorial mandate. Galleries are continually looking to increase engagement, but some want to do it without risk. Art must push boundaries, and that includes giving power to under/mis-represented groups to control their own narratives. Conflicting narratives may arise, but that means more people will feel like they have a place in the conversation.

In general

In general, there are many stereotypes about artists, the most annoying of which is that we’re flaky. The volume of paperwork, planning, and liaising I do as an artist is significant. Nobody will tell me to meet an application deadline, so I have to be self-motivated and organised to pursue opportunities. My CV would be quite sparse if I was flaky.

The most dangerous stereotype is that artists are mentally ill, or depressed. Mental illness detracts from an artist’s productivity, and it decreases artistic creativity. While there do seem to be some corollary relationships between mental illness and artistic creativity, mental illness should not be encouraged or go untreated with a goal of creating art, and many artists have no experience with serious mental illness.

The idea that artists are flaky and/or “mad” devalues the work artists do. (It also doesn’t do much for people dealing with mental illness.) It perpetuates further stereotypes that we don’t live in the real world, that non-artists can never understand us, and that what we do is non-essential. Dealing with stereotypes is difficult, because there is evidence that people are more likely to buy from an artist who fits the “mad artist” stereotype. Artists don’t have to do much research to figure this out and decide to develop a persona.

I prefer de-mystification. Ideas do not come to me in dreams; they come after much thought and research about ideas that are important to me. I live in the real world, where I have to worry about the cost of living, where I have to negotiate professional relationships, and where I need to meet deadlines. I would love for people to recognise that what artists do is very much necessary for a functional society. Art of all kinds keeps society from stagnating. It gives people the opportunity to discuss difficult topics, to feel that they are not alone, and to become more connected to their communities. Engagement with the arts increases critical thinking, increases brain connectivity and plasticity, and increases empathy.

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What advice would you give emerging artists?

1. If you just graduated from art school, it’s normal to feel unmotivated. Suddenly you’re out in the real world where people may or may not care about art, where your student loans and bills are hanging over your head, and where you don’t necessarily have easy access to equipment. It can take years to find your adult voice as an artist, and there is no set timeline. Give yourself a break when you need it, and otherwise keep working.

2. Family and friends will give you all kinds of unsolicited advice, because they love you and want you to succeed. That doesn’t mean it’s good advice. If the person offering advice loves you but doesn’t work in your industry, don’t argue, just disengage. Arguing takes forever and makes the other person feel rejected. Take all advice with a grain of salt, because creative careers are different.

3. Rejection is an opportunity to learn. Always ask for feedback regarding where you could improve.

4. Surround yourself with productive people. A good community will support you, allow you to learn, and help you become/stay motivated (for this to work, you must return the favour). If you want to collaborate, don’t just pick people who are fun to hang out with, pick people with a good work ethic who match your level of seriousness.

5. If you’re unsure about pricing, use a pricing formula. Don’t compete with the pricing of mass-produced items, and don’t underprice your work to sell it quickly. Underpricing devalues your brand and your industry. A gallery will take 50% (any more than that is an unfair deal), and if you sell without a gallery there are other fees and expenses related to making sales. You are the only person who will make sure you are paid fairly.

hourly rate x hours worked + materials = base
base x 15-20% (overhead) = wholesale
wholesale x 2 = retail

6. Artistic creativity is a skill. It takes time and effort to develop. If you don’t dedicate a certain amount of time regularly to your art career, you won’t have one. Whatever you spend 40 hours per week thinking about will become a dominant factor in your life, and will likely invade your thoughts during off-hours.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others. If you’re worrying about what someone else is doing, you’re not focused on what you should be doing. Every art career is different, and what works for someone else is not necessarily right for you.

What do you like best about the art community in Vancouver?

We’re all in it together. I love the community I’m in because we support each other, and we really take joy in each other’s successes. I like that the city has diversity, unique events, and enough creative people that I can find artists who are compatible with my work ethic. I think artists can find a good community in any city, but with varying levels of effort. In Vancouver, my neighbourhood has a high percentage of artists and creative people, so I’m often walking or cycling distance to them, and to my fabrication studios.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

My best resource is my community. You can google artist calls and other opportunities, but you can’t google meaningful words of encouragement. Other artists can tell you what opportunities worked for them, they can help you think through an idea or tackle technical concerns, and they can keep you going.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I’m just finishing up my first public art commission, which is in the Vancity on 4th Ave in Kits. The project was a great learning experience, and I’m happy with the resulting artwork.

I find that every year is shorter than the previous year, so while there are many things I’d like to accomplish, I don’t know how much I’ll actually get done! I’m looking to pursue other public art opportunities, complete an artist residency, and have an international exhibition.

In terms of upcoming events, I’m in a group show in February at Cityscape in North Vancouver. I also have a solo exhibition in Red Deer beginning in February, and a solo exhibition in Crafthouse (Granville Island) in the summer. You can join my mailing list through my website to receive updates and reminders.

See more of Larissa on Instagram, tumblr, and Pinterest.

Did you connect with what Larissa had to say? Check out my interview with Chris Bentzen, owner of Hot Art Wet City, or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Laurel Brown, Founder of Cinema Spectacular

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

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Tell us about yourself.

My name is Laurel Brown and I came to Vancouver for school, and stayed for the community! I’m the director of the Cinema Spectacular festival, which I started in 2014. On a film set you can usually find me in the camera department!

What is Cinema Spectacular?

Cinema Spectacular is an all-Canadian motion picture variety show. We’re a screening and networking event started by filmmakers with a passion for working with and supporting more Canadian artists. We wanted to bridge the gap between student/amateur festivals and huge festivals for established professionals. We head down to the Vancity Theater with our short film program, have a great time with filmmaker Q+As, sponsor-supported raffle prizes, and it’s a really great atmosphere!

What are the biggest challenges for filmmakers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

I think a lot of the challenges that face filmmakers in this city and in Canada are money and distribution related – two huge factors in making movies. It’s difficult as an emerging filmmaker to get people to support you financially in the first place, let alone with the funds synonymous with fantastic production value. It’s crazy because you see the talent here – on both sides of the camera, and a lot of the time I wonder why we aren’t producing more high quality content that starts and finishes on Canadian soil?

What advice would you give emerging filmmakers?

The most useful things I can say to emerging filmmakers is to be persistent, work hard, and ask lots of questions!

What do you like best about the art community in Vancouver?

I like how multi-faceted the arts community is in Vancouver. Every time I think I’ve discovered all of the film festivals and collectives in town, I’m always surprised to find more fantastic niche-filling communities!

What are you looking for when you accept submissions to Cinema Spectacular?

We are looking for original, passionate content! Other than that, Cinema Spectacular has a short list of basic rules – we accept short films, animations, feature film trailers, and music videos. They must be shot in Canada and produced by Canadians. A maximum run time of 15 minutes and a maximum budget of $15 000. Other than that, our rules are pretty wide open. Documentary, experimental stuff, dramas, comedies – we really want to see what sort of stories are coming out of Canada. It’s only $5 to submit. We like keeping our submission costs low – we know, as filmmakers, submitting your film to festivals is a huge financial hurdle!

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

I’m a big homebody when it comes to work – I’ll go have a coffee or an ice cream at one of my favourite Mount Pleasant shops then walk home and get down to business. For business meetings, I love Matchstick Cafe on Kingsway.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

A big resource for me, and for any filmmaker – is people. Learning how to collaborate and keep in touch are two huge skills that I’m definitely still working on. There are tons of places in town to connect with – tons of film events – whether it’s VIFF or the Queer Film Fest, Cineworks or Iris Film Collective, everyone working at these places loves film, they put on great events, and their community support in the city is great.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I have a stop-motion animated short and a live-action short in the very infantile stages of writing and preproduction. Other than that, it’s hunkering down to prepare for Cinema Spectacular 3 this May!

Cinema Spectacular can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! And we have a barebones website up while we build our full site.

Did you connect with Laurel’s story? Check out my interview with Sara Bynoe, creator of Teen Angst Night, or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Kate Reid, CEO of GOONHOUSE Vintage

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Stylings and Stories GOONHOUSE

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Kate Reid, the owner of GOONHOUSE—an online shop that sells streetwear and vintage clothing. Growing up I really gravitated toward the DIY ethic, but the local punk rock scene scared the hell out of me. All these cool extroverted people doing shit their own way! I was totally intimidated. It wasn’t until I discovered feminism and identity politics that I really started coming into my own. I remember a co-worker lending me issues of Bust magazine. Reading about all those badass women doing their own thing was a big game changer for me. I started experimenting with style, and exploring the artifice of my outward self. Since then I’ve had a lot of fun playing with fashion. Once you start messing with your appearance, you realize how fluid your identity can be—it’s pretty liberating.

What is GOONHOUSE?

GOONHOUSE is an online streetwear and vintage clothing shop for badass goons. In high school I was the weird kid who ate her lunch in the art room; I guess GOONHOUSE is an extension of that—a fun way to meet some fellow freaks.

What are the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs? How do you think we can overcome them?

I’m not gonna lie, the cost of living in Vancouver is a big hurdle. Putting up a bunch of cash to start a business is daunting when your rent is so high. But that’s all part of the love/hate I have for Van. Most days I dig the scrappy small biz lifestyle, but other days I just want to run naked in streets like, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

In general, I’m lucky that my family has always been on my side, but I know a lot of people struggle to find that emotional support. It’s hard to believe in yourself and your business when your loved ones tell you it’s a waste of time. That’s why when you find friends who believe in you and support you through your fumbles, you gotta keep them close.

What advice would you give new online shop owners?

Ha! Well since I’m still a new online shop owner myself, all I can say is keep it chill. Highs and lows are part of the game, so just try to roll with it. Also, good photography: get it.

What do you like best about living in Vancouver?

The rain. I imagine it’s a lot like Midwesterners feel about their winters: there’s a smug pride in weathering the storm for eight months of the year. In my head I’m this hardy homesteader woman braving the harsh elements, but the second I drain the hot cup of coffee in my hand, that fantasy dissolves pretty quick.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

Honestly I rarely work in the city, but when I need a break I head to Old Crow in New West. It’s a hip little coffee shop run by the mega business babe, Stephanie Vu. Chill atmosphere, rad tunes, and Bows + Arrows coffee. It’s the best.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

Other lady entrepreneurs are awesome because they empathize in a way no one else can. My friend Sonia was been a big inspiration. She only started Woodlot last year and she’s already killin’ it! Girl Gang is a fantastic resource too. It’s like a direct line to other Vancouver women doing their thing. Their feedback and connections are invaluable.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I dig vintage because it’s an alternative to mass-produced fashion, so now that I’m looking for local manufacturers to make branded apparel for GOONHOUSE, it’s been tough to find sustainable shops. The challenge is finding a manufacturer in the Lower Mainland that’s down with using locally sourced fabrics and keeping its footprint small—and that doesn’t cost a billion dollars! If any of your readers know of a local, affordable green manufacturer, I’d really appreciate the connect. Otherwise I’ve been spending my time hunting for cool locations to shoot a GOONHOUSE lookbook—and re-reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal. Her story is super inspiring.

See more of GOONHOUSE on instagram!

Did you connect with GOONHOUSE? Check out my interview with Citizen Grace or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Oh! You Pretty Things… Talk to Me

I maintain that hosting an interview series on your blog is one of the best things I did not only for my business and my social life.

Oh! You Pretty Things…Talk to Me

Oh you pretty things talk to me interviews

When I first moved to Vancouver, I barely knew anybody. I’d heard Vancouver had an unfriendly reputation, but I’ve never been one to be swayed by rumor. The west coast called to me, so I packed up and made my way to the wettest best city in Canada.

Thankfully, I had the excuse of my neatos interview series that I hosted on my blog. It was an easy way to make connections where I otherwise had none.

Now, I’ve been here about two years and I’d like to meet even more people and connect them to each other too! Therefore, I’m reinstating my neatos interview series and putting the call out for cool folks (preferably in the Vancouver area).

Here are the rules ::

  1. Answer a series of questions via email
  2. Provide a good quality, horizontal image
  3. Meet me in person for coffee, beer, other excursion, or Skype (only for those of you location challenged)
  4. Be genuinely keen on making a new connection/friendship with moi

Want to take part? Leave a comment below, tell me a bit about yourself, and I will get in touch with you!

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12 Christmas Things of Christmas

12 Christmas Things of Christmas

One

Find the panda among the snowmen! Do it!

Two

A cool calligraphy diy gift, for you last minute adrenaline junkies.

Three

Christmas morning waffles anyone?

Four

A calendar to start your year off right. Did I mention it’s free?

Five

Why make a gingerbread house when you could make a gingerbread cake? Food for thought.

Six

Umm,so, panda gift wrap diy. Yes please.

Seven

Christmas and Ryan Gosling. Need I say more?

Eight

Delicious hot chocolate hacks.

Nine

And something spiked.

Ten

You used to call me on my elf phone?

Eleven

Kids are just total magic.

Twelve

You could adopt these cuties, just saying.

How to Write a Bio that Doesn’t Put You to Sleep

When you think about how to write a bio, do you cringe with disgust? You throw up in your mouth a little bit, don’t you? You’d rather clean your cat’s litter box than think about how to write a bio so that it doesn’t put you to sleep.

Yikes!

It doesn’t have to be that gross, but it’s not easy, per se. Here are three tips on how to write a bio that draws attention.

How to Write a Bio that Doesn’t Put You (and Your Readers) to Sleep

how to write a bio

How to Write a Bio 01 :: Suck Up

Think about your audience. Who are they? What do they want? Start your bio by telling a story about their environment, their passions, their deep dark needs. Our world is full of about me pages that make big claims and feature long lists, but how often do you come across one that is so relatable you feel the writer has read your mind?

Here are ten questions to ask yourself to prompt a story about your readers:

  1. What are your readers doing right before they hire you or read your blog?
  2. What are their biggest challenges related to your topic?
  3. Where would you randomly run into them? A café? The gym? Under a big tree?
  4. What keeps them up at night?
  5. What gets them out of bed in the morning?
  6. Are they coffee people? Tea people? Green smoothie people?
  7. What problem do they crave a solution to?
  8. What do you have in common with them?
  9. What are their guilty pleasures?
  10. What is at stake if they don’t take action on your topic?

I kind of used this technique at the beginning of this how to write a bio blog post. How did it work for you?

How to Write a Bio 02 :: Be Passionate

Talk about your passions, not your skills. We so often fear we’ll miss a lead because they didn’t see their need listed on our website. But, we don’t get hired solely for what we do, but rather how we do it, and to what quality. The latter is our reputation, the former can be expressed through writing. What we believe in is just as important as how well we do what we do.

Check out my LinkedIn bio for an example of what I mean:

A lover of all art forms, I am known most recognizably for my practice in writing. A winner of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Literary Arts Scholarship, my writing encompasses fiction, literary non fiction and poetry. I am also well versed in all forms of corporate content creation such as press releases, blog posts, newsletters, sales copy and all other communications materials. I am motivated by the elation of succinct and memorable prose. Sentences that stick. Words that, when united, matter.

I’m the type of person you can count on, both professionally and personally. Accustomed to leadership roles, I thrive in managing multiple projects with competing deadlines. Through imaginative influence, I seek innovation to challenge convention and aptly apply this originality to enrich my work, art and life.

Collaboration is an important value to me. Peaked by my curiosity, I aim to understand, listening attentively before responding and often encouraging deeper development of concepts through shared expression of ideas. This meeting of minds is magic. As is that space where uninterrupted inspiration cracks routine, whether solitarily or collectively stimulated. Mutual respect and engagement are essential to any pursuit.

I am also a performer, web designer, graphic designer and photographer. Ask me about any of the aforementioned and you may be pleasantly surprised.

How to Write a Bio 03 :: Party First

We’re trained to work hard to play hard. When it comes to how to write a bio, I say play first, work later. What do I mean by this? Start with a story, an anecdote, a joke, something more interesting than the list of services you slave over to “encompass all that you do!” You do a lot, give us a reason to read every item.

In my own about me page I first talk about my clients, then I talk about how I can relate to how my clients feel. It’s not until about half way in that I say what I actually do. Your bio is your place to shine. Readers can find out what you do in many other ways (i.e. home page, navigation, blog posts, social media), they don’t need a list!

Feel like your bio is full of holes? Want me to take a crack* at it? Get in touch now!
*Pun intended

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a few bio writing formulas! Still feeling stuck? Here are a few thoughts on success to keep things in perspective.

Five Easy Persuasive Writing Techniques

Persuasive writing techniques take time. Persuasion doesn’t necessarily depend on the quality of your idea, but rather how well you communicate it. A great product goes unnoticed without proper positioning, whereas garbage is sold for millions with the right twist. I want to tell you about five persuasive writing techniques.

Five Easy Persuasive Writing Techniques

persuasive writing techniques - stylings and stories

I Think I Can

The Little Engine that Could got up the hill through that simple mantra, but the book wasn’t sold by saying “I think it’s good.” One of the best persuasive writing techniques is to drop “I think” and “I believe” from your vocabulary. By deleting those phrases, your sentence will have more power. This practice gives you instant authority.

Ditch the Adverbs, She Said Persuasively

Seriously though, if you want to be persuasive, ditch the adverbs. Using adverbs hints to your reader that you’re unclear of your statement, not to mention doubtful of their intelligence. Replace adverbs with better verbs. Don’t get hung up on perfection in your first draft. Revise, my dear friend, revise. Check out Stephen King’s thoughts on the subject.

Get Active

An active voice delivers direct, clear, and succinct messages with a punch. Writing in an active voice means the subject performs the action, for instance “persuasive writing techniques improved my writing” (active) vs. “my writing was improved by persuasive writing techniques” (inactive).

Ease Up

Have you ever had to re-read a paragraph or sentence so many times you forget why you started in the first place? For more persuasive writing, keep it short. That means paragraphs, sentences, and words. While your run-on prose may seek to clarify, it does the opposite. Readers will not only get lost in redundancy and ambiguity, but in puzzlement of following the words. Give them a break.

Once in a Lifetime Fail

How convinced are you when someone claims their offer is “once in a lifetime” or that their service is “state-of-the-art?” Not much? So why use this propaganda in your writing? Outlandish claims diminish authority. Ditch ’em as fast as you ditch adverbs. Replace these filler phrases with detailed examples that support your position.

Persuasive writing techniques take practice. And, like I said, don’t rely on your first draft to communicate effectively. Schedule time for revision and you’ll pack a meaner punch.

Need a copywriter for your project? Contact me now.

If you think that sexism no longer exists, this…

A Toronto web design firm, Vestra Inet, is seeking a content and SEO specialist, but because the position requires reception duties, men need not apply.

Sexism in the Workplace

Shocked? I’m not. They simply stated what many companies refuse to admit.

Sadly sexism is an ongoing battle that we face every day. Women are paid less than men. Traditionally female roles are regarded as less important, less impactful, less valuable than traditionally male roles.

Let’s just take a hot second to recognize that receptionists hold companies together. But, the fact of the matter is that they are usually paid less than any other staff member. So, here’s what that job posting is saying:

We want a “specialist” in their field, but we don’t want to pay them as such, let’s hire a woman!

If you want a “specialist” don’t ask them to fill in for other roles. Would you ask an engineer to fill in for an architect? A doctor to fill in for an astronaut? They’re different jobs, have some respect.

Not to mention it’s a human rights issue. You can’t hire someone based on their gender. It’s the law.

I have much more to say on this topic, but let’s see where the conversation goes. Leave me a comment! Or better yet, leave them a comment!

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