The History of the Haunted House

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Two days until Halloween means two days left to go see a haunted house. For many Americans, visiting a haunted attraction is a Halloween tradition, just like decorating a tree for Christmas or an egg hunt on Easter. How did this simple activity become such a seasonal staple though? Where did the idea of being scared for fun in a horrifying setting come from?

The haunted house actually has its roots in Ancient Greece. To explain the mysterious and unknown world they lived in, ancient Greeks created gods who controlled everything. To explain these gods they put on plays to tell their stories. According to Adam Warner in his NBC article “The History of Haunted Houses: How Fears Have Fueled an Industry,” these plays contained “theatrical techniques still used in today’s haunts, like fog, fake blood and trapdoors.” A fascination with demons and evil continued into the Middle Ages, when traveling actors went from city to city performing plays to scare people from the evils of sin.

The first true haunted house as we know it today opened in 1915 by Orton & Spooner, two British men known for creating fairground rides. Warner states that the original haunted house was “a dimly lit funhouse, where floors shook and demonic screams roared from phonographs.” Although the exterior, a typical English looking home with skeletons hanging from the windows, looks tame by today’s standards, it’s easy to imagine how it scared guests who had never experienced anything like it before.

The love of terror continued with the rise and fall of the freak shows and circus acts that inspired this season of American Horror Story. Interestingly enough, Walt Disney also played a part in shaping the haunted houses we love and fear today. Warner says it was Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion that had a major influence on haunted attractions across the country. With its use of modern technology and traditional scare tactics, the Haunted Mansion continues to inspire those just getting into the industry. And yes, it is an industry.

According to Martha C. White in her NBC article “It’s aliiiive! Haunted-house industry scares up big money,” in 2013 haunted houses netted $300 million. Warner includes haunted houses along with hayrides and mazes to give the industry a total of $1 billion in annual revenue. There is both The Haunted Attraction Association and the Haunted House Association for those in the industry to come together and share ideas and information.

With so much time and effort these people put into creating the perfectly frightening experience, why not make a last minute trip to a haunted house? I’m sure it will be terribly fun.


Bench, Evan. Mysterious House. 24 Aug. 2013. Online image. Flickr. 29 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/fWvxQf

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3 Tips to Keep Your Resume In Shape

paperwork

When I first started applying for “real world” jobs as a college senior they made me sick with nerves. There were so many different formats and layouts, so many rules on length and wording, basically there were too many options for me to feel comfortable handing in anything to a potential employer. One year later and I love all those options. They give you the freedom to show off all the skills you need to wow future employers. My attitude towards resumes changed once I accepted that multiple resumes were better for me than one single, massive resume of everything I had ever done.

Many job seekers today are either looking at several different career options at once or have a variety of experience due to taking a job out of necessity while still searching for their career job. The first group are people looking for a career change and have experience in a few different areas, such as non-profit and education, that they would like to pursue in this change. The latter are more likely to be 20somethings and/or recent graduates who needed a job to pay the bills and simply couldn’t afford to wait for that perfect First Career Job any longer. I was in that second group.

Whether you don’t like your current “for now” job or you’re looking for a new career, lots of people with lots of experience are putting out lots of resumes. Here are 3 tips to help you create your best resume for each position.

1. Tailor your resume to the job

Each job posting comes with key words that future employers look for when reviewing dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of applications. Not only should you look for these key words and add them to your resume, you should also remove information and experience that is not relevant to the position. According to Erik Larson at CAREEREALISM, “the biggest reason against dumping all this information in a single resume is that an employer cannot digest all of it. There is too much going on, and it would be difficult for recruiters to judge whether you are actually good at the role they want you to perform.”

I know you’re smart and wouldn’t bother to apply for a job you aren’t qualified for, but how would a potential employer know that? They’re searching through dozens and dozens of applications just to fill one, maybe two, spots. Help them out by giving them a list of your skills and experience, not a maze of job titles and irrelevant facts. This will help you go from just another application to the person they want to interview.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Like I said earlier, resumes have a lot of options. There aren’t any real hard rules to apply to each application. In general though, you don’t want to go over 2 pages. This goes along with my first point of tailoring your resume to each job. Just because you have more than a decade of experience doesn’t mean it’s all relevant. Just because you’ve held a lot of internships or volunteered all over the place doesn’t mean it’s relevant either. Only use what you need to prove that you can do the job.

If you have any gaps of employment, let’s say that in between that impressive internship and your first career job you had to work at a local coffee shop, try to fill it with whatever positions you can relate to the job you’re applying for. That coffee shop probably helped you hone your communication skills or improve your sales technique, so mention that.

3. Stay organized

Depending on how much effort you’re putting into your job search, you might have a couple resumes already put together. I recommend having templates for each type of job or career you want and then further tailoring those templates to each job posting with key words. Save each application with the job title and company in the name on either a flash drive or Google drive so that you can go back and reference it when you get the interview. Go the extra mile and make a spreadsheet to keep track of what you applied for, the date you applied, and what resume you used.

Worried that having so many different templates will keep you from remembering your entire job history in chronological order? Luckily there’s a social media site that can help you keep track of everything. We’ve already talked about how you can use LinkedIn to your advantage, but another great use for the site is keep an ongoing list of your job experience. Constantly being connected to previous employers also let’s you know if there’s been any changes with previous employers, like a new mission statement or name change (which has happened to me recently). Knowing this information, especially before going to an interview, can help you fully explain to your potential employers exactly what you did there and what you learned.

Don’t fall into the trap I did of using one resume and wondering why it isn’t working. You’re already putting so much effort into searching for the perfect job with the perfect company, why not add 10 extra minutes of work to make sure your resume is the one that gets the interview?


Heather. paperwork. 12 Mar. 2011. Online image. Flickr. 27 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/9rpM2p

I’m the Proud Aunt of a 4-year-old Ginger

GingerCat

This isn’t my furry niece, though. This is apparently a cat named Ed. My niece is Baroness Louise Von Meow Meow and she doesn’t sit well for pictures. Take my word for it though, she is adorable.

The Baroness is my roommates/best friends’ cat. They’ve been dating for 3 or 4 years now and adopted her after we moved to our new apartment this summer. They coo over the cat like a baby and when the Baroness recently got an ear infection they reacted like typical new parents.

This behavior isn’t new. People have been treating the animals in their lives like children for years. According to an article in Psychology Today, more than half of the Americans interviewed see their dogs as part of their family and refer to themselves as “pet parents” instead of “pet owners.” While this study refers to strictly dog owners, it isn’t hard to see how this ideology can easily translate to cat people.

I’m not saying it’s weird that people view their pets as part of the family. However, it was odd to watch that sudden transformation in my own apartment. Human children, whether adopted or biological, take time. You can’t just randomly go to a foster home and pick one out to take home that day like you can with animals. You have to prepare for human children for weeks, months, even years. With animals you simply buy a few items, pick one out, and there you go! You have a pet.

Even though I knew my roommates were getting a cat, I was a bit surprised with how quickly they became parents. I’ve heard them mention that since adopting the Baroness they’ve realized how serious their relationship is. Becoming parents to a furry child is a major milestone in their courtship that they happily conquered. As an outsider, it’s strange to watch two people realize how strong their relationship is and how bright a future they have together. While we all know people in their early 20s who are married or have kids, it is crazy to see first hand people become adults and accept more responsibility.

Ten years ago I was in 8th grade counting down the months to move on to high school. It’s hard to believe sometimes that some of the biggest decisions a person can make in their lives are the next milestones on my horizon. For now though, I’m very content playing with my niece and sending her mom funny pictures and videos while she’s out. Just don’t ask me to do the dirty work like give the Baroness her daily ear drops. I’m a strictly fun aunt.


Cope, Wendy. The Naming of Cats. 17 June. 2012. Online image. Flickr. 24 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/cg27Lw

 

8 Halloween Costumes for Men That You Can Wear Again

HalloweenCostumeMen

There’s only 9 days left until Halloween, which means you should really start working on your costume. As I said last week, I’m a big fan of simple and inexpensive costumes that involve the clothes you already own instead of pre-made store bought costumes. We’ve already discussed these kind of costumes for women, so now it’s time to move on to look at costumes for men that you can wear again.

1. Vampire

This costume is a Halloween classic. Vampires are smooth enough to seduce a date for the night or scary enough to participate in a more gory soiree. To make your vampire look scary put on traditional vampire make up: pale face and black shadow around the eyes to make you look undead.

What You Can Wear Again

  • White button down shirt
  • Black pants
  • Black shoes

Strictly Halloween

  • Black cape
  • Vampire fangs

2. FBI Agent

We’ve already talked about this look for women last week and it’s the same outfit for both genders. Group costumes are always better than individual ones, especially if you get a really dedicated group, so I encourage you to get a bunch of your friends together for this costume and spend the night guarding the candy, alcohol, or even random guests for the night.

What You Can Use Again

  • White button down top
  • Black dress pants
  • Black blazer
  • Aviator sunglasses

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Fake ear piece or, if you’re in a dedicated group, real walkie talkies to communicate with the whole night
  • FBI badge

3. Nudist on Strike

Perfect for those last minute costume parties that you didn’t plan for, the Nudist on Strike is the bare minimum of Halloween costumes. Have a list of complaints about the nudist camp prepared for people who ask about what you’re dressed as.

What You Can Use Again

  • Literally whatever you want to wear. Just pick something from your closet and throw it on.

Strictly Halloween Items

  • A cardboard sign around your neck reading “Nudist on Strike”

4. Athlete

If you’re really into sports than this is quite possibly the easiest costume for you. Just put on some athletic bottoms, maybe get some eye black and a ball/equipment, and you’re set.

What You Can Use Again

  • Team jersey
  • Athletic shorts/pants
  • Athletic shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Eye black
  • Sport equipment (if you don’t already own some)

5. Hawaiian Man

Want to keep your costume nice and cheesy? Be the Hawaiian Man. He’s from anywhere in the world, but he’s spent way too much time in Hawaii at his hotel’s tacky luau.

What You Can Wear Again

  • Swim trunks
  • Hawaiian shirt (if you have one)
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses

Strictly Halloween

  • Lei
  • Hawaiian shirt (if you don’t have one find one at a thrift store)
  • Bonus points for using body paint to give yourself a glorious sunburn and only drinking from a coconut shell

6. Genius

Do you like to rattle off random facts and trivia? Use that skill to your costume’s advantage and dress as a genius.

What You Can Wear Again

  • Button down shirt
  • Dress pants
  • Loafers
  • Tweed jacket optional
  • Bonus points for carrying textbooks or any academic props

Strictly Halloween

7. #1 Fan

This is another look that both men and women can pull off. If you really like a band, movie, TV show, book series, or anything like that, flaunt it! You can stay as simple as jeans and a t-shirt showing your adoration or go all out with armfuls of props.

What You Can Use Again

  • The t-shirt you already have in your closet
  • Jeans
  • Any shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • VIP backstage pass
  • Autograph book with your obsession’s “signature”
  • Dolls/action figures
  • Poster
  • Really any little accessories you can find that will prove your undying love for whatever you like
  • Bonus points for finding and carrying around a life size cut out all night

8. Chick Magnet

If you prefer funny to gory costumes, the Chick Magnet is here for you. Not only is it a fairly simple costume, it will get some laughs. Just buy a bunch of attractive dolls at the dollar store and tape them all over your body.

What You Can Wear Again

  • Literally anything you want

Stricktly Halloween

  • Dollar store dolls

Halloween is a great holiday full of fun parties. Finding a good costume without spending too much can be stressful though. Don’t let that ruin your Halloween spirit though. Just search your closet and dress up what you already own.


Florida Memory.Pine Crest School students wearing Halloween costumes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 30 May. 2007. Online image. Flickr. 22 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/h7jPo1

6 Tips to Promote Yourself on LinkedIn

BusinessItems

So far we’ve discussed how to promote yourself on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Now we’re going to focus on the site everyone should use: LinkedIn.

When people talk about social media, LinkedIn seems to get lost in the shuffle. With giants like Facebook and twitter constantly growing and changing, it’s easy to see how the reliable and professional site can be forgotten. Just because there aren’t any fun games or cat videos on LinkedIn doesn’t mean it isn’t as useful as other social media sites though.

LinkedIn is like an online resume as well as an easy tool to stay connected to your colleagues and people you meet while networking all in one. While it seems pretty straightforward, there are ways to maximize your profile to give your career an extra boost. Here’s 6 tips to make the most of your LinkedIn account.

1. Link to former employers

When you add a current or previous employment, LinkedIn requires you to fill out the company name, your title, location, and give dates for when you worked there. When you type the company’s name,  search the drop down menu to try and find your company and its logo rather than just giving the name. Not all companies have LinkedIn accounts, especially smaller ones, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find yours.

Linking your page to previous or current companies not only allows people to easily look up these employers and see what kind of background you have, it also allows LinkedIn to add you to a master list of employees for that company. This will make finding current and past coworkers to connect with easier (we’ll talk about that more later).

2. Include your skills

While LinkedIn suggests skills for you to add to your profile, it doesn’t add them for you. You must select the skills you have and add them to your profile yourself.

While adding your experience shows people the titles you’ve held and the places you’ve worked, adding your skills gives your greater freedom to show what you an do for future clients. You might have held similar titles at a variety of companies over the years, but that doesn’t mean you had the same responsibilities or used the same exact skills at each place. Or perhaps you’re looking to branch out and have recently gained skills you haven’t really used in your previous jobs. The skills section is the place to show that.

3. Connect with coworkers past and present

Connections are LinkedIn’s version of friends, likes, or followers. Do you have coworkers at your current job? What about your previous jobs? Did you meet someone at a networking event that you’d like to stay in touch with? All of these people are your potential connections.

Why is it important to have connections? These people can help you grow your business, hire you for your services, or even give you a leg up if you wanted to switch jobs. Just like friends, likes, and followers, connections are important to keep your business going.

4. Endorse your connections

Remember how you took the time to list all your skills on your LinkedIn page? So did your connections. One way to stay connected with your vast network is to endorse the skills they’ve listed on their pages. Be honest and only endorse the skills you’ve experienced and don’t worry about not being able to endorse all of them.

While it might seem silly to read a list of people’s skills and select a few you really believe in, it does benefit you in the long run. It’s an unwritten rule on LinkedIn to endorse someone who endorses you. Everyone might not follow this rule, but enough will return the favor to transform your list of skills from self-written to colleague-approved.

5. Share regular updates

LinkedIn has updates similar to those of Facebook. They’re accessible to your connections and remind people to keep you on their radar. This is where you share your work, such as your new portfolio, or even a funny image or inspirational quote that relates to your field. Either way, it reminds your connections that you are still active and relevant. Who do you think a potential client is more likely to hire, the talented person that faded to the background or the talented person who refused to be forgotten? The answer’s pretty obvious.

6. Don’t use hashtags

LinkedIn isn’t set up to use hashtags like twitter and Facebook. Without the linking ability behind it, hashtags just look ridiculous. I suggest keeping things professional with standard grammatical English and favor key words to catch clients’ eye.

Let’s be honest, LinkedIn is a more practical than fun social media site. That being said, it has an obvious purpose and serves it well. You’re not here to settle for average though. Always look for ways to achieve more than the status quo, even in the professional world. Use LinkedIn to your advantage and grow your business, and your network, like never before.


Symo0. Technology. 8 Feb. 2011. Online image. Flickr. 20 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/9hsheb

The 21st Century Young Professional

Working

My mother has been on a crusade for months about me finding a permanent career. The wording differs every few weeks, sometimes she just wants me to find a full time job, sometimes she wants me to find steady work in writing, but the message is always the same: where I’m at now is not good enough.

I graduated from Ball State University in May 2013 with a degree in creative writing and a minor in telecommunications. Since then I’ve had unpaid internships with 70+ hours of work, part time retail jobs, was a glorified Sample Lady at grocery stores, and have now moved on to working part time in customer service. After a few set backs right after graduation I’m finally getting back to writing and doing freelance new media work. Things aren’t perfect, but I’m only 23 and things are getting back on track. I just wish I could make my mother understand.

I know she means well, but my mother’s expectations seem a bit dated to me. When she was my age in the 80s the economy was different and Yuppies (young upwardly-mobile professionals) ruled the world. Today most of my college graduate friends are freelancing and doing well. If they do have full time careers many got them through freelancing, several internships, or through connections.

More importantly, I know my current resume isn’t impressive enough to land my dream career yet. Since graduation I’ve moved from jobs so often that it could be seen as a liability. Changing jobs has become a fine balancing act over the years. Many people have to change jobs in order to move up the career ladder because remaining at the same company for too long will keep them at the same place. However, changing jobs too often makes people look flaky. Each career move must be made carefully, weighing both positives and negatives before deciding.

Rather than following previous generations’ views on careers, current college grads are picking and choosing from their predecessors. While today’s 20somethings want a profitable career, we’re also borrowing the freedom of this 60s.

It seems that for the hippie generation simply picking up and moving to follow their dreams was so common it has become a predictable part of every great story. Countless bands have such a line in their history, and the notorious Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco would be completely different without that cliche. Today’s 20somethings move across the country for an opportunity and take countless freelance jobs to create enough connections for a career. We are the hippies and Yuppies combined.

Just don’t call us yippies. Or huppies. Please don’t turn this into a cute cultural nickname.


Foy, Dan. A-levels (concept) (notes). 21 May. 2008. Online image. Flickr. 17 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/4PXXYp

11 Halloween Costumes for Women That You Can Wear Again

HalloweenWomen

With Halloween less than 3 weeks away, it’s time to get this year’s costume together. While some people plan for this holiday months in advance, I know plenty of others who get so caught up in work, school, kids, or life in general and end up throwing something together last minute and hoping that it works. For the later of the two groups, I’m here to help.

I’m a big fan of using regular clothes to put together Halloween costumes. As an adult you’re either stuck with inexpensive but incredibly cheap looking store bought costumes or really nice but way too expensive store bought costumes. By using regular clothes you can justify spending more than you would on a cheap store bought costume because you can wear it again while also using thrift shops and second hand stores to find the best deals. So for all my fellow ladies who want a nice costume at a decent price, here’s 11 women’s Halloween costumes you can use throughout the year.

1. Witch

It’s a Halloween staple. The best part about this costume is you can pretty much wear anything with the witch hat to make it work.

What You Can Use Again

  • Black top
  • Black skirt
  • Black dress
  • Black shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Witch Hat
  • Broom

2. Cat

Again, another Halloween staple. You can either wear pants, skirt, or a dress as long as everything is solid black. Use black eyeliner to give yourself whiskers and some cute cat eye makeup.

What You Can Use Again

  • Black top
  • Black pants
  • Black skirt
  • Black dress
  • Black shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Black cat ears and tail

3. Leopard/Cheetah

It’s basically the same as the Black Cat but with prints instead of head to toe black. This is best for someone who already likes leopard or cheetah print and has a lot of it in her closet. Don’t want head to toe print? Use black or dark brown to break things up.

What You Can Use Again

  • Leopard/Cheetah print top
  • Leopard/Cheetah print pants
  • Leopard/Cheetah print skirt
  • Leopard/Cheetah print dress
  • Black shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Leopard/Cheetah print ears and tail

4. Librarian

A favorite of girls who love to wear their glasses, this look can be for a family friendly event as well as something more sexy for those adult functions. Both use the same pieces, but for a sexier look leave a few buttons undone on your top, opt for a tighter skirt, and wear heels.

What You Can Use Again

  • Button down blouse
  • Pencil skirt
  • Cardigan
  • Pearl necklace
  • Glasses (if you already wear glasses)
  • Any shoes that aren’t boots or sneakers
  • Bonus points for carrying around a book or two

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Fake glasses (if you don’t already wear glasses)

5. Athlete

Do you have a favorite sports team? Do you have any of their jerseys? Perfect! Just put on some athletic bottoms, maybe get some eye black and a ball/equipment, and you’re set.

What You Can Use Again

  • Team jersey
  • Athletic shorts/pants
  • Athletic shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Eye black
  • Sport equipment (if you don’t already own some)

6. Wine Connoisseur

This costume is really practical if you’re going to a BYOB party. Just carrying around your own wine and a wine glass, and sniff and sip all night long. Since there’s no real uniform of a wine connoisseur you can basically wear something fancy enough to drink fine wine in all day. Or boxed wine, I’m not here to judge you.

What You Can Use Again

  • A nice outfit to match the color of the wine you’re drinking
  • A wine glass (preferably one that isn’t glass)

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Wine, because let’s be honest how much are you actually going to have left over from one bottle or box after the party?

7. Hostess with the Mostest

Strongly recommended only for those throwing their own Halloween party since it’s weird to play hostess at a party that isn’t yours.

What You Can Use Again

  • Halloween sweater, t-shirt, or any other festive top
  • Any pants you own
  • Any shoes you own

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Always have a platter of Halloween-themed finger foods in one hand and a trick-or-treat bag full of Halloween themed items like vampire fangs and spider rings in the other
  • Bonus points for going all out on Halloween decorations to compliment your costume

8. #1 Fan

Do you really like a band, movie, TV show, book series, board game, or really just anything in general? Do you have a t-shirt to prove it? Excellent! This costume can be as simple as a t-shirt, but it’s better if you go all out with it.

What You Can Use Again

  • The t-shirt you already have in your closet
  • Jeans
  • Any shoes

Strictly Halloween Items

  • VIP backstage pass
  • Autograph book with your obsession’s “signature”
  • Dolls/action figures
  • Poster
  • Really any little accessories you can find that will prove your undying love for whatever you like
  • Bonus points for finding and carrying around a life size cut out all night

9. Nudist On Strike

Are you lazy? Do you just need something to wear for one party? Do you have cardboard, a marker, and some string? Then you have a costume, my friend. The Nudist On Strike is mad about something (broken heater, lack of towels, whatever issue you think a nudist could be upset about at a nudist camp) and they’re not going to take it anymore!

What You Can Use Again

  • Literally whatever you want to wear. Just pick something from your closet and throw it on.

Strictly Halloween Items

  • A cardboard sign around your neck reading “Nudist on Strike”

10. Socialite

Do you like to play dress up? Wish you were the wealthy center of attention everywhere you went? Then it’s time to let your inner socialite shine.

What You Can Use Again

  • Cocktail dress
  • Heels
  • Fancy jewelry (I discourage wearing real jewelry to a costume party)
  • Oversized sunglasses

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Bonus points for carrying a stuffed dog in your purse the whole night

11. FBI Agent

If you have a good poker face I suggest playing the serious FBI Agent. This is even better if you can get a group of friends to join you so you can stay in character throughout the party. Bonus points for having someone dresses as the President or any other important figure for you to guard. Or maybe you were sent to the party to protect the Socialite for the night?

What You Can Use Again

  • White button down top
  • Black dress pants
  • Black blazer
  • Aviator sunglasses

Strictly Halloween Items

  • Fake ear piece or, if you’re in a dedicated group, real walkie talkies to communicate with the whole night
  • FBI badge

Halloween is a fun holiday with great parties and events all through October. Don’t miss out just because you’re disappointed with store bought costumes or too busy to get really crafty on your own. Just look through your closet and get creative.


Florida Memory. Halloween party for the troops in Miami, Florida. 18 Aug. 2010. Online image. Flickr. 15 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/h7mzV4

3 Tips to Promote Yourself on Instagram

TakePicture

Everyone knows the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” but that’s not all it’s worth. Sometimes they’re worth followers, likes, or comments, which can result in dollars.

We’ve talked about promoting yourself on twitter and Facebook, two social media sites that are more word oriented than image oriented. Now it’s time to focus on Instagram, the image sharing site known for square photos and dozens of filters. There are plenty of fields that would benefit from this website, including (obviously) photographers, artists, fashion designers, chefs, and really anyone who creates their own products for sale. Here are 3 tips to use the 4 year old site to help you find new clients and colleagues.

1. Get creative

Obviously, share pictures of your products. Did you make a killer dress? Show it off. Did you create a beautiful mural? Show it off. Your account is going to get pretty boring pretty fast if the end result is all that’s there to see. Create excitement by posting an image of your tools before you begin a new piece, or a sneak peak at a half finished product. Keep the contents of your account relevant to what you do, but don’t make things monotonous for your followers.

2. Don’t forget behind the scenes shots

Do you have coworkers? Collaborators? Bonus points if you have an actual office or studio! These spaces and faces are full of photo ops for you to share on Instagram. Not only will they add interest to your account, they also give your brand a face and personality. People see that they’re buying from or working with real humans who go on coffee runs or pull office pranks. It doesn’t matter if it’s just you and a few coworkers or an Artist Mannequin, giving your brand personality will only help you grow.

3. Use hashtags

Just like twitter, hastags are important on Instagram. They’re searchable, giving you the opportunity to connect with new clients at the click of a mouse. Instagram itself recommends no more than 3 hashtags per post which is probably the best way to keep your followers focused on your images and the text you attach to them. Do your research before posting a hashtag. Just like twitter, you want to make sure that the words you use attract the right people to your account.

Since launching in 2010 there’s not that much data on how well Instagram helps businesses. There’s no denying that using the social media site in the right way has been beneficial to many brands though. In the end how much it will help you depends on how much you rely on showing people a physical product as opposed to having them read or listening to something. Since the site is only 4 years old, it doesn’t have the following to replace Facebook or maybe even twitter, but that shouldn’t deter you from adding it to your arsenal of promotional tools.


Dulaunoy, Alexandre. Taking a Picture in Zurich. 10 Feb. 2014. Online image. Flickr. 13 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/k6yYKR

The Best Advice I Ever Heard

Revolution

When I was in high school, either my junior or senior year, I had an AP English teacher we’ll call Ms. S. Ms. S was fresh out of college and we were her first teaching job. To say she was in over her head as an AP teacher at a college prep is a bit of an understatement. But Ms. S was still amazingly kind and full of excitement for both literature and her students. She would sometimes start class with reminding us to stay passionate and do things just because we were young. One of those things was to protest.

One day, I don’t know how we got on the topic, but Ms. S told us the story of how her and her fiancee were almost arrested at a protest. The way Ms. S told it, it was dozens of college students versus some company who was polluting the world. She was often excited and enthusiastic, but it sounded odd in a story about almost having a criminal record. That’s when Ms. S gave us one piece of advice that has stuck with me after all these years: just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t change the world.

I had always thought that the world was run by generations older than mine. True, in a democracy there is voting that everyone can participate in, but as an observant child I noticed that everyone in power, everyone able to make a difference, seemed to be a lot older than me. But that’s far from true. There are plenty of 20somethings, or even people younger, who have changed the world.

  • The Hong Kong Protests demanding more democracy were manned mostly by college students
  • Malala Yousafzai shed light on women’s education worldwide after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012
  • The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 might not have been so successful if women had not been involved. Many believe that the high number of women among protestors can be attributed to there being more educated women in Egypt now than in previous generations.

There are so many more examples than the ones I listed of young people, people my age, changing the world. Ms. S’s advice has stuck with me for years, and has affected just about every act I make. Just because we are young, or we don’t have decades of life experience behind us, doesn’t mean we can’t make the world a better place. You can be one person in a crowd moving towards progress, or you can be an individual who simply does the right thing for another human being. Either way, never let your age stop you from achieving amazing things.


Solana, Jesus. Go Spanish revolution! / Indignados! 22 May. 2011. Online image. Flickr. 7 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/9KQ9p8

So I Finally Went to a Con

NoFaceSelfie

In college one of my best friends  was a girl who lived down the hall from me. She is the coolest nerd you’ll ever meet. Not only is she into everything that Cons are about, she’s also nice enough to share it. I don’t know a lot of people who would have tolerated me constantly asking questions throughout every movie, book, or TV show the way she did. Five years later, that same girl is still one of my closest friends and also my roommate. After years of hearing her stories about all the different Cons she went to, I finally got a to go to one with her.

Awesome Con Indianapolis was October 3rd-5th. While I could only get off work that Saturday, October 4th, I didn’t mind. Just by glancing at the schedule I could still see some amazing celebrities, check out some interesting panels, and, best of all, cosplay.

Since I didn’t know my work schedule until last minute, I didn’t really have time for the hardcore cosplays everyone thinks of when they hear that word. Instead, I went for a down-played version of Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. While the outfit looks simple enough, it was a challenge to find the right pieces. My best friend, being insanely creative, made her own No Face from Spirited Away. That’s right, if you saw No Face at Awesome Con it was a woman strutting around the convention center in heels.

All in all, Awesome Con was fun, but nothing like what I imagined. While the crowd picked up later in the day the convention center as a whole seemed pretty empty. I heard other people talking about how some panels were empty or certain game rooms were completely unorganized so don’t bother going there throughout the entire day. I thought about doing Sci-Fi Speed Dating but quickly backed out when I heard ladies were free but guys had to pay $20. For some reason a fee made the whole thing more serious and less fun than I thought speed dating should be.

On the bright side, I got to see both the Adam West & Burt Ward Q&A as well as the Jason Mewes Q&A. Both were amazing and I would gladly go see these three men again in a heart beat. Going in cosplay was also an amazing choice. Few people recognized me in my simple outfit, although I did bond with one of the Awesome Con volunteers who also had Kiki’s Delivery Service as the first anime she ever watched. Everyone knew who No Face was though.

No Face was interviewed by Spider-Man, which was great since No Face doesn’t talk. No Face made a few people cry with happiness after being offered gold coins. One guy was really smart and freaked out when No Face held out a coin for him. No Face freaked a few people out who had never seen Spirited Away. No Face made people’s heads turn and created excited whispers at panels. No Face even took an awesome selfie.

While Awesome Con wasn’t what I expected, I will definitely go to another one. I’m thinking my next cosplay will be Totoro