HOW THE F*** DO YOU BECOME A FREELANCER?

I work as a full-time freelance writer. And the only question I get asked more than, what are you writing, is, how the hell do you pull this off? I don’t know what works for everyone, but I can talk about what works for me. Maybe something in here can answer your questions, or help inspire you to make those giant baby steps to a life that feels more right for you.

You’ve got to really want to do this. Before you jump ship on your job right now you have to consider the fact that all personal boundaries of work and time will be dismantled. It will take you a while to find those again, so you have to really love this particular way of making money. It is a feast or famine life. I was a little lucky when I started because I was a lot like a person walking the plank. I was finishing grad school, the life I was living was quickly dismantled and I had nothing to lose. I had no job so I had to make money somehow. That sink or swim kind of mentality was crucial for me. I had to hustle or I would have had to live in my parents basement again.

If you are transitioning out a steady job but want to freelance, I don’t recommend just jumping ship. What I do think has worked for some friends of mine, is working on the side here and there. Pick up a project or two, maybe even for free at first, just to see if you like it and to build a portfolio. Say you want to freelance graphic design, a friend needs a new logo, just do it. Do it because you love it, but do it also because then you are already doing it. Before you know it you will build a body of work that actually allows you to shop for clients.

That portfolio is everything. The only thing that matters when you’re freelancing is the last good thing you made. So, make some good shit. There is a fine line when it comes to working for free. Remember that and remember to value your work. I think in the start it’s fine, it’s even good, because you need to get out there. But, do not forget to draw the line and that’s going to happen sooner than later because you’re awesome.

Word of mouth is everything too. I get more work off my social media accounts and through friends and previous jobs than any other way these days. Your work will preceded you, and if it’s good then people will coming looking for you. The trick is to put yourself out there, talk to people, get involved, meet someone else’s needs, help out, volunteer, show up to the party. Networking is a freelancers life line. Being somewhere is half the battle, because the jobs are out there if you go looking.

Can’t stop won’t stop. If this is something you want, something you need, then there really is no other option and the trick is to not quit. I had a teacher who once said to a room of a dozen students, “one of you will actually become a writer. And not because only one of you is talented, but because only one of you will not quit. And it might not even be the talented one.” I’ve always carried that with me. I’ve always been determined to be that one. Someone has got to do the work, and there is work to do, so that someone might as well be you.

Good luck. And if you have more or specific questions, leave a comment below and I’d love to chat and help in any way I can.

(Feature image via Bloguettes)

BREAKING THE AWK SILENCE AFTER A FIGHT

So, you and your vina have had an argument. But you’ve decided that you want to make it up, here are some tips on how to do it:

REFLECT AND CONSIDER

Firstly you need to be able (or at least try) to look at the situation from your vina’s point of view and understand why she acted or reacted in the way in she did. If you try and reconcile with her without understanding her, there’s a strong possibility that she will become more angry or upset, as she won’t feel that you are properly sincere in your attempt to become friends again.

Following on from this, when talking to her don’t make it sound as though you are the victim and she is the enemy, or the other way round. What you should do is accept that you both hurt each other intentionally or unintentionally, but make it super clear her friendship means so much to you that you want to work through your differences and difficulties to become friends again. However, if you now realize that you said something that was very offensive to her and that is what sparked the animosity between you two then it may be good to admit this, to show that you understand how hurt she was.

KEEP IT IRL

It’s a good idea to talk to your vina face-to-face about the situation between the two of you, even if the original confrontation happened online. This way, you can be more clear about your feelings and it will be easier to negotiate and know where you stand with each other. Obviously this isn’t always possible as your vina might live in another city or even another country, so in these cases it is best to call or Skype (let’s admit it – apologies over text barely count).

Another thing it is good to avoid is posting about the argument on social media (yes, that includes sub-tweeting) as this can cause it to become more toxic than is necessary and can lead to more people being involved. If it is too late for that, then delete the posts and apologize to her. If other people have got involved, due to social media or other means, then leave them out of it for now and just focus on getting things cool with you and your vina first.

BE REALISTIC

Finally, it’s important to note that, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to mend your friendship or restore it to its former strength. There may be some situations where either you or your vina decide that what has happened between you hurt too much and it’s best to just let the friendship go. In these cases it’s best to be open and understanding to your vina, if this is what she’s decided then you have to accept it. If she later decides to reach out again, you can decide how to respond to that, but it has to be initiated by her. If you are the one who has decided this then you need to be clear and firm (but kind) with your vina to make sure she fully understands the scenario.

Have you ever had to take the high road to get over a fight with your friend? Tell us about it in the comments!

(Feature image via @nanajudy_)

10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR ♈️ARIES♈️ BFF

We’re back with 10 Things To Know About Your BFF – zodiac style! I happen to be an Aries myself, so this advice is straight from the source:

WE’RE STUBBORN

Us rams aren’t afraid to butt heads if we’re feeling like our ideals are threatened in any way. We’re not ones to give in unless we really, really like you. And even then… good luck.

WE’RE COMPETITIVE

Along those same lines – we’re fiercely competitive. Which makes us a lot of fun if you’re on our team on game night. (But not so fun if you’re not.)

WE’RE INDEPENDENT

Aries babes are naturally independent. We don’t need other people to depend on – but that’s what makes our friendships so special. If we’re keeping you around, it’s because we really want you around.

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE YOUR BACK

Having an Aries gal for a friend is like having a body guard, lawyer, cheerleader, and big sister all rolled into one. We won’t let anyone mess with you and if they do… they better watch out for our fiery wrath!

WE’RE GENEROUS

Your Aries friend will be the first to offer to pick up the drink tab and is the BEST birthday gift-giver.

WE DON’T HOLD GRUDGES

We may be stubborn, but cross us and don’t worry, we won’t hate you forever. We’re just as quick to forgiveness as we are to judgement.

WE’RE SPONTANEOUS

A classic fire sign babe, your Aries friend is probably always dragging you somewhere new and changing plans last minute. Try to keep up!!

WE DON’T WASTE TIME ON ANALYSIS

There’s no point in asking an Aries why they did something – we don’t have time to consider the ifs, ands, or buts, we just need to DO. This may get us into some sticky situations sometimes, but it also makes us super fun to be around! …Right?

WE’RE ROMANTIC…

…even in our platonic relationships. We fiercely love our friends and aren’t afraid to show it!

OUR BEST FRIENDS ARE…

…Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius, and Aquarius ladies!

Find your Aries BFF on Hey! VINA or send this list to an Aries babe you already know and love! 

 

 

YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE MORE OUTGOING

We’re all a little scared of rejection. Some of us are a lot scared. It doesn’t help that culturally, we’re taught to see rejection as a personal failure, where in fact, rejection happens to everyone, every single day. It happens when we don’t get a smile back on the street, when someone avoids eye contact or brushes us off during a conversation.

Most of the time, the person doing the rejecting has other stuff they are focusing on: really, it’s not us, it’s them. But it’s one thing to to logically understand this, and another to feel it. Many of us refrain from putting ourselves out there for fear of being shot down. So, how can we train ourselves to be desensitized to rejection, and begin to live more vibrant and fearless lives? Here are some exposure therapy steps to push you in the right direction.

STREET SMILE

Start by smiling at people on the street, especially people whose perception you may care about. Instead of walking past cooly in an attempt to maintain a façade, make eye contact, nod, smile. For some of us this will be terrifying at first. Sometimes, you won’t get a smile back, and that’s okay! Over time you will stop feeling personally hurt. And when some do smile back, that may just make your day.

BAR TALK

Next, it’s time to go up to people. Make a pact with yourself that you will talk to three people the next time you head out to a bar or other social setting with your vinas. These people have to be strangers, or not-so-close-acquaintances. Start off with people who don’t make you so nervous. They may brush you off, they may not. Remember, the idea is to actually get rejected a few times so that you understand that the world does not end when you do, and realize your capacity to pick yourself back up. After a few nights out, try talking to people who make you nervous. But don’t push yourself too fast. Baby steps!

IT DOESN’T HURT TO ASK

A lot of us feel like asking for something, whether it be a raise or a date or even respect, will reflect badly upon our character in the eyes of another. What most of us don’t realize is that oftentimes what you think will be a “no” is really a “yes!” It’s important to remember that if someone has a negative reaction to you it will probably be temporary, whereas your happiness and confidence is much more permanent. Besides, admiration is usually the primary reaction to those who ask for what they need!

What are some steps you can take towards facing your fear of rejection? Ask a vina and comment below!  

HOW TO INTEGRATE YOUR NEW FRIEND INTO YOUR EXISTING SQUAD

You met a girl, and now it’s time to bring her home to meet the fam. That’s what it can feel like when you’re starting to connect with a vina and you want her to join the friend group you’ve already built. Rather than worry about it, use these guidelines to help you navigate. You’ll find that an integrated group is not as far off as it seems!

KEEP IT CHILL

No one is at their best when they’re in a stressful or high-stakes situation, and you want your vinas to see each other when they’re the most comfortable. Organize a casual outing, like bar trivia or a movie, that everyone can enjoy and that takes the attention off the new friend-old friends dynamic. Or, you could plan a party that includes both your existing friend group, your new vina, and other friends and acquaintances so that everyone can meet in a relaxed environment with minimal pressure.

DEFER TO HER

Remember, your new vina doesn’t know your other friends, and you are her only connection to this group. Plan an activity for the group that you know your new vina will enjoy, and during conversation, be sensitive to your new vina’s participation and comfort level with what’s going on. If she’s quiet, try to find ways to bring up topics she cares about, or a relevant story she told you on a previous date and ask if she could share it again. If your friends share an inside joke, clue her in. At the same time, make sure your friend group doesn’t think you’re becoming a different person or not paying attention to them. It’s a delicate balance, but careful listening and staying sensitive to subtle group dynamics will help you offset tension and nurture positive connections.

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(Photo via IMVU)

FIND CONNECTIONS

Speaking of connections, it’s your job to find as many as you can between your new vina and your existing friend group. You don’t necessarily have to call attention to all the similarities you notice, but if you can get your new vina talking to one of your previous friends about an activity they both love, you’ll be starting a friendship between the two of them that’s separate from your relationship with either.

BE UP FRONT

Honesty is always the most solid relationship strategy. It’s best to introduce your new vina to your friend group before they actually meet her. Let them know that you’ve been enjoying your time with her and you want to invite her to a group get-together. Likewise, let your new vina know that you have some other friends you think she’d like and that it’d be fun for you all to go out together sometime. Give her a feel for how close-knit your group is so she isn’t surprised if she feels a little out of place. Always stay positive, but if things don’t seem to be working out well, be honest about that too, and make sure all your vinas know how much you care for them.

Good luck! If you have other good strategies to integrate new vinas into a friend group, please share in the comments!

(Featured Image via @Thewhitepepper

THE CURE FOR FOMO ON A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX

These days it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of social pressure that is social media. Many people find it consuming their lives, the first thing they do when they wake up and the last thing they do before bed. Not only are our various accounts false testaments to our realities, but they can promote unrealistic life expectations and far too much comparison. Basically, it’s exhausting. But how do we take a break without completely disconnecting from our friends and family? How do we stay connected in ways that matter while disconnecting from the harmful plagues of the not-so-idealistic reality that is the internet?

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TAKE A FULL HIATUS

Take a walk and leave your phone at home

This is good practice for everyone! Especially those of us who don’t want to delete all of our apps or profiles.

Delete social media apps from your phone

Set aside an hour for social media and pledge to only use a computer for the apps that are on both platforms. Now you won’t get distracted all day long!

Put your phone on airplane mode at night

As you’re winding down for bed, set your phone to airplane mode. This is good practice for when you’re ready to shut down work emails as well. Perks include getting more sleep due to less screen time, and cleansing yourself from a hard day with a simple self care routine.

IF YOU’RE JUST SICK AND TIRED OF IT ALL

Ask for consistent updates

Message your closest friends and family members and ask them to text you funny photos or updates on their lives from time to time. This will ensure that you’re not missing what you loved about social media when it comes to the people closest to you. Besides, you may find that what you receive is more authentic than the polished image they post online.

Talk on the phone more

Call up friends and actually hear their voices when you’re feeling lonely! This keeps you connected and leaves you feeling much more fulfilled than a random texting or social media sesh.

Make more plans in person

Make plans to meet up instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. If you’re worried about missing out, ask about those acquaintances you don’t directly keep in touch with, or events coming up. This way, you can be filled in about what’s going on on the inter-web with company and laughter, rather than jealous or resentful seclusion.

Do you have ideas about how to detox from social media? Ask a vina and comment below! 

(Feature Image via Elite Girl Daily

VINA STORY: ADOPTING BFF FRENCHIES

Audrey Ong and Jo Cipolla matched on Hey! VINA last summer and realized they lived super close to each other so it was basically meant to be. After their initial vina date just walking around their neighborhood (Jo was new in town), the rest is pretty much history! Native New Yorker Audrey showed British Jo the ropes around the city and they became super fast friends.

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“As a newbie to New York Audrey was great at taking me to loads of fun places. We both have a desire to try most things at least once! She was great at inviting me to events around the city where we could meet new people, and she introduced me to lots of her friends so that I quickly felt like I had my own little NYC family.”

– Jo

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The best part about their blossoming friendship? They have two French bulldog pups named Cara and Luna that are also BFFs! I know, I know, my heart is exploding, too. Audrey’s future hubby and Jo surprised her with the puppies and now the 6 of them are like one big happy puppy family. Jo will even be one of Audrey’s bridesmaids next year! Too cute.

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“We started spending a lot more time together – going to eat at new places, looking for fun (and free) adventures in the city, traveling upstate on weekend trips, and of course, bonding over puppy playdates. Our pups Cara & Luna, love spending time with each other – it’s crazy how much energy they have when they see each one another. I definitely think sharing these moments and seeing each other often brought us closer. I personally feel like if I don’t see her for over a week, it feels like forever!”

– Audrey

 

Check out more of their cute pics below, and find the Audrey to your Jo (or the Cara to your Luna) on Hey! VINA today! We want to hear your VINA story, too! Tell us HERE. Finally, you can read more VINA stories here!

 

5 TED TALKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

When you’re feeling down, unsure, or just looking for some inspiration, submerging yourself in the words and wisdom of others can help. Here are some TED talks that are sure to get your gears moving, thoughts brewing, and maybe even ignite a flame of change:

“YOUR BODY LANGUAGE SHAPES WHO YOU ARE”

In this talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy speaks about how our body language speaks for itself- and is often times more powerful than actual words. This is a great talk to listen to before a job interview, presentation, or even a date. Understanding how your signals are perceived by others is the first step to making a great first impression. In the words of Amy Cuddy- confidence is all about “faking it until you make it”.

“BRING ON THE FEMALE SUPERHEROES!”

In this bittersweet talk about the absence of female superheroes, Christopher Bell speaks about how even his amazing, talented,  and confident daughter is damaged by a lack of female role models. This call to action will force you to reconsider superhero consumerism, and help you become more critical of the media we so often digest without thought.

“THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY”

You know this is a good one if even Beyonce had to use it. This powerful message, brought to you by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, addresses the repercussions of placing people in a predetermined box based on gender, nationality, race, etc. If you like this one, also check out “What does my headscarf mean to you?” by Yassmin Abdel-Magied- another woman challenging preconceptions, and proving there is more to a woman than what you can see.

“WHY WOMEN SHOULD TELL THE STORIES OF HUMANITY”

Jude Kelly, a theater director from Britain, discusses how humanity is told through the voices of men, while the stories of women are seen as just that- stories for women. She raises the question: why are men’s experiences taken as truth- as the “human experience”- and women’s experiences are belittled or erased. Her talk highlights how including women’s perspectives in the narration of the human experience does not require erasing the experiences of men, but rather equal representation and respect when it comes to sharing such stories.

“WHAT WILL YOU TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS ABOUT 2016?”

Chinaka Hodge delivers a powerful spoken word piece that will send chills down your spine and bring tears to your eyes. She will bring your attention to an empty hole in your stomach, and fill it with hope of the future- but only if we are aware, accountable, and aspiring to make tomorrow better than yesterday.

Did you find these talks helpful? Share them with your vinas, and post a link to YOUR fave TED talk in the comments!

VINA DATE IDEAS: DUBAI

I must admit writing this is making me feel quite homesick, and I’m definitely experiencing some major #FOMO.  After spending almost 20 years in this beautiful desert haven, I’ve carefully curated three categories that I think are applicable to the Dubai lifestyle:  bougie, touristy, and low-key. If you’re ever in Dubai, make sure to check out these hotspots with your vina!

#BOUGIE: BRUNCH AT PIERCHIC

While technically Pierchic is considered to be the restaurant of ‘lurrrrrvvveee’ a.k.a The Most Romantic Restaurant in Dubai, it also does a super duper ‘chic’ brunch. I’ve been there with my vina for life (a.k.a my mum) 💘 and it was definitely worth the $$$ price tag. If you and your vina are big on seafood this is THE place to be. The fresh water Omani lobster and Norwegian prawns and grilled king scallops have always been my go to and favorite. You’re also surrounded by the most beautiful shades of turquoise and blue sea water as well as get a glimpse of the Burj Al Arab dubbed as the only 7-star hotel in the world.

#TOURISTY: DESERT SAFARIS (CLICHE BUT SO MUCH FUN!!)

If you have the BLESSED opportunity to visit Dubai between Oct to March, make sure to experience a desert safari. Whenever anyone I know visits for the first time, I make sure to schedule this all-day-fun activity for them. A full day adventure normally consists of dune bashing, crazy driving stunts by professional drivers, camel rides, a henna artist at the base camp, really, really good middle-eastern food, entertainment in the form of belly dancing, and the chance to experience the beautiful desert during night time. (Phew! I’m out of breath after all that!)

#LOW-KEY: AN ABRA TOUR OF THE CITY

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📸: @reisha

Dubai has its own version of the famous Venice gondolas called Abra. Located by the Dubai Creek, these abras or traditional boats are a nice contrast to the modern visuals of the city that you come across. A popular mode of transport in the past, and present; for less that 30 cents you can cross the beautiful Dubai Creek from Old Souk Deira to Bur Dubai.

#BOUGIE: TURNT TUESDAYS

Some might say Dubai has a better nightlife than New York and London, and experiencing the nightlife Dubai has to offer is definitely worth checking out with your vina. My favorite clubs are Mo*vida & Cirque Le Soir. Mo*vida always has the best DJs & Urban artists playing (fun fact: I once met Drake here). Cirque Le Soir, a franchise of the famous London club, is definitely a place to be if you want to include theatrics into your clubbing experience!

A tip to remember, Dubai follows its ‘Dress to Impress’ to the T, so make sure to primp up for the night out. Also Dubai is big on Ladies nights and most clubs & bars have some sort of free drink system for girls on certain days of the week 👯🍻!

#TOURISTY:  SNOW DAY WITH PENGUINS

If you’ve decided to visit this amazingly beautiful city in the summer in the boiling heat and are now regretting not taking that holiday to London or making a quick pit stop to the Alps – we’ve got you covered. Did you know Dubai is home to the World’s First Indoor Ski Resort? If an indoor ski resort with a 10-foot ramp, tube slides, and sightseeing chairlift doesn’t impress you, Ski Dubai also offers a once in a life time experience to meet their resident PENGUINS 🐧 !!!! This is definitely a tourist activity, but I did visit a second time when they introduced the penguins!

#LOW-KEY: HIDDEN GEMS OF DUBAI

One of Dubai’s best kept secrets is the cafeteria called Bu Qtair. Originally a shack with a parking lot space designated seating area, the new Bu Qtair- still a no frills set up – does have seating arrangements. Serving the ‘fresh catch of the day’ in fish and shrimps, the menu is limited, but that’s part of the charm. In one of the most affluent neighborhoods of Dubai, Jumeirah, coming across this budget friendly is a nice juxtaposition. Also the location which is in a harbor dock like area has a nice ambience to it, i’ve enjoyed a sunset or two while eating some 🌶🐟 spicy fried fish and paratha (Indian layered bread). Expect an hour to two hour long wait – you have been warned!

I could possibly suggest 10-20 other place within these categories, but chose my top 6 experiences. Dubai is an interesting mix of local, international, indoor, and outdoor activities. I would suggest planning a 10 day trip which would cover all of Dubai and possibly another Emirate or two. Keeping an open budget is also key, so plan with your vina accordingly.

(Feature Image: @stefaniegiesinger)

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS: DONATE TO THESE NON-PROFITS THAT SUPPORT WOMEN!

Ever since it came out a couple years back that the Susan G. Komen Foundation kind of, well, sucks, a lot of people have been rightfully wary of bigger charity organizations. But alas, there are still tons of totally worthwhile non-profits that you can feel secure and confident contributing to. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list:

V-DAY

According to its website, V-Day is a global activist movement that works to halt violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, sex trafficking and female genital mutilation, around the globe. Through its thousands of annual events, including performances of The Vagina Monologues, V-Day hopes to educate people about the reality of violence against women and ultimately, change that reality.

DAYS FOR GIRLS

Days for Girls grew out of founder Celeste Mergens’ troubling realization that every year, girls without access to proper feminine hygiene will miss days, even months, of school. According to its website, Days for Girls is “creating a more dignified, humane and sustainable world for girls through advocacy, reproductive health awareness, education and sustainable feminine hygiene.” DfG creates change through the direct distribution of reusable hygiene kits as well as raised awareness about the issue.

HER FUTURE COALITION

When the founder’s original song was featured in a film about human trafficking, she was moved to make a difference. Her Future Coalition, formerly known as Made By Survivors, is committed to helping the 29 million people who are enslaved today. Its main focus? Rebuilding the lives of those directly affected by human trafficking or extreme abuse. To do so, the organization provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to victims.

GIRLS NOT BRIDES

Girls Not Brides is partnered with hundreds of organizations worldwide that are committed to ending the tradition of child marriage. Its website says, “We share the conviction that every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses.”  By amplifying the voices of at-risk girls and facilitating change on a local, national and global scale, Girls Not Brides works to secure the futures of the millions of children who are to be married before the age of 18 each year.

GIRLS WHO CODE

Girls Who Code’s mission is plain and simple: to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry. Although this cause may not sound as dire as the ones listed above, it still is pretty dismal. Since the 1980s, the number of women in computer science has decreased by nearly 20 percent. Girls Who Code is “building the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States.” Donate to help get women in every workplace!

Where do you donate? Let us know in the comments!

(Featured image via herfuturecoalition.org)