Month: May 2019

Review: Tabitha Sharpe’s Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy 3: Married to the Gang (Interview + SPOILERS)

Who:

Authoress Tabitha Sharpe

What:

Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy 3: Married to the Gang 

It’s here!!

 

Today is the day we have been waiting for. Tabitha Sharpe’s third installment of the Bellshire Boys
series releases today!

Tabitha gave me a preview of Mobbin’ For A Bellshire Boy: Married to The Gang 3 and I can confidently say it was worth the wait.

I read it in about 3 hours flat.

Overview

Just a glimpse

 

Bellshire 3 picks up where Bellshire 2 left off. Brazil’s “long-lost” mother shows up -unannounced and unexpected- at her Aunt Ketoya’s house -along with the man that made her run from the street life while pregnant with Brazil.

Brazil is not the only one dealing with familial shakeups. Kya’s father, Corleone dropped a bomb on Bama at his daughter’s funeral that could change everything for everyone if confirmed.

Katarra is still missing and Brooklyn is on the verge of losing it all. Beta to the rescue! But along with him, he brings questions about the family money and tensions built up over a lifetime between the Bellshire Brothers.

Beta falls under the spell of hard-working Tarra ’Lynn. Her sweet demeanor and refreshing honesty crack his shell and get his blood pumping. But Beta is holding more than a few dark secrets in his past and present from Tarra and everyone else.

Katarra’s insane ex Leo has plans for his runaway wife and will do anything and destroy anyone who gets in his way. He knows what’s best for her, and she will too, even if he has to kill her prove it.

Playing along until a chance to escape presents itself, Katarra’s only goal is to get back to Brooklyn and the life she now knows she deserves. Her love for him and her contempt for Leo is all that keeps her going. And she will be going, one way or another.

As the de facto head of her family, Brazil has to make a choice she never wanted. Her birthright refuses to be denied or escaped, however. What she decides will affect her entire family and her unborn child.

 

First Impressions

The third installment of the Bellshire series introduces the third brother Beta.  Tabitha gets a little more serious in this one, and it fits. The more you know, the more you have to know. Her artful twists and turns bring you to the edge and keep you there from page one.

Pros

The pace of Bellshire 3 is slightly slower than Bellshire 1 and 2. This works however because there is more to absorb and understand about the newly revealed family ties. It is still a quick read however, as I stated it only took me 3 hours to finish it.

At which point I nagged Tabitha about when Bellshire 4, the finale would be available. As of today, there is no release date set.

A lot of questions are answered in Bellshire 3 and justice is served to those that have it coming. Decisions are made and bridges are rebuilt. Like any skilled author, Tabitha dangles just enough loose ends to leave her readers eager for what’s next.

Revelations and glimpses into motivations both good and not so good keep this story rolling right up until the cliffhanger ending.

Tabitha bases her stories primarily in and around her hometown of Nashville, TN. This lends a flavor of familiarity and authenticity that makes you feel as though you are driving along these streets with her vivid characters as they struggle to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of peace, love, and happiness.

Cons

It’s too short!!

As quickly as Tabitha produces her work, we are still at the mercy of the publishing process. As of this writing, Bellshire 3 was not yet live, so her readers were poised to pounce when it did drop this afternoon.

Who is Tabitha Sharpe?

According to her Amazon bio:

Born in Nashville but very well-traveled, Tabitha Sharpe was raised to appreciate culture, the arts, and entertainment. When her father passed away in 1998, Tabitha took to writing as a coping mechanism where she felt instantly soothed through the pen. Growing up in the suburbs of Nashville years later, she was given many opportunities to participate in screenplays, puppet shows, and even write a few movie scripts for local artists.

Tabitha Sharpe grew up too fast, getting into trouble, always feeling as if she had something to prove to others, and even herself, landing her in jails all over Tennessee, and in trouble more times than she cares to admit. After being incarcerated for a year in 2014, she emerged from the trenches with a dream and a goal, to not only do better, but be better, and in doing so, she decided to fulfill the long-time dream she’d always had for herself of becoming a professional writer.

Tabitha Sharpe is not only a reformed criminal, but she is a vivacious, young author on the rise in her rebooted life.

In 2015, Tabitha released her first full-length novel, Behind Our Husbands’ Lies.

Paperback only. Currently out of stock

To date, Tabitha has published over thirty books that can all be found on Kindle Unlimited on Amazon

To me, Tabitha exemplifies the ideal indie author. She has produced an impressive body of work in just 4 short years. Aside from that, she offers her services to other writers, as well as mentoring.

I can personally testify that her mentorship works wonders. I look forward to growing as an author under her tutelage. She works for herself, much as I look forward to doing at Wealthy Affiliate, but she also works for her future, her readers, and their future.

Many of Tabitha’s loyal following are aspiring or fledgling authors like myself. She does not stand above us. She is down in the trenches, giving her time and experience to assist and encourage those of us who are hoping to join her as published authors.

Value

You can snag Bellshire 3 for $7.99 on Amazon Kindle, Bellshire 2 is currently at $2.99, and Bellshire 1 is only $.99. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free before you buy, but why wait? We know it’s as good as yours.

Take it or Leave it

Take it! Even if you haven’t read a word of Tabitha’s Bellshire series, you will be hooked as soon as you do. I never read urban fiction before, and I am steadily collecting her work and enjoying each one as much as the last. Although this series and many others are urban fiction, she does have quite a few books that step outside of this genre.

The Interview!!

I know you have been waiting to hear from the lady herself. Thank you for stopping by and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a message down below. Enjoy!

 

Why are you still here? Go get Bellshire 3 and tell me what you think of it!

 

What Is a Niche (And Why You Need One)

When people discuss online or affiliate marketing, they often refer to something called a niche.

Dictionary.com defines the word as:

Dictionary.com

For our purposes, we will be discussing a niche as 3. A distinct segment of a market and 5. Pertaining to or intended for a market niche; having specific appeal.

Why it Matters

One of the first things we learn at Wealthy Affiliate is how to decide on a niche. This is vital to your success. If you have little interest in your subject, you will not be motivated to put in the time, energy and focus it takes to build a successful online marketing business.

This also applies if you already have a business and want to launch or improve your online presence. Not having a website in today’s marketplace is like not having a phone number. You will not get as much business nor will you have as many customers ready to buy.

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Missed customers!

Websites inform and guide consumer purchasing decisions thousands of times an hour. WIthout a website, you lose the chance to interact with potential shoppers or information seekers. In our modern economy, many shoppers simply will not patronize a business unless they can find more information about them online.

Today’s shoppers are fully aware of their power. Sites like Yelp, PlanetFeedback* and Google reviews can crush a business based on poor reviews. Many small businesses are terrified of this modern phenomenon because once a bad review hits the internet, it is there forever.

*PlanetFeedback.com is not currently operational. According to their site, they are not permanently shut down, simply reworking their platform to better serve consumers.

Choosing a niche and being dedicated to it can prevent this kind of backlash. As an aficionado of your chosen niche, you are far less likely to post something that your target readers will find dissatisfying or inaccurate.

No matter how versed you believe you are in your chosen niche, always include verifiable resources and check your facts and figures. Very few things can bring your site down faster than readers pointing out your errors for you.

Niched and Loaded

As They Live & Breathe

For some people, deciding on a niche is easy. They are already itching to explore the subject matter further and probably spend a great portion of their time immersed in their niche.

They may have already made attempts to create an income within the niche. For these people, niche selection is a no brainer. They are highly likely to succeed in their endeavor, with patience and the right training.

Niche Dreams

For others, it can be difficult. We live in a time when we are expected to go to college, get a degree, go get a job and work for someone. If we do well, we are rewarded with pay raises, bonuses, and career advancements.

If only…

Once upon a time, people worked for the same company for most if not all of their career. Now, job hopping is as common as McDonald’s. Loyalty is a rare thing between employer and employee. Workers are fully aware that they can be replaced within hours should they be released from their position.

In this environment, many people dream of doing what they love, but rarely have time, money or energy to do. They settle for collecting, hobbies or joining groups and organizations that match their suppressed passion. Deep down, they want to engage in their dream full time.

These people may have to think a bit before they realize exactly what their niche is, but once they do, it becomes their focus. These people are as likely to succeed -again with proper training and patience- as those who live their niche already.

Over-Niched

Some aspiring affiliate marketers are so diverse in their passions and interests that choosing one niche over another is like deciding which child they love most. These people can have the most difficulty in maintaining focus on a single project. They are accustomed to juggling so many things that focusing on only one becomes almost impossible.

At Wealthy Affiliate, we are encouraged to explore our options. With the Starter account, you get two free websites on the SiteRubrix platform. This can allow you to start up more than one niche market site, and then gravitate to the one that appeals most. And if you upgrade to Premium, you get a mind-boggling 50 sites to work with (25 SR, 25 on your own domains).

Balancing act

Oh, the niche possibilities!

I personally have four sites at WA with one on my own domain. I only work on this one consistently for the moment. I know that the moment I branch out, my focus will be split and one or more of my sites may suffer.

For the over-niched, it becomes a matter of what matters most right now. Right now, I am in the process of working from home so I can continue to build my WA business until I don’t have to anymore. Due to my current immersion in the work from home market, I decided that this was the niche I would start with.

People like me can find success if we maintain focus and discipline ourselves. Patience is crucial. We become so eager to jump into our other areas of interest that we can become scattered. Production suffers which negatively affects forward progress.

The training modules at WA are an antidote to this trait. By following the tasks set before me, I can keep my attention trained upon this site, instead of wandering off to indulge in my love of gaming and herbalism.

 

Nicheless

Some people have the desire to break into affiliate marketing or home business, but have no idea what they should or can do. These are the ones that require the most encouragement. Their uncertainty is paralyzing. They want to make a move but have no clue what direction will work for them.

What do I do?

The nicheless may have to dip their toes into a few different niches before they find one that excites and motivates them. Then, its simply a matter of training, patience, and discipline. At some point, the chosen niche may begin to pale, in which case, any and everybody is free to jump ship or split off into another area of interest.

There is no preconceived “correct” niche for everybody. Some will have similar interests but they will approach from different angles. This is why Wealthy Affiliate is so valuable. The training gives you the confidence to branch into whatever niche works for you, and change up if you feel the need.

Make it Worthwhile

Value Can’t Be Bought

I mentioned that you must be passionate about your niche and why. The other side of that equation is helping others. In your niche, you must be able to provide a solution to your reader’s question. The finer points of monetizing and gaining revenue will follow, but you have to start by providing value to the reader. They have to find your site worth viewing, otherwise, you will become lost in the flood of mass information on the internet.

Your content is the essence of your niche, but it has to come from relevant searches. Dropping your link all over the web may get you a few clicks, but nothing near the traffic required to sustain you financially.

Keywords are the building blocks of your content. When readers go online, they are usually looking for something. They type whatever they’re looking for into a search engine, like Google, Bing or Yahoo!.

If you have incorporated popular keywords into your content, your site will be among the results of the reader’s keyword search. If your content is compelling enough, the reader is likely to click your link and browse your content.

Keyword Roundup

At WA we have a keyword tool called Jaaxy that shows us which keywords are popular. This tool allows us to narrow down keywords that are relevant to our niches and minimizes the risk of writing a lot of content that will most likely not be seen.

Jaaxy inside Wealthy Affiliate

With Jaaxy we can search for keywords and keyword terms that are trending on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. We can then take that keyword and incorporate it into our content.

The trick is to make sure the keywords matter to your niche. I cannot expect niche relevant traffic if I use coffee as a keyword unless I am discussing a business opportunity or a work from home gig about coffee. This is why you have to know and love your niche.

Training on using Jaaxy and maximizing your keywords is included in Premium memberships at Wealthy Affiliate. An overview of the tool is available to Starter members.

K.I.S.S. It

Once you have your keywords and you are ready to write your content or make your video, decide how you will present your message. I have always lived by the KISS idea.

Keep It Simple Sally

Keep It Simple Concept

The immediacy of the internet has severely diminished the browsing public’s attention span. If you do not catch their interest within 7 seconds, they are most likely gone to another site, lost in social media, or off to order pizza. This is another reason why you have to know your niche.

Readers who share your passion are your target audience. You also want to reach those who are just looking. They may have friends or family that may be riveted by your content, in which case, they will pass it along.

To do this, you must use engaging headlines and captivating descriptions. Knowing your niche makes it possible to refine your hooks to grab the browsing eye. Once they click, it is all up to your content. Loving your niche will allow you to create compelling quality content that will speak to your readers.

And when you can do that, you are succeeding in your niche.

Keep It Coming

The Right Foot

Once you get readers, don’t disappoint them. The process of creating content should be easy if you know and love your niche. If you feel stuck, do a keyword search. At Wealthy Affiliate, we are taught the Alphabet Soup method, which can be used with Jaaxy or Google. As long as you have a passion for your niche, ideas should come easy.

You never know what will inspire you. I went out to eat with my family and got two reviews out of it. I got the idea for this post by reading a site on keywords.

Light bulb idea, creative vector icons. Set of light bulb, illustration of power idea light bulb
IDEAS!

Put It Out There

Having an idea and translating it into words or video is not exactly on the same road. If you feel nervous about how you will be received, read up on some other blogs or news sites that are relevant to your niche. Check out your social media. Talk to friends.

Getting off on the right foot means you can produce quality content relevant to your niche and continue to do so for the long term.

The Other Foot

Along with producing niche relevant content, you will find yourself looking at other options for your affiliate marketing site. Once you have an audience, pertinent links and referrals on your site will begin getting clicks.

This can lead to revenue. In the long term, this revenue can supplement or replace your current #WageLife income. #WAHLife is then yours for the taking.

The Best Part

The best part of all of this is multifold.

First, you are providing value, information and help to your readers. They come to your site for information and the longer you provide it, the bigger your audience

WOOHOO!

will become.

Second, you are building something that will endure. Remember, once something hits the web, it is there forever. Sites may come and go, but content gets shared over and over again. If you build a site that gains exponential value and gains a strong following, you can then sell it, and retire.

Or move on to another site.

Last and perhaps most important, you are finally pursuing your passion. This grants a sense of peace and well being that no job can compare to. Knowing, loving and living your niche creates a joy within that a paycheck just cannot duplicate. It’s like winning the lottery on a monthly basis for the rest of your life.

One More Thing

By the way, following your passion does not mean abandon your responsibilities. Bills still need to be paid. I have a few gigs for the moment and this site is dedicated to helping others keep the income flowing while they build their future. Don’t drop the ball to catch a falling star.

Are you seeking an alternative or supplemental income stream? Are you already in affiliate marketing and want help nailing down and living your niche?

Follow me to Wealthy Affiliate and I will personally assist you through the process of living your passion.

 

Until then,

 

Gig on

 

Review: Tabitha Sharpe’s Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy: Married to the Gang 1 & 2 (SPOILERS)

Who:

Self-Publishing Author Tabitha Sharpe

What:

Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy: Married to the Gang 1 & 2

A glimpse of Tabitha’s work

Overview

There are 4 Bellshire brothers: Bama, Brooklyn, Beta, and Brick. They are hood royalty and grew up knowing they would take over their family’s street empire when their father, Baze passed away.

Part 1

As the eldest, Bama holds the reins and unwillingly marries into another hood kingpin family to maintain peace in the Nashville streets. He and his brothers run the family business from Memphis to Nashville and prosperity is had by all.

Independent Brazil is Bama’s first and only love and when the chance comes to rekindle their smoldering flame, they both leap at it.

Although her heart’s desire will not be denied, Brazil does not want to be a homewrecker. Nor will she settle for being the side chic. Bama takes the matter out of her hands and assures her they will be together sooner rather than later.

Bama’s hood princess wife Kya is beside herself with anger and despair. She knew from the start that their arranged marriage was not built on love. After 2 children and a third on the way, she believed Bama was hers as long as she wanted to keep him. With Brazil back in Bama’s life, Kya has to act fast or lose everything her family has worked for, and the man she loves.

Hidden family ties and long-held secrets come to light in this first installment of the Bellshire Boys series.

 

Part 2

With everything they survived just to be together, Bama and Brazil are off on a much-needed vacation. Meanwhile, Brooklyn finds himself helplessly bedazzled by Brazil’s sister, Katarra. A firm believer in love at first sight, Brooklyn woos his dread-wearing princess with skill and great care. He discovers she is a fragile jewel, and he vows to do all in his power to protect and provide for her.

Katarra is not about that relationship life, not after a narrow escape from a toxic sham of a marriage. But Brooklyn is patient, charming and like no one she’s ever known before. Despite the legendary Bellshire charm, Katarra sends him packing back to Memphis and regrets it within moments.  Her nightmare becomes reality and she is powerless to reach out to anyone who might come to her aid.

Finding his true love missing under disturbing circumstances, Brooklyn calls upon brothers Bama and Beta to recover the newfound love of his life. When Beta comes to town, a whole new set of problems come along with him. Why is he already in Nashville, and what is going on with the family business?

Will Katarra and Brooklyn find their happily ever after ever? One can only hope in this second installment of the Bellshire Boys series.

First Impressions

I am on my first read through of self-publishing author Tabitha Sharpe’s Bellshire Boys series as well as her fantasy romance Bound by Eden. The series, titled, Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy: Married to the Gang 1 and 2 is the latest series in Tabitha’s writing career. Part 3 is scheduled to drop on May 30th, and I hope to be one of the first to snatch it up.

Tabitha writes in multiple genres but her Bellshire series is Urban Fiction. This is a growing genre that focuses on ethnic characters and embraces the inner-city culture. When I spoke to her about doing this review, I had to let her know this was not one of my favored genres.

Imagine my surprise when she admitted it was not one of hers either? In an upcoming interview, we will be discussing just how Tabitha came to be an indie authoress, what drives her to succeed and what keeps her going.

If you’re reading Tabitha’s work, you are not alone. She is a significant presence on Facebook, with a dedicated reading group that, like me, wait (im)patiently for her next release.

Tabitha’s Collected Works

I will give you fair warning: if you are not caught up on the Bellshires I suggest you do so. There may be spoilers!

Pros

So far, the books are a fast read, at least they were for me. I finished both in under 6 hours just a few days ago. I went on to read Bound by Eden. I have been hunting for the sequel ever since. Sadly, Tabitha advised me that the Eden follow up is still a work in progress.

Bellshire is a quick-paced ride that snatches you up and doesn’t let go even when you’ve read it cover to cover.

Mobbn’ For a Bellshire Boy 1

That’s the point of the sequels, of course.

All of Tabitha’s work is available at Amazon for Kindle as well as some in paperback format. If you have Kindle Unlimited
(I do!) you can even borrow the Bellshire books and many others before you buy.

Tabitha also does live readings and discussion of her work in her closed Facebook reader’s group. If you have not experienced Tabitha’s world yet, you have quite a bit of catching up to do. She is currently exploring adding audiobooks to her impressive collection of work and I for one would camp out to snag these jewels for myself.

Cons

One thing I can say about Tabitha’s work is what readers often say about their favorite author’s work:

The story isn’t long enough!

Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy 2

Waiting for the next installment to drop is also a source of frustration. Tabitha does not disappoint and often posts snippets of upcoming releases in her reading group or Facebook page.

Note: Tabitha’s writing is for mature audiences. They include adult language and sexual situations. Just so you know.

 

But wait…

I am actually personally acquainted with Tabitha through Facebook. As an aspiring author, I often follow other writers to learn more of the craft. Tabitha is warm and grounded and completely approachable. I have chatted with her into the wee hours and she is always encouraging and willing to assist other writers in whatever way she can.

She also offers various literary services at a rather good rate should a hopeful writer require assistance.

Literary Services by Tabitha

 

I admire Tabitha because she has made her place in her chosen profession and she reaches out daily to offer her experience and skills to others wanting to do the same. I shared what I found at Wealthy Affiliate with her, and I hope she decides to join me there soon. I think we could do wonderful things together.

Value

On Amazon, Tabitha’s books are extremely affordable. Even with a threaded needle budget, you can afford to collect these works. Single installments of assorted series run from $0.99 to $23.65. The prices differ between paperback and Kindle editions.

Take it or Leave it

Take it! Tabitha’s style and flair are addictive, and her characters immediately resonate with just about anyone. They are living breathing figures in her authentic literary world and will become part of yours, too.

SPOILERS!

For those of you who just cannot wait (I know I’m hating it) for Bellshire 3 to drop, I have Tabitha’s permission to give you a snippet of what to expect from Beta. Enjoy.

 

Mobbin’ For a Bellshire Boy 3 Coming May 30th

The next morning, I woke up and had to run out to my car to get my bag and garment bag. I forgot all about it last night, but now that it was a new day, I needed to make sure I was on point, especially since I was about to be doing some inquiring about our finances. I wanted to make sure I was taken seriously, because shit was necessary.

After getting my clothes out of the car, I hopped in the shower that it was in the bathroom downstairs and hurried up and got myself together. I brushed my hair real quick, straightened out my mustache, and dried off real quick. I threw on my boxers, long socks, and my suspenders. That’s right. I like to wear suspenders, they’re stylish, and they come in handy in a crunch. You never know who you gon’ have to tie up at the last minute. I smirked at the thought of that.

Going upstairs, I wanted to check on Brooklyn, but when I opened the door up, he was in the bed sleep. He had what looked like a shirt of Katarra’s in between his arms, held up close to his face. This nigga had it bad. I didn’t want to wake him up, so I went on back downstairs and finished getting dressed. On my way out of the house, my phone dinged, and it was Bama.

I read the message, and he said he’d be home soon. I couldn’t have been happier, because I didn’t know how much more Brooklyn could take or if he was gonna be ok for real. I went out to the G-wagon and hopped in, going in the direction of downtown. As soon as I saw the bank and all the cars around it, I knew it was about to be a long day, but it was time for me to turn on some of that Bellshire charm. They say I got it the best, so I guess we’ll see depending on how long it takes me to speak with someone in depth about our accounts.

When I came in, I had my briefcase in one hand, ready to handle business whenever someone would see me, but being a Bellshire Boy, we just drip money and exude leadership. As soon as I walked in, I was approached by a young woman who greeted me with a smile.

“Hello sir, welcome to First Tennessee, deposit or withdrawal?” she asked me, looking down at my briefcase.

If she only knew that it was papers in this muthafucka. I wasn’t comin’ to take shit out. “Yes ma’am, neither. I came to speak to someone about my account. I believe the branch manager’s name is Tarra’Lynn.”

I had called ahead of time to do my research so I knew who to ask for.

She smiled. “Ok, let me lead you to her office. It’s your lucky day, I don’t believe she has any appointments this morning.”

I smiled back at her as she led me to the back to meet with the branch manager. When the woman appeared from out of her office, she didn’t look shit like what I thought she would. A woman with a named like Tarra’Lynn, you expect her to be some old country white lady or some shit, but this woman, nah, she was everything. She was short, maybe five-foot-four, maybe, and that was with her stilettos on.

She her hair up in a messy bun with these Chinese bangs that fell just above her eyes, with these deep ass dimples in her cheeks. She was built up too, big breasts, thick thighs, legs reminded me of turkey legs. I had to get myself together, not to mention she had this flawless toffee skin. Damn, she was fine as hell. I tugged on my belt a little bit, to loosen up my pants. Ms. Tarra’Lynn had me about to lose it.

“Good morning, Tarra, this is Mr…I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Good morning, Tarra. My name is Beta, Beta Bellshire. I came to speak with you about our accounts.”

She took a deep breath and looked over at the woman who had walked me to the back. “Thank you so much, Sam, I’ve got it from here.”

“Ok, if you need anything, just give me a shout.” Tarra’Lynn smiled and opened the door to her office.

“Well, Mr. Bellshire, if you’d like to come in my office, we can get started.”

“I’d like that very much, but ladies first,” I said, as I replaced her hand on the door with mine, letting her walk in before me.

I ain’t gon’ lie, I really did wanna just see her from the back, but she was beautiful anyway, and her voice was like butter—she was ‘bout as smooth as me for real. She went around the side of her desk and took a seat and looked across at me, where I was still standing.

“Well, are you going to have a seat?” she asked, pointing to the seat in front of her.

“Oh, of course I am, I just wanted to take a second to admire what was in front of me.”

“Oh, my. Please take a seat Mr. Bellshire, and I need to see some ID before we start getting into your account.”

“Absolutely,” I said, taking my ID out with a smile on my face. She was gorgeous, and it had been a long time since I saw a woman who was even worth my time, but Miss Tarra’Lynn had me wondering about a few things. She took a look at it, typing on her keyboard.

“Ok, and your pin for the account?”

I gave her the pin and then waited for the account information to come up on the screen.

“Ok, Mr. Bellshire, now what can I help you with exactly?”

“For starters, perhaps your phone number, Miss Tara’Lynn.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, her cleavage pushed up almost out of her blouse. That little black blazer she had on top of it was doing her no good. Them titties needed to breathe.

“Let me ask you a question, Mr. Bellshire—”

“Please, call me Beta.” I licked my bottom lip, sitting back in my chair, crossing my leg eg over the right, resting my hands in my lap. She looked me up and down, sizing me up clearly.

“Beta, are all the Bellshire Boys like you?” She leaned forward when she said that, and I smirked.

“Like me? What do you mean?” Tarra’Lynn put her arm on the desk, and her face rested in the palm of her hand.

“I mean…charming, like this.” She moved her hand up and down, trying to embody all of what I am.

“I would say no. My brother, Bama, he’s arrogant, cocky, and that works for him. Brooklyn, well he’s a little off, but he’s also the funny one of the family. He could tell a joke to a dead person and make them laugh. My baby brother, Brick, he’s a loose cannon, hardly any direction, and he’s always tryna figure out the next move for his life. He’s the risk taker. We’re all different, unique in our own ways.”

“I see, and that makes so much damn sense why my sisters are stuck on your brothers, but I’m not ‘bout to fall for it.” She giggled and sat back up in her seat.

“Wait, what do you mean? Your sisters are stuck on my brothers?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I mean, your brothers…go with my sisters. You know, Brazil and Bama, Kat and Brooklyn? I won’t be falling for your shit, since I can already see y’all are clearly irresistible.”

A laugh so hard and loud came from out of my body, I didn’t even know how to control it, but in the middle of my laughter, something dawned on me. This was one of their sisters, maybe she had some information on Katarra.

“You know what, as fate would have it, not only are we obviously meant to be together, but you might be able to help me.”

“With your accounts, I definitely can.” She giggled again, and I reached my hand over across the desk. Everytime she smiled, my dick beat against my boxers.

“Nah, with something else. See, my brother is convinced something happened to Katarra. We went all the way to Owensboro last night looking for her. You know if she’s ok?”

“Ok? Hell yeah, she’s fine. I just talked to her earlier this morning, but Owensboro? She didn’t mention she was going out of town.”

“I see. My brother is sure somebody took her or some shit. Some ex of hers.”

“An ex? I ain’t never even known for Kat to date anybody. Brooklyn is the first person I’ve ever seen her be with.”

“Same for Brooklyn. He loves her, and he’s been beating himself up over not being able to find her. He said they had a little tiff before he left, but then she sent him an I love you message, and never responded to anything else he said.”

“That is strange, I agree. Ok. Let me call her and see what I can find out, but what do I get for helping you out?” she asked, seductively. I wanted to give her this soul pole, but it was too early for that. She was the type you slow love.

“I’ll take you anywhere you wanna go, and I do mean anywhere. I’m telling you, we’re destined to be together. You gotta see that. Your sisters, my brothers, you’re the branch manager of the corporate bank? We like two peas in a pod.”

I reached my hand out for hers, and when her eyes linked with mine, I knew she could feel whatever I felt between us. Shit was like electricity; you gotta be careful with shit like that though.

“Deal. Give me a second.”

I nodded my head and sat back, waiting to see what would happen. Tarra’Lynn dialed her sister’s number on the phone on her desk and put it on speaker phone. I couldn’t wait to get some answers and let Brooklyn know where she was at and what was going on. I was hoping this was some big misunderstanding. When she finally answered the phone, she sounded agitated.

“What, bitch? I just talked to you this morning!”

“Woah, bitch, yeah you did, but I was calling to see what you were doing. I can’t call my big sister sometimes?”

“Yes, but not this much, now what you want? I got stuff to do?” Tarra’Lynn looked over at me and shook her head. She clearly was just as confused as I was.

“Damn, I just wanted to check on you and talk to you about Brooklyn and why I ain’t heard you say shit about him…where you at?”

“Damn, you think you my mama don’t you? I gotta go, Tarra. You just bein’ nosey. I’ll call you later.”

We both looked at each other shocked. Something was definitely going on, but she knew her sister better than I did.

“What do you think it is?” I asked, looking into her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders.

“I truly don’t know. I’ve never seen her act like this, so I don’t know. She ain’t the cheatin’ type, but she is very private, so finding out any information from her…well it’s worse than pulling teeth you know? I wish I could have been more help.”

“Baby, you were more than enough help.” I pulled her hand to me and kissed it. “I’m still gon’ take you wherever you wanna go, so you be thinkin’ about that. In the meantime, I need your help sorting out some of these transactions.”

She was so cute. She popped her knuckles and moved her head from side to side.

“Alright, let’s dig in, Mr. Bellshire.”

“I told you, baby, just call me Beta.”

“Fine, and you don’t have to call me Tarra’Lynn, you can just call me Tarra.”

“Oh, I got a few things I’d like to call you,” I mumbled.

“What did you say?”

She looked at me intently, but I didn’t say anything. For the next three hours, we went on to look at the transactions and the records, receipts, money in and out, and I figured out who it was. My brothers were gonna flip when I told them.

“Well, what are you going to do?” Tarra inquired, looking just as upset as I felt.

“Shit, there’s so much going on right now, I don’t know how I’m gonna tell them what’s up. We gotta have a family meeting, I just don’t know when we can, but the good news, at least I know what’s up, and I know how to fix it. Since I got this fuckin’ monkey off my back, let’s talk about me and you.”

“While I would love to do that, we ain’t all like you, street king. Why don’t you take my number and call me later? Then we can talk all about whatever you wanna talk about, ok?”

“Mhmm…I thought you said you weren’t gonna fall for the charm?”

“That was before I got charmed I guess. Get out of here, Beta, and good luck.”

She walked me to the door, and I bent down to place a kiss on her cheek. She smelled so good, like roses. I felt her tiny hands come up and caress my back, and it sent chills through my body. I ain’t nothin’ like my brothers. Bama, he knew him and Brazil was gon’ be together since they was kids. Brooklyn, he was cold and thought there was no bitch alive good enough for him, and me…nah, I been searching for my queen, and I knew I just found her.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

Parents Working From Home and Childcare Challenges (3 Options You Need to Know)

For mothers (and fathers) working at any stage of a child’s life is a double-edged sword. You are driven to provide for the kids, but you also miss out on so much while doing so.

I am the mother of 5 kids and I have struggled with this for most of their lives. Three are grown and gone (26, 25, 21), one is about to graduate high school (17), and then there is Little Mister. He is only 4, and he is my Tiny Lord and Master.

Like all of my kids, he was breastfed. When I first went back to work this was problematic because I had to pump for him, but I had no pump. It wasn’t planned that way, the time just got away from me.

This was the first time I had to do this. I usually did not go back to work at all while my kids were small enough to need breastfeeding. I had to rewire my brain for it because it was harder to do emotionally than anything else.

Making It Work

I got a sling and kept him with me as long as I could, but it came to a point where he got too wriggly and I had to pass him off. What you have to understand is this: I went back to work when RahRah was only 4 weeks old, so both of us were forcing the matter, I guess.

My elder kids and my mom came to my rescue. At the time, I also had a live-in on-call sitter who worked for room and board.

And the occasional handful of Hershey’s Kisses.

I miss her a lot.

This is a sweet set up if you can get it. For those that can’t get it, what do you do?

Where Are These People?

Care.com

While I was slinging it with RahRah I did look into other options because you never know when you will need a backup or a Plan B. Care.com is the site where so many people sent me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it because I couldn’t guarantee I would have the spare funds to pay the lady.

But for those that do have the funds, it’s very easy and free to register. The site is extremely intuitive. Just click the link you need to get what you want.

Care.com

Moonlighting.com

I also looked at Moonlighting.com. Moonlighting.com is a freelance job site. I interviewed quite a few people listed here, and they were all earnest and easy to talk to. Like Care.com, you can filter for your area and view profiles of sitters and nannies that are looking to take care of little ones.

Moonlighting.com

Facebook Marketplace

I never posted a job on Care.com or Moonlighting.com. Instead, I went to what it seems I always do: Facebook. I know, I know. It should get old but Zuckerberg’s Beast has merit.

Facebook Marketplace: Childcare

I posted this ad in several Facebook groups for people looking for childcare and/or babysitting gigs:

ISO sitter for 2 mth old, 5d a week.

Mon/Tues 1030a-915p
Wed-Fri 1130a-915p.
In my home. Must be comfortable with large dog.

Child is breastfed and I will take him on my breaks/lunch.
Reply with your desired rate.

 

I got several excellent replies from ladies I’m sure would’ve been wonderful with my RahRah. Again, I couldn’t find the room in my budget to properly compensate anyone who needed to make a living at this.

But wait…

Other options are completely dependent on your budget. If you are receiving public assistance, you can contact Human Services. They have state certified sitters that are either in their homes or in a traditional daycare center. You may qualify for vouchers or a reduced rate, depending on your circumstances and what is available in your area.

Note: You can also ask around about the Neighborhood Sitter Lady (historically closely associated with the Neighborhood Candy Lady).

In our area, we can dial 211 for information on options from the Department of Human Services (DHHS). Other states I have lived in (Florida, Louisiana) use either 611 or 811.

Look into it, do some research and do not be afraid to interview and decline a candidate. If you like her/him but the rate is just a bit out of range, you can try to negotiate something that satisfies both parties.

To avoid conflict (and for tax purposes) putting everything on paper is a good idea. Pay with money orders or have your sitter write you a receipt. In many cases, doing both is the best way to keep everything straight.

Note: If you pay your sitter in cash, you absolutely should get and keep your receipts every time you pay.

People that take care of kids for a living usually do it because they truly love being around children. Other people’s children.

All day.

Really.

It is not unusual to find a sitter that will do what s/he can to help you get what you need. Never forget, however, that this is their job. They have bills just like you. Respect their time and their service, just as you would want yours respected.

If you have a problem paying, let them know. Work with them, and uphold any agreements made to catch up.

Tell It Like it Is

Be specific about exactly what you need, meaning:

  • Seeking childcare (age(s), gender, special needs, allergies)
  • Where? Your home or theirs? Prefer a center?
  • Will you (mom) drop off/pick up?
  • Do they (sitter) pick up/drop off? (driving record? insurance? car seat?)

 

Be specific about the person you’re looking for:

  • Smoker/Non-smoker?
  • Vape/e-cig OK?
  • OK around animals?
  • CPR Certified?
  • Nutritionally proficient?
  • Allergic to cats/dogs/birds/fish spit?

 

Include anything extra you might want them to do if needed:

  • Light housework
  • Minimal cooking
  • Walk the dog
  • Daily parakeet duet
  • Fish aerobics
  • Iguana descaling

 

Ask questions about what they offer and what they will and will not do:

  • Breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks
  • Hours and days of operation
  • Charge for late pickup/early drop off?
  • Charged for days child is not in their care?
  • Charge for no-show?
  • Supply diapers/wipes/formula?

 

There should be a form that walks you through most if not all of this if you are going through Care.com, Moonlighting.com or a similar site. It should be no problem to narrow your choices to exactly what you need. You can also set filters and add people you want to contact to a list.

Bottom Line

This is your child, and you cannot be too careful ever, ever with who is in charge of your Most Precious. You cannot focus on work if you are stressed over what’s happening with your tiny one.

Handle this as you handle pretty much anything else you do as a Mom/Dad trying to work -at home or otherwise- and make it work.

 

Disclaimer:

I have not been compensated or solicited by Care.com or Moonlighting.com or any of their affiliates, associates, employees or agents. The above information is from my own experience only and should not be factored in when deciding whether or not to utilize these services. I have not been nor am I now affiliated with Care.com or Moonlighting.com other than registering as a prospective customer

 

Have you been looking for childcare as a WAHM/WAHD, freelancer or remote worker? Do you know of other resources for those that need childcare?

Tell me about it!

Till later,

Gig on

 

So, You Work At Home… How Do You Get Those Jobs?? (And Where?)

 

You apply for it like you do any job.

In this case, you have to look a little harder if you are angling toward working at home for a company or in an established industry. The bulk of my #WageLife experience was in call center customer service, billing, and technical support with a little bit of sales.

Personally, I hate sales (which is probably why I’m not very good at it) because I hate taking people’s money when I know they can get a better deal or whatnot.

I have never been on the list of spectacular salespeople. I did OK when I had to, but I much preferred a job where I don’t have to actually talk someone into spending their money.

If they called me saying, “Hey I wanna spend some money!” that was perfect. I would sell them something, and I would do my best to get them a great deal.

But if I had to call or do the upsell on a customer service call, it put my stomach in knots. I hate it.

 

Not all of them…

I was comfortable in my last #WageLife position. I had a baby while working there, and went back to work when he was only 4 weeks old, so I was still in the throes of Post-Partum Hormonal Upheaval

That created a period of resentment that had nothing to do with the job itself. It was during this period that I actually joined Wealthy Affiliate for the first time. I was so preoccupied with finding something, anything that would allow me to be free to take care of my baby while supporting him that I didn’t pay attention to the opportunity then.

Where To Look

If you are looking specifically for work at/from home (remote, telecommute) job, the commonsense thing to do is go to where these jobs are.

I already pointed you to the Facebook group where found 3 of my last 4 remote #WageLife jobs.

Also, Craiglist has a number of offerings but be very careful of anyone asking personal info who does not first tell you:

  • Name of the company
  • Work you’ll be doing
  • Location or mode of training (onsite/remote)
  • Pay (rate/frequency)

Use your best judgment, but always be very, very cautious of anyone trying to get money from you or have you deposit a check, etc. You know the scam I’m talking about.

While You’re Looking

Anyway, while you’re scoping the WAH field, be tailoring your resume to fit what you’re looking for.

I already had WAH experience from years ago. My very first WAH job was as a PSO. That stands for Phone Sex Operator.

Yes. I talked dirty for money.

And it was good money. I supported my kids for 2 good years with PSO gigs. Where, you ask, does one find such a job? The most legit source I found (and I haven’t looked in years, so things may have changed) is sexyjobs.com. Just as with CL, make sure you check and double check sources and info. Anyone asking for money upfront is suspect.

Nyah-ha-ha

And beware The Sleaze.

It exists. It is a Thing.

I had Phone Actress on my resume for a while until I moved back into the far less risqué field of call center customer servicing.

So how do you tailor that resume? Well, if you have no WAH experience highlight the skills and knowledge that a remote hire should have namely:

  • So hopeful. So delicate. SO important!

    Time management

  • Ability to work unsupervised
  • Home office
  • Technical savvy
  • Multi-tasker
  • Software familiarity

 

 

 

What Else Do You Need?

Most of these companies require you to have reliable internet and/or phone connection in a quiet, private area of your home.

Quiet, private and tax deductible!

You may want to splurge on the highest residential speed available because unless you live alone, you are not the only one on it. For the duration of your shift (6-10 hours in some cases), you will be a broadband hog.

I know I was. I admit it. I am not ashamed.

If you are submitting a resume targeted for at-home, remote work,  or telecommuting, a blurb on your cover letter mentioning your tech setup or home office won’t go unnoticed. Put it near the top or as the last thing at the bottom because HR people rarely read every resume word for word. They honestly don’t have time. Most people are drawn to the beginning and the end of a document. Take advantage of homo sapiens nature.

As a lovely bonus, I have included a copy of the resume that got me that last #WageLife job right here:

Gwendolyn B. Jordan

XXXXX Ave

FXXX TX 7XXX

Home office XXXX

Cell XXXXXX

gxxxxx@xx.com

OBJECTIVE

Seeking gainful employment that is both personally & 
financially satisfying.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

Customer service skills are foremost. Computer skills current. 
Extensive telephone and face-to-face customer care experience. 
Writing, blogging, data expert.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Guardian Liberty Voice

Journalist/Senior Editor/Training Assistant (9/19/2013-Present) Work at Home

Create articles on breaking, current news stories. Edit, proofread 
and publish articles to website following strict style and submission 
guidelines. Recruit and train potential candidate writers on style, 
submission and publication guidelines. Maintain ethical and moral 
standards of publication.

Convergys Corp: NorthEast

CAE (4/2/2013-9/19/2013) Telecommute

Accept inbound calls from Comcast video service customers. 
Technical support, account management; upgrades;

Schedule, confirm, or cancel appointments for service 
issues & equipment installation. Customer education

N.E.W. Corp: Sterling, VA

CCR (11/14/2011-2/8/2013) Telecommute

Accept inbound calls from DirecTV satellite television 
customers. Technical support, sales, billing. Schedule, 
confirm cancel appointments. Customer education on products & services.

Teleperformance Advanced Services Division: Shreveport, LA

Nesting Manager (1/11-8/13/11)

Manage team of new hires, identify & fill knowledge gaps. 
OTJ Training agent retention/improvement

Team Manager (7/10-1/11)

Manage team of 20-25. Scheduling, quality, call handling.
 Agent retention and improvement

CAE/TSE(4/10-7/10)

Inbound calls from subscribers pertaining to cable video
 technical support & billing. Schedule/reschedule service 
calls. Educate customer on products & services, policies & procedures.

Bright House Networks: DeLand, FL/Maitland, FL

RSR/Lead (1/08-1/26/10)

Assist & coach CSPs, escalated call handling. 
Error correction & account review/follow up

Customer Service Professional (12/05-1/08)

Inbound calls from subscribers pertaining to cable, 
high-speed Internet, and digital phone service. Billing, 
troubleshooting, appointment setting/confirming, account management.

Customer Service Excellence Certification, Bright House Networks:

Level II 2005

Level III 2006

Level III 2007

Level II 2008

NCTI:

Nov 2006 Cable Network Overview

Feb 2007 Excellence in Customer Service (Honor Graduate)

Sep 2007 Introduction to Business

Dec 2007 Introduction to PC Applications (Honor Graduate)

Mar 2008 HSD Customer Service (Honor Graduate)

Jun 2008 Advanced HSD Customer Service (Honor Graduate)

Oct 2008 Introduction to Marketing

O.D. Wyatt High School, Fort Worth, TX

Green B. Trimble Technical HS Adult Education Center, Fort Worth, Texas

GED

SKILLS

Motivated, time management. Minimal supervision required, 
flexible & dependable. Type 50 wpm, 10-key sight & feel. 
Windows proficient. Certified in Excel, Word, Access, and 
PowerPoint. 14+ years Internet, 20+years Customer service, 
14+ years tech support

References Available Upon Request

 

I mentioned in another post that you want to keep your resume to one page, if possible and highlight your skills. This resume actually was a page and some, but it has enough of what the employer was looking for to get me an interview, which got me hired. It is woefully out of date, but I lost that job in 2016.

My resume has changed dramatically because I am now seeking at-home, remote work -at least until I hit my stride in #WAHLife at Wealthy Affiliate. Or get published.

 

Failure is ALLOWED

Honestly, the only way to fail at this is to stop trying. Will Smith said in a viral video that failure is not to be feared, but embraced.

“Fail forward,” he advises, and keep going until you get where you want to be.

Then, climb higher.

 

Have you been looking for a #Wagelife job online? Have you found one? Share your experience with me!

 

Till later,

Gig on

How To Create Quality Content For Your Website (Conquer the Keyword Beast)

One of the most important things you have to do as an affiliate marketer online is creating good content for your website. For some, this is downright terrifying.

The truth is, you do not have to be a writer to write. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to market your site, blog or content. You do not have to be a YouTube or video expert to create videos that people will watch. You just have to want to do it.

Once you want to do it, it is a good idea to plan out how you are going to do it -whatever it is. Once you have a plan, put it into action.

Make a plan

It really is that simple.

And it really is that complicated.

What You Want

You want engaging, informative and entertaining content that catches the reader’s attention and keeps it. If your content is good enough, people will keep coming back to your site. They will tell other people about the site through social media or word of mouth, and you will build a following.

It all starts with a website with quality content.

As I mentioned in another post, I use the Wealthy Affiliate platform to build a website and create content. The training available there walks members through the steps to become independent marketers for whatever products, or services they have a passion for.

Built-In Content Creator

Wealthy Affiliate does not make any claims about making you money fast. What it does do is teach you how to build an online business from scratch or to compliment your existing business. It teaches you how to grow that site and -the big tamale- create quality content for your website.

If you follow the training and complete the accompanying tasks, you will have a professional site in operation within a matter of days (depending on how fast you go through the training). You can then use the site to springboard whatever operations you want.

What You Need

Your Niche

The first thing you need to start creating good content is a niche. A niche is a particular market or product you want to tell others about. It usually falls within your area of experience. At Wealthy Affiliate, one of the earliest things you learn is how to find your niche.

You may already have one, but if not, Kyle, one of the founders at WA, will help you pin it down. One excellent tip, and I have said it before:

Follow your passion Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Your niche must be something you are passionate about!

This makes it easy and fun to create content about the subject matter.

This is vital because you are building a site, brick by brick, that you want to have up and running for the long term. If you have little interest in the subject, you will not be motivated to stick with it. Sticking with it is what Wealthy Affiliate is about and it is what affiliate marketing is about.

Anybody telling you different is running an MLM or a scam (yes, there is a difference, though for some, not by much). I hope you don’t give them your money or your email. Either one is a mistake that tends to stick with you.

Keywords

Once you know your niche, you then need to find keywords that are relevant to that niche. At Wealthy Affiliate (I know I keep coming back to this, but they literally have everything) we have a keyword tool called Jaaxy.

Jaaxy inside Wealthy Affiliate

Jaaxy Lite comes with your WA membership, whether you remain a Starter or go Premium. We have access to the tool inside WA as well as a full dashboard at the website.

Jaaxy dashboard

With Jaaxy you can search for keywords within your niche and Kyle walks you through using it.  The training shows you how to target those keywords on your website and in your content. This leads us to the stuff that drives traffic to the website. Try it out here:

Content

A lot of programs will tell you that you have to focus on keywords to get traffic. This is not exactly the way Google and other search engines work anymore. Google does rank keywords, but what it actually looks for is good content.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Packing your posts with keywords does not draw positive attention to your page. It can actually make Google rank you lower. What you need to focus on is creating quality content for your website, which incorporates your niche keyword in a natural, flowing manner that engages your reader.

Kyle teaches us to build content organically around a single keyword, or keyword phrase. This is what Google is looking for: websites with quality content with the keyword(s) occurring logically within the context of your content, not forced down your reader’s throat.

The keyword is only what the user typed into a search engine. They decide which site to go to based on the content, not on how many times you pop up their keyword.

Readers don’t count keyword occurrences. They look at pictures, skim paragraphs glance at links, and within 7-15 seconds decide if they are going to stay. If you’re talking about (content) what they were searching for (keyword), and you do it in a clear manner that engages them (quality, entertaining), they will stay.

If the information you offer is presented in an easy to read format that keeps them interested, they will come back, and tell friends.

By the way, creating content is not the last step.

Presentation

I remember when the most exciting video game on the market was the hand-held Gameboy with pea soup green graphics. It was exciting because it was new, and it let us take games with us and even share them with friends.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Not very long after that, Nintendo upgraded the Gameboy and we had nearly-console quality color graphics in our handhelds (I bought these for my kids, not for me; I’m a little older than you thought).

I mention that to make my point about presentation. Way back in the mid-90s, pea soup green graphics on a monochrome background was acceptable. As technology progressed and consumer tech-savvy along with it, an improved presentation was required to maintain interest.

Creating good content is just part of the work. You have to present it in an attractive, easy to absorb format. It’s like picking a frame for a family portrait.

At Wealthy Affiliate, the Site Builder helps you set up the basic framework for a WordPress site. Kyle then walks you through adding everything you need to that site to make it look like a team of professionals put it together.

I built this site with Kyle’s help. No, he’s not sitting next to me here in Texas, he’s Canadian. Every lesson in the Online Entrepreneur Certification (OEC) and Affiliate Bootcamp has a video walk thru as well as step by step instructions. Each lesson is followed by tasks, which include implementing what you learned in that lesson.

You cannot help but have a site like this as you move through the training.

Wealthy Affiliate Site Builder

If you look over this post, and the site in entirety, you see I follow a simple formula. Quality content with pertinent links and engaging images that support the text. That is the recipe for creating quality content for your website. Like any recipe, it can be switched up and experimented with.

Don’t be surprised if you come back here later and the site has been rearranged, updated or even the entire theme changed. We have that ability at WA, to keep our sites fresh and appealing, for you, the readers.

Drumroll, Please

Putting all of this together can be highly intimidating, but it does not have to stay that way. There is no time frame you have to adhere to. Build your site and create your content at a rate that is comfortable and doable for you. The more you do it, the more you will be able to do it. So do it.

If you need or want help, come on over to Wealthy Affiliate, check out the Starter membership for free. You have access to select Premium features in the first 7 days, so be sure to give it a good look.

It’s all here!

If you join through any of my links, drop me a line when you get there. And, one more thing-

Bonuses!

If you do decide to go Premium within the first 7 days, send me a Private Message or drop a note on my profile page. I will be delighted to give you these BONUSES:

  • Unlimited access to ME as your Mentor.
  • A 59% discount on your first month. You pay ONLY $19.00 to gain access to ALL the Premium features available here at Wealthy Affiliate. *
  • Feedback on your content and your website. We’ll cover everything from syntax to social media!
  • Access to the Diamond Traffic Program to boost your site.
*Subsequent months bill at regular $49.00 rate. No refunds, cancel anytime

But only if you upgrade to Premium within the first 7 days (this is my action-takers bonus).

 

Are you a content creator looking for help optimizing your site? Just curious, have questions or comments? Leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon.

 

Till then,

Gig on

 

 

Review: Chili’s Bar & Grill, Burgers, Ribs, and TexMex Tastiness (From Texas)

The Spot:

Chili’s Bar & Grill

What About Them:

Chili’s is a US-based restaurant chain that serves American Southwest and TexMex cuisine. Founded in 1975 in Dallas, TX by Larry Levine in a converted post office on Greenville Avenue. In 1981, Levine moved to a new building on the same site. The original Chili’s relocated for the last time in 2007.

Levine sold the restaurant in 1983 to former Pillsbury restaurant group executive Norman E Brinker.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chili’s)

The location I refer to here is in Fort Worth, TX and at 33 years in operation, one of the oldest in the state.

Burgers….and more burgers.

Overview

First Impressions

The first time I went to Chili’s I was a child. My mother and I were having a day out shopping and we stopped in for dinner. We ordered Fajitas for 2 and I had my first cherry Sprite with actual cherries. I still order the same drink every time I go out to eat anywhere 30 years later.

Can’t pick a favorite!

Pros

Chili’s has a diverse Tex-Mex and American menu. Everything from burgers and steaks and ribs to tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and table-side guacamole. Everything can be made to order. The unique drinks are prepared at the bar and generous enough to make just one enough. I particularly enjoy the margaritas.

Loaded, boneless, and spicy!

Our favorite appetizer is the Loaded Boneless Wings. They come smothered in white queso with bacon and ranch. You can order other dips if you wish and decide just how hot you want the wings to be.

SO much at steak…

Chili’s is imprinted on the collective consciousness with its (baby back, baby back) ribs. Honestly, in over 30 years of eating here -at this specific location- I have never had them. My favorite steak is the 6 oz Classic Sirloin with Grilled Avocado. There is a 10 oz sirloin on the menu, and if you don’t mind spending a bit more you can substitute this one instead.

Steak, chicken, shrimp or mushrooms? Yes, please!

I also go for the Fajitas. Their selection has grown from the traditional steak to chicken and shrimp options. They even have one with mushrooms and Monterrey jack cheese and a vegetarian option now.

Chocolate volcano of OMGoodness…

For dessert, I used to order the caramel molten lava cake, but they have removed it from the menu. They still have the chocolate one along with several other options including cheesecake. If I was a chocolate cake eater (don’t judge me, I love chocolate, just not chocolate cake!) I would take one home every time.

There is a fun kid’s menu as well, with some miniature versions of choice items from the regular menu. Unique selections include a kid-sized pizza and a grilled cheese sandwich. You can add any side item from the menu to your child-sized meal.

Little foods for little fingers.

Other perks include:

  • Loyalty club where you can collect points to use toward free menu items.
  • Family-oriented, casual atmosphere. No one dresses for dinner at Chili’s unless they really want to
  • Birthday recognition. They sing to you at your table and you get a free dessert. Only on your birthday, of course.
  • ToGo orders online or by phone
  • Curbside pickup for ToGo orders or you can step inside their designated ToGo area to grab your meal.
  • Open bar seating with big screen TVs all over the place, usually running a selection of sports programming

Cons

The food industry has a high rate of turn-over and this can cause inconsistency in the quality of the service and the food. Sometimes everything is so perfect I sing while I eat. Others I wonder if the server understands the meaning of their job title.

As with any restaurant, sometimes the service is exceptional and sometimes forgettable. We usually get very good service at Chili’s because my son works there, and most of the staff knows us.

Unfortunately, Chili’s gluten-free selection is almost non-existent. You can request it via special order, but they have no cross-contamination preventatives in place, no dedicated prep stations, and no designated tools and utensils.
I would not recommend Chili’s for anyone with more than minimal gluten intolerance. My Celiac* son has never eaten here because we simply cannot be certain that it is safe.

*Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. https://gig-that.com/whatisceliac

Value

Pricing

You can eat well at Chili’s for around $20 – $30 for one. This includes appetizer, entrée, and drink. They have specials that include 3 For $10 and 2 For $25 as well as lunch, dinner and holiday sales. There used to be a 2 for $35 that included a margarita, but I have not seen it on the menu lately.

They also run periodic specials on select Menu items (Babyback, babyback, babyback ribs).

What you get for the money

3 for $10

  • Select appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $10.00
  • Drinks are extra but refills on soda and tea are free
  • Alcoholic beverages are not included or discounted

 

 

 

 

2 For $25

  • Select appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert for $25.00
  • Drinks are extra but refills on soda and tea are free
  • Alcoholic beverages are not included or discounted

Take it or Leave it

Take it! I have loved Chili’s since the very first time I ate there, and I go there as often as I can. I have taken my kids there since they were tiny, and they always have a good time.

Conclusion

Chili’s Bar and Grill has been part of my family since I was very young. I am delighted they are still in operation and I never hesitate to recommend them. The fun family atmosphere is wonderful, and the food is just as good.

Have you been to a Chili’s in your area? Share your experience with me!

Independent Contractors and Freelancers: Leverage Your Skills Into Consistent Income

Life as an independent contractor (IC) or freelancer can be tricky. You have to leverage your time and skills to maximize your income. You are partially self-employed and partially not. It can be a difficult thing to explain to people when they ask what you do for a living.

(Honestly, I never liked asking or being asked this question, but I am an extro-introverted weirdo.)

What You Need to Know

One of many things you have to understand is that a single gig may not cover your living expenses unless you have highly marketable skills (IT, medical coding, SEO, etc.) and hit the jackpot. You have to keep getting clients and/or gigs to keep the income going. I have several IC gigs and the one thing that never changes is the fluidity of the work.

Work availability and length of the contract depends on the company’s client. If they pull the contract, or it runs out and doesn’t get renewed, they don’t need you anymore. Hopefully, you will get a timely heads up, but in some cases, you may have no more than days to prepare for the end of that gig.

In many cases, the company you’re working for will try to roll you to a new contract or project. This can take a matter of days or weeks, depending on the company and their clientele. In the meantime, if you have no other work, contracts, or clients at the time, you are out of money for the time being.

This is never a good place to be.

Some companies have a clause that prohibits you from working for a competitor. So, if you are selling your services as a remote data entry worker, for example, you may be locked out of adding another gig while you’re under contract.

Of course, once the contract ends, all bets are off.

There are ways to make sure you can have some redundancy into your freelance or independent contractor income. That way, you don’t suffer too much if you lose a gig through no fault of your own.

Diversify

If you have more than one skill set -as many of us do- you can pick up a few gigs that do not conflict. Say data entry and ad tagging.

You can also find companies that do not have the Non-Compete clause as well as pick up multiple gigs within companies that do. One company that allows you to work on multiple projects is Appen Global

At the moment, Appen is hiring what they call Raters to view and rate or tag ads, posts, and links. The work can be tedious, but it often pays about $10.00 an hour. Most contracts there pay monthly, so you have to budget accordingly.

They usually require a minimum of 10 hours a week, up to 20 or 25 hours a week, depending on the job and the client. Sometimes they can offer up to 30 hours a week as long as you are meeting minimal performance metrics.

The flexibility of the scheduling is wonderful. Appen usually asks for 4-6 hours a day, totaling no more than the project maximum (10-25 hours) for the week. They prefer you work the hours Monday through Friday, but you are allowed to make up missed hours (schedule conflict, system down, no work available) on the weekends.

Appen has Non-Disclosure Agreements for each project, which means you can’t chatter too much about the work you do or who you are specifically doing it for. As an IC or freelancers, it is vital that you maintain this confidentiality.

Specialize

Another way to build some security into your IC income is to specialize. Whatever you do, do it exceptionally well. Build a portfolio of work that you can submit with your resume and keep it up to date.

You can also request reference letters from previous or current clients. This creates credibility as well as shows potential clients that you complete the work you’re hired to do.

Another way to add to your credibility is through LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been described as a business networking site. It’s basically Facebook for business people. You can connect and build a network of people who can then Endorse you as an expert in your field(s). 

A lot of potential employers will check your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles while considering hiring you.

**Tip: If you have Facebook and/or Twitter for personal use, it may be a good idea to create a separate account for business contacts.

The difference between Facebook & LinkedIn is that you can post blogs in LinkedIn that can be specific to the work you want to do. The blogs are shown to the entire network and can lead to you getting contacted by people in your industry.

You can also post a resume on LinkedIn and use it to apply for jobs all over the place. A LinkedIn resume carries a decent amount of weight in the freelance world. It shows that you take your work seriously and you want to be gainfully engaged for a reasonable fee.

Market Yourself

A lot of people starting on the road to becoming an independent contractor have their skills on point, the resume and portfolio are good to go, but they aren’t getting much work.

You have to market yourself, of course. This can be done through any number of methods, but one of the simplest is social media.

As I noted before, you may want to separate your business Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such from your personal account. I suggest this because you might have some rather colorful content, shares or posts that are not conducive to being perceived as a professional.

We all have at least a few friends that let it all hang out on social media, and many of us have had these accounts for years. I prefer to keep my business contacts separate from my personal ones. I am not suggesting you present a false face. I am suggesting you present a professional face.

There are conversations I will easily have with personal contacts that I would not dream of sharing with people I work with. Political and religious views, as well as social justice leanings,  have very little place in the workplace unless that is your job.

So, the first step to marketing yourself is to create professional accounts on all the social media sites you want to use to sell your services.

Once you have these ready, start adding friends and colleagues in the same industry. Follow successful people or leaders in your field. Once you have a few contacts, start putting your work to work. Post links to companies you have worked for. Share posts about your industry or something within the niche that interests you.

You can also add blogging to your pages. This can be done at any number of sites, including Blogger.com or WordPress.com. I use the platform at Wealthy Affiliate to build a website and create content. If you are fortunate enough to own a piece of the internet -a domain- put it to work.

Link all of your new business social sites to the website. Link the posts, pictures or whatever. Share your accomplishments, new gigs, and completed projects. Wealthy Affiliate includes an enormous network of freelancers, independent contractors and online marketers who have been where you are or are just starting out.

Besides social media, there are sites where you can bid for gigs. One of them is Upwork.com. On Upwork, you can search for employers who are searching for independent contractors or freelancers.

You can target the specific work you want to do and submit a proposal to them with your desired rate of pay. If they like your proposal, you will hear from them through the Upwork platform. Once you come to an agreement, you can complete the work and get paid.

The downside of a site like this is that there are thousands of contractors and freelancers here. They are all looking for similar work, and some may be better positioned than you. It is a process. It takes patience and persistence, but you can get work here if you put in the time.

Other Gigs

Other gigs you can pick up as a freelancer or independent contractor include:

Uber

Lyft

Favor*

Postmates

Grub Hub

Fiverr

Care.com

*Favor is only active in Texas

Each of these has its own set of rules and regulations. Make sure you have the skillset and the desire to do the work of making yourself visible. As mentioned, there are thousands of people looking for these jobs, just like you.

Do not be discouraged by the odds. Consider it a challenge. I have earned a good amount of money driving for Uber, Lyft and Favor. I tried Postmates, but there was not enough work available to make it worth the gas. I also tried Fiverr, but I have not seen much that suits my skill set there.

 

Putting it Together

Some of these gigs can be started almost immediately, as long as you pass the background checks, and meet the basic requirements (reliable car, insurance, driver’s license, certifications, etc.). Also, Uber and Lyft have incentive programs that you can take advantage of once you meet their minimums, including discounts on gas and car maintenance. They also offer same-day pay, but only after you have worked on the platform for at least a month (this may have changed, as I have not driven for a few months as of this writing).

Once you have everything in place, it is then just a matter of building up your portfolio. Word of mouth is digitized these days and maintaining a good reputation is crucial to your continued success.

You can gain and keep trust by working with integrity. Respect your clients’ time and exceed their expectations. This is how you get repeat work. To gain the trust of your potential clients, continue to share your work, your insights, and your experience.

Do you have any experience with any of the gigs mentioned? Have questions or comments? Let me know below and I will get back to you soon.

Until later,

Gig on

 


 

Review: BJ’s Brewhouse & Restaurant (So Good You’ll Take It Home!)

The Spot:

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

What About Them:

BJ’s was founded in 1978 in Santa Ana, CA as BJ’s Chicago Pizzeria by Mike Phillips and Bill Cunningham. The founders sold the company to their accountants, Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessy in 1991.

The parent company is BJ’s Restaurants, Inc and as of March 2019, they own and operate 202 locations across 28 states*. The locations we will be discussing are located in Fort Worth, TX at Hulen Mall, and in Arlington, TX.

(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BJ’s_Restaurants, https://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview/BJRI.O)
*Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

 

It all started with the pizza

Overview

First Impressions

Walking into BJ’s is its own experience. The low lighting and comfortable table spacing make for a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere that encourages diners to take their time and enjoy.

The first time I ever went to BJ’s was with my husband. We were out on a Date Night and were not quite ready to go home after our movie. We stopped in for a drink at the Hulen Mall location in Fort Worth.

Food…wonderful food…

After sitting a while, decided to have a small bite to eat. Looking over the menu, I noticed they had several gluten-free options. As is my habit, I questioned the bartender about their process.

I have a son who is a Celiac*, and it is almost impossible to take him out to eat. I learned that BJ’s has dedicated prep and cook stations for gluten-free meals and even crafts root beer on-site -which is also gluten-free.

*Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. https://gig-that.com/whatisceliac

Pros

BJ’s is not just a restaurant. They have 11 locations across the country that have microbreweries inside that supply all of their craft beers and signature root beer.

Our location in Hulen has an enormous window into the brewery where you can see the vats of fermenting goodness. It is a marvelous little quirk that no one else can lay claim to.

 

Yes, we like beer.

A lot of places will claim to have gluten-free items on their menu, but they do not have the facilities or knowledge to ensure as little gluten as possible in those items. Some of them are actually very conscious of cross-contamination, which is the fear of anyone with any level of gluten intolerance when eating out.

BJ’s actually has dedicated prep sites, utensils and cookware used only for their gluten-free menu items. I learned from our server on one visit that one of the owner’s wives is a Celiac. As such, the GF choices and procedures at BJ’s are strict enough to allow a full-blown Celiac like my son to eat there practically worry-free.

I do not drink beer, but BJ’s options are extensive and -I have heard- delicious. The drinks I have had there were exceptional and beautifully presented.

The ‘shrooms, man. The ‘shrooms.

The menu is packed full of items that can suit pretty much any palate. My favorite appetizer is the Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms. The menu describes them as:

Plump, juicy mushrooms | Spinach and Artichoke Dip | feta cheese | red onions | parmesan cheese | a drizzle of lemon pesto sauce

They are so good, I have ordered an extra helping to take home.

At the Hulen Mall location, we have always gotten quick, attentive service. Our food came out hot and tasty, and the drinks never got or stayed empty for long.

BJ’s is also kid-friendly. If there is a child at your table, they bring out a little plate with strawberries and one of their garlic knots for the little one to chomp on. In our case, I had to turn down the strawberries because my little guy (not the Celiac) is allergic to them. But he demolished the garlic knot.

Kid-sized yumminess

Other perks include:

  • A rewards program that allows you to collect points on every visit that can be applied toward free menu items.
  • Casual to dressy atmosphere. Nobody thinks twice about wearing jeans or Prada here. We all fit in.
  • In some locations, on-site micro-brewery offering, award-winning craft beers you will not find anywhere else.
  • A free pizookie on your birthday! It is a deep-dish cookie in a small tin topped with ice cream.
The Pizookie. Know it.Love it.

Cons

As with any eatery, it is not always an optimal experience. We took our daughter out for her birthday to the Arlington location off I-20 & Cooper.

We had our small son with us but did not get the plate of strawberries and bread for him. I ordered their 2-bone pork chop (which does not appear to be on the menu any longer) and so did my daughter’s boyfriend. We were both disappointed.

It was big, but it was tough and not nearly as savory as we both hoped it would be.

My husband ordered the Southern Fried Chicken and ended up sending it back. The gravy was scorched, and the chicken was overcooked.

Our server left unused dishes on the table until we asked her to take them and seemed either distracted or overloaded. She did take my husband’s chicken off our bill, but we also ordered a pizookie to take home to our (Celiac) son. She put it on a separate ticket even though we did not tell her to. As I said, she seemed distracted.

This is the only negative experience I ever had at any BJ’s and it appears to be a fluke rather than a regular occurrence.

But wait…

We have to discuss the pizookie. It is delicious, decadent and fun.

Pizookies!

As mentioned, it comes in its own little pizza pan with your choice of one or two scoops of ice cream. The regular-size pizookie comes with multiple spoons. It is just far too gooey to eat on your own. The mini-pizookie is a good size for kids.

We usually order one to go, even if we get one for dessert. Once you’ve had it, you will always want it. It is just that good. If you eat nothing else here, you have to have the pizookie. And a root beer. And the mushrooms.

Value

Pricing

BJ’s is what I would call pricey. You can eat here for about $25-$40 for one. As we usually go as a couple or a group, our bill can run over the $100 mark, but the food and the atmosphere is so good, it is worth it.

Take it or Leave it

Take it! Take it as often as you can afford it. BJ’s is an excellent place to eat and enjoy some time with friends and family. If you don’t have a location near you, I weep for your misfortune.

Conclusion

BJ’s Brewhouse is one of my Top 3 favorite places to eat. I especially enjoy it because I can take my Celiac son there and he has a wide selection of items to choose from as well as dessert. The relaxed ambiance and (usually) excellent service make this one of the few places I do not mind spending the money.

 

Have you been to a BJ’s in your area? Share your experience with me!