A New Beginning

For over 2.5 years, The Modern Austen has been my home.

My digital scrapbook.
My personal stylebook.
My own unique community.
My side business.

It has been the most wonderful and rewarding learning experience, one that has changed everything for me, both personally and professionally. I didn’t realize when I signed up for a free WordPress.com account in May 2012 that I was embarking on the journey of a lifetime, but now I know that it was woven into my plan all along. I have loved every second of the journey–even the periods of burnout–because it has stretched and pushed me to become a better person: a better writer, a better marketer, a better creative, and, most of all, a better friend.

Though The Modern Austen hosts numerous embarrassing posts and lots of fluff, I am extremely proud of several gems that I published over the years. Nearing the end of 2014, I began feeling the itch for change. In the past, that often meant switching up the design, introducing a new feature, kicking it up a notch in my community. But this time felt different. As much as I adore the brand behind The Modern Austen and still feel its message is relevant to me, I knew that it was time for a more drastic change.

After several months of daydreaming, planning, designing, collaborating, doubting, brainstorming, reinventing, organizing, and writing, I am FINALLY ready to announce my latest creative venture.

Introducing Ampersand Creative.

A lot of soul searching led me to one major conclusion: it was time to narrow my focus. I dug through the echelons of my brain and mindmapped my way to discover my real passions that could simultaneously serve others: creativity, entrepreneurship, and blogging. It is my aim to help millennial bloggers and young professionals identify and achieve a fulfilling creative lifestyle. You’ll find musings on the side hustle, discussions about navigating the job search, insight into other creative individual’s projects, how-tos to get your schemes up-and-running, and whatever else strikes my fancy that might be of use to others.

Before I leave you to go and explore my lovely new site (designed by the incredible Sam Bell Creative), I want to say thank you. Thank you for sticking with me, for being such a supporter over the last three years, for being so flexible no matter what direction I took the blog, for getting to know the girl behind the blog, for reading, for commenting and emailing, for challenging me. I am eternally grateful. I know this new direction won’t be for everyone and I understand if you choose to turn down another path. But please know that you have made a difference in my life and I appreciate you. Here’s to new beginnings!


Better Serving Bloggers and Creatives in 2015

As I pursue some new creative ventures this year, I have been spending a lot of time talking with bloggers and creativepreneurs about their individual questions, struggles, passions, and goals. It has been inspiring to hear the amazing things people want to accomplish, but also enlightening to understand what obstacles they face and what information they want to know more about (and definitely lets me know that I’m not alone in my own struggles!). One of my goals in 2015 is to better serve these bloggers and creatives and you’ll be hearing more about this as we move forward. But in order to do this, I need to know more.

Here’s where you come in, my dear readers and friends. 

I put together a quick, but very useful survey that will help me better understand what kind of tools and information you are seeking to pursue your creative goals, big and small. The more feedback I receive, the better I can learn from you!


If you have a minute or two, would you click here to fill out this questionnaire for me? As a thank you for your efforts, I will be choosing one survey participant to win a $10 gift card to the store of his or her choice! I’ll be selecting a winner on Tuesday, January 13th.

Fill out this survey for a chance to win!

Thank you so much in advance for your help! Also, thanks so much for your patience as I make some changes around these parts :)

NaDoWoMo: Not Your Typical NaNoBlogMo

Several of you reading this are counting down the days to NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–and are charged with the anticipation of participating in something exciting and seriously productive. (If you don’t know what the hype is all about, click here and read #2!) And while I won’t be participating this year, I’ll be your cheerleader all the way through!

Even though it’s my choice not to participate (well, I blame it on my brain for not coming up with a brilliant story plot or even a cool character to start with. It’s been a long time since my killer NSYNC and Harry Potter fanfiction days.)  I can’t help but feel a bit of FOMO. I, too, want to be a part of something big. I, too, want to get a lot of stuff DONE. I, too, want to be motivated and held accountable by others. So I thought, why not apply this principle to blogging? Brilliant!

Except my goal here is not to post every single day in November. Or even to write 50,000 words.

With one quick Google search, you’ll find that I was not alone in my brilliant idea to apply NaNoWriMo to blogging (womp womp). There are tons of support groups that are participating in NaNoBlogMo (National Novel Blogging Month?) and striving to write a blog post every day or to write 50,000 words in November. (And a few of you are just wrapping up a similar one for #Blogtober!) For some of you, maybe that IS your goal, and I say: more power to you! I think that’s really awesome and maybe one day I will be disciplined enough to make that a goal and learn so much in completing that writing practice.

Right now, however, my priorities are all about getting those little things crossed off my list to make my blogging better. And getting around to those really awesome posts that take a little extra effort to put together. And giving myself the push to refocus and reorganize for the new year.

Somehow, I doubt I’m alone in this, too.

Therefore, I have decided to form a challenge and support group of sorts for the month of November in which bloggers can come together to get work done. For now, we’ll call is NaDoWoMo, “National” Do Work Month.  We’ll gather in a closed Facebook group and we’ll discuss our personal blogging goals and share our expertise and struggles with one another. Each week, I’ll post a challenge for each of us to complete. You can completely customize each challenge for what you want to work on or you can follow the challenge exactly. The end result: at least four completed tasks and a safe and supportive community with whom you can trust and hold accountable.

NaDoWoMo National Do Work Month with The Modern Austen

Are you in? Fantastic! All you need to do is CLICK HERE to request to join the Facebook group. And then invite your blogging BFFs to join, too! We’ll spend the last few days of October introducing ourselves and getting ourselves mentally prepared for an excitingly productive month!

If you’d like your challenges emailed directly to your inbox to make sure you stay on top of things or if you’re interested in receiving some extra special goodies, fill out this form:

Join the NaDoWoMo Challenge Group!

* indicates required

In all honesty, I have no idea how this challenge group will work, but I can’t imagine it will be anything but AWESOME. Let’s find out together, shall we? I’ll be waiting right here with a glass of (virtual) wine.

How Blogging Helped Me Land My Next Career

Blogging can help when changing industries

When you begin blogging, you have a very important decision to make: How open will I be about my personal and professional lives on this very public forum? 

This decision was one I made as I went along; every change I went through I decided how much or how little I wanted to share with all of you. I’d like to think I’ve been as transparent as it is advisable to be, so many of you have followed along the awkward post-college journey and witnessed some pretty massive changes in just two short years.

For those who are new, allow me to recap: I graduated college, got my first job as a high school English teacher, moved three hours away, felt extremely homesick and depressed, survived my first year of teaching with a smile by the end, made the very difficult decision to break up with my boyfriend of 4.5 years, lived in a hotel for a week because my apartment wasn’t ready, very quickly resigned from my job, battled the most difficult time of my life, experienced a stint in retail, moved back home, and . . . waited.

Every twenty-something goes through some set of ups and downs; even though we ALL think we’ll be the exception (myself included), nobody escapes some sort of difficulty. It’s all just part of the madness we call life. Despite the fact that we all go through something, sometimes it’s really, really hard. And it’s no one’s place to judge what is considered “more difficult” than something else. We all have our own battles to fight. 

Own Battles to Fight

Mine just happened to be the decision to pursue an entirely new career. I left my former position for a variety of reasons; while I won’t be sharing them on this platform, I would be more than happy to talk one-on-one about this experience with anyone who needs someone to discuss those scary, almost taboo thoughts about transitions, whether these decisions were yours to make or not. Sometimes life unexpectedly decides to thrust you in a new direction, despite your fingernails clutching desperately at the world you’ve known. I’ve shared snapshots of what this has meant for me on the blog and it has prompted several individuals to start a dialogue with me; I’m blessed to say I consider all of these women great friends of mine as a result.

There are still days when I think of the life that would-have-been, days when I long for certain aspects of my former career–my former life. My entire vision for my future was suddenly uprooted and tossed far away where I could no longer cultivate it and watch it grow. Instead, I had to build a new foundation upon which to direct my life and my future.

A large part of the foundation was and is this. My blog. The Modern Austen. Blogging and everything that goes into it–the DIY projects, the writing, the photography, the graphic design, the fashion, the friendships–stuck with me through everything. I could always count on it to be my rock no matter if I was sad, lonely, bored, or even angry. It provided me with enough of a challenge that I almost always felt inspired, motivated, and encouraged to move forward. Blogging gave me a voice, taught me a ton of technical skills, introduced me to the world of business, allowed me to exercise my creativity, and gave me plentiful opportunities to collaborate and work with individuals, businesses, and brands. Two years ago, I never even imagined that blogging would be more than just a fun way to express myself; now I see that I was teaching myself so many more skills that I never would have had otherwise.

When it came time to decide if I wanted to continue to pursue education or move into a new direction professionally, I really struggled. I had never considered anything outside of teaching before, not even once. Everything I had done up to that point was geared toward working with kids or educational skills. I had to take a step back and really consider the things I really love to do and the things I am passionate about. Things like writing, collaborating, designing, leadership, teaching, presenting, organizing, and, most of all, creating came to mind. I also thought back through to my experiences in college as the President and VP of Membership for Kappa Delta and how much I thrived in that atmosphere–how much I adored recruitment and helping my sisters achieve new goals. So slowly, I gathered job titles in the field of digital marketing in the hopes that I could combine all of these things into a career.

After eight months of hustling, networking, soul-searching, and pushing myself way out of my comfort zone, I’m thrilled to announce that I got a new job! I’m working as a Marketing Consultant for a fantastic start-up that provides ready-to-use and easily editable marketing via email and social media for indie retailers and other small businesses. While I never imagined myself as a consultant, it makes complete sense now; this role truly does take all of my passions and interests and welds them into one. It’s a great fit for me right now and a great place to start. I’m truly blessed.

How Blogging Helped Me Land My Next Career

Besides showing me that I have a whole other set of interests and skills, blogging was critical in securing this position. More often than not, blogs are an extremely valuable tool in the job search and hiring processes because they demonstrate a candidate’s writing skills, business aptitude, time management skills, organization, passion, interests, strengths, and understanding of marketing. When switching industries completely, it is important to participate in experiences that link the two careers. While blogging isn’t for everyone (and not all blogs should be shared with employers!), it is certainly an option to help make that transition.  You can also join new networking groups, volunteer, contact all of your connections, and say yes to any and every opportunity–all of which I did, even when it felt like I was going nowhere. Stick with it. You never know who or what is going to make the difference.

Congratulations if you made it through this very long-winded post. I just wanted to an extend a thank you to the many supporters and friends who have been my strength and source of hope through it all. I promise I’ll go a few posts without boosting blogging’s ego any further ;)

If you missed out on last week’s $250 LOFT giftcard giveaway, don’t fret! I’ve partnered up with some great bloggers to give away a $750 Amazon gift card! I KNOW, RIGHT? Imagine starting off your summer with that burning a hole in your pocket!

Bookmark this page and come back every day to enter and earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway with your friends on social media. Good luck!

Totally Awesome Amazon Giftcard Giveaway

Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Co-hosts: This Mama Loves ♥ Broward Saves ♥ Fluttering Lashes ♥ True Story Book Blog ♥ Amazing Super Savers ♥ Babushka’s Baile ♥ Finger Click Saver ♥ Fresh Fit N Healthy Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog ♥ Mama Papa Barn ♥ Misadventures with Andi ♥ Mom and More ♥ Pretty Thrifty ♥ Stacy’s Savings ♥ StushiGal Style ♥ The Skinny-Life  The WiC Project

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 7/2 and is open worldwide.

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