My First Time Getting an IV – A Painful Pincushion Experience

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A first I never wanted to experience – my first time getting an IV. Read all about my experience and perhaps it will help save you some pain.

The First Stick is Always the Hardest: My First Time Getting an IV 

I had always somehow avoided getting an IV up until a couple of weeks ago when I landed in the emergency room. As someone terrified of needles, I had been dreading the prospect of having an IV inserted. However, when a nasty bout of uterine fibroids and severe dehydration landed me in the ER, it turned out an IV was necessary.

Deep down I knew it was coming when I was assigned to a room, and the nurse came in to take my vitals. Still, I couldn’t help but tense up when she said the fateful words “Ok, I’m going to place an IV now to give you fluids.” 

As she tied the tourniquet around my arm and felt for a vein, I had to remember to breathe and stay still even though my heart raced inside. 

I let out an involuntary wince when the needle first pierced my skin. The nurse apologized and said something to the effect of “First sticks can always be tricky, the veins move around.” 

However, after a few more pokes, well, she couldn’t get it in. 

That’s what she said! Jokes aside, this experience sucked!

Poking and Prodding Like a Pincushion

Getting an IV placed can sometimes be tricky if the nurse has difficulty locating a good vein. 

Here is some advice on what to do if this happens:

Try to stay calm and relaxed even if the nurse needs to make multiple attempts. Tensing up can cause veins to narrow and be harder to access. Take slow, deep breaths and focus your mind elsewhere.

I was HORRIBLE AT THIS!

Speak up politely if the poking and prodding becomes truly unbearable. Politely state that you are feeling faint or in too much distress. A good nurse will recognize when to pause attempts before the patient becomes overly traumatized.

Again, I wasn’t doing well with this. I tried to be as polite as possible, but instead it just came out with a lot of tears as I begged her to stop.

Request that another experienced nurse or IV specialist come try inserting the IV. A second pair of eyes and hands can sometimes have better luck on difficult stick patients.

I got lucky in this respect because my first nurse gave up before I had to ask for someone else. She decided she couldn’t do it, and was called to another room just in the knick of time!

Ask if ultrasound guidance for the IV is available. Many hospitals now have portable ultrasound machines that can visually map out vein locations under the skin. This technology can guide the needle right to a viable vein.

Again, I got super lucky here that I didn’t have to ask. The second nurse came in with an ultrasound machine. And thank goodness because in truth, until that day I actually didn’t know there were ultrasound machines that could help nurses find a vein!

Remember that difficult IV insertion is common and no one’s fault. Whether due to dehydration, treatment history, or anatomy, some patients present challenges. Open communication with an emphasis on patience makes the process easier on both sides.

In my case, I was insanely dehydrated, and I wasn’t permitted to drink anything because we didn’t know if emergency surgery was going to be necessary for the fibroid situation I was dealing with or now.

Still, I understand that getting an IV line established is important for administering fluids and medications. Working as an understanding patient with your nurses leads to the best outcome. But do speak up if you feel further attempts start compromising your health or sanity! Healthy veins for the win.

This Was Different from Blood Draws in the Past

Look, I’m no stranger to needles, having to have my blood drawn many times before. However, somehow getting this IV felt much more intense than past blood draws.

With blood draws, there’s the familiar prick of the needle, but once it’s inside a vein the nurses usually don’t have to dig around too much.

The IV needle seemed thicker and I could feel it wiggling inside my arm as the nurse tried to position it correctly. Blood draws are usually a smooth process once the needle is in. 

This IV insertion felt more like a journey to find just the right spot amidst my slippery veins. 

While I understand both the IV and blood draws serve important medical purposes, I’ll take a simple blood draw over uncomfortably getting an IV any day if I have a say! However, in an emergency situation like this, I was grateful the nurses persisted until they secured the IV that eventually brought my body much needed relief.

“I’m in!”

It took a lot of effort, but finally I heard the magic words “I’m in!” as she got the IV in on the first try with the help of the ultrasound machine.

I felt a cool rush in my arm as she attached the saline pouch and the much-needed fluids began to flow into my vein. Even though it was uncomfortable and foreign at first, I had survived my first IV. Now that I know what to expect, I feel just a little bit braver for any medical adventures that come my way down the road. The first stick really was the hardest!

The Massive Bruise

Other than fluids, and a couple of new prescriptions, another thing I walked away with was a huge bruise on my arm from where the first nurse kept poking and prodding me. If this happens to you, here are some tips that were shared with me that may help heal a bruise from an IV more quickly:

Apply a cold compress. Ice wrapped in a towel and applied for 10-15 minutes a few times a day can help reduce inflammation and bruising. Don’t place ice directly on the skin.

Keep the area elevated. Try to avoid letting your arm with the IV bruise hang down by your side. Keeping it propped up above heart level will minimize pooling of blood and speed healing.

Use a gentle OTC pain relief cream. An over-the-counter cream with lidocaine or hydrocortisone could offer some comfort and anti-inflammatory benefits. Check that the ingredients are safe to use on broken skin.

Massage around the bruise lightly. Gentle massage can help stimulate blood flow and drainage of pooled blood from the area. Just avoid pressing directly on the tender bruise itself initially. 

Try an OTC Arnica cream or gel. Many find that topical arnica, a homeopathic herb, can aid bruise healing. It may reduce swelling and discoloration.

Protect the skin from further injury. Be extra careful not to bump or injure the bruised area again until it has fully healed. Additional trauma will worsen existing bruising.

Allow two weeks of healing time. Like any deep bruise, an IV bruise needs time for your body to naturally reabsorb blood from the surrounding tissue and mend damaged capillaries. Patience pays off. 

It’s been two weeks and my bruise on my arm has only now healed. It was a pretty rough experience overall, and it was tender to the touch for almost the entire two weeks.

See your doctor if pain persists longer than a few days or you notice signs of infection like pus or redness. Bruises hurt, but should gradually improve with time and care.

Welp, there you have it. My tale about my first time getting an IV. It’s an experience I genuinely hope I won’t have to have again anytime soon. If I have it my way, it’s one I won’t ever have to go through again. I will be keeping myself as hydrated as possible from now on though – just in case!

Unique Accommodations for an Unforgettable Trip

Unique Accommodations for an Unforgettable Trip Bed with Modern Lamp Black Nightstand

Discover unique accommodations for an unforgettable trip like Treehotel, Icehotel & Giraffe Manor, with options to sleep on a jet, in an igloo & more.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

A Dozen Unique Accommodations for an Unforgettable Trip

Sometimes you don’t get to pick where you stay when you travel. For example, your agency might put you in a nice hotel if you’re traveling for work as a travel nurse or sales consultant. However, when traveling for fun, you can choose where you rest your head at night. 

When you travel, you usually have two options: get a hotel room or stay in an Airbnb. However, consider choosing your location based on the available accommodations for your next trip. Where you stay can drastically impact your travel experience, so why not choose your next destination based on unique accommodations instead of tourist attractions? Here are some of the most unique accommodations for an unforgettable trip:

Jumbo Stay, Sweden

Sleeping on a plane usually isn’t the most comfortable experience. However, you can sleep in the cockpit of a real jumbo jet on the ground at Jumbo Stay. The plane used for the unique experience was originally built for Singapore Airlines, but it’s now a hotel that offers a memorable experience at an affordable price. Remember, since you’re sleeping in a cockpit, there’s not much room for lots of stuff, but they are large enough for families. 

The Manta Resort, Tanzania

Wake up and watch reef fish swim by your room at The Manta Resort in Pemba Island, Tanzania. Here, you’ll stay on a floating structure with three levels. At sea level, you’ll have a landing deck with a bathroom and lounge, and at the top, you can lay in the sun all day or watch the stars at night. Then, sleep in a comfortable bed downstairs just under sea level with a 360-degree view of fish and other sea creatures like the manta ray. 

Treehotel, Sweden

If you enjoy the great outdoors and want to experience a one-of-a-kind adventure, pack your bags full of your best athletic gear and consider the Treehotel in Sweden. This hotel allows you to live among nature in the trees with rooms suspended above the ground for unique views.

The HI Jail Hostel, Canada

You’re a model citizen, but you can still spend the night in jail at The HI Jail Hostel in Ottawa, Canada. At this hotel, you can live in a dorm with other guests or get a single cell for an affordable price. In addition, every morning, guests receive breakfast and a tour of the jail. While these accommodations are small, they might be well worth the price for individuals just looking for a unique place to rest their heads at night. 

Finn Lough Resort, Ireland

Spend your free time in a bubble under the stars in Northern Ireland at the Finn Lough Resort, where you’ll stay in a clear dome in the forest. You’ll have a full view of the trees and sky with transparent walls on all sides, making it the perfect getaway for stargazers. 

Giraffe Manor, South Africa

Unique Accommodations for an Unforgettable Trip Giraffe Sticking Out Tongue

Feel like you’re a part of nature when you book your stay at Giraffe Manor in Cape Town, South Africa. Here you’ll get to meet giraffes that poke their heads through the windows while you’re eating breakfast and live right next to giraffes and other wildlife. 

IceHotel, Sweden

If you’ve ever wanted to stay in an igloo but didn’t think you were cut out for harsh weather conditions, you’ll love IceHotel in Sweden, which looks like a fancy art installation. During the day, the rooms in this hotel are part of a museum and transform into guest rooms at night. Of course, the rooms are cold since you’re in an ice hotel, but the beds are lined with reindeer fur and warm sleeping bags to keep you warm. 

Propeller Island, Germany

Propeller Island is a hotel with unique rooms. For example, there are rooms with coffin beds, a bath in a plastic bag, and those with mirrors from wall to wall. Some rooms even have slanted floors that make the bed look like it’s hovering above the floor. 

The Windmill Bed and Breakfast, United Kingdom

If you want the bed and breakfast experience with more of a thrill, consider checking into the Windmill in Scarborough, UK. This 18th-century hotel is a windmill with two suites in the tower. 

Dog Bark Park Inn, Idaho

If you’d like to travel a little closer to home and love pets, consider going to the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho. This famous hotel is shaped like a beagle and is a two-bedroom bed and breakfast with dog-centric contents and decorations. While sleeping in a giant beagle, you can still expect air conditioning, wifi, and free parking. In addition, you’ll receive a free breakfast, and you can bring Fido along for the excitement since this accommodation is pet friendly. 

Book and Bed, Japan 

Book lovers, rejoice! Book and Bed hotel, located in Tokyo, allows you to sleep on a bookshelf with all the reading materials you’ll ever need. This library offers books to suit any taste, and here you’ll find people from all over the world who love reading. 

Crane Hotel, Netherlands

Travelers with a daring side might check out the Faralda Crane, a luxury hotel 50 meters above the ground. The hotel has three 5-star suites that are uniquely furnished and have access to an incredible outdoor area with luxury patio furniture and jacuzzi. The Mystique suite overlooks the city of Amsterdam with a split level that’s spacious with sliding panels and a sleeping area with a gold ceiling and satin fabrics. 

Meanwhile, the Secret suite—the most expensive option—is a former machinery room that’s been restored and fully decorated to overlook Amerstam and feature soft colors, paintings, and design furniture. Another split level has a living area, sleeping area, and private bathroom. 

Unforgettable Travels with Eccentric Accommodations 

Traveling is easier than ever before. Our smartphones allow us to book lodgings, send money, and take beautiful pictures of our adventures, so why not take advantage of the ease of travel and find your next destination based on the accommodations? Many of the hotels on this list are located in cities and outdoor areas, so you can choose your own adventure and avoid overcrowded tourist destinations and boring hotels. 

About the Author Megan Isola

Unique Accommodations for an Unforgettable Trip Megan Isola

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys attending concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 

Best Road Trip Destinations in the US for 2024

Best Road Trip Destinations in US Van on Road with Mountain View

Discover the best road trip destinations across the US, from Portland’s dog parks to Amish Country’s farms. Plan your next adventure with this list.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Best Road Trip Destinations in the United States

An adventurous road trip allows you to discover hidden gems around the country. Whether you have an end destination in mind or haven’t yet planned your route, you can find new and exciting things to do in every city. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, you might wonder how to map your route by finding the best cities and destinations around the country. That’s where we come in. Here’s our list of the top road trip destinations to help you have a relaxing yet fun-filled adventure. 

Portland, Oregon

Oregon has eclectic neighborhoods, delicious food, and large parks for hiking. Portland has an emerging brewery scene that makes it one of the best budget-friendly options for a bachelor party. It’s also one of the best road trip destinations if you’re traveling with your dog because there are plenty of off-leash areas to take them around the state. Of course, if you plan to take a road trip with your dog, you should make preparations since they’ll need frequent potty breaks. You should also invest in a dog seat belt for their safety and yours to prevent them from climbing on your lap while trying to drive. 

Best Road Trip Destinations in US Portland Oregon Sign

Still, if you want to take your dog on an adventure, Portland is the place to go. Portland has many pet-friendly hotels, and many restaurants allow pets on the patios as long as they’re on leashes. In addition, you can find fenced off-leash dog parks around the city of Portland, including the dog park at Fields Park. 

Virginia to North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway is another road trip destination to remember. It connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, allowing you to drive south the entire time for a beautiful, scenic adventure you won’t soon forget. The span of the parkway covers everything from fog to waterfalls and wild animals like turkeys. Traveling during the fall, you’ll see beautiful reds and yellows as the leaves change. 

Faribault, Minnesota

Minnesota is a beautiful place year-round, but one city that stands out is Faribault, a historic city that existed long before statehood. It has the second-largest historic district in the state and is home to unique businesses that are hundreds of years old. For example, when visiting Faribault, you can see the Faribault Woolen Mill, founded in the 1800s, is known for providing woolen blankets to comfort soldiers in both world wars. 

In addition, the iconic ride, the Tilt-a-Whirl, was created in this city. It was invented and manufactured in this quaint town decades ago. In addition to the history of the city, you can see a beautiful downtown packed with unique shops where you can buy one-of-a-kind souvenirs for your loved ones. 

Quad Cities

The Quad Cities is a metropolitan area between Minneapolis and St. Louis comprised of several riverfront cities, including Rock Island in Illinois and Davenport in Iowa. One of the best reasons to visit the Quad Cities is to see the Great River Road Scenic byway, which travels east and west of the Mississippi River. This area is also home to museums and tourist attractions along Highways 61 and 67, giving you tons of activities to do on your travels. 

Oak Park, Illinois

When most people think of Illinois, they think of the bustling city of Chicago. However, you don’t want to be stuck in traffic for hours when you’re going on a road trip. Instead, consider driving through Oak Park, located a few miles outside the city. Oak Park is home to quaint hotels and eclectic dining with a historical vibe. This city is also home to the largest collection of architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright and Earnest Hemingway’s birthplace. If you’re a fan of literature, you can check out his residence, which has been preserved over the years. Here you’ll find antique furniture and exotic flowers. 

In addition to visiting historical places, you can stop at the shops to find handmade gifts made by artisans worldwide. These shops offer home decor, handmade jewelry, books, and more. 

Logan, Ohio

Ohio is another surprising place where you can find exciting things to do while road-tripping across the US. Here, you’ll find beautiful autumn leaves and lush forests. In addition, Logan, Ohio, is home to off-road Segway tours. However, if you prefer to look at the stars, you can also visit the John Glenn Astronomy Park to see stars and planets visible here since Logan has minimal light pollution. 

Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania 

If you’re interested in how other people live, consider driving through Bird-in-Hand, PA, a few hours away from Baltimore. Bird-in-Hand is like stepping into an alternate universe for many of us because it’s located in the middle of Amish Country. Here, you’ll find shopping opportunities where you can buy products made by the Amish and take a balloon ride over beautiful farms. 

Bird-in-Hand also has tons of great food to offer with a Pennsylvania Dutch food buffet at the local restaurant so you can try Amish-style food from real farmers. In addition, you can visit these farms and enjoy hay rides. 

Bristol, Rhode Island

Bristol is a small town located a few dozen miles from Providence and an hour from Boston. It’s a historic New England town that’s been well-preserved over the years and contains several shops, buildings, and mansions that tell the history of the town since it was founded in the 1600s. Bristol is a waterfront vacation town with classic foliage where visitors can enjoy parks, boating, picnics, and historical sites. 

Map Your Route

While you may want to be spontaneous on your next road trip, you should always research the cities and towns where you want to stop. Of course, while you may want to see major cities across the country, several quaint towns offer one-of-a-kind souvenirs and experiences. So, when mapping your route, look beyond major cities and find towns that allow you to enjoy your road trip instead of sitting in traffic. 

About the Author Megan Isola

Best Road Trip Destinations in US Megan Isola

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.

My First Time Eating Steak At Council Oak Steakhouse – Total Bummer

My First Time Eating Steak at Council Oak Steakhouse

My first time actually eating at Council Oak Steakhouse was a bit of downer. Read this post to learn why.

Tampa Did Dining Better – My First Time Eating Filet Mignon at Council Oak Steakhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio

Okay, admittedly, I need to start this post by sharing that I had eaten at the BAR of Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida many times. I have had burgers. I’ve had lobster bisque. I’ve even had a steak sandwich.

I’ve also had many a cocktail that rocked my world at their bar. The one thing I never did at the Tampa, Florida location? Eat an actual steak inside the Council Oak Steakhouse dining room.

Well, I thought I would change that, but my big mistake was that I didn’t do it at the Tampa location…

Nope! Since we moved to Richmond, KY three years ago, the closest Council Oak Steakhouse to me is now in Cincinnati, Ohio at their Hard Rock Casino location.

Sadly, I can’t help but feel like this is why I didn’t have the gourmet dining experience I expected even though I sure paid the gourmet dining price!

The Star of the Night – The Bread

My favorite thing I ate at the Cincinnati Council Oak was their bread and butter. Was that foreshadowing of what was to come? Unfortunately, this got me even more excited about the meal and I could not wait to order what I was there for!

The bread and butter we were given when we sat down was hard to describe, but damn delicious. It has flakes of salt in the butter and it spreads so nicely on the bread that we actually asked for extra not once, but twice. We even took some home. It was seriously the best thing we ate that night.

Time to Order the Main Event – The Steak

Now here’s the thing – the entire time I lived in Tampa and during every visit to Hard Rock people boasted about the steaks at Council Oak. It was on my bucket list for a very long time to sit in their dining room and enjoy a filet with a glass of red wine and a baked potato.

Long story short – by the time it came time for us to finally do this, the pandemic hit and then suddenly I was moving to Kentucky and my time to cross this off my bucket list had passed. I was sad about it, but figured any Council Oak would do just fine. Wouldn’t it? Surely the caliber of food would be matched nationwide – right?

Well, I don’t know why, but the steak I received in Ohio was mediocre at best. Though it was cooked to the temperature I prefer, something about it just felt off. The meat’s exterior felt tough – not normal for a filet mignon. In fact, I was doubting whether or not the correct cut of meat was on my plate.

I looked to my left though, and my husband’s was similar shaped, and though it was cooked to the correct temperature, he too felt it was tough and didn’t taste quite right.

I’m not sure what the cause was, but it just was not the gourmet experience I had been hoping for.

Frustrated, I moved on to the loaded baked potato I ordered as my side. Sadly, this was disappointing too. A cold potato with rock hard bacon bits and a literal cup of shredded cheese was not what I was expecting for $14! Again, I looked to my husband to gauge his feeling and he too felt that this was not gourmet – it was just not good.

Normally, when we order steak and baked potato at fancy places, we practically lick the plates clean. In this case, we actually boxed up the meat and brought it home to our dogs. Devastating to say the very least!

Summing Up My Time Eating Steak At Council Oak Steakhouse

Well, I wish I could go back in time and have eaten at the Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa! Considering how many amazing meals I enjoyed at their bar, I can only surmise that they would at least know how to do filet mignon right.

Maybe it was an off day. Maybe the chef had a rough time. Hell, maybe he was new.

But, for a nearly $200 bill at the end of it all, I was left feeling like we had been raked over the coals. Though we walked away winners at the machines, we felt like we lost BIG at the Council Oak Steakhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I personally can NOT recommend going to their steakhouse. I would love to go back to Tampa’s at some point. It’s firmly back on my Florida bucket list. I can only hope that if I ever do get the chance to eat a filet at Hard Rock Tampa, it will be as good as my other dining experiences there have been.

In the meantime – Other than Malone’s in Lexington (which was FANTASTIC by the way!) does anyone have a good recommendation for where to get a really good filet within 25 miles of Richmond, Kentucky?

My First Time at Dollywood

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Want to learn about my first time at Dollywood? Read on for some tips and lessons learned at the popular theme park.

Rollercoasters, Cinnamon Bread, and Eagles: My First Time at Dollywood

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains lies Dollywood – Dolly Parton’s 150-acre theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. As a huge fan of Dolly and amusement parks, I was thrilled to finally make the trip out to Dollywood for the first time this fall. With its charming Southern flair, one-of-a-kind rides and attractions, and Smoky Mountain backdrop, Dollywood was a fun way to spend a day out of the office. 

In this post, I’ll give a complete rundown of my experience at Dollywood as a first-time visitor, including tips for purchasing tickets, reserving dog boarding, navigating the park, tackling the rides, enjoying the food, and more. Whether you’re a fellow Dolly devotee or just love amusement parks, I hope this guide will help you make the most of your first trip to this Smoky Mountain attraction.

Before You Go 

Planning ahead before your visit to Dollywood can save you time, money, and hassle during your trip. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

– Purchase Tickets Online in Advance – 

I highly recommend buying your Dollywood tickets online before arriving at the park. This allows you to take advantage of discounted multi-day tickets and avoid waiting in long ticket booth lines. 

I got crazy lucky though and won a ticket to the park at the Dogwood Festival. Then, my friend Cathy won tickets too. She decided not to go, so she gave me her ticket and I went with my husband for a fun day away. (We also had a free stay at Red Roof Inn making for a super fun weekend excursion from Kentucky to Tennessee!)

– Make Doggywood Reservations – 

If you plan on bringing your dog along, be sure to reserve a spot at Dollywood’s Doggywood pet resort ahead of time. I made the mistake of waiting until a week before our trip and had to change our date to visit because of how many days were completely booked up. 

Doggywood provides climate-controlled spaces for dogs to relax and play while you enjoy the park. The $25 dog boarding fee is totally worth it for the peace of mind. Note – we had to pay an extra $5 for ours because we had a second dog in the kennel.

We LOVED the fact that we were able to leave the park and walk the doggos multiple times during the day though. It made it a lot more special knowing they were close by and we could see them anytime we wanted.

– You May Want to Download the Dollywood App – 

Get the official Dollywood app on your phone to view park maps, show times, wait times, and more. This can be incredibly helpful for navigating the park efficiently and minimizing time spent waiting in lines.

Parking and Entry

Arriving and getting into Dollywood sets the stage for your day. Here’s what to expect:

– Parking – 

Dollywood has several large parking lots surrounding the park. I recommend following signs for the main entrance lot. Parking starts at $25 per day. Tram service is available to shuttle you from the lot to the park entrance.

Your best bet to avoid long lines is to get to the park as soon as possible. Once the park opens, it can take a while to get into the parking lot.

– Entry and Ticket Checkpoints – 

Once parked, you’ll take a tram or walk to the main entrance plaza. There are multiple ticketing booths and turnstiles to get into the park. Have your printed or mobile tickets ready to scan. I breezed through quickly since I had “pre purchased tickets.”

– Security Screening – 

After ticketing, you’ll go through an airport-style security checkpoint where bags are searched and scanned. Leave prohibited items in your car to speed up the process.

– Park Maps – 

Be sure to grab a printed park map as you enter. Or you could download the Dollywood app to pull up the map on your phone for easy on-the-go navigation. 

– Lockers and Storage – 

If carrying bags, purses, phones etc, I suggest using the locker rentals to avoid having to store items on rides. 

The entry process was smooth and only took about 10 minutes to get into the park even with moderate crowds!

Rides and Attractions

The rides and attractions are the heart of Dollywood! Here are my tips for experiencing the best of Dollywood’s world-class rollercoasters, shows, and more:

– Prioritize the Headliners – 

Be sure to hit Dollywood’s most popular rides like Lightning Rod, Wild Eagle, and Tennessee Tornado right when the park opens, or use the TimerSaver Pass to skip the huge wait times. These thrilling roller coasters draws crowds all day long.

Note: Look at the website before you go because some rides may be closed due to local conditions. For example, it was a high fire risk day when we attended so we were unable to take the Dollywood Express Train.

And, some rides close based on the season. We went when it was starting to get colder so all the water rides were closed.

– See the Shows – 

Dollywood has phenomenal live entertainment like regular Dolly Parton stage shows. Check the park schedule and plan to see one or two shows that interest you. Arrive early for the best seats. We went at the beginning of the Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration and were able to enjoy a few fun Christmas caroling experiences throughout the day

– Don’t Wear Hats on Rides – 

Yes, I know. You would think I would have known better, but I learned this lesson the hard way and lost my favorite baseball hat on the Blazing Fury. 

Even if ride attendants say a hat is ok –  as was the case for me on this particular ride – it’s better to play it safe and remove them to avoid spending $20+ to get it mailed back like I did. 

– Take Advantage of Rider Switch if You Have Kiddos –

This allows one parent to wait with a non-riding child while the other rides, and then switch without having to wait in line again. Perfect for families with small kids.

– Go See the Bald Eagles! – 

Perhaps our favorite part of the day was seeing all the Bald Eagles at the park! 

Spread across a steep, forested hillside, Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to observe magnificent bald eagles up close. As the largest exhibit of non-releasable bald eagles in the United States, this special aviary is home to these majestic birds who cannot survive in the wild due to injuries or disabilities. 

A stroll along the sanctuary rewards visitors with breathtaking views of the eagles in their naturalistic enclosures. Spanning over 400,000 cubic feet, the sanctuary contains several sections tailored to the needs of each eagle resident. The “Pick a Mate” enclosure houses eligible bachelors and bachelorettes with partial flight abilities and room to choose a partner. Private nesting enclosures provide breeding pairs like Isaiah and Mrs. Jefferson intimacy to raise eaglets. And a special ground-level habitat accommodates eagles with amputated wings who cannot fly.

The American Eagle Foundation’s staff meticulously cares for each eagle daily, providing food, fresh water and medical care. While enjoying your Dollywood visit, I highly recommend witnessing these magnificent eagles who call Eagle Mountain Sanctuary home. It’s an experience that will stay with you long after your Smoky Mountain getaway.

Dining and Shopping

Dollywood has some delicious dining options to refuel between rides. Here are my recommendations:

– Front Porch Café –

We ate lunch at this family-style restaurant which features many of Dolly Parton’s favorite home cooked meals. I ordered the Smothered Pork Loin & Onion Gravy with mashed potatoes while my husband had the Chicken & Dumplings. The food was hearty, flavorful Southern comfort food. They can accommodate any food allergy as well.

– Spotlight Bakery – 

Before leaving the park, we stopped at Spotlight Bakery to try Dolly’s famous cinnamon bread. You can get it with vanilla icing or apple butter – we opted for both just to try it! The bread was enough to make your mouth water! It was delicious and fresh, but we learned our lesson when we tried reheating it at home. Eat it fresh at the park! I suggest ordering coffee too since it’s incredibly sweet.

In addition to great dining, Dollywood has unique shops selling handmade crafts, toys, clothes and more. I enjoyed browsing for souvenirs, especially in the DP’s Home On Wheels shop featuring Dolly-themed gifts.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some extra pointers to make the most of your Dollywood experience:

  • Bring Essentials – Be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, ponchos/umbrellas, phone chargers, and other park necessities in your bag. It can get very hot and stormy in the Smokies. 
  • Know the Schedule – Check the park map and app for parade, show, and ride opening times. Plan your day around must-see events and attractions. 
  • Use Single Rider Lines – For busy rides, hop in the single rider line which moves much faster than the standby queue. You may not ride together, but it saves a ton of time.
  • Take Breaks – With 150 acres to explore, Dollywood is an overwhelming full day outing. Don’t be afraid to head back to the car to rest or stop for a mid-day break. You’ll enjoy the park more when well-rested. 
  • It’s NOT Disney – Don’t go to Dollywood expecting a trip like Disney World, because you will be disappointed. It’s a lot more quaint than that. The best way I can describe it is it’s a lot like going to Cracker Barrel, but with rides.

I hope these tips help you have the best experience on your first Dollywood trip!

Making Memories at Dollywood

Our first ever trip to Dollywood was an interesting experience. Our favorite parts were the drive to the park because – wowza, it’s in a stunning location, the mouthwatering Southern food, and the charming mountain setting. 

I’m glad we went, and did have a good time, but I personally don’t foresee us going back for another visit unless we get free tickets again. Still, it was fun to cross it off our bucket list. And, that cinnamon bread in the Spotlight Bakery sure was mighty tasty. It is good to know that if I ever get a craving for it again, we can buy it at the DM Pantry inside the Dream More Resort without even needing to be a guest.

Help Someone Start a Podcast – Give the Gift of Podcasting This Year

Gift of Podcasting Christmas Blog Banner

Stumped for a gift for the would-be podcaster in your life? Thanks to RSS.com you can now give the gift of podcasting this holiday season!

The holidays are fast approaching, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already browsed every aisle of every store in search of the perfect gift. But, finding something special for the aspiring podcaster in your life can be tricky. As a podcaster myself and brand ambassador for RSS.com, I’m thrilled to share that they’ve launched their new podcast gift cards – the perfect present I know many of my podcasting pals probably wish they could’ve received when starting out! 

These nifty digital gift cards make it possible to help someone launch a podcast of their own this year (or next!) without breaking the bank. We all know high-quality podcasting equipment can be pricey, but an RSS.com gift card provides affordable access to a top-notch hosting platform. Now you can help that special someone in your life share their stories, ideas, and passions through their own podcast – no matter your budget.

I can think of so many people in my life who could benefit from an RSS.com gift card. From aspiring podcasters to experts looking to build their brand, these gift cards unlock the power of podcasting for anyone with a voice worth sharing.

Who Would Want an RSS.com Gift Card?

Gift of Podcasting - Graphic of the RSS.com gift cards

An RSS.com gift card makes a thoughtful gift for anyone in your life who aspires to start their own podcast. Here are some people who would probably love to receive one:

  • Your friend who keeps talking about starting a podcast
  • The person that won’t shut up about a topic and wants to share their passion
  • Marketers
  • Influencers
  • Wannabe Content Creators
  • Seniors that want to share their stories
  • Students that want real life experiences to use for their dream careers

Through podcasting, thoughts and perspectives can be conveyed through the intimacy of the human voice. Listeners can connect with hosts in a deep, personal way. Podcasters have the freedom to talk about what matters to them without limitation.

Podcasts can entertain, inform, inspire, educate, and spark movements. That’s honestly what fires me up so much about the medium. It’s democratizing the voices of the world. It’s giving a voice to everyone!

Hearing a diversity of voices benefits us all, and user-friendly platforms like RSS.com allow first-time podcasters to find their voice quickly. 

When you give the gift of podcast hosting, you empower recipients to contribute their voices to people all over the world. You never know whose lives they may impact or what communities they may build.

How the RSS.com Podcast Gift Cards Work

Give the Gift of Podcasting Headphones on a Box

Purchasing an RSS.com gift card is quick and easy. Just head to the company’s gift card page and select the denomination you’d like to give – 3, 5, 8, or 12 months ($20, $50, $75, or $100 respectively).

After entering the recipient’s name and email address along with your own details, choose the date you want the gift email to be delivered. You can also include a personalized message up to 280 characters.

Next, you’ll be directed to the company’s secure payment page to enter your payment information. Once the purchase is complete, you’ll receive a confirmation email and the gift card will be processed.

On the delivery date you selected, the recipient will get an email with a link to redeem their RSS.com gift card credit. They simply click the link, which will direct them to set up an RSS.com account if they don’t already have one.

Once their account is created, they can apply the gift card balance towards any of the paid RSS.com plans. For example, they could get 3 months free on the All in One Podcasting plan which gives them everything they need to launch and grow a podcast. And, if they want more months on the plan, they just pay the difference.

Your recipient can immediately get started creating their podcast, recording episodes, and publishing to RSS.com’s reliable podcasting platform. With the initial fees covered, they can focus on producing great content rather than worrying about costs.

So give the gift of podcasting this year with an RSS.com gift card! It’s an easy and affordable way to help that aspiring podcaster in your life finally launch their show.

Click here to purchase a RSS.com podcasting gift card. 

Smart Ways to Invest with a Small Budget

Invest With Small Budget - Woman Looking At Stocks Chart on Computer

Learn smart ways to invest with a small budget. Hopefully, this post will inspire some new ideas for earning more from your money.

Key Points From This Post:

  1. Set clear financial goals aligned with your investment decisions.
  2. Start an emergency fund with 3-6 months of living expenses.
  3. Invest in low-cost options like index funds and ETFs.
  4. Use fractional shares and micro-investing apps to start small.
  5. Invest in yourself through education and skills development.
The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Investing is often seen as a privilege reserved for those in high tax brackets. However, the notion that investing requires a large budget is no longer valid in today’s dynamic financial landscape. With the advent of technology and innovative investment platforms, there are now smart ways to invest even with a small budget. This opens up opportunities for individuals who may have limited funds but still aspire to grow their wealth and achieve their financial goals. In this article, we’ll explore some practical strategies and techniques that can empower you to make the most of your small budget and embark on a path of successful investing.

Set clear financial goals

Establishing specific and measurable financial goals when investing with a small budget is essential. Clearly define your objectives, whether saving for a down payment on a rental property or building an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. A clear focus allows you to align your investment decisions with your long-term goals. Take the time to break down your goals into smaller milestones, allowing you to track your progress and stay motivated toward your goals. Regularly reassess your objectives to ensure they remain relevant and adjust them as needed based on your evolving financial situation. Setting clear financial goals is the foundation for a successful investment strategy.

Start with an emergency fund

Building an emergency fund is a crucial first step in investing with a small budget. This fund provides a safety net for financial security during unexpected events such as job loss or medical emergencies. Aim to save at least three to six months of living expenses in a high-yield savings account or a liquid, low-risk investment. This fund helps protect your assets from being prematurely liquidated, ensuring you don’t incur unnecessary losses. Make it a priority to consistently contribute to your emergency fund until you reach your target amount, and avoid tapping into it for non-emergency purposes.

Utilize employer-sponsored retirement plans 

If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k) or a similar option, take advantage of it. These plans often provide attractive benefits, such as tax advantages and employer-matching contributions. Contribute to the plan, especially if your employer matches a portion of your contributions, as it’s free money. By starting early and consistently contributing to your retirement plan, even with a small budget, you can harness the power of compounding and build a substantial retirement nest egg over time.

Invest in low-cost index funds or ETFs 

When investing with a limited budget, focusing on cost-effective options that provide broad market exposure is crucial. Low-cost index funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) fit this description. These funds track a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, and offer diversification by including various stocks within the index. They often have low expense ratios, meaning you pay minimal investment fees. By choosing reputable funds with a history of consistent performance and low costs, you can gain exposure to the stock market without a big initial investment.

Consider fractional shares and micro-investing apps

Invest With Small Budget - Group Meeting with Woman Looking at Chart on Paper

Fractional shares and micro-investing apps have made investing accessible to individuals with small budgets. Fractional shares allow you to invest in stocks or funds with a fraction of the share’s cost, making it easier to diversify your portfolio and invest in companies with higher-priced stocks. Many investment apps offer fractional shares and micro-investing features, enabling you to start investing with as little as a few dollars. These apps often provide educational resources, automated investing features, and user-friendly interfaces, making the investment process straightforward and convenient. Utilizing micro-investing tools allows you to gradually build your portfolio, even with limited funds.

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs)

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) are a great way to maximize your small investment budget. Some companies offer DRIPs that allow you to automatically reinvest dividends received into purchasing additional shares of the company’s stock. This strategy permits you to harness the power of compounding by acquiring more shares over time. When dividends are reinvested, you benefit from the potential growth of both the stock price and the dividend payouts. Research and choose companies with a history of regular dividend payments and strong financial stability to maximize the benefits of DRIPs.

Peer-to-peer lending 

Peer-to-peer lending platforms provide an alternative investment opportunity if you have a small. These platforms allow you to lend money to individuals or businesses in exchange for interest payments. While this investment option carries some risks, it can also provide higher potential returns than traditional savings accounts. Research and carefully select reputable peer-to-peer lending platforms with strict borrower evaluation processes and offer robust risk management tools. Diversify your loans across different borrowers and loan types to mitigate risk. Regularly monitor your investments and reinvest the interest earned to compound your returns over time.

Education and personal development

Investing in your knowledge and skills can significantly impact your long-term financial success. By allocating resources to educational opportunities and personal development, you enhance your expertise, increase your job prospects, and potentially earn a higher income. Consider pursuing certifications, attending relevant workshops or conferences, or enrolling in courses that align with your investment interests and help improve your financial situation. For example, if you have poor credit invest in your credit management skills. The more you invest in yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed financial decisions and grow your wealth over time.

Avoid high-cost investments

When investing with a small budget, be mindful of expenses that can erode your returns. High-cost investment products, such as actively managed funds or individual stocks with frequent trading fees, can significantly impact your investment performance. These expenses can eat into your returns, making it harder to achieve your financial goals. Instead, opt for low-cost investment options like index funds or ETFs, as mentioned earlier, as they typically have lower expense ratios. By minimizing costs, you keep more of your investment gains and increase your overall investment returns. If you want to invest in something with minimal upkeep and low risk, consider investing in precious metals

Regularly review and adjust your portfolio 

As your financial situation evolves, periodically review and adjust your investment portfolio. Regularly assess whether your portfolio allocation aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. Consider rebalancing your portfolio if certain investments have significantly deviated from your target allocation. Additionally, stay updated on market trends, economic conditions, and changes in investment regulations that may impact your portfolio. By actively managing and adjusting your investments, you can optimize your returns and stay on track toward achieving your financial objectives.

Investing is for everyone

In conclusion, investing with a small budget is no longer a barrier to building wealth and securing a prosperous future. Adopting intelligent strategies and leveraging technology allows individuals with limited funds can participate in the investment world. Whether it’s through fractional shares, robo-advisors, micro-investing apps, or diversified portfolios, there are various avenues to capitalize on. Remember, the key lies in starting early, educating yourself about different investment options, and staying consistent with your contributions. With patience, discipline, and a growth mindset, you can turn your small budget into a powerful tool for long-term financial success. So, don’t let the size of your budget deter you—take that first step and embark on your investment journey today.

About the Author – Ashley Nielsen

Invest With Small Budget - Guest Blogger - Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.

Financial Freedom: Strategies for Managing Your Money and Achieving Your Goals

Strategies for Managing Your Money - Man Counting Coins

Living paycheck to paycheck can create financial stress. Learn strategies to manage your money through budgeting, paying off debt, automating savings, and more.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Living paycheck to paycheck can be stressful; you never know if you can cover all your bills. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can help reduce stress. Financial freedom allows you to live a quality life without worrying about money. However, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wealthy. Instead, financial freedom allows you to pay your bills and have enough left to invest in savings. 

The definition of financial freedom varies from person to person, but it will allow you to live comfortably without stressing over money too much. In addition, becoming financially free permits you to focus on more substantial parts of your life, such as saving for a home or retirement. But unfortunately, many people struggle to reach financial freedom because of their spending habits. If you’re wondering how to maximize your budget and reduce financial stress, here are a few strategies for managing your money: 

Define Your Financial Goals 

Having a goal to become financially free is one thing, but you need an attainable goal to work on. First, consider what financial freedom means to you and your financial goals. For instance, are you looking to save more money for retirement or a particular future goal, or are you simply trying to save more money and reduce your spending? Once you’ve determined what financial freedom means to you and have goals in mind, you can analyze your current financial situation. 

Analyze Your Current Financial Habits

Before becoming financially independent, you must look hard at your finances to learn where your money goes. If you’re constantly wondering where your paycheck goes every month and why you’re left with very little after paying your bills, you should start tracking your spending immediately. Identifying all of your spending, including bills and entertainment, can help you find ways to reduce it. For example, you might find that you spend an excessive amount of money on streaming services you don’t even use. 

Additionally, you should compare your spending to your income. For example, are you breaking even every month or paying too many bills with a credit card, leaving you in debt? Comparing your income versus expenses can help you determine how much you need to cut back to save more money. 

Automate Savings

Automating your savings account can help you put more money away in an account you’re less likely to use for non-essential expenses. After subtracting your expenses from your income, you can see how much you have left over and set up automatic deposits to send money from your checking to your savings account to ensure you save at least a little bit of income every month. 

Start Paying Down Debt

Strategies for Managing Your Money - Woman Counting Dollars

Being financially free means having zero debt. If you have any debt, you probably receive monthly bills that prevent you from being able to spend your money exactly how you want. Of course, everyone has a little bit of debt throughout their lives. For example, homeowners have mortgage loans, while many college students take out loans to pay for their education. Additionally, many of us have credit cards because they come with benefits like improving your credit score and allowing you to purchase items without paying for them immediately. 

However, if you’re not careful with how you use your debt, it can quickly become a burden. If you have substantial debt, start repaying it immediately to achieve financial freedom. You can use several debt repayment strategies to reduce your debt over time and help you stay on track, but consolidating your debt might be the easiest solution if you only want to pay one single bill every month. 

Once you reduce your debt, you can have more free money for important savings goals like buying a home, purchasing a car, or saving for retirement. 

Invest 

What if you could grow your wealth without taking on an extra job or side gig? You can invest. Putting some of your money towards stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and other types of investments can help you build wealth over time and help you earn more every year. If you’re considering investing, you can use a Robo-advisor to make all the hard decisions, or you can work directly with a human financial advisor to ensure you build a portfolio supporting your savings goals. 

Build Credit

One way to save money is to build your credit score. Having a higher credit score can get you a lower interest rate on any loans you take out, including home loans. In addition, having a good credit score makes you a more trustworthy borrower, so you can get better terms when you take on debt. 

Create a Budget

After understanding your income versus expenses, you can create a budget to help you understand where your money goes every month and how much you have left over. Having a budget can help you hold yourself accountable. You already know your regular monthly bills and how much they’ll cost. Knowing how much is left over and what you can use it on can help you make better decisions with your money. For example, do you need to purchase those expensive shoes you saw online? Probably not, but you can create a new savings goal and set aside a little bit of money every month to purchase them in the future. 

A budget helps you make smarter spending decisions and will help you understand exactly how much money you have left over every month. Then, you can decide what to do with that money — whether it’s putting it into a savings or retirement account or spending it on entertainment. 

Achieve Financial Freedom

Achieving financial freedom isn’t a direct route to wealth. Instead, it can help relieve some of the monthly stress of paying your bills. Financial freedom is easier for some than others, depending on how much they earn. Therefore, you may have to find more ways to earn money to increase your savings. However you go about it, constantly analyzing your financial situation can help you make better spending decisions. 

About the Author Megan Isola

Strategies for Managing Your Money  - Guest Author Headshot

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys attending concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 

Gift Ideas for the Upcoming Holiday Season

Need holiday gift ideas? Get creative suggestions for family, friends, partners including subscription boxes, gaming gear, spa packages, and more.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Creative and Thoughtful Gifts for the Holidays

Whether you’re shopping for friends, family, or your adoring partner, the pressure to find the perfect gift remains constant as the holiday season approaches. However, with the right approach, you can find the perfect gift for anyone on your list. If you hate shopping or want to avoid the surging holiday shopping crowd, check out these ideas that are sure to brighten anyone’s holiday season.

Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes have been making a major impact on eCommerce because there’s something to be found for everyone. You can pick a box tailored to your recipient’s interests with a wide range of options. From beauty product subscriptions to meal kit deliveries for the foodies in your life, books, fitness gear, and plenty of other niche hobbies 

An added bonus is that subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving. Each box comes with an element of surprise that remains long after the holiday ends. They’re also convenient for both you and your recipient, as you can easily purchase and set up the subscription online without your recipient needing to do a thing. 

Champagne 

If they appreciate the finer things in life, consider gifting them a bottle of champagne. A bottle of bubblies is something they’re sure to enjoy, especially if they’ve never said no to a mimosa. You can pair the bubblies with a nice set of champagne flutes so they can get a fully elegant experience.  

Perfume or Cologne 

Who doesn’t want to smell good? Perfume and cologne are the perfect luxury gifts to give this holiday season. Whether your recipient has a signature scent they love or enjoys switching it up depending on the day, scents are the perfect gift. 

If you’re unsure what smells they like, consider gifting them a perfume subscription as an alternative. Perfume and cologne subscriptions are ideal for people who like to switch up their scent profiles. Plus, they get to try out new ones every month without you having to worry about picking out something they don’t like. 

Pro tip: Opt for scents labeled as Eau de perfume instead of ones labeled Eau de toilette. Eau de perfumes contain a higher percentage of oils, meaning they’re of higher quality and will last longer.

Custom gifts

If you’re looking for a gift that can last a lifetime, consider looking into customizable gifts. If you and your gift recipient have a favorite photo of you together, you can order a custom photo blanket with your image. A photo blanket is a sweet gift to keep them cozy this winter season.

You can virtually customize anything these days, from teddy bears with a voice message inside to picture books telling a story of your love and friendship. These keepsakes are what make the holidays special. 

Gaming gear

If your gift recipient is a major gamer or even a streamer, why not invest in their hobby? Whether they’re loyal to their Xbox, PlayStation, gaming computer, or more, there’s plenty of gear to purchase that can enhance their overall gaming experience. Consider what kinds of games they like to play. For example, if they enjoy flight simulation or racing games, you can buy them a flight simulator control system or a steering wheel and shifter bundle to take their gaming to the next level. 

If they enjoy cozy gaming on their switch, you can buy them a case for their system to go in and accessories to decorate their Switch. By keeping in mind the kinds of systems they use as well as their style of play, you ensure you’re gifting them with something they’ll actually use and enjoy. 

Weighted blanket

Do your friends and family enjoy their cozy time? If your recipient enjoys their cuddles or even struggles with anxiety, consider gifting a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are made of heavy materials and apply pressure to the body, helping your nervous system relax and reduce anxiety symptoms. Weighted blankets also don’t have to come with getting overheated. Some weighted blankets help insulate heat, which is beneficial if you live somewhere cold, and others include heat-wicking materials in case you’re a hot sleeper. 

Sweets for your sweet 

If you know your recipient has a major sweet tooth, desserts can take the holiday to the next level. Ditch the fruitcake and instead opt for a luxurious box of chocolates. If they’re more of a tart person, you can get them a basket of their favorite gummies and candies.

If you’re looking to make your desserts more of an experience, you can find a local bakery and order a bunch of different desserts for a sweet buffet. Paired with some other goodies they like, a dessert buffet is sure to be quite a sweet experience. 

Spa day at home

If the person you’re shopping for enjoys spending their nights pampering, consider getting them everything they’ll need to have a self-care day at home. Depending on your budget, you can buy face masks, candles, massage oil, wine, and more to do some at-home self-care. 

If you have the budget for it, you can also gift a certificate for massage therapists to come to their home. At-home spa services are great because they’ll bring everything needed with them, so all they have to do is sit back and relax. 

Gift the love this holiday season

Whether you opt for a recurring gift through a subscription box or invest in your recipient’s interests, reduce the stress associated with holiday shopping. By shopping online and keeping your recipients interests in mind, you can cross everyone off your list without ever needing to leave your home. Remember, the holidays are approaching quickly, so get ahead of the curve and start shopping now to get the best deals and avoid the overwhelming crowd of holiday shoppers.

About the author:

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music. 

Jammin’ on SOPs for Bloggers with Nadja Williamson

Jammin on SOPs for Bloggers with Nadja Williamson Blog Banner

What are SOPs for Bloggers? I interviewed Nadja Williamson to get the scoop. Read on to learn what she had to share!

Welcome back to another episode of the Bloggy Friends Show! In this episode, host Ashley Grant chats with operations expert Nadja Williamson about the importance of having standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your blogging business. 

Tune in:

Episode 50 Show Notes – Jammin’ on SOPs for Bloggers with Nadja Williamson

Nadja shares how SOPs provide structure and peace of mind, allowing you to focus on the creative aspects of blogging instead of getting bogged down in the details. She outlines a simple system for creating SOPs:

1. Record yourself completing a task while narrating each step. 

2. Have someone else try to follow your recording to do the task. 

3. Ask them what information is missing from the instructions.

4. Use their feedback to create a clear written SOP.

Some key SOPs Nadja recommends starting with include:

– How to write and publish a blog post 

– How to promote a blog post on social media

– A master checklist of everything that needs to be done for each blog post

Even if you’re a one person operation, SOPs help you stay organized, batch tasks efficiently, and make your business transferable should you get sick or want to scale up. They also provide continuity for your audience, ensuring your content and brand voice remain consistent. 

Nadja emphasizes starting small and not getting discouraged. Building new habits takes time. Approach SOPs as “one less thing to worry about” rather than a chore. They’ll quickly become an indispensable part of your blogging toolkit.

About Nadja

Nadja Williamson is the Lead Strategist of Network Titan Solutions, a consulting agency that helps small business owners supercharge their operations by designing a custom mission control solution for their business. 

She is a nerdy (recovering) people pleaser who is using her superpowers to help others capture the elusive work-life integration dream. 

Though she grew up in the land down unda, she now calls Houston, Texas home with her equally nerdy husband, two sassy daughters, and a houseful of pets. 

Website: https://networktitansolutions.com

FB: www.facebook.com/ceosidekicks

IG: www.instagram.com/ceosidekicks

LinkedIn: www.networktitan.solutions

Here are some key timestamps from the episode:

– 00:01:02 – Nadja introduces herself and explains her company Network Titan Solutions and their signature program CEO Sidekicks.

– 00:02:11 – She talks about how they’ve shifted to helping people build their own “CEO sidekick” by teaching employees to become operations managers.

– 00:03:01 – Ashley asks what operations or systems Nadja would suggest for a blogger wanting to turn their blog into a business.

– 00:03:52 – Nadja outlines her “5 pillars” model for business operations.

– 00:08:18 – She recommends starting with SOPs and documenting processes step-by-step. 

– 00:13:29 – Nadja shares an example of how skipping steps in an SOP led her to waste hours trying to troubleshoot.

– 00:17:38 – They discuss the importance of SOPs for continuity if something happens to you.

– 00:25:18 – Nadja suggests thinking of SOPs as “habits” rather than operational structures.

– 00:35:57 – She explains how task switching hurts productivity and why time blocking is so important.

– 00:47:27 – Ashley sums up that SOPs provide peace of mind and keep your business transferrable.

What did you think about this episode? What SOP will you tackle first for your blog? Let me know in the comments!