Blog(ger)

One of my favorite things I learned in journalism school is that you must always have a topic as well as an angle. It’s never enough to write about something; you must have something to say.

Of course, I was voted Most Opinionated in high school …

However, as I’ve been leading the charge on the Infinity Marketing blog, this mantra has come up again and again. It’s not enough to say you are going to write a blog post about “diversity” — what are you going to say about it? What’s your angle?

Push yourself. Lazy blog writing — just like lazy journalism, lazy marketing or lazy photography — will only get you so far.

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Content Marketing

Our stories. Their profit. Share wisely.

Native advertising is all the rage these days — from John Oliver’s takedown on Last Week Tonight to Netflix’s controversial “paid post” cleverly disguised as an article on women in prison in the New York Times — a little bump for “Orange is the New Black,” — everyone seems to be rediscovering and talking about native advertising.

At The Millions, writer Tracy O’Neill has one interesting perspective and maybe a damn important takeaway about the dangers of everyone becoming a source of free content generation for brands.

In Which We Repaint Furniture For The First Time

My parents gave us this beautiful Howard Miller mantel clock for our wedding, and when we got it home, we had no place to put it. I felt like the cheap black of all of our bookshelves wouldn’t do it any justice.

So we decided to paint one of them.

Cheap Walmart IKEA bookshelf before painting

This is a cheap Walmart/IKEA bookshelf — plywood with a cardboard backing. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Sand off as much black laminate as possible from the bookshelf.

Step 2: Prime the bookshelf. We used a Shellac-based primer (B.I.N. by Zinsser) based on an Apartment Therapy “reader intelligence report” I found. The guy at Home Depot confirmed this primer would be a good fit for this kind of project, but BE WARNED. We tried to use those stupid inexpensive foam brushes with the Shellac, which was a disaster. (Rollers and paint brushes work fine, but the Shellac basically ate foam.)

Step 3: Sand down the first coat of primer and repaint.

Sanding Zisser primer for second coat bookshelf furniture do it yourself painting

Step 4: Sand down the second coat of primer, and apply the first coat of pigment paint. Rinse and repeat.

Processed with VSCOcam with g1 preset

Creighton thought that primer was simply white paint, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Primer gives the paint something to adhere onto, and it’s made up of a different chemical composition than paint. Paint has pigment and is oil- or water-based. Primer, like this one, can be based on a few different materials and can play nicely with different types of paint.

Also, repainting/refurnishing furniture, especially cheap furniture, is not easy. I had read that priming is an essential step to getting an optimal look, so we took the time and effort to do it well.

Step 5: Profit.

Behr Surfer paint color medium base white primer bookshelf repainting refurnishing before after

teal bookshelf IKEA repainted pop of color

It’s The Climb

I wouldn’t say we are “non-consumers;” we are “low-consumers.”

I strive to consume less in my day-to-day life, but I still like clothes, being crafty, home decor, going on vacation, convenience, etc.

We have to find the “level” that works for us. There will always be someone who is more extreme — who can slash more from their budget, who can save more, who needs less and wants less. Additionally, there will always be perfectly happy families in Cambodia living on less than $1 a day. There will always be stories of people who are less fortunate. We were born into privilege, and our dilemma is to find a way to both appreciate that privilege and to live beyond it.

It’s impossible to go through life measuring yourself against others and still be happy. We’ve normalized what the cost of the American Dream is; we’ve put a definitive price tag on it.

So, Creighton and I have tried to cut back, but end up swinging the other way on the pendulum. I’m not thin enough. I’m not saving enough. I’m not “non-consuming” enough. I’m not doing enough to push myself to the next level.

It can make you feel very trapped — on the one hand, you don’t want to aggrandize your journey toward some sort of enlightenment, but you aren’t satisfied with what seems to be the status quo.

Creighton and I talk all the time about how people are on different “levels” for all things, all journeys (weight loss, spirituality, frugality, happiness, racquetball skill, athleticism, productivity). These levels are like a funnel or spiral staircase. The farther up on the level you are, the more you can see what other people — especially lower than your level — are doing (wrong), but it’s harder to see up. We have got a lot figured out and are doing a lot “right,” but we aren’t in the top 3 percent of savers, eating only rice for nourishment and retiring at age 27. We are doing what is right for us; we have a plan that works for us, fulfills us and satisfies us.

Bottom line: Find your level, try to continue climbing that ladder, but don’t kill yourself over it. It’s good to recognize and appreciate where we are, where we are going, or to stop striving and be happy with wherever we are in the process.

No matter what level you are on in your journeys, enjoy the view.