Com0014: Blog#7: Recipe for Success: Blog Plating 101

Photo by Trang Doan on

Just like a chef, bloggers need to prepare and present content that looks so appealing that it will entice the customer to consume it. Throughout this course, I have found many similarities between the culinary and literary worlds, so much so that it has left me hungry to develop this easy-to-follow recipe:  Blog Plating 101

Step 1: Know your audience

Who is going to be consuming this?  Audiences can be diverse – – different generations, backgrounds, interests and tastes.  Write with the audience in mind, not yourself. What is their experience level?  What type of appetite do they have for jargon and terminology? 

Step 2: Create a Framework

Pick a main idea (or ingredient), do your research and build a framework by listing the most important information first as many do not read past the first few sentences.  Be sure to include interesting tidbits and a cue for engagement.  Be clear and concise and format the material so it’s easy to digest. 

Step 3: Make it Appealing

People connect with people and their stories rather than encyclopedias and lists of information.  Titles should be tempting and support images eye-catching. You can even sauce it up with your own humour but don’t overpower your main topic.  Garnish with your own style.

Step 4: Taste Testing

Test everything before it goes out the publishing door.  Personally, I utilize speech programs and listen to the content being read aloud  – – Did that passage make sense?  Is punctuation needed to make it flow more smoothly?  My goal is to create content that will inform and engage, not sour the reader’s taste buds.

Everything on the blog plate should serve a purpose and be a literary expression of one’s many flavours.  

Comment below with your own ‘secret ingredient’ for blogging (and try to keep it within the ‘culinary’ theme).

Use Social Media To Your Advantage – Supplement Your Income Today!

COM0011 – Blog #2

Canadian Bills/Coins
Image by Anita Hart via Flickr.

Thanks to the current COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself in quarantine at home, and without a job to go to everyday. Time was getting long, I had no set routine, and I was wondering if there was a way for myself to make money online to add to my current earnings. Being an avid and daily social media user, I decided to conduct some research and see which online platform would allow me to use my skillsets and turn it into money from the comfort of my own nook. I was aware that completing online surveys was a very common way for people to make extra cash, but I wanted to find something that would permit me to be creative while making supplemental bucks. I’ve decided to share my top three findings with you, as I knew I was probably not the only one that was starting to get indulged with boredom and mildly stressing out for money.

Speak Your Mind, Start a Blog!

Almost every website that I’ve visited have mentioned kicking off a blog as a means to make your wallet a bit thicker. You usually don’t need any sort of relevant experience, but you must enjoy writing and doing research. Many of these sites have recommended to dig deep into your interests to further create a unique and informative online journal.

The beauty of blogging is that you can express yourself in any tone that suits you best, you can write about pretty much anything, and other readers are able to connect with you by commenting on your writings. It’s a great way to discover different perspectives, opinions, new tips, and even additional information on subjects that interest you.

Lucky for you, I was able to find a basic (and free) step-by-step guide to get started on your blog. There are also numerous Canadian (yes, Canadian!) affiliate programs to help you boost your new extra income. I’ve listed a few of them below to help you get started:

Let’s Get Creative

If writing isn’t your forte, don’t worry! If you’re more of an experimental and inventive person that enjoys creating things with your very own hands, then selling your artwork online may be your calling.

Websites like Etsy and Ebay are platforms that make it possible for regular people like us, to sell our handcrafted gems easily, and online. You can find all sorts of homespun items: jewelry, home decor, clothing, furniture, etc. The possibilities are endless.

So, what’s the catch? Most of these global marketplaces are free to join, but these platforms make money by charging the seller a percentage on the transaction fee of the item’s price and delivery rate. For example, Etsy will take 5% of your earnings, and if you use the Etsy Payments, they’ll gather an additional 3-4% and CA$0.25 toll when you’ve sold an item (Learn How To Sell/Etsy).

Knowledge Is Power

I think this may be one of my favourite ways for anyone to make money online. As Ownr says, “teaching English online is a relatively new hustle”. So, why not use your English skills, and transfer them to children that could benefit from them? There are numerous platforms that are available to anyone, and most of these websites only ask for their teachers to have the following requirements: have a stable internet connection, have a functioning camera and microphone for video chats, and be fluent with the English language (written and spoken). For some of the programs, it is essential that you have a college or university degree.

File:Professor Teaching a Student GIF Loop.gif
GIF by VideoPlasty

Most of the students online come from all over the world, and they’re simply looking to refine their anglophone vocabulary; hence why the requirements to become an online tutor are so flexible.

According to Ownr and Savvy New Canadians, these are the most successful websites for both the teachers and students:

Get Working!

Again, there are so many ways for anyone to supplement their income during this pandemic. I simply wanted to explore ways for myself, and for you, to turn your hobbies into extra cash, all through various online platforms. If you know of these operations or even different ones, I’d love for you to leave a comment, share your experience, and which platform worked best for you!


  1. Enoch Omololu. “17 Real Ways To Make Extra Money From Home And Online In Canada”. Savvy New Canadians. 12 April 2020.
  2. Enoch Omololu. “How To Start Making A Money-Making Blog In 2020: The Easy 6-Step Ultimate Guide”. Savvy New Canadians.
  3. (No Attributed Author). “12 Ways to Make Money Online in Canada”. Ownr.

COM0011: Using images in your social media posts, 3 easy steps

Importance of imagery on social media

Let me ask you, when scrolling through your Facebook feed, how often do you stop to read a lengthy block of text? I can tell you my answer, and it’s ‘hardly ever’
In addition to that, unless you’ve read through that text, you’re not going to get the message let alone stop scrolling and ‘like’ it which would provide organic engagement.

Now let me ask you, how many times have you scrolled through your Instagram and saw a stunning image and ‘liked’ it without reading the text? For me, it’s all the time.
The value of images is so important for story telling and engagement on today’s social media channels.

According to HubSpot, a well recognized inbound marketing platform,
“Photos on Facebook pages received 53% more likes than the average post.
Photo posts attracted 104% more comments than the average post”
Above graphic courtesy of

Where can you find images for your social media?

1. Try out a royalty free stock agency
Stock photography/vector sites’ accessibility and affordability have increased dramatically even over the past 10 years thanks to digital cameras and the amount of contributors.
Here are a couple I personally recommend from free to less than $1 per image:

Creative Commons
With 1 billion works and counting you’re bound to find exactly what you need to deliver your message. Always remember to credit the creator of the image.

98 million royalty stock free images available; there is a free content section and a paid one as well.
Even Narcity Canada is using Dreamstime images for their social media posts!

200+ million images available, from pay as your go to subscription or try the free image of the week
merry christmas

2. Make your own content: stage a photoshoot
Photograph your neon open sign to advertise your Spring hours or style a ‘Thank You’ card to accompany a personal shout out to your followers for following along.
The camera quality at our finger tips is crazy.

3. Leave it to the pros
Lifestyle/branding photography is huge right now. Consider spending a couple hundred dollars on a customized professional session to show off you and your business; in your work space or on location.
Images can include your products, headshots, or environmental shots of you working that will be eye catching and can be used to promote any of your services or make an announcement. Customers love to do business with people they can see so get in front of the lens.
1 satin-and-snow-brand-photography 2Bonus tip:
Only use relevant images to the topic you’re writing or posting about.

Add images to your posts and see the difference in your online reach!

How have images improved your social media experience? (Either as a business or a consumer)
Leave a comment below to join the conversation



The importance of images on your social media; 3 tips to include photos on your feed for 100% more engagement:

3 easy tips for including images in your #socialmedia will have you questioning why you haven’t started yet:

Location, Location, Location!

As a photographer, I’m always trying to find interesting locations to go and shoot. Social media can be a great tool for finding locations that you aren’t aware of either in your own backyard or in another country.

Here are some of the ways that I use social media to find those areas.


If I’m looking for locations in Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Park twitter accounts for specific parks are good at not only sharing photos but also providing specific locations. In the example below, if I was interested in shooting wildflowers, Algonquin Park has not only given me a sample of what I’ll see but also directed me to the trail to take. (@Algonquin_PP, 2018)

Algoquin Provincial Park

The Provincial Parks are also good at re-tweeting people who tagged them in their posts which provides you with further ideas. Unfortunately, not all the Ontario Provincial Park accounts are as active and as detailed as Algonquin. You can try this approach to other Provinces if you are traveling outside of Ontario.

Another approach to try is searching for hashtags using the park name or location. For instance, searching #lakelouise helps me discover Lake Moraine which is close to Lake Louise. (@FairmontCLL, 2018) As an added bonus I’ve got a link that provides me with other areas of interest around this location.

Chateau Lake Louise


I follow a similar approach to Twitter for Instagram in using hashtags to find locations. For instance, if I’m traveling to Utah and I plan on going to Zion National park I would look for hashtags such as; #zion, #zionnps or #zionnationalpark. From within the photos that appear I might find additional hashtags I want to investigate like; #TheSubway. The result a location that I might not have been aware of otherwise to get the photo below.


I was going to Alberta and developed a list of shots that I wanted to try and take. One of these items was wooden grain elevators. A search on Google had me stumble across a travel blog that not only gave me some locations but also helped me find a ghost town in Rowley. (Off the Beaten Path – with Chris & Connie, 2013) The photos on the blog were enough to give me an idea of what I would see and a new destination was added to my trip.

There are just a few of the ways that I use to find different locations to shoot. How do you use social media to find locations to photograph?

social-facebook-box-blue-icon Location, Location, Location! Tips for using social media to discover locations to photograph.

Twitter_icon Location, Location, Location! Tips for using social media to discover locations to photograph.


@Algoquin_PP [Algoquin Provincial Park] (2018, May 19) Some of the best wildflower viewing in the park right now is on Hemlock Bluff Trail. One of our Park Naturalists discovered “blankets of Dutchman’s Breeches” along with plenty of Trout Lilies & Red Trilliums. [Tweet] Retrieved from

@FairmountCLL [Chateau Lake Louise] This has got to be one of the best night shots of Moraine Lake we have ever seen 😍 Our sister lake is a must-see in #lakelouise! Pic: @deljayphotography via IG #banffnationalpark [Tweet] Retrieved from

Doering, C and Biggart, C ( 2013, September) Rowley Albert ghost town [Blog Post] Retrieved from

Decorating on a Budget: 4 Tips and Tricks Pinterest Taught Me

Apartment - full.jpg

It’s a challenge we all face at some point in our lives: making our place of residence feel like home on a tight budget. For me, that reality hit during the fourth and final year of my degree. I was moving out of the three bedroom apartment I had lived in with roommates for two years and into a bachelor apartment alone with little funds to decorate or spruce it up. Needless to say, with beige walls, beige cabinets and parquet flooring the unit didn’t exactly scream personality or feel like home.

About a year prior to the move, I had discovered Pinterest; oh boy, did that get me into trouble. Upon entering the apartment, I began to fantasize about what furniture would look great, how artwork would complement the space and create great focal features. I knew I needed to do something or I would go crazy living there for the next 8 months. I turned to my blogger friends I had found on Pinterest in order to make my student living a personal space I could call home. Here are some of the tips and ideas I came up with.

1. Make What’s Old New Again

I was no stranger to altering something to personalize it. However this was an idea reinforced by numerous Do It Youselfers.

chair-originalWalking down the street one day I came across a set of old patio chairs ready to go to the dump. The seat cushions were ripped and stained, the feet were missing half of their plastic covers, but I didn’t care. I saw potential. Potential for these chairs to become something one might see in a French café lining the streets of Paris. I knew that reupholstering these chairs would be far less expensive than going out and buying a new set, and I already had a table so I had nothing to lose. After selecting the fabric I wanted to use I got to work. Removing the old fabric, thoroughly cleaning the foam cushions, bleaching the wooden seat bases. I thought the tough part was over with… WRONG! Ladies, if you need a good arm workout, nothing works better than trying to use a staple gun to attach fabric to a piece of ply wood. I made it through the agonizing fight without any bloodshed (thankfully! few!) and am quite proud of the finished product. chair-reupholstered

I had a boring cabinet that was now the first thing you saw when you walked into the apartment, but was necessary because the apartment had limited storage. I turned to Pinterest to find a way to refinish the laminate brown woodgrain and wasn’t disappointed. I found a post by Terry M. of Forever Decorating who had a featured post on Home Talk, a house and home blog. She had refinished a dresser using book pages and mod podge. The idea of ripping up a book for decorating did seem appalling considering how much I love my books but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense for the space. I went to the Goodwill around the corner from my apartment in Toronto’s west end and picked up an old book that was falling apart and took to shredding the pages in order to make this ugly cabinet a one of a kind piece of art. A collaged the two doors to the cabinet with the paper books and painted the sides and interior in a glossy black.

To read about the inspiration, click here.

2. Find What You Can At Thrift Stores

I had an empty space in my apartment where I had a few chairs setup which I dubbed my reading nook, however it was missing something, either a side table or small bookcase to store my “to be read” books and place my cup of tea on while I read. All the articles I’d read about finding inexpensive furnishings were lost on me. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find anything but made my wreading-nookay to the Goodwill once again and came across a small bookcase that was priced at only $5. I couldn’t believe it. I also found a set of glass customizable coasters and a few picture frames.

I took all this home and the book case fit perfectly in between the two chairs. I filled the frames and coasters with pictures from a few of my trips and the reading nook was complete.

Thrift shopping is something I had read countless times on blogs but had never put into practice. I’m sure glad I decided to have a look at the thrift store. I think my little reading nook looked great!

3. Use The Souvenirs Cluttering Your Closet

I have quite the collection a travel souvenirs cluttering up my closet and drawers from the various trips I’ve taken; boarding passes, show tickets, museum tickets, postcards and keychains, miniature landmarks and themed picture frames. I turned to Pinterest to find something to do with my momentos.  I came across a post on Popsugar: 17 Ideas to Organize and Display Your Travel Souvenirs. I loved everything they had suggested but my favourite was by far the momento shadow boxes as pictured here: 


Image source: Design Aglow via Popsugar.

I took to creating my own version of these shadow boxes. I purchased inexpensive frames from the dollar store and created the backgrounds with the city names using Photoshop and pictures I had taken in the featured city. I then gathered the souvenirs from each of the cities and laid them out esthetically within the frame.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative

paper-butterfliesAs every Pinterest addict knows, there are thousands of DIY blogs out there from home renos, to clothing, to decor and furniture. I had left over book pages from my mod podge cabinet collage and decided to get creative myself.

Paper flowers.jpgI got to work cutting out butterfly shapes in different sizes and glued them to a canvas I had painted black in order to create the fluttering butterfly piece pictured here.

With the remaining pages I created paper roses. It took a long time and was quite meticulous curling each petal and shaping it to replicate a blooming rose. Not only was the work tough but my fingers were constantly a victim to burns due to the hot glue gun, however I created the below finished product.

There they are, the tips and tricks I picked up from Pinterest on decorating on a budget. I have read hundreds, maybe even thousands of blog posts not only on decorating but for recipes, healthy habits and exercise and so much more. Pinterest opened up my world to so many sources of information out there I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. What inspiration will you find on the famous pinning site?


Need to decorate? Here are 4 tips and tricks to makeover your space on a budget!


Are you a student low on funds but want to decorate your temporary apartment? Here are 4 tips and tricks I learned from Pinterest about decorating on a budget.

It’s All in My Head (My Cold, That Is!)

Well, I made it pretty far into cold season (almost two months!), but here I am: sore throat, cough, watery eyes.  Yes, a head cold.  I’m bundled up in my wooly blanket, on the couch with my cats, chain-drinking tea, and staring longingly out the window at the bright, beautiful, blustery fall day that I am missing.  On any other Sunday, I’d be out and about.  There are so many places to go, and things to do, that I tend to keep very busy, so today is an unusual day.  Though being sick would never be my first choice, I do try to make the best of it.  In some ways it’s kind of nice to feel at peace with the decision to stay inside and take it easy!

Here are my favorite ways to relax and sooth my symptoms:

Throat Rescue

  1. Tea, tea and more tea.  I like to brew a herbal tea like David’s Tea’s Throat Rescue and then add in some extras like raw honey, lemon juice, fresh ginger, and crushed garlic.  I admit that the crushed garlic is no delight, but it really does help.  If you’re serious about kicking your sore throat in the pants, eat the garlic once you have finished the tea.
  2. Green smoothies!  When I was a kid, my parents would coax me into eating healthy things when I was sick by telling me that the vitamins in the food would get on a bus in my body, and the bus would unload all the vitamins wherever the bad germs were. Image result for green smoothie Yes, that sounds silly, but even though I am all grown up, that image is still very vivid in my mind, and it has a psychological power to make me feel better (plus, with or without the bus, the vitamins will definitely help me out!).  Today, my smoothie was a mix of avocado, banana, kale, spinach, chia seeds, tumeric, ginger, honey and orange juice.  I usually just stuff ingredients into my blender until it’s full, but if you’re looking for tried and tested smoothie inspiration, I suggest the blog Oh She Glows.
  3. Naps and early bedtimes.  I’m not normally one to take a nap, but when I’m sick there’s nothing better than getting in some extra rest, even if it’s just a half hour here and there throughout the day.  I avoid caffeine on sick-at-home days, so that it’s easier to nod off!   It’s no big surprise, as it’s commonly known that our bodies heal and regenerate during deep sleep, but going to bed early is one of the best things to do to help get over a cold.
  4. When I am sick I love to re-read some of my favorite books from when I was a kid.Image result for dealing with dragons  I find it very relaxing to get lost in these familiar stories and pleasant memories.  Today I’m going to pull out Dealing With Dragons, which I first read when I was nine.  My copy is quite tattered from years and years of enjoyment.  I think that reading a book that I love and know so well gives my happiness a little boost, and also helps make a sick day feel kind of fun and extravagant!

What do you do to fight off a cold?  It seems like everyone has their go-to tips and tricks.  I’d love to hear about what works for you!

COM0011: Intro Takeaways



This course has opened my eyes to a LOT.  Learning about social media is NOT how to use Facebook or how to tweet as many think a social media course is about.  Little do they know, it’s deeply understanding how we now communicate and all the intricacies behind these interactions.  It’s knowing how to uphold the digital identity for people and products and all of the implications concerning perception to profit. Here are a few of my personal takeaways, from an INTRO course(!):

  • You are a brand.
    Your brand will have a specific type of audience.  There’s no such thing as knowing too much about brand and audience. These two dictate content. Consistency, authenticity, and relevance strengthens the brand.
  • Avoiding the faux-pas of social media will save your butt.
    You can either be squeaky clean or push the limits and own it, but NEVER be offensive or vulgar. Unless you want haters.  This greatly applies to businesses and public figures.
  • Engagement can take you all the way.
    A business cannot reply to ALL customer feedback just as how an MP cannot reply to all of its constituents…or can they? It is necessary to analyze how one fares in engagement.  Knowing how you fare can help allocate resources and implement new systems. Promotion can only get you so far.
  • Social media efforts can also flourish offline.
    For businesses and public figures: Direct contact with your audience strengthens the relationship: networking, events, conferences, tables, outreach, fundraisers, etc. Engagement can’t be done all online.
  • Popularity and influence is now a measurable science.
    Hashtags. Keywords. Links. Clicking. Tracking. Analytics. Search Engine Optimization tactics. Return On Investment. Referral traffic. I am listing because I don’t really know too much lol. I should be able expand on this after COM0012.
  • Personal vs. Professional identity is gray area.
    Both identities will be limited if combined under one profile.  Unless you’re a comedian like Ellen, it will be hard to pull off.  Separate them if you are a private person or want to be expressive without bounds. Combine them if you post things you wouldn’t care if the public knew.
  • Stay on top of the social media evolution to survive!
    Facebook is now over 10 years old, and Twitter just turned 8.  Within a decade, how the world communicates is very different – and it is still changing!  Social media giants are partnering up, merging, and acquiring other companies and this will influence and further change how communication will be done in the future.
    Following blogs and sites can help keep you up to speed (with Twitter bios):

    • FastCompany
      …business media brand; inspiring readers to think beyond traditional boundaries & create the future of business
    • Mashable
      News, resources, inspiration and fun for the connected generation
      The coolest visual content brought to you by the world’s best creatives
    • TechCrunch
      Breaking Technology News And Opinions
    • WIRED
      WIRED is where tomorrow is realized
    • MakeUseOf
      We’re a bunch of geeks from all over the world, trying to find the absolute best things YOU can make use of


What are your takeaways? Who and what do you follow to help you stay on top of the social media frenzy?