Enter to Win a Copy of Small to Scary Animals!

by Aubre Andrus on February 17, 2016

My first Scholastic book came out at the end of December. It’s about animals that are cute as babies but grow up to be super scary! The book is written especially for first through third graders, and it’s filled with interesting animal facts. I’m giving away a signed copy to one lucky winner. Enter today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Now You See It! Small to Scary Animals by Aubre Andrus

Now You See It! Small to Scary Animals

by Aubre Andrus

Giveaway ends February 27, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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It’s my Four Year Freelance-aversary!

by Aubre Andrus on April 29, 2015

4 years

It’s my four-year freelance-aversary! Can you believe it? Three states and four years later, I’m still a lady boss and I do what I want. If you’re thinking of going freelance, I have this piece of advice for you: DO IT.

Things have only continued to change since I launched my own business in 2011. There’s a freelance revolution out there now. I feel very much a part of my Millennial, startup-obsessed, hoodie-wearing generation even though I just make the cut at 31 years old. We’re looking for work-life balance, flexible schedules, passion, and the chance to show what we got. We don’t want anyone telling us no, you’re not old enough or no, you’re not qualified or just sit in this chair and keep your head down. No thanks. We’ll just leave your company and go start our own.

I was 27 when I fled the cube. I fled that cube so hard. (There were NO WINDOWS in the last office I worked in.) Four years later, I have more opportunities, more chances to grow and learn, and a more reliable income than I’ve ever had. I know this life isn’t for everyone and it’s not all cupcakes and champagne. I work my ass off and my goal this year is actually to cut back my hours because whoa, I have zero social life right now.

But that’s also exciting because there’s a lot of work out there and a lot of people who are willing to hire freelancers and consultants. Sure, that could change at any moment. But as a business of one, I can change pretty fast. Even in the past four years, I’ve morphed from freelance writer to social media consultant to content strategist. I’m expanding my skills and changing with the times and meeting more and more interesting people along the way.

So, on my four year anniversary of freelancing, I’d like to say that I feel hashtag blessed that I’ve been rewarded for my hard work. Also, eff you, corporate. I’m never coming back.

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My Business and Writing Goals for 2015

by Aubre Andrus on January 18, 2015

the color runThis post is for me. Because as a freelancer, I need some really good reasons to jump out of bed in the morning. I figured if I write something down in a public place like the internet, I’m more likely to be held accountable for it. So here goes my goals/intentions/dreams for 2015. It’s not about getting interesting bylines like I’ve focused on in the past but more about landing some book deals. Bam.

Writing:

  • Write more short stories. (I have one appearing in an upcoming issue of American Girl!)
  • Finish my novel. (I’m working on a middle grade manuscript that I was encouraged to move forward with at the SCBWI conference last year.)
  • Pitch at least 3 non-fiction book ideas to an agent or publisher. (I have one billion ideas that I’m just sitting on — what the heck am I waiting for?!)

Business:

  • Write an e-book and self-publish it. (I’m working on one about how to make more money as a freelancer.)
  • Start an email list. (This will be a good way to promote my e-book.)
  • Update my website and portfolio. (I’m working with more and more startups on content strategy and I need my portfolio to reflect that.)

Since “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” according to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, I’ve included actions below to help make my goals a reality.

  • Write more short stories and get them published.
    • Research publications that are accepting short stories for kids.
    • Brainstorm, write, and pitch at least 3 short stories to different publications.
  • Finish my novel, land an agent, and score a book deal.
    • Work on it for at least one hour every day.
    • Attend the fiction workshop at the SCBWI conference in February where I will present the first 500 words of my middle grade manuscript and get feedback.
    • Ask my writer friends to read my manuscript.
    • Research agents and pitch my story.
  •  Pitch at least 3 non-fiction book ideas to either an agent or a publisher.
    • Pick the three strongest ideas.
    • Write non-fiction proposals.
    • Research agents and publishers.
  • Write an e-book and self-publish it.
    • Poll freelance friends about what they’d like to learn about most. 
    • Finish writing my e-book by working on it on the weekends.
    • Research self-publishing options on Amazon.
  • Start an email list.
    • Add an e-mail sign-up on my website.
    • Brainstorm newsletter ideas.
    • Send out a newsletter. Monthly?
  • Update my website and portfolio.
    • Alter my home page slightly to include content strategy.
    • Create case studies showing off content strategy client examples.

I tried the monthly goal thing in 2013 and it didn’t really work for me. In 2014, I wrote goals down in my Day Designer, which kind of helped. In 2015, I’m hoping that writing my goals down in one place I can easily revisit over and over will help me stick to them. Here’s hoping!

Image via The Color Run.

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Featured Client: European Market

by Aubre Andrus on October 23, 2014

logo_EM2I’ve been working with so many cool clients that I need to start sharing them with you! This is the first of my Featured Client series.

The Client
European Market is a fabulous e-commerce site owned by Chris and Sue, a husband-and-wife team in Madison, Wisconsin who’ve previously worked for Better Homes & Gardens magazine. They basically have my dream job: they scour Europe for high-quality local products then import and sell them on their website.

If you’re looking for super unique and beautiful holiday gifts from amazing Finnish serving sets to Dutch Navy blankets to Latvian building blocks to Czech glass garland for your Christmas tree, this is *the* place to start — and finish — your shopping. You will find more than one thing for yourself — you’ve been warned. Besides gathering great merchandise, they’ve also gathered some great travel tips along the way. Be sure to check out the travel smart tips on their site.

Cabbie-Chris-e1411527048250-1080x675What They Needed
Chris and Sue were looking for a “low-hanging fruit” kind of social media plan that was doable and manageable by a small business with one full-time employee. Nothing grand and overly complicated. The ultimate goal was to increase business, increase brand awareness, and increase the audience but also to strengthen the connection with their customers and audience.

What I Did
I drafted up social media strategy documents for European Market including an extensive influencer report that identifies blogs, keywords, hashtags, and other social presences they should associate themselves with as well as social media tips for each network and unique post ideas. I also created an analysis report that examined their competition and their potential. They utilized the information they gleaned from this one-time strategy session to increase the efficiency and reach of their social media presences and marketing efforts. 

Check out European Market now: http://europeanmarket.us/

Image via European Market blog.

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My Five Go-To Dinner Recipes

by Aubre Andrus on October 20, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.28.59 PMI have a bit of an obsession with trying new recipes. Sometimes I go on such a big recipe binge that I completely forget about the good ones I discovered. I finally went ahead and made a Pinterest board called Tried and True Recipes where I can bookmark my favorites, but you’re in luck because I just picked the best of the best and I’m sharing them with you.

Lemongrass Pork Meatball Quinoa Bowl {via I am a Food Blog}
This was so fantastically delicious. It’s light but filling. You can find lemongrass with the small plastic packages of herbs in the refrigerated produce section. Trim the top and bottom of the lemongrass stick and then peel off one of the outer layers before mincing it into tiny pieces. Don’t skip it for this recipe!

Korean Beef Rib Tacos with Asian Slaw {via Carpe Season}
If you’re craving Asian tacos, this recipe will do the trick. You’ll need a lot more meat then you think and you’ll be playing Jenga in your crock pot. I think the slaw could be improved upon but until I find the perfect substitute, I’ll stick to this because it was still delish. FYI Rice vinegar was easy to find at the grocery store.

Quinoa, Chickpea and Avocado Salad {via Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth}
I can’t stand the name of this blog, but I’ve made this recipe at least 20 times. It calls to stuff the avocados with the quinoa mix, but that’s ridiculous. I just cut up avocado cubes and mix them into the quinoa. I also save the cilantro and spinach as toppings for the salad and don’t mix them into the dressing. Great for lunch leftovers the next day.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup {via Little Spice Jar}
This slow cooker recipe is awesome with either green curry paste or red curry paste. I’ve also used both pad thai noodles and vermicelli noodles. You may want to wait to add the second can of coconut milk (so it doesn’t curdle) until the last 20 minutes when you add the mushrooms and peppers, which is also when you can add the noodles directly to the crock pot. This is great for leftovers.

Crispy Coconut Kale with Salmon {via Goop}
The rice and kale are my favorite parts of this dish. It’s amazing what a can of coconut milk can do to rice. FYI I skip the coconut flakes because there’s a lot of coconut going on here. This recipe calls for lacinato kale, which seems to bake in the oven much better than regular kale. I’ve done it both ways though and it’s not the end of the world if you can’t find lacinato kale (check Whole Foods). FYI You don’t even need to make the sweet potatoes with this dish — you can gorge on the rice.

Note: Be sure to buy Thai Coconut Milk and not Coconut Cream (thicker) or Cream of Coconut (thicker and sweeter). And it helps to shake the can before opening it.

 

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Where Should You Travel Next?

by Aubre Andrus on October 17, 2014

People are constantly asking me where they should travel next. It can be a hard question to answer because I often don’t really know what kind of traveler they are or what exactly they are looking for. Relaxation? Romance? Adventure? I find it easier to learn what kind of traveler you are based on which previous trips you’ve loved. Here are just a few recommendations with some photos from my travels:

10298703_10103191272251707_4769365163681638783_n

If you like Colorado… go to Alaska.
Every time I’ve been to Denver, it’s been fantastic. The air is clear, the sky is blue, the sun is warm, and the mountains are snow capped. How could it get any better? Just go to Alaska and you’ll find out. Imagine those snow-capped mountains and bright blue skies mixed with a massive ocean, lush forests, and unbelievable marine life.

329832_10100704707796807_6680556_oIf you like Paris… go to Vienna.
I don’t care if it’s cliché — I love Paris. I want to live there. And there’s one other city that had the same love-at-first-sight effect on me — Vienna. It’s another romantic city with gorgeous architecture and a very fancy vibe. In both places, you can waste the day away drinking wine outside, indulging in desserts, shopping markets, and going to the opera.

39705_10100099117240137_5422860_nIf you like Chicago… go to Toronto.
Toronto felt like home, and Chicago is the only other city that feels like home to me besides my adopted home of Madison, Wisconsin. Both Chicago and Toronto are trendy cities with a laid-back vibe, great food and shopping, and interesting architecture. Both cities also are divided into many different neighborhoods that are sometimes drastically different from one another.

210839_10100446648180347_987523559_oIf you like Nashville… go to New Orleans.
I don’t know why anyone goes to Vegas these days. Nashville and New Orleans are superior choices for party weekends. Both cities are exponentially better than their Nevada counterpart because of their incredibly unique histories in addition to the nightlife. Nashville is the ultimate home of country music and Southern food, and New Orleans is the capital of Cajun food and jazz. If you like one, you’ll like the other — they’re both a little gritty.

1456126_10102662437885017_944593874_nIf you like Budapest… go to Istanbul.
Eastern Europe is not as popular of a tourist destination as Western Europe. But if visiting the baths, spending an afternoon in a palatial coffee shop, and admiring the gothic Parliament Building in Budapest was just the kind of boundary-pushing you were looking for, then you’re ready to travel to Istanbul. The city is split in two — half of it is in Europe and half of it is in Asia. It’s crazy. The architecture will make you rethink everything you know and hearing the call to prayer while feeling the breeze off the Bosphorus Strait is something you’ll never forget.

 All photos copyright of Aubre Andrus.

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