Most Popular Posts of 2016

Hey there! Remember me? I’ve been on a much-needed social media/blogging break these past couple weeks. With a crazy-busy teaching schedule subbing classes during the holidays and already feeling a bit burnt out, I decided a mini blog vacation was in order. And I must say, a week of eating my food without first worrying about taking a picture of it with optimal lighting was pretty damn refreshing. 😉

My teaching schedule goes back to normal next week and I’m excited to get back in the swing of things with Pumps. Clearly my little hiatus was needed because I’ve gone from feeling totally uninspired to bursting at the seams with plans and ambitions for the new year. Time to get to work!

Before jumping to the new year’s plans, I wanted to look back on some highlights from 2016. These are the most popular blog posts (determined by page views) from this last year. For fellow bloggers, I’ve included my thoughts on why these particular posts performed better than the rest–hopefully it will give you some ideas for strategizing your content calendar in 2017!

Top 5 Blog Posts from 2016

5. Slow Cooker Mexican Rice & Beans

It’s funny. I consider the backbone of this blog to be the workout posts yet they are NEVER the most viewed. Recipe posts do well for me because they’re the most likely to be picked up and shared by list and roundup-style sites like BuzzFeed.

4. What I’m REALLY Thinking While Teaching a Group Fitness Class

Posts like this do well because the title makes you want to click and the content is a conversation starter and relatable. Most of the traffic to this post came from Facebook as fellow fitness instructors shared with their friends and tagged others in the comments.

3. Stitch Fix Review–Help Me Decide What to Keep!

Yumi Kim dress on left also comes in a mini length that’s cute

Stitch Fix posts always seem to be popular, but this one most likely did especially well because of the call to action in the title.

2. Standing Core Workout

The only workout to make the top 5! I think this one did well because of how specific it is. Not just a core workout, but one using only standing exercises. As far as SEO and Google goes, often the more specific you get, the better chance you have of showing up higher in the search rankings. If I generically title a post “Core Workout” I’m competing with thousands of other “Core Workout”s and who’s going to win that SEO race–lil’ old me or a goliath like PopSugar? No contest. Another reason this one did well was because of the great lighting I had that day. I consider the photos in this post to be some of the clearest and cleanest of my workout posts and the result was a pictorial that blew up on Pinterest. Good lighting + solid-colored backdrop + cute outfit = Pinterest success.

1. Almond Butter Banana Chia Seed Pudding

This recipe is delicious! Again, food posts always do well for me as they’re the most likely to be picked up and included in roundups by other sites.

Now a couple other highlights from the year …

Top Blog Post from Any Year: Stupid-Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

This was my most highly trafficked blog post this year (originally posted in 2015) and it’s a bit ironic because I actually don’t eat chicken any more (I’ll do a blog post elaborating on that eventually).

Most Viewed YouTube Video: 12-Minute Lower Body HIIT Workout

This workout targets the butt and legs and while it’s only 12 minutes long, trust me, you wouldn’t want it to be a second longer. So. Challenging.

Most Liked Instagrams

I love that the most popular photo I’ve ever posted isn’t a recipe or a workout or anything remotely health related. Nope. Just me and my boyfriend dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro (LOL). Other highlights included running the Boston Marathon, a childhood diary entry (this one is funny, too) and pretty scenery. 

dress in bottom right is Jetset Diaries – love their long-sleeve boho dresses, too (how cute would this one be with over-the-knee boots?!)

And that’s that! I used to set all these lofty income, traffic number and follower count goals for the blog each year, but I’ve found that just leads to disappointment and a focus on the wrong things. Last year I shifted my goal-making strategy to be more project based. The big one was to get a YouTube channel up and running and while I’ve still got a lot of improvements to make, I’d consider that a success! For 2017, I’m focusing on furthering my own education in the health and fitness fields so that I can then share more with you guys. The only thing I love more than teaching is being a student and I’ve found that I really miss the whole schooling process (cue the nerd jokes). I intend for the new year to bring courses, classes, certification programs, and conferences my way. 🙂

Are you setting goals for 2017? What are they? What were some highlights from 2016?

A Day in the Life: When Blogging Is Not Your Average 9 to 5 (+Giveaway)

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogAs promised, I’ve got another day-in-the-life post, this one documenting a hands-on, active blog work day. If you missed my first post, here’s a day of desk-job blogging. For today’s I thought it’d be interesting to tie in one of my current blog partners as well so that you get a peek into what the interaction with product sponsors is like.

Orchard Valley Harvest has two new fruit and nut mixes available as Multi Packs (eight, one-ounce pouches), and as they’re delicious, I was excited to team up with them. As part of the project they sent me a bunch of samples of the Omega-3 and Antioxidant mixes and when you combine edible free gift packages with a work-from-home job, the result is often nonstop snacking. I’ve been on a three-pack-a-day habit, and as I was documenting my day for this post and realized every other picture was me eating a nut mix pack, I decided that this should be the feature. So while, yes, Orchard Valley Harvest is a partner of this blog post, the copious mentions are by no means forced. You try looking at snack-sized portions of nuts all day without going to chow town on them! 😉

This post was my day Wednesday–on the calendar for me was a video shoot and recipe test.

A Day in the Life: When Blogging Is Not Your Average 9 to 5

5 AM | Wake up, flawless

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogHair on fleek, face on fleek, breath on fleek. I had stayed up until 2AM watching election coverage against my better judgement (I couldn’t have slept if I tried) so I wouldn’t exactly say that alarm was welcomed. But one good thing about my late night was that I had the time to brew a big pot of coffee to have in the refrigerator for the morning. A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

I downed a glass of water and my vitamins (MegaFood vitamins can be taken on an empty stomach–score!); poured a little almond milk into my iced coffee; and grabbed a snack to keep me energized through my classes.

6 – 9AM | Teach

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

shirt c/o Fabletics // Booty By Brabants leggings // ToeSox grippy socks

On Wednesdays I teach three classes at Btone’s Back Bay studio. I don’t do the workout while teaching (I demo exercises and then walk around correcting form) so teaching three isn’t as daunting as it may sound.

9 – 9:30AM | “Me” time

I just could not shake the sadness I felt about the election, so as I walked home through the Public Garden and Commons, I decided to take a few minutes to sit on a bench, clear my head and meditate. I’m about to sound like a total weirdo, but I have a favorite bench in the Public Garden (sure, why not) and any time it’s unoccupied on my walk home from teaching in the morning, I take it as a sign I should stop for 5-10 minutes, sit down and meditate. A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

I meditated for about 10 minutes and then continued to sit there calmly, appreciating the beautiful city I call home and the crisp fall weather. In all it was only about 20 minutes out of my morning, but it really helped set the tone for a productive, positive day. Remind me again why I don’t do this every morning?? A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

On the walk home, I ate the Omega-3 Mix that was still in my purse (I surprisingly wasn’t hungry while teaching).

9:30 | Breakfast

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogI had some leftover roasted veggies in the fridge from last night’s dinner so I reheated those and spread them over a piece of toast and a fried egg. Easy, yummy, filling. I had roasted the veggies in cumin, paprika and cayenne so breakfast had a bit of a kick to it which I love.

10 – 1:30 | Shoot three videos (two workouts and a form tutorial)

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogGoing into a shoot, I already have the workouts planned out. I have a notebook that I write them down in along with recipes in the works and any other blog content ideas I come up with throughout the week. I also plan the outfits the night before so that I can be sure to incorporate any new activewear I haven’t yet worn on the blog. There are other little considerations that also need to go into the outfit planning: If it’s a sponsored post, I often need to make sure no other brand labels are visible; if it’s a tutorial on form, I try to wear a tight-fitting top instead of a loose muscle tank so that you can more clearly see my body alignment. I had these three outfits already planned: A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

After almost a year of using Breather room rentals for video shoots, I’m done with the service. At first I had credit with them, but the credit has dried up and their prices have risen so it doesn’t make sense for me to spend $30-60/hour to shoot blog content. Plus, lugging workout equipment to the rooms was buh-ru-tal.

My apartment is not by any means ideal for shooting workouts. The bedroom is the only room with natural light but there’s not a ton of space so I have to push the dresser out of the bedroom and into the living room in order to shoot. Still way more convenient than shooting elsewhere though! Eventually I need to come up with a better solution but my motto with blogging has always been “Do the best you can with what you have,” so this will be a-ok for now. 🙂

Joe and I are messy, so in addition to moving my dresser, I have to spend some time cleaning before I can shoot. And in our defense, there is a big difference between messy and dirty, and we’re just messy. I scrub the bathrooms, do the dishes, dust, vacuum–I have a sanitary home, I promise. I just also happen to throw my clothes all over the place when getting dressed and haven’t made the bed in, oh I don’t know, five years.

I start with ambitious cleaning goals before shooting workouts but usually end up just pushing my heaps of clothing out of the video frame. Here’s the side of the room that’ll be in the shot vs. the side of the room behind the camera: A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

L.O.L.

My least favorite part of days when I have to be in the pictures is making myself look presentable (wow I’m really making myself seem like a slob in this blog post, huh??). I’m unskilled and uninterested when it comes to hair and makeup but I cover the basics before putting on my first outfit. When choosing the order of videos to shoot I usually save the sweatiest workout for last so that I don’t look like a hot mess in the others.  A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

Usually between two and fifteen things don’t go as planned during shoots (another reason it makes sense to do them in my apartment!). The three I did that day went fairly smoothly, but I shot the last workout and as I watched it back realized how obnoxious these cables look: A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

Do I re-shoot it somewhere else? Where? They’re threaded into the wall so I can’t remove the cables. Ughhh. Might just call it a wash and post to YouTube, cables and all. A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

In between shooting, I had two more Orchard Valley Harvest mixes. The first one because I was hungry; the second because, well, you try working four feet from your kitchen. 😉

1:30 – 3 | Recipe testing for lunch

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogI had a baked oatmeal recipe I wanted to test out and planned ahead to have all the ingredients on hand. It’s a recipe I’ve played around with before so I was hoping I’d nail it this time and be able to photograph it for the blog. Success! I shot the pretty oatmeal cups by my bedroom window and enjoyed a couple for lunch.

3-6 PM | Emails, social scheduling, class planning

By now my energy is starting to wane (staying up until 2AM will do that to you), and while I had high hopes of editing all the video material I just shot, I needed to call it a day with that. Instead I spent a couple hours digging myself out of the never-ending email hole I’m in, scheduling posts for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and planning the next day’s class.

6PM | Veg Out

img_5849I had plans to get out of the apartment, grocery shop and make a nice dinner but I’m clearly not in my early 20s anymore because that whole three hours of sleep thing knocked me on my ass. How did I used to pull all-nighters in the library (…and club, let’s be honest here) during college and still be fully functional the next day? How?? Oh, to be young again. 😉 A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the Blog

I lounged on my couch reading (just finished Still Life, which I’d summarize as a good–not great–murder mystery), and instead of grocery shopping and cooking, Joe brought me home a bowl from Sweetgreen (Earth Bowl, no chicken = my go-to order).

8:30PM | Bedtime

With another 5AM wake up ahead of me, I went to bed early and it was glorious. I’m actually surprised I even managed to stay up that late.

Reader Giveaway

A Day in the Life: Creating Content for the BlogOrchard Valley Harvest is giving one reader a prize package of these two mixes AND a $50 Visa gift card. The Antioxidant Mix is a blend of roasted almonds, dried sweetened cranberries, blueberries, roasted cashews and pepitas. The Omega-3 Mix is a blend of walnuts, dried sweetened cranberries and blueberries, almonds and pistachios. Both are delicious, non-GMO and free of artificial ingredients. Score!

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway. I’ll pick a winner Monday evening. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Have you tried Orchard Valley Harvest’s fruit and nut mixes?

Did you stay up late to watch the election or wait until the morning to see the results?

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Orchard Valley Harvest. The opinions and text are all mine.

A Day in the Life: When Blogging Is a Desk Job

A Day in the Life: When Blogging Is a Desk JobI get frequent requests for day-in-the-life blog posts but I never do them because honestly I feel like they’d be so boring. Anyone remember the MLIA (My Life Is Average) Internet sensation back in 2009/2010? (I think it was a spin-off of My Life Is Awkward.) I feel like my day-in-the-life blog posts would be one long #MLIA tweet. Wake up, teach, blog so hard muhfukkas wanna fine me, work out, make dinner, watch Netflix on the couch with my boyfriend, go to bed. #MLIA

But I get it. I have an unconventional job and even my family members don’t quite understand what it is I do all day. With blogging, I have hands-on, active days where I’m shooting workout videos or making recipes and then I have “computer days” where I sit at my desk all day editing/writing/scheduling/answering emails/etc. Some days are a mix of both, but I’m definitely more productive if I just focus on one at a time. For this day-in-the-life mini series, I decided to document one of each type of day and we’re starting with the boring one so that it can only go up (in entertainment) from here. 😉

This was my day yesterday …

A Day in the Life: When Blogging Is a Desk Job

5AM | Wake up

img_5706I wake up at 5AM on days I teach at Btone‘s Back Bay studio. I throw on some workout clothes, drink a glass of water, grab a snack in case I get hungry teaching, brush my teeth and am tiptoeing out the door twenty minutes later. I’m a Dunks fan (stereotypical New Englander), but unfortunately the only coffee shop open on my quick walk to the studio is Starbucks so I stop in for a cold brew with almond milk. It has to be below 40 degrees outside for me to order a hot coffee. pre-breakfast

I’m at the studio no later than 5:40AM which gives me enough time to open up, get the music going, and test out any crazy exercise ideas that seem good in my head but probably won’t work in class. Some mornings I don’t eat until after teaching, but I was hungry yesterday and ate a banana on the walk over.

6-8AM | Teach

teavhing-athletaOn Thursdays I teach two classes back-to-back, which feels like nothing compared to my usual three in a row. I swear I blink and boom–done teaching for the day. I’m obsessed with these new Athleta leggings–cute cutout detail on the back, high waist and super comfy. Scarf is CALIA and sweater is from my latest Stitch Fix delivery (brand is RD Style).

8:30 | Breakfast

rainy-fall-boston-public-gardenMy walk home from teaching always puts me in the best mood. It was a rainy fall morning but the Public Garden still looked gorgeous.

oatmealBreakfast was this big, boring (but delicious) bowl of oatmeal. Usually I’d top with fruit but we didn’t have any at home so I went with quick oats + unsweetened vanilla almond milk + cinnamon + a drizzle of maple syrup. I drank another big glass of water and took my daily vitamins (yesterday it was multi for women, multi for healthy bones, turmeric and blood builder all from MegaFood). I’m weirdly obsessed with that grapefruit vitamin dispenser I found on Amazon. As a side note, I’m a MegaFood ambassador, but this post is in no way sponsored by them. Their supplements are rad. I love them and take them daily even when I’m not being paid to blog about them. 😉

9AM – 12:30 PM | Prepare and publish the week’s workout video/post

start-workAfter breakfast, it’s time to werk. My desk is in a little corner of the bedroom by a big window and I love my tiny, sun-filled workspace (it needs some decorating still or else I’d post a pic). Each day I take a second to determine what priority #1 is and then I don’t even let myself think of anything else until its done. When I try to multitask, nothing gets accomplished. Yesterday’s top priority was finishing up, publishing and promoting the biceps and triceps workout. I kept my email inbox closed (screenshot of my browser tabs below as proof haha) so that I could focus.

These workout posts are BY FAR the most time-consuming thing I do for the blog. On Wednesday I filmed the workout and edited the video so yesterday I just had to … do a million more things for it.

  • Upload video to YouTube. It takes about 90 minutes to upload a 20-minute long video so while that does its thang, I work on everything else.
  • Edit video thumbnail. If I had fancy lighting for filming, I might be able to just use a still as the video thumbnail, but since I don’t I take a photograph of one of the exercises, edit it in Lightroom and then add text to it in Photoshop for a bright, eye-catching image.
  • Write the blog post. I have a word doc with written explanations of exercises so if a post contains moves I’ve already blogged about, I can just copy and paste the description. This saves a ton of time!
    • Add links. The only links I typically need to add to workout posts are to equipment and outfit details. I then make sure they’re “nofollow” links if affiliate and specify that they should open in a new tab.
  • Make the pictorial. Even though I do YouTube for workouts now, I still make the pictorials for Pinterest traffic and those readers who don’t want to watch a video.
    • Take screen grabs from video. Instead of taking pictures of each step of the exercise, I just use screen grabs from the YouTube video. The quality isn’t as good though so I may have to go back to self-timer pics.
    • Edit screen grabs. Crop, adjust brightness and contrast, etc. etc.
    • Assemble in Photoshop. I have a template I use already saved so  I just drag in the pictures, assemble nicely and edit the text. I then match the color scheme to whatever I’m wearing in the workout (has anyone ever noticed this or am I just a huge loser?? haha).
  • Make videos for social. Once I have the full-length YouTube video edited and assembled, it doesn’t take too much time to go in and cut it down to short clips of each exercise with written explanation for a 1 or 2-minute long Facebook preview video. I export that and then cut it down even more for Instagram (typically just a montage of the exercises–no longer than 45 seconds).
  • Promote post on social. Once the blog post and YouTube video are live, I share the links on all my social networks.

By the time I’ve done all this, my eyes are starting to cross. Time to take a break for food.

12:30PM | Lunch

roasted-veggies-pestoI kept lunch simple, but not quite as boring as breakfast. I roasted some veggies I had on hand simply in olive oil, salt and pepper (375 degrees F for about 30 minutes). I had cooked quinoa and some leftover pesto in the refrigerator so once the veggies were fully roasted, I just mixed everything together in a big bowl (I microwaved the quinoa for a few seconds first to warm it up). Delicious, easy meal and I washed it down with another big glass of water.

1-3PM | Emails and client reporting

My email inbox is a constant catastrophe. I just can never seem to get on top of it. I spent a little over an hour working through it and then took care of some performance reporting I had to submit to a client.

3:30PM | Hair cut & a snack

hair-cut-marc-harrisIt had been almost a YEAR since my last hair cut and I was in desperate need of this appointment. My hair was so long it was just constantly in the way and the ends were completely dead. My girl Christine at Marc Harris saved my hot mess of a mop. It’s still long (every time I’ve gone short I’ve regretted it) but a million times healthier. Yay! cashew-cookie-larabar

On my walk home I stopped into CVS and grabbed a Larabar for a lil’ snack.

4:30-7PM | Plan tomorrow’s class and write post draft content for a client

I don’t normally teach on Fridays but I subbed for another instructor this morning and spent about 20 minutes planning the class. I then spent the rest of my work day on a post draft I have due next week for a client.

7:30PM | Dig Inn for Dinner

Dig Inn Boston DinnerWhen Joe got home from work we decided to go out to dinner. We always start out with the intention of trying out a new restaurant and then without fail just end up at one of our go-to fast-casual spots (Sweetgreen, bgood, Dig Inn, etc.).

10PM | Bedtime

I try to go to bed at 9pm when I’m teaching the next day but it rarely happens (oh boy do I feel glorious the next morning when it does though!). I don’t see Joe in the mornings because I’m out the door early so the evenings are the only time I see him during the week.

No workout …

Yesterday wasn’t an intentional rest day. I had a lot of blog work to do and as it got later and later in the day I just got tired and lost motivation–something that’s uncharacteristic of me as I truly love working out and typically prioritize it. Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a workout rut the past few weeks. I’ve still been working out 5-6 days a week but just haven’t been excited about my routine at all.

I think the issue is that I actually want more of a routine. I’m all over the place because there are tons of different classes in Boston I truly do love but–and I never thought I’d say this–I think I’m over the whole studio-hopping thing and my days with ClassPass are probably coming to an end. The time-consuming scheduling of available classes (often at weird times), the trekking across the city to studios, the uncertainty of if a new class is even going to be worth my 45 minutes–I’m feeling unenthused by it all lately. But at the same time, I don’t want to give up access to this variety of classes. Do I keep ClassPass and also join a gym? That’d be expensive AF. Do I just do Btone and then workout from home? Will I have the self-motivation to actually do that after teaching all morning? Maybe it’s just that I need a goal to work towards like a half marathon? Gahhhh I don’t know. Bottom line: Not sure what the change will be, but a change is needed and coming. TBD …

Anyone else feeling blah about their current workout routine?
ClassPass users–will you be dropping the service now that the Unlimited plans are being taken away?
Bloggers–how do you divvy up your work days? Multi-tasker or do you focus on one thing each day like I (try to) do? 

If you like day-to-day stuff like this post, follow me on Snapchat (nicoleperr)! I’m always snapping the video editing process so that we can all laugh with/at me in the outtakes (I’m so awkward on film). If you thought reading this post was like watching paint dry, don’t you worry–just one more to go next Friday. 😉

Enjoy your weekend!

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Links to outfit details are affiliate.