Life and business advice from American blogs

Here are my top ten blogs

By Tracey Arial

There are a number of United States of America-based bloggers I follow regularly. Each offers inspiring advice, industry information and hints about new technologies.

Financial Fitness Blogs: The Simple Dollar and Get Paid More

My all-time favourite blogger is Trent Hamm, the author of The Simple Dollar. Hamm offers great advice for living simply without spending too much in stories that often describe his previous mistakes.

Consider this quote from his June 21 blog post Debt isn’t Required:

No one needs debt to finance their life. If you’re taking on debt to finance a purchase that you couldn’t afford out of pocket, not only are you agreeing to hand over a bunch of money to the bank in the form of interest, you’re also adding to your monthly bills, restricting your career and personal freedom.”

Brian Tracy, on the other hand, is like an anti-Hamm, which makes him equally entertaining. His useful mottos and encouraging words make people reach for entrepreneurial greatness and financial success. Here’s a typical piece of advice from his “get paid more” blog post:

Before you start something new, you must discontinue something old. You can gain control of your life only to the degree to which you stop doing things that are no longer as valuable or as important to you as other thing you could be doing.

Blogs that embrace humanity by Chris Brogan and Dan Ariely

Chris Brogan earned a reputation years ago as the go-to guy for discovering social media. Lately, he writes about bringing humanity back into business operations. His blog appears at, but he also has a weekly newsletter, a podcast and lots of books. Here’s the kind of advice he offers, from his latest post about Instagram and Video and what it will mean for Vine:

When you worry about where people will spend their time, you miss the point. That’s an advertising mindset. If you’re going to spend MONEY on either platform doing something with ads, well, I guess worry about who can best serve your ad to the very specific people you hope to reach. If you’re looking at this as another social media outpost, then do what I tend to recommend in these cases: use the platform that lets you tell your story the way you best want to tell it.”

For a different kind of off-the-wall-but-informed take on humanity, check out the posts from Dan Ariely at his self-named blog. Ariely comments on the workings of the human mind as related to daily events. Here’s two of is lines from his On Disappearing Socks post:

So we often count as lost each sock in a pair—even though neither is really lost. At the end of the day, the mystery is not due to the suspension of the law of physics but to the much larger puzzle of how our memory works (or doesn’t work). Yet I still feel that, at the back of my laundry machine, there may be a black hole that is suitable just for socks.”

Freelancing Hints from Michelle Rafter and Linda Formichelli

Michelle Rafter, the founder of Wordcount, blogs about freelancing in the digital age. My favourite posts are the ones that describe on-line tools for writers in a friendly way that makes using them look easy. Her recent How-to-use-vizify-to-create-an-interactive-resume-in-a-few-minutes post for example says:

Speaking of other online resumes, Vizify is by no means the only online interactive resume-building tool out there. In recent months, LinkedIn has added the ability to link to portfolios, projects and other material to a basic profile. I’ve also created a resume on Contently, the publishing management platform, because it’s an easy way to keep my clips updated.

Linda Formichelli runs a really fun blog that she calls a “magazine for serious writers”. Most of the posts outline good business strategies for freelancers, often along with stories about writers who didn’t follow the advice. I laughed out loud reading the story highlighted in the post “Are you missing this vital freelance skill?” You wouldn’t expect someone to be so funny in a story with the following two nutgraph sentences, but she is.

One of the most important qualities you can have as a writer is to be polite, grateful, and professional. You can spin prose better than Tolstoy, but if you’re a jerk, no one will want to work with you.”

Exploring Technological Change: 10,000 Words and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab

I used to read 10,000 Words religiously when Mark S. Lucker wrote it. These days multiple people, several of whom seem to be interns, post to the site, and they are also worth reading. Check it out. Here’s an example of two lines from Lauren Robaino’s Vox Media: The Company That Did Beautiful Longform Storytelling Before ‘Snow Fall’:

When Vox launched The Verge, they took their first stab at what some call “immersive storytelling”—they just call it “longform” stories, appropriately—in November 2011. We’re talking about stories that have big, beautiful photos and typography, where the design is tailored to the content, rather than being shoehorned into an inflexible template like most news organization sites.

A lot of talented people write for the Nieman Journalism Lab too, but I particularly like Caroline O’Donovan’s profiles of people with new technology projects. Her recent profile of Upworthy editorial director Sara Critchfield included a line designed to strike horror into professional writers:

In other words, Critchfield builds the element of genuine emotional response into her team by hiring people who were never trained to worry about what’s news, and what isn’t.

Historical Musings from Randy Seaver and Judy Russell

Randy Seaver, a genealogy buff in California has a fun blog. If you’re looking for good articles about researching your family tree, check this one out. Randy comments on conferences, tools for genealogy and the search for ancestors in a friendly style such as:

If there are any researchers reading this who share Esther Waget as an ancestor, or who has found more information about her parentage, or has research suggestions, please let me know in a comment on this blog post.

Judy G. Russell also writes about genealogy on her blog , but her take is that of a lawyer. She also provides a lot more narrative in her posts. Her latest post, for example, describes how she began taking genealogy seriously:

For the first time, on that day in June, as I looked at those dearly loved faces, I let myself accept the reality that they were getting older fast. That our family stories were in serious danger of being lost. That we’d already lost my grandparents and what they could have told us. That we’d lost the stories my late mother and uncle Monte could have told us. That we were in danger of losing the rest of the stories of my mother’s generation. That even my own generation was truly mortal…and our stories, too, could be lost.

Thanks to everyone for the inspiration you provide.

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