Freelance Life

  • Moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress

    It’s been a long time coming, but after several false starts, technical issues (e.g. my failure to read instructions) and tedious tweaking, I’ve finally moved to WordPress.

    Thanks to tutorials by Rosalilium, Beautifully Invisible and  Techieminx, I finally managed to get around my teething problems. These included:

    • Installing WordPress. I got extremely impatient with being unable to login, only to discover it took several hours to go live. By this morning it was loaded up and ready for me!
    • Transferring my feedburner. Techiminx solved this one for me, but some of you might have a bunch of my old posts sitting in your reader. Sorry!
    • Images Thumbnails. The most time-consuming task was going through each post and uploading the images onto the server, so they showed up as a thumbnail.
    I’ve still got to go through and fill in the All-In-One SEO section for the posts, and some of the formatting needs some work, but for now I’m quite happy with it!
    Additionally, I’m loving the following WP Plugins:
    • Tweet Old Post: Does exactly what it says on the tin – sends out tweets of old posts occasionally to maximise traffic.
    • Thank Me Later: An email sent out to those that leave a comment, thanking them and reminding them about my Twitter account and Newsletter.
    • BlogGlue SEO button: Tests whether I’ve fully SEO-optimised my blog, and makes suggestions for how to improve.
    • Skimlinks: Not a new one, but easier to install on WordPress.
    • Akismet: For getting rid of any spam
    I’d love to know what you think of the blog? Anything you love? Anything you hate? Any Plugin suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

  • How I became a blogger

    Today’s #30dayblog challenge is to write about how I started in the blogging industry. I have a feeling I’ve written about this before, so apologies if I have. (I actually feel a bit of a tool writing these sorts of posts, as I don’t imagine they’re particularly interesting, but that’s the challenge I guess!)

    So, here’s a brief overview of my employment history…

    Age 20: A year of IT telemarketing and reception duties as part of my business degree – Um, learnt the lesson of persistence. Also, the importance of a very thick skin. Wore a suit lots, and memorised the sales pitch for a CRM solution. Looked forward to Monday mornings thanks to a lovely group of people who worked there.

    Age 22: A year in recruitment – Made wonderful friends, learnt a lot about organisation, processes, persuasion and interviewing. But confirmed that cold call sales techniques are not my bag. Felt ok about Monday mornings.

    Age 23: Nine months in HR – Learned how to think before I speak (um, even if I don’t always put it into practice). Dealt with payroll. Chased builders. Bit of a confidence-killer this job, but it’s actually the job that made me determined to find a career I’m genuinely passionate about. Didn’t look forward to Monday mornings.

    Age 24: Left my job just after my birthday, after saving up for months. Then did two things that made a huge impact. Firstly, I picked up Dude, Where’s my Career, which changed the way I looked at approaching my career. Secondly, I joined Twitter.

    On Twitter, I started following the blogs I loved at uni (Shoewawa and Catwalk Queen) and discovered brand new brands like Wahanda. I got chatting and networking with people I could only have dreamed of meeting in real life. I learned that you could actually make a career from blogging.

    A month or two in, two tweets popped up asking for interns. I applied, figuring it was a great way to fill my CV with some experience. After several months, I went forward for the role of editorial assistant role with Katie at Miramus. Got the job. Finally discovered job satisfaction and ambition.

    Two years on and I’ve written for more than a dozen blogs, including several of the blogs I used to read as a student. The zero confidence I had on leaving my job in HR has gradually increased. Learnt a lot from jobs I’ve loved and jobs I haven’t.

    And I actually look forward to Monday mornings now.

    That’s my story, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments!


    This post is the 14h in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.


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  • A day in the life of a blogger

    Day 7 in the #30dayblog challenge, and today’s task is to describe an average day in my work life.

    So, um, here it goes!

    I usually wake up around 7ish and check my emails and Twitter. Yeah, I’m one of those people that checks my phone before I do anything else. Even before I pee (TMI?)

    Laptop on, kettle on, and I’ll spend 30 minutes or so checking through emails and checking Google Reader. Breakfast and a dog walk follow before I kickstart my blogging for the day.

    I write for 3 or 4 blogs a day, writing 5 or 6 posts, plus dealing with several social media clients. I tend to give a social media tutorial once a week too, so every day is different.

    Still with me? I feel like I should throw in some super-glamourous details. In fairness, on the days when I’m in London for press days, it’s a bit more exciting. Usually because there are fancy new products, great venues with tasty snacks and wine, and goody bags. I tend to have a day like that maybe once or twice a week. Those glam days stop me slipping into the tracksuit-wearing trap.

    Aside from writing blog posts and carrying out social media tasks, I deal with a few email accounts, respond to PRs, call in products and check Google Analytics (somewhat obsessively). As I write for a beauty blog, there’s a certain amount of putting make up on, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off….

    Inevitably, I’ll end up editing some HTML at some point, and trying out new social media resources.

    And that’s pretty much it! A mixture of blogging, tweeting, reading, emailing, Facebooking and reviewing until around 6-7pm.


    What’s your average day like?


    This post is the seventh in a series of 30 for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. See other 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts here.


    Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to my newsletter for exclusive content and my free eBook ’50 of the best web resources’? Simply use the sign up form on the right of my blog.

  • Co-working, networking and no working

    When I first started working as a freelance blogger, I was told I’d have to get out there and meet people in order to be a success.

    For me, networking always conjured up images of sharp suits and pushy sales techniques. Which, being a floral dress-wearing, painfully shy girl, scared the hell out of me.

    But the days of stuffy events and overpriced subscriptions are a thing of the past. And I’d now have to agree that networking is an essential part of starting out in self-employment. Having a conversation with some one in real life hugely increases the chances of winning business.

    There are now dozens of ways to meet new clients, find new customers and meet people who you can work with in the future. And I promise you, the more you network, the easier it gets. Particularly if you ask all the questions. There’s no one quite as interesting as someone who shows an interest in you.

    Here’s just a few suggestions on how to network.

    Social Media

    The easiest form of networking, and a great way to start out and test the waters. I started out in blogging after joining Twitter, and subsequently started several internships through contacts made on the site.

    LinkedIn is great for keeping in touch with the people you’ve already met, or for putting your details out there for potential clients.

    Facebook…well Facebook is great for building a brand page and building up a following of customers and fans. Personally though, I think your personal account should be kept for people you’ve met face-to-face or maintained a working relationship with for a long time.

    Tweet Ups

    If you’re looking to meet people in your local area, a tweet up is a relaxed and friendly environment to meet fellow Twitter users. It usually happens in a pub, which greases the wheels somewhat.

    Ladies Who Latte

    Ladies Who Latte is a networking event just for women. My local one is full of inspiring women, busy mums and start ups who just want to chat and enjoy a cup of tea with other local ladies. I’ve picked up quite a bit of business here too. If you prefer an environment with men and women, Business Biscotti is worth a visit too.

    Co-Working

    I’ve been going to Jelly Co-Working events for about a year now, and it’s ideal for home workers who fancy living the office life for a day. Everyone brings along their laptop and work, then carries on with their work.

    I’ll be honest, we spend more time eating cake and gossiping about the latest geeky news. But it’s also great to brainstorm and bounce ideas off others too.

    No Working

    Ok, this isn’t really a type of networking. But one of the hardest things about being self-employed, is knowing when to put down the work, switch off and spend time with your family and friends. But sometimes the most interesting people, and the people that could have a massive impact on your business, are the ones who you meet when you’re not minding your business.

    Do you network?

  • 15 things you need to know before becoming a freelance blogger/writer

     

    Hello! This blog post all about becoming a freelance blogger is an oldie, from back in 2010. You can find more up to date info at the following links. 

    freelance blogger

    Blogging has grown in leaps and bounds in the last ten years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the industry for the last 18 months. I’ve blogged for sites covering topics like fashion, beauty, slow life, opinions, gadgets and social media, and I’ve never loved a job more.

    But it’s not for everyone. So, if you’re considering starting the new year off as a freelance blogger or writer, there’s a few things you should take into consideration. I’m not an expert by any means, so this is purely taken from my own experiences.

    Normal hours go out the window…

    Full time blogging is rarely a 9-5 job, at least not when you’re starting out. Be prepared to work evenings and weekends to hit your deadlines. The fantastic thing about blogging is that you can fit it in around your own schedule. If you’ve got kids or prefer to work lates and enjoy lie ins, you can arrange your blogging around that.

    ….But setting hours is good practice

    It’s taken me quite a while to fully understand and implement this. Aim to stop working after a certain time, give yourself at least a weekend off a month and set time limits to get work done keeps you focussed, and stops you getting blogging overload.

    Working in your PJs is not productive….

    Personally, my most productive days are the ones where I get dressed and work at my desk. I don’t do it every day (Friday is my day working in my PJs on the sofa) but keeping some form of routine does help.

    Plus the postie stops making sarkie remarks when you greet him in your oldest PJs.

    ….Nor is working in front of the TV

    Again, it’s a personal thing, but working in front of the TV makes me less productive. I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, but my work output confirms it: I work better with silence or just the radio on.

    Saying that, I like to think watching the Gilmore Girls provides me with the odd witty put down.

    British moneyImage by sirqitous via FlickrYou’ll need to gain experience. Possible for free

    I got my lucky break into blogging by writing my own blog, and doing unpaid (aside from travel costs) internship for a couple of lovely startups. That experience, the referrals I gained from it and the knowledge I built from them led to me starting a role with Miramus as a part-time editorial assistant, and starting several other blogging jobs.

    It’s not ideal, but there are companies out there who let you do your internship from home, meaning you can take on other paid evening or weekend work to support yourself. Otherwise, work like mad for several months, save up several months living costs, then fit in as many internships as possible.

    …But know when to charge

    You might get a few people emailing you with “We can’t pay you, but it’s a great opportunity to get a byline and get promotion.” Some of these are genuine and a good opportunity. In fact I write for free for a couple of blogs, like Dork Adore, out of love for the content. But don’t do too much free work, or you’ll devalue your own product.

    No one else in the creative industry would give away their services so freely, so try not to get into the habit of doing it.

    Get a contract and prepare to chase up the odd outstanding invoice….
    Hopefully it won’t happen too often to you, but there may be instances where a client can’t or won’t pay on time, or refuses to pay at all. Get a contract before you start to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

    …Invoice systems will make your life, and your accountants, a whole lot easier.

    Freeagent makes my life roughly 47% easier. Probably. Creating an invoice is really easily and it can then be printed or emailed to your client. Then at the end of the year, when it’s tax time, you just need to hit print all and you’ve got all your invoices, payments and total income for the year. It’ll also import your bank statements, and fill in most of your self-assessment return for you. You can sign up using my FreeAgent referral link.

    Planning is key

    If you’re writing for quite a few blogs, a spreadsheet with planned posts and previous posts will help you keep ahead. Using sites like Evernote or Trello let you save images, files, links and videos, which can come in handy when you’re juggling several different topics.

    But blogging is fast moving, so be prepared to be flexible

    Blogging gives you the edge over the printed press as you can respond to something newsworthy straight away. So although you might have a top 10 posts planned, you’ll need to be prepared to drop it for the more urgent post.


    Social media and blogging go hand in hand

    I picked up a lot of my blogging work through recommendations and Twitter. If you’re a blogger, you almost certainly need to be on Twitter. It allows you to share your work, chat with other bloggers and build up a network. Plus it’s a great place to bounce potential blog post ideas of people.

    ...But don’t spam your followers

    Just don’t. Constantly spamming your followers with links to your blogs will only succeed in reducing your numbers and annoying people. A couple of links will do.

    You don’t need a journalism degree…

    Controversial perhaps, but I don’t believe all great bloggers have a journalism background. It’s a bit tougher, as I found with my business degree, but the other skills you’ve learned can be applied to this industry.

    …but it definitely gives you a headstart.

    When I started working at Miramus, I had a huge amount to learn regarding grammar and wording. And I’m still learning. I had some insecurities about my lack of journalism and writing knowledge. But I think if you’re determined enough, you can catch up with everyone else.

    Finally: If you want to be a blogger, create a blog!

    It’s the best experience you can get, and your blog is your portfolio. When you apply for blogging or editorial roles, you’ll often be asked to provide your blog URL. Get writing now and you’ll find your niche and discover whether it’s for you.

    Bloggers! What advice would you give to someone looking to become a freelance blogger or writer?

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