FREELANCE LIFE

Everything bloggers need to know about their tax self-assessment

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably left your tax self-assessment return to the very last minute. Perhaps you’re even worse than me and didn’t realise the Self Assessment submission deadline is midnight on the 31st January! But it is fast upon us and most of us avoid it until we really have to face it; last year, 33,000 people filed in the final hour, while a staggering 840,000 people missed the deadline altogether. If it’s late, HMRC delivers a straight £100 fine; with even more penalties if it continues to be missed.

You get the idea. It’s a faff but it needs to be done. To avoid getting stressed,  I’ve teamed up with SimpleTax to share lots of expert advice and tips on filling in your tax return properly as a blogger. Make sure you read to the bottom of the post so you can claim a 14 day completely free trial (bank details not needed) of SimpleTax to help you fill in your return with zero effort!

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6 ways to be proactive during quiet blogging periods

The Christmas lull is common in the blogging world-everything’s winding down, budgets have long been spent and ‘The out of offices’ are on! It can be frustrating for bloggers as there’s likely to be fewer campaigns and money can be tight. It can also leave us short of inspiration; since we’ve spent so much time planning our Christmas content it’s hard to think beyond that.

Today I wanted to offer some of my suggestions on how to keep proactive during these quiet periods to make sure your blog keeps ticking over and money is coming in.

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‘Shop small’ last minute gift guide

As the threat of the tax deadline looms ever closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be self-employed and essentially being a ‘small business’. Since I finally started working for myself (more on my life as a freelance writer and blogger here) I’ve been so much more aware of supporting small businesses. I have so much respect for those who go out on their own as I know first-hand how hard that can be.

Last week, I attended the Ideas Birmingham Etsy market and I was invited to go down to shop, spend and tell you all about the different small businesses operating in my local area.

The event was at the Custard Factory-a place that is always brimming with creativity; I just wish it wasn’t such a trek to get to it from the centre of Birmingham! Here are a few of my favourite stands-and, if you’re last minute like me, I’ve also included a few items that would work perfectly as gifts for you to snap up!

Jewellery from FU Loves

I loved this stand of vibrant, eclectic jewellery. These handmade earrings are amazing for a fashionista friend!

Every home office needs a candle or two and I was blown away by Firefly Handmade Creations. In fact, I’ve already put another order in online! They are the most amazing handmade candles and wax melts- often in the scent of lush products. My favourite ‘Snow Fairy’ smelt absolutely identical to the Lush version and burnt beautifully; filling the room. These are a perfect stocking filler.

 

Talking of my home office, these prints and cards from Corin Beth Designs were so quirky and adorable. They also do great gifts, cards and prints for children.

 

 

I  promptly fell in love with the amazing vintage creations from Silly Old Sea Dog. I very much need this dress in my life immediately. They had a whole variety of handmade colourful vintage style dresses.

And finally- I couldn’t resist this little fella from the gorgeous Hollow Bourne A real work of art! They’d make a lovely gift for that animal lover in your life as they come in the style of foxes, cats, birds and even dragons!

A post shared by Jenna Farmer (@jennafarmeruk) on

Since attending the event, I’m making a real concerted effort to shop small and order from small businesses and Etsy shops in the future. One order can make a real difference and support fellow self-employed people; but what’s more, the items are truly unique and crafted with love. I’d love to hear your suggestions about shopping small and any Etsy sellers you’d recommend?

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Staying Healthy When Working From Home

Photography: www.instagram.com/egphotographer

 


A few months ago, I attended an event with Vikings- aimed at freelancers and full-time bloggers who worked from home. The aim was to educate us all about making healthy choices during our working day. Something I know is important, but still, I find myself skipping lunch, hunching over my laptop and just not getting enough exercise outdoors.

 

Photography: www.instagram.com/egphotographerOur first stop was the juice bar. If you know about my first blog- A Balanced Belly– then you’ll know I juice often. But it was still really interesting to chat with the guys about the best recipes and how juices can keep you hydrated throughout the day. It gave me a reminder to keep up my juicing habits- especially when I need an energy boost around midday!

After that, we managed to grab a sit down and I chatted with some fellow bloggers. I love events that let you chat informally with others- and it’s always great to put names to faces!

Photography: www.instagram.com/egphotographer

Then we were guided through the main reason we were there: to learn about sit-stand desks. I’ve always been really curious about these and we learnt about how they impact your posture and keep you active during the day. I imagined it would be quite bulky so I was surprised to see it actually would slot in well to my current desk set up- and could be adapted should I be ready for a sit down!

Photography: www.instagram.com/egphotographer

It’s thought sit-stand desks can do everything from increases your blood circulation, help with eye strain concentration, metabolic rate and energy, which in turn help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, body weight and stress.

Impressive stuff but given I’m so fidgety, I’m just not sure how long I’d last standing up. I’d love to hear from any freelancers who do this and how they make it work?

Finally, we were also given a little session on how to do simple stretches at our desk- this was my favourite part of the day and the suggestions were so easy to slot in around your desk.

The event left me super-motivated to build in breaks during my workday- whether it was to stand, juice or stretch!

 

Thanks very much to Vikings for inviting me to this event. You can learn more about their sit-stand desks here.

All images sourced from http://www.elouisageorgiou.co.uk/

 

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10 tips for going from blogging to freelance writing

Today is a much-requested post here on The Bloglancer. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that as well as running two blogs, I am a freelance writer. I mainly write for magazines and online sites but have also done some blogging for brands and copywriting. This topic is something I get asked about a lot, but for me at least, getting ahead in freelance writing is the same as any form of media: working hard; not being afraid to put yourself out there every day; making contacts and constantly coming up with new ideas!  Here are my ten tips for going from blogger to freelance writer….

 

1. Read, read and read some more. (more…)

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The one tool every blogger NEEDS to know about: Response Source

Hi guys!

Just to start off by saying a massive thank you for all the support this blog has got over the past few days since launch day. It’s had such lovely feedback from brands and PRs alike and I am so excited about where this blog is heading. Just a heads up, I’ll be sticking to a routine with this blog, so I’ll be aiming to get 1-2 pieces of really useful content on freelancing and blogging  (like my 8 tips for emailing PRs) up a week (usually Mondays and Wednesdays) and then a PR and brand interview on a Friday (like last week’s with Charlotte from Smoothie PR)Then it’ll all be delivered to your inbox along with other exciting opportunities on a Sunday- which we all know is prime blogger day!

In this post, I am going to have a chat with you about http://www.responsesource.com– a tool that is so useful to brands, journos and bloggers. It’s been around for a while but isn’t widely mentioned in the blogosphere, so I am going to use this post to give you an overview of what response source is and a guide for using it for bloggers.

 

What is Response Source?

Response Source is a website that connects bloggers, journos and PRs/small businesses. It’s free for those in the media to send out requests, while PRs and brands pay a fee to receive all the requests in their inbox. I have used this in both capacities. Both as a freelance writer and blogger putting out requests but also as a small business when trying to promote my book and nutrition services in the media.

How Should I use Response Source as a blogger?

  1. Head over to http://www.responsesource.com
  2. Click ‘send a Journalist inquiry’
  3. Fill in the details of what you are looking for, any deadlines and information about your blog. Then hit preview and you’ll be taken to a page to preview your inquiry.
  4. Once you hit submit, your inquiry will ping its way to literally thousands of PRs and brands. It’ll be sent by a special platform so the brand won’t be given your email initially- they’ll respond via Response Source and then it will forward it on.

What kind of things should I use Response Source for?

Response source is a fantastic way to make connections, seek information about brands and find collaboration opportunities. In the last week, I’ve made connections with half a dozen brands and we’ve figured out a plan to collaborate -all from me sending out a Response Source message. In turn, when I trialed the brand/PR service, I replied to a request which led to a feature about my Instagram in the Guardian.

The key, I believe, to using response source is to use it for requests when you already have specific blog posts in mind. For example, my last two response source requests have been ‘looking for healthy frozen food items for a freezer hacks post‘ and ‘looking for easy to grow herbs for an introductory guide to gardening.’ Why are my requests so specific? Well, two reasons. Firstly, when you sign up to response source as a brand, you pay for each separate category you subscribe to. Therefore, food brands will only receive specific requests in the food category, so generic requests ‘looking for giveaway prizes’ may be less successful. Secondly, having been on the other side of using the system, I easily received 100 emails a day from Response Source when using the trial. Brands do not have time to filter through these so a specific request (which forms the header of the email) is always best.

What should I not use Response Source for?

From what I have heard, Response Source doesn’t allow you to use the service to seek advertisement or sponsorship and I am inclined to agree with them. I talk about this in my pitching toolkit but I strongly believe that the best way to sponsored posts is not just about emailing or tweeting (yes I see you in the hashtags!) that you are looking for paid work. Instead, advertising or review products should fit into existing content you are already planning. Therefore, these services work by helping you build a relationship and finding the right fit for posts you are already planning. Therefore, don’t use response source just to get freebies or paid work. Instead, it needs to be used as a journalist would, with a specific focus and aim.

Any more tips for using it?

  • Plan requests around key dates. Remember PRs are used to receiving requests months ahead of dates so be proactive and send requests out early.A request for christmas content in July will be the norm for some brands.
  • I’ll say it again but use the space you have to be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for.
  • Also add in the description what you’re not looking for- this saves time and also shows brands you aren’t just on a freebie hunt. For example ‘looking for frozen food items, must be gluten free. No smoothie mixes please as I’ve already covered those.’
  • Make a list of key blog posts you are planning and send a response request
  • If you have another business on the side or are looking to get your name out there in the media, consider signing up for a trial of their service for brands.  It will give you a really good insight on how the service should be used and there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there as a blogger for case studies.
  • Create a separate email folder for Response Source emails- that way you can keep them in a file for later should you want to get back in touch with brands.

 

Before you go...
Facebook group: Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers………………………………….
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My instagram: @jennafarmeruk
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Info on my ebook all about working with brands: Pitching Toolkit

 

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