freelance

The multi-hyphen method review: The book every freelancer needs to read.

I’ve written a few times about how much I devour books about blogging and freelancing. I’ve already shared my favourite blogging books that I can’t live without, and I recently wrote about the best new books for entrepreneurs for The Independent. However, I’ve often felt there are not many books that sum-up the reality for myself and many of my readers: those who juggle several different job titles; make an income from their blog one month and not the next and have about twenty ideas for side-projects in their notebook.

That’s why when I came across ‘The Multi-Hyphen Method‘ by Emma Ganon a few months ago (whilst researching for the article I mentioned previously); I was incredibly excited. I’d heard Emma on a podcast talking about how she struggled to always define ‘what she did’ -and that was ok! Her concept of a ‘multi-hyphen’ approach to work perfectly summed up my journey of going from a teacher to blogger with two blogs; a freelance journalist and now blog outreach manager of Chronic Illness Bloggers Network!

Sadly, the pre-release copies weren’t available in time for me to include Emma’s book in my previous articles; but I remained curious and was so pleased when an advanced copy landed on my mat this week (yes, I really have read the whole thing in less than a week!)

This multi-hyphen method reviews explains why this is one of my favourite books and why every freelancer needs to read the multi-hyphen method!

Emma starts her book by highlighting just how common going freelance is becoming and, as someone who is still relatively new to the world of self-employment, it’s great to know!

I really loved how she also addressed the idea of ‘success’ in this section too. After ploughing my way through business books, many talk about concepts of success that don’t resonate me: earning millions, working four hours a week. Success to me, I realised as the book progressed, is flexibility: to work the hours you’d like, focus on projects your passion about and be in control of your career.

But this isn’t a ‘go freelance now’ type of book (or a book on ‘being an influencer’ as Emma quickly points out!)

Emma highlights how not every project you work on has to be monetised (something, I admitted I struggled with in my post ‘the blogging lies I’ve told‘ and actually it’s perfectly okay to define yourself as a writer, creator, artist, podcaster, YouTuber or whatever else you see fit; without actually bringing in an income from it. In other words: it’s SO not just about the money.

Encouraging flexible approaches to work is a big aspect of the book and part of Emma’s definition of success. She acknowledges the very valid point that not everyone can quit their jobs instantly (Thank you! It took me many years to finally quit the teaching game) or perhaps they won’t want to at all.

There are tips on developing your ‘multi-hyphens’ without burning out and considering things like job sharing and talking to your employer. Most business books share case studies of multi-millionaires but Emma shares those of real-women who love all the different parts of their job; from the senior nurse who has a book deal to the full-time paramedic who runs a blog: these are the types of women we should be reading about in business books!

As the book progresses, there’s plenty of practical tips to apply too: such as Emma sharing her tips on using energy wisely, working for free and how to gain your confidence. It’s such a gem of a book and I know I will keep dipping back into it in the weeks and months to come!

I rarely take the time to write in-depth book reviews, but I just really wanted to take the time to blog this one and share it with you. The Multi-Hyphen method isn’t available until the end of May but if you are a blogger with a ‘day job’, a new freelancer or ‘not quite sure which of the twenty things your juggling best defines you’ I’d 100% recommend you pre-ordering this now.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of the book with no obligation to review. Post contains affiliate links.

 

The lies I’ve told as a blogger (and why it needs to stop)

Today is one of those blog posts that came to me when I least expected it to! So, let me tell you a little story. Ages ago, I saw an Instagram ad campaign for ‘The Bold Type’ on Amazon Prime (this is not in anyway an advertisement for it, I promise!)  At the time, I thought ‘wow, it’s a bit weird that Amazon Prime need Instagram ads.’ and promptly forgot all about it. Yet today, a month or so later, I  was bored; watched one episode and I’m now hooked! So I guess influencer marketing really does work folks!

So what the bloody hell has that got to do with this blog post? Well, the show is all about those who work at a fictional magazine (and to be honest, a magazine that is probably not at all realistic) and the protagonist’s struggle to create pieces that really resonate with people instead of just social shares and traffic. It got me thinking about my purpose and my goals when it comes to blogging; and in honesty, some of the times I’m really not truthful about things.

I’m not talking about Instagram followers (those 4000 followers I’ve earnt over the last five years are all real dammit!) but the conversations I have on my blog…

I’m constantly writing about growing traffic and freelancing: giving the impression that I’ve got this shit all figured out. All of my blog posts create a narrative that you’re just one step away from tons of traffic via Pinterest-and when you do; it’ll be plain sailing and money-making from there out.

Not often do we talk honestly about blogging and what it means to us. We lie (or perhaps simply ‘present our best version of ourselves’)not only to our readers but also to ourselves. So today, I wanted to be really honest with you and make some confessions…

1. I’m sorry, but I do get unhealthily obsessed with my numbers.

I think it’s healthy to know your stats. But, to be honest, I can view my stats as a form of validation rather than a success in their own right. If they’ve dropped: I’m not interesting, I’ve got no voice and nobody cares. If they’re up? I’m an amazing success. Yet, It’s often not relative: I had so much lovely feedback from my Youtuber channel-even though I don’t have many subscribers yet.

I also recently blogged about increasing my traffic from 20,000 to 30,000 monthly views; and whilst that has led me to apply for Mediavine-it hasn’t seen any more opportunities come my way than previously. In fact, I have had more work on my blog some months, when my traffic was 1/2 the size I get now! So, I’m sorry if I present traffic as a ‘magic key’ to unlock opportunities: I do think it’s vital but after you reach a certain point, you might not find it as important as you’d think.

2.Pinterest really isn’t the be end all.

I know I’ve blogged about Pinterest a few times and I’ve had loads of people get in touch asking me to help them with it. Pinterest is great but it does have its flaws too: it’s a search engine and that means the people that find my posts are likely to click on and click off- a loyal reader they do not make. Although I am pleased that some of my pins have done amazing through Pinterest, I’m also envious of those who gain traffic through loyal, superfan readers too.

3. I compare myself a lot.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few moments recently when I’ve seen bloggers get campaigns I’m perfect for me (in my own head at least) and I compare myself. Am I getting as much work as them? Am I as popular? Note that actually, my worries about not receiving a campaign is not even a money thing necessarily- it’s a validation that I’m succeeding and people are interested in me.

4.I get quite bored of taking photos

Don’t get me wrong-I like taking photos but I’m not brilliant at it. Instagram natural I am not! So, I’d love to say I relish the opportunity, but most the time I want to eat or my husband is telling me to put my phone away. I seem to always attract shadows, inadvertently drop my own hair in the food, shoo the dogs away who try (and sometimes succeed) to eat the food and by the time I’ve taken it, It’s cold and I’m no longer hungry.

5.I’m really glad I don’t have an ‘Instagram husband’

What is it with all these bloggers recently sharing that they know their boyfriend is the one because they are just so invested in their Instagram feeds and celebrate their milestones?. I’d like to share the following conversation I literally just had with my husband:

Me: I’m writing a blog post, so for research purposes how many followers do you think I have on Instagram?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Guess

Him: About 500?

Me: No!

Him: 10,000 then

Me: Err also no!

Him: I don’t even know what’s supposed to be a good number!

So, there you have it. But oh my goodness guys- it’s a bloody photo sharing app; it’s not rocket science. I understand you taking an interest in your partner’s work but it’s also very helpful to have someone to tell you to turn your phone off and not to take it so seriously;because ‘yeah, it’s Instagram!’

6. I don’t just ‘blog for me’, I blog for traffic

I think blogging for yourself is a really nice sentiment and one that I followed for many, many years. I think once you take that transition into blogging as a job (whether it’s for money or simply putting yourself out there as professional) and delve into all the stats that come with it (What’s your twitter impressions? your average comments per Instagram post? your bounce rate?)  it’s very hard to detach and blog purely for yourself. There’s some type of content I know is more relevant to my audience each time I write it, and sometimes there are occasions when I know something won’t get lots of traffic, but I’ll write it anyway.

7. I do blog for money

What is with the stigma of ‘if you’re starting a blog for money, you’re doing it wrong.’ Imagine if we said that to people studying a qualification or starting a new career. Now, when I first started out, I definitely didn’t consider blogging as an income-but my second blog (this one you’re reading), I do think about how to make it financially viable and have done since I set it up; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

This leads me on to the next part, I think it’s really exciting to be blogging as ‘a job’ but, you do start to think about your time constantly and how you use it-and if you’re time is compensated. It can be difficult to separate things like admin time and just enjoying blogging: I can sometimes think ‘is this work?’ ‘how is it benefiting me?’ However, The Bloglancer at the moment is largely sponsored-post free and I still really enjoy it. Yet you do feel a little guilty spending time on it; since any time is essentially ‘work-time.’

8. I do feel as if it’s all falling apart

There are quiet days, weeks, months sometimes. Days where you check your inbox isn’t broken and wonder why everyone around you is getting opportunities. I’m sure there’s people who read my blog and my freelance work and think ‘where is she getting all these opportunities from too.’ I’ll mope for a while; then grab my notebook and start sending emails out again. I’m pushy I suppose: I’ll follow up emails; I’ll pick up the phone and just get going again. We don’t often talk about the wall of email silence, campaigns falling through and weighing up how long to chase again but it happens!

I hope this blog post helped-and in the interest in honesty, I’d LOVE to hear your confessions!

7 tools for bloggers and freelancers

computer, electronics, hands

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I have already covered so many different ways for you to make money online, from your blog, or as a freelancer. As an online entrepreneur, there are plenty of things you’re going to want to consider when you first set up your business – from that initial idea through to the dreaded tax self-assessment. Along the way, you’re going to find new ways of running your online business and plenty of hacks, tricks, and tools that make your life easier. To give you a bit of a headstart, I have put together a list of tools that any new online entrepreneur may want to check out. If they make your life a little bit easier, then that has to be a good thing right?!

1. Canva

You could hire a graphic designer to make all of your imagery look beautiful (if you’ve got the money) OR you could use Canva. Use one of their templates to create an amazing blog featured image or create something unique for social media. Canva also comes in really handy for things like social media banners, Pinterest images,media kits and eBook covers!

2. MailChimp

As you may already know, offering free guides, eBooks and printables is a great way to expand your online business nowadays. MailChimp makes this super simple, by offering an easy way to set up email campaigns. Automatically send out your freebie when people sign up and also keep them in the loop with a regular email newsletter. If you don’t already have MailChimp on your blog or online business, this is a must-have.

3. Buffer

Faffing around with social media can be a real pain and take up a lot of valuable time. If you want to cut that time in half, you can use a scheduling tool like Buffer. Simply set the times you want your posts to go out, add your tweets or Facebook updates, and let it do its thing.

It’s important to note that social networks like Twitter don’t like a feed full of automation or scheduled tweets, and people don’t always interact with a scheduled post, so don’t leave the whole thing on autopilot. A few a day should keep things ticking over nicely, though.

4. Shopify

Many prominent bloggers and freelancers are expanding their source of income by selling their own merchandise. This is such a good idea, as the profit is all yours – no measly affiliate payouts. If you want to set up your own online store, then Shopify seems to be the most popular platform. There’s a huge guide and review of Shopify here  (really useful), along with how it all works, which might help you out. You can either make your own merchandise to sell or use a third-party to provide the products for your shop!

5. Google Drive

If you’re paying for something like Microsoft Office to run your business, stop now! Google has a whole suite of free tools that you can use for writing documents, creating spreadsheets, and even making presentations. Not only will these free tools save you money, but they are all stored safely in one place – your Google Drive. This means you’ll never lose anything important, as it all saves automatically. You’ll be able to do your self-assessment in Google Sheets and craft perfect blog posts in Google Docs; it really is so handy.

    6. Google Analytics

Analytics Text

Do you have Google Analytics linked up? Lots of bloggers use their own host’s stats or blogger-but these are often inaccurate! Google Analytics can seem quite tricky to get the hang of to start with, but give it time. Google also offers free courses to help you get to grips with all of the ins and outs, if you’d prefer.

 Once you have some Analytics know-how, you can monitor where your traffic comes from, what your bounce rates are like, and a whole lot more. You can then use this information to improve your marketing campaigns.

7. Trello

If you like keeping everything organised, Trello might just be the tool for you. This project management app is perfect for keeping all of your to-do lists together in a pinboard-style. It’s like Pinterest but for organising your business! You can also add team members which is handy for those who work with others, especially if your team are all over the world.

There are plenty more helpful things that online entrepreneurs may want to add to their collection of tools, but I think I have the main ones covered. Have you got any you would add to the list?

*This is a collaborative post*

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?

What to buy a blogger for Christmas

So, I’ve written quite a lot about gift guides on here- so I thought it was only fair I did a gift guide for bloggers and freelancers too. Looking for gifts to improve your blog, your productivity or your home office? Then check out my ‘what to buy a blogger for Christmas’- thanks to all the bloggers (from our amazing Pitching and Motivation for UK Bloggers facebook group) who gave me their suggestions too!

1.The Perfect Mug

For when you need a bit of a kick to get your work done, look no further than this ‘Today I Will Get Stuff Done’ mug from MS Mugs. You can also have the handle personalised too!

2-3 Blogging Books

Everyone loves a book in their Christmas stocking- so here are a few of my favourites for bloggers.

Blogging Your Way to Riches is written by two British bloggers (If you’re not a member of their Facebook group ‘Blogging Your Way to Riches’ facebook group and is a practical guide to earning an income from blogging.

The Million Dollar Blog is another great read- it features interviews with super-successful bloggers-both in the US and the UK. It focuses on different ways to make money- such as e-courses, affiliate links and brand ambassadors

 

The EPIC BLOG planner is great if you really want to set yourself some blog goals in 2018- and want to monitor your progress and growth along the way! There’s also monthly space to plan content.

5. Leather Personalised Diary

Thanks to the lovely Bethan from A Pretty Place to Play for this recommendation! This gorgeous leather diary (which you can also have personalised) comes with notepad slots, sticker sheets, to do lists and more!

6. OHH DEER Papergang Subscription Box

I am a massive fan of subscription boxes- so ordered this one for the first time this month and I loved it. Each month you receive stationary from independent designers-it’s quirky finds that you’d never find in stores. I’m converted and can’t wait to see what January’s box brings.

7. Happiness Planner Subscription Box

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Happiness planner- but did you know they did subscription boxes too? Each box is themed around a quality- be it confidence or self-awareness. In each box, you receive notebooks, guided prompts, stickers and a pen. All very instagrammable!

8.The perfect Instagram backdrop

Sarah from A Mundane Life recommended these and I’m hooked. For years, bloggers have been using tile samples but now they can purchase proper backgrounds for their photos. How gorgeous does this background look?

9. A Blogging Course

Blogging courses can be pricey- so asking for one as a Christmas present makes sense. I’ve already blogged about my favourite course Turn Your Dreams Into Money but Rachel from The Daisy Pages recommended Me&Orla’s Bloom and Grow course

Once a year, the hills around here turn to a sea of purple as the heather comes into bloom. It looks sort of impossibly beautiful – a big thanks to @hannahargyle who snapped this picture of me when we met on the moors to shoot it. . & to anyone thinking, like a previous commenter, that I look "cold, uncomfortable and miserable" – THAT IS MY PHOTO FACE! 😂🙈 How very dare you. I think you'll find I look moody and whimsicle like a Bronte-esque heroine 🙊😉. . But seriously though. It's not easy being a woman and putting your face out there in a world that hates everything short of perfection. Let's stop assuming we know everything about people's lives based on on the tiny fragments they share on Instagram, hey? Peace, love and purple heather x

A post shared by Sara Tasker (@me_and_orla) on

Orla creates the most beautiful Instagram photos and her latest course ‘Bloom and Grow’ is designed to help you cultivate your Instagram following with beautiful pictures and boost engagement (god knows we all need that!)

10. A stylish camera bag

I’m always lugging my camera bag around so thanks Adele from Nest and Dressed for suggesting this super stylish bag from The Tog Bag.

Those are just a few of my favourites for Christmas- but let me know what’s on your list below!

Looking to write your own gift guides? Read my blog post on how to get started and brands who are looking for bloggers!

Disclaimer: may contain affiliate links.

 

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…)