WERK IT

‘Work hard, play hard’ is a a motto to live by. Just remember that ‘work’ has to come first so that you can play harder. Read articles about inspiring careers, learning new skills and interesting hobbies to keep you motivated.

A Glamour Magazine Dream: The Perfect Prize and the Losing Entry

The UK’s leading lifestyle magazines regularly run competitions and giveaways for luxurious beauty products, limited edition fashion accessories or trips of a lifetime, but they rarely run competitions to see your article in print. When I saw Glamour magazine was offering up resident columnist Dawn O’Porter’s full page of prime space within its glossy sheets, I thought: “This. Is. It.”

After toying with a few ideas, I set to work on an article that seemed to fit the brief of ‘a lesson to live life by,’ as well as suiting the Glamour mag readership and my own aspirations as a writer. Unfortunately, this opportunity wasn’t the one for me (*sniffle) and Lucy Florence Wilson‘s honest and inspiring article was picked as the rightful winner. Still, not to throw mine in the bin in a tantrum, I thought I would share it with you lovely people right here! So here  it is, the first article I wrote for press (rejected) that is also the story of the inspiration for me starting The B-Line. 

Photo by Tai Jyun Chang on Unsplash

Childish dreams are not for the fainthearted

A gymnast, a police officer, a witch and an archaeologist. This isn’t the start of a joke; these are a few of my dream jobs from my childhood. 

All of them are really respectable career choices (maybe less so the witch, and you can blame that extraordinary teen, Sabrina for that one), but I ended up in PR. Now don’t get me wrong; PR is also a very respectable career choice, but believe it or not, it was never something I played make-believe about as I was growing up. So what happened to all those dreams? And is that all that they were, just dreams? 

In today’s fast-paced society it’s easy to get bogged down with sticking to the path that’s laid out in front of you. But what would happen if you reached a fork in the road and wanted to head off in an exciting new direction? Do you have the guts to jump tracks without being able to see what’s ahead?

Well I did exactly that, and it sure felt gutsy at the time. I had a steady career, working alongside interesting and talented people with the opportunity to grow. So what did I do? I quit. And with no other job to go to, I might add. It sounds drastic, and it was, because I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for. I just knew that if I wanted to live a dream life, to create my own path, then I needed to make a big change and fast.

So I set out as a freelance copywriter and content marketer with the aim to only work with brands that I bloody loved. And being freelance is great – you can catch the gym when its dead quiet and Skype calls in bottom half pyjamas always feels satisfyingly smug. There are also plenty of sucky days to be had as a freelancer too to keep you nicely grounded: such as maintaining a steady cash flow (current challenge). But on the good days, the days when you make a real, positive impact on someone else’s business, it can give you a buzz that makes you literally want to fist-pump the air. It’s helped me experience my ultimate high in self-worth, as well as my ultimate low – because working alone means your success is all on you.

What going freelance also showed me was just how passionate I was about writing. With more freedom to manage my time I was able to take evening and online classes in creative writing. I started my own blog. I’m writing this article right now for goodness’ sake!

Being a published writer is now my new dream. A couple of years ago I could have passed this ambition off as a childish whim, unnecessary to my career path. For now, I can only hope that by continuously putting myself out there, something good will come from it. After all, you only get out of life what you put in – the world owes you nothing, honey.

So, on that note, I would recommend letting your inner childhood dreamer speak out occasionally – listen to what she has to say. Her innocence to the world can only mean that her hopes are pure. Be as true to her as she was to weaving your dreams, and that way you never have to look back on life with any regret.

I may not be able to perform a double backflip with a half twist, or identify thousand-year-old fossils or even change my outfit simply by pointing a magical finger, but you know what? I’m happy and I hope I never stop dreaming, ever.

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DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: HOLIDAY REJUVENATION

Get Away and Come Back with an even Greater Will to Succeed

Rejuvenation. Now that’s a bloody good word. It’s one that I’m particularly enjoying throwing around at the moment, but that’s honestly because it’s a word that I’m genuinely feeling right now. 

I got married two weeks ago (*pause for applause*) and we had a couple of days in Portugal to decompress, eat pizza and generally not move, unless it was to eat said pizza or sip from a poolside cocktail. But we both ended up spending most of the time plotting and planning everything we wanted to achieve on our return. This sounds like I’m about to tell you we’ve decided to become ultimate comic book villains, but alas, no. 

beach holiday

After going through the truly agonising choice of rose or raspberry flavoured macaroon favours, then building the wedding playlist to beat all playlists, and top that with designing stationary that perfectly blended tattoo script with a countryside setting – and what you’re left with is a GREAT, BIG, WEDDING shaped HOLE in your life. 

Instead of getting bummed out about it, we realised now we’ve got an EPIC marriage to plan for. And that’s going to take some serious planning. Here’s some questions that feel easier answering while you’re away from the hectic everyday life at home – and “don’t call it a comeback” because this is simply about reaffirming what you probably already know, but making sure you live the life you want.

 

Holiday Rejuvenation – Don’t Call it a Comeback.

pool holiday

1. Where in the world do you still want to visit?

Bucket list time! I’ve already done mine (see 30 Things to do After 30). At the moment we are planning our honeymoon (which is looking like safari in Kenya then on to the Maldives *fist pump air*) and it’s really reminded us how good it is to have adventure holidays and to explore. Already I can’t wait to plan our next trip. Don’t waste your time or money going somewhere you don’t really love and feel desperate to experience (I know I have in the past). There’s a whole world out there and unless you are a permanent traveller, we normal folk need to use our holidays wisely. 

2. Do you have some big life purchases in you? 

Then you need to earn serious money. FACT. Don’t get me wrong, I am more motivated by life experiences that owning fancy things, but at the same time it would be nice to roll around town in a cool car one day and welcome my friends into a beautiful home I’m proud of, plus those lovely life experiences also cost moolar. This should lead you into the next question nicely. 

beach holiday

3. What’s the end goal with the career? 

We’re not talking about a promotion next year or winning a dream client next month, this means: what is your ultimate boss role? Think ‘peak career moment’ and even be totally unrealistic about it – it’s your dream for goodness sakes! Now work backwards – how would you get there? It might not be as unrealistic as you thought. It will however, always take hard work, so be prepared and don’t settle, because you’ll only regret it. 

4. What have you done to promote yourself? (Especially important if you’re freelance, like moi!)

I am currently going through a business rebrand in terms of my service offering, with an entirely new website, sales packages and the all important business cards (need I remind you of American Psycho?) Having gone through my career and life goals I realised working backwards I needed to make it clear what I offer so I can win more clients. Simple really. 

Even if you’re not freelance, we live in a digital society where anyone is able to have their own personal brand. Just think, if you’re known in your industry for being an absolute queen (or king) at one thing in particular, you might just get head-hunted for a job you hadn’t even thought of, but could be perfect for you!

5. If you haven’t already, do you want to start a family?

OK, so this is a big one, and a very personal one, and for that reason alone not that much needs to be said on it – because each individual and circumstances are completely different. However, if you are making some serious career / life / travel plans, and you do want to start a family as well, then it’s worthwhile considering it all together, while you are away and have a clear head. 

 

sand beach

Proper Grown Up – Be Yourself, No One Else Can

Holidays are like therapy; they allow you to break away from the norm and think about the bigger picture. They have always helped me re-evaluate my life and I often come back and make major changes when I get back – just ask any of my old bosses! (See this old Break Away post from 2015). After all is said and done, life is short, so just make sure you’re doing what makes you happiest. 

life quote

Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years. I’m rocking my peers. Puttin’ suckers in fear.

 – LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

How to earn money while travelling some of the best destinations across the globe.

When you are in your late twenties or early thirties the idea of taking out a full year for travelling can seem difficult for many. Taking that long a time off can feel like a set back in your career. However, what if you could earn and travel, meaning you get all the juicy life experience, whilst working your professional skills and keeping that CV glowing? There are millions of ways to work abroad, but here’s 9 nifty ways to earn and travel. 

traveller

9 Nifty Ways to Earn and Travel

1. Teach in South Korea

Can you speak a language, any language? And have you got a degree? Then you can most likely travel to a country that doesn’t speak it as their first language and teach it there. A friend of mine went to South Korea and did this in a school and absolutely loved it. She had her own apartment, absorbed herself into Korean culture and made lots of friends for life. If you can play an instrument you could also teach music! Duh!?

2. Work in Tourism in Ibiza

Again, I have friends that do this! They spend their summers abroad in Ibiza when the tourist season is high, the clubs are booming and the sun is OUT. Starting off by selling tickets on the beach is hard graft, but this how my friends began their careers abroad – and if you go for this, don’t forget your factor 50. However, after years of building a life for themselves on the white isle, these ladies now have jobs in accommodation, radio and one even has her own business, Below Zero – which does incredible rolled ice cream if you’re interested (OF COURSE you’re interested!). The job opportunities in tourism abroad are endless and you’ll meet plenty of like-minded party people if it’s somewhere like Ibiza that you’re headed for.

3. Freelance Online whilst European City Hopping

This is what actually gave me the idea of this blog post. A few weeks back I kept getting targeted by Facebook ads for a company called ‘Remote Year‘. This is a crowd funded enterprise that offers around 50-80 people to go on a round-the-world trip of a lifetime each year. The beauty of it is that everyone who is accepted is a freelancer, or ‘remote worker,’ and Remote Year will organise accommodation, flights and activities, as well as stylish spaces for co-working each day.

This is a great set up as it’s all planned for you, but also a little restrictive I would imagine (?). Don’t forget, you could still do all that Remote Year offers, all by yourself. It means putting in a bit more work but also leaves you with a lot of freedom to do what you want. Plus, that way, you’ll get to meet new people every day and be able to change your travel plans at the drop of a hat. Basically, if a lush looking bloke asks you if you want to head to the coast for a few days, you can. And you don’t have to worry about wasting money, or missing out on something else elsewhere.

If you’re wanting to work remotely, online, you better have a very understanding boss that sees the benefit of your personal development, or a great bunch of loyal clients that don’t mind not seeing you face-to-face for a while. If you start to struggle while you’re away, hit up local places to where you are staying that need English translations for menus, or try sites like Upwork and Elance for remote project work. 

paris travel

Henrique Ferreira
 

4. Pick Fruit in Australia

Australia is famed for it’s fruit picking jobs for tourists. The Working Holiday Visa in Australia entitles you to work and live for up to one year, with no longer than six months per employer – it literally encourages you to travel around! But, if you want to stay another year you have to do some sort of farm work. Enter: ‘Fruit Picking’. Picking fruit is tough – Australia is hot, but everyone’s in it together and at the end of the day if you can head to along to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for a beer and surf after work, it really doesn’t seem so bad after all. 

5. Au Pair in Sweden (for the younger readers)

Why Sweden? It’s got one of the best gigs going for au pairs, especially seeing as it’s otherwise quite and expensive place to visit. As an au pair in Sweden your accommodation and food is included, your host family pay for you to study Swedish, giving you minimum expenses, plus you’ll be paid around £400 a month for 25 hours work a week, leaving you loads of free time to get out and about. 

However, if you’re over 30 like me, there’s still hope for being an au pair abroad – just head to Canada – they let you in ’til your 35! Here, you can work on your French and explore some of the most diverse landscape in the world. 

6. Entertain the Masses on a Cruise Ship

Obviously if you are talented at singing or dancing then this is your home from home, the stage is calling darling! Dancers and singers can often earn from around £1,150 a week upwards depending on experience. So if you can teach someone how to jive or have a quirky magical talent that would make a great show, you could be a higher earner. It is competitive though as there are only so many cruise ship jobs and there are many people looking to perform and travel. 

cruise ship

Linval Ebanks

7. Photograph the Variety of South America

Travel photography has to be one of the most incredible jobs you could have to earn and travel. Simply heading to places of beautiful untouched landscape or communities unspoilt by tourism and capturing it with your camera seems so simple but so blooming NICE. Obviously you will need to be talented at photography – that is the catch. And have already invested in the best (expensive!) equipment. Being the incredible job that this is means it’s also highly competitive. You need to be able to get unique shots that capture something emotive or tell a story. Not everyone has the talent for this.

South America is an ideal destination for travel photography. It’s full of culture, colour, vibrancy, heritage, wildlife and varied communities. There is so much to see, learn and do you could never get through it all. But I bet you could take an incredible photo that would tell a thousand words. 

travel photographer

Jakub Gorajek

8. Make & Sell from Bangkok

For someone with a knack for fashion or arts and crafts, a thriving marketplace of fabrics, trinkets and accessories is heaven. Bangkok’s outdoor Chatuchak market has over 15,000 stalls to browse along. If you are an artist or jewellery designer then being able to source some local supplies will give your items a real unique selling point and back story that sells itself. Plus, there are plenty of workshops for you to learn from the locals and hone your crafting skills to perfection – check out The Loom for silk yarn and weaving classes run by a family that has been working with silk for over 40 years. Sell alongside the locals in the marketplace or whack it on Etsy for the world to see whilst you continue to travel, learn and explore all that Thailand has to offer. 

bangkok travel

Ryan Tang

9. Blog your Travels all over the WORLD

Finally, here comes ‘the dream’. Heading to different places every month all over the globe to write about hotels, activities, architecture, food, drink, bleugh, blahh, blerr – it would all be wonderful, wouldn’t it? If you have a passion for culture, a talent for writing or photography and a strong work ethic then could be the work-life balance for you. Again, it is so competitive. So seek out the untapped destinations and write about the unusual angles in order to stand out from the crowd. 

travel blogger
rawpixel.com
 

Where in the world would you love to explore if you had endless time and funds? 

 

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Career Crush: Travel, Work and Friendship

The summer time for many people means that the holiday you booked and planned months in advance is finally near. You get to go out and purchase new swimwear, research the best beaches and finalise your travel itinerary. 

We do this because let’s face it; work sucks. Holidays are when you switch off the work email and have fun with friends. But what if your holiday was your job, and your work colleague was your best mate? And you basically got paid to travel? Whaaaaaat?

Well that’s what Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman, or Tash and Dev as they call themselves, have achieved with absolute perfection, with their blog and brand, A Bikini A Day

A Bikini A Day Back Story 

It doesn’t sound like it was much of a rough starting point to the average girl living in the North East England as such, but it’s definitely a small-time to big-time success story. So, Tash and Dev were living and working in Hawaii shooting look books and videos for local swimwear brands. Sounds like a pretty good job so far, right?

Then they went travelling but kept their connections with the swimwear brands and started sharing pictures wearing said bikinis on the relatively new social network, Instagram. They took this simple idea and turned it into a fully fledged blog with travel and swimwear related content and named it, A Bikini A Day. Amassing a huge following this hobby quickly became a full-time job for both women.

A Day in the Bikini Life

OK so a comparison here would be helpful…

My social media: A snap of my lunch, quick video of my dogs and possibly a picture of my trip to the gym for good measure. 

Their social media: exclusive fashion party in the Hamptons, photoshoot on a beach in Turks and Caicos and definitely boat trips off the Amalfi coast. (I would love to share tons of their pictures but can’t because they aren’t my pics to share! – So head to their Instagram here or I have embedded a few Tweets of theirs throughout). 

This might make some people envious or slightly irritated. But these women are always working. The difference is they have managed to carve a career out of doing something they love and other people want too. In Tash’s own words:

“It’s a full-time, all-consuming job to be constantly creating content.” – Harpers Bazaar, 2016

Moral of the story is: find something you love and turn it into something that’s useful to other people too. 

A Blog that Works

With an endless stream of the type of share-worthy content everyone loves; from bikini reviews and healthy recipes, to the best suncreams and stylish beach bags, A Bikini A Day is a blog designed to fuel the ultimate traveller day dream. 

Starting out as photographers and bloggers themselves, Tash and Dev have continued to shoot and edit their own blog content, even with an audience well into the millions, located all across the globe. 

Making Waves

Tash and Dev now have their own bikini brand; Monday Swimwear. The reason for the name..?

“Because when you’re in a bikini on a Monday, you’re having a good day.” – Monday Swimwear

Fair play. As bikini experts they have managed to source the best fabrics in mix and match shapes and sizing to suit a variety of body shapes (only up to size 16 though I would mention as a downfall). But I really want one. They price at around £120 though, so this is unlikely for me. They also launched an activewear range; Monday Active and have multiple design collaborations with brands including Guess, Revolve and over in the UK, Missguided

Travel and Life Inspiration

If you’re looking for travel inspiration, or even if you have just booked a holiday, don’t forget to check in with A Bikini A Day blog as they have lots of tips for the best products for skin and hair protection in the sun as well as unique places to visit. Plus, if you have started working on a project with a friend that you love, just look at how it’s turned out for Tash and Dev – anything is possible. Dream big, work hard and have fun.

10 Freelancer Tips – Lessons I’ve Learnt One Year On

One year into freelancing I had a little think about what I have learnt. Here’s my 10 freelancer tips and some of them may seem a bit daft, but they are in fact all-too real. 

10 freelancer tips after one year of freelancing

1. Get dressed. Because no, it is not cute. 

So many times I read about freelancers working in their PJs, and then people would also ask me, “do you just stay in bed and work?” And ohh, how I would revel in telling them that “yes, some days I don’t even get dressed!” However, on those days you will find this is the day when the postman / delivery person will knock at your door to take delivery for a neighbour’s parcel – as you are now the only person in the street at home in the day. You may also find that said neighbour will then knock to collect their parcel the next day. Just get dressed. You’ll feel much more human and connected with the normal world when you do. This goes for things like makeup and washing hair too. Honestly I’ve been that bad before. 

2. Overcome the daily struggle with the non-work life.

Working from home is great, but it’s also a problem. My daily distractions are normally dog-related (I have two frenchies). So I will be typing / reading and then all of a sudden I find myself shouting “don’t chew my camera lead!” or “stop humping each other!” As you can imagine this quickly can disrupt one’s creative flow. If it’s possible, try setting up your work area away from distractions. Then there’s just plain procrastination to deal with. I often find myself shocked at the time I’m starting work but then I realise I have spent an hour cleaning and tidying the room so that I feel zen to concentrate. Make lots of lists. This helps focus your day and you get a bit of everything done. After all, you don’t want a new client prospect calling you with your arms full of washing and your frenchie snorting like a pig in the background. 

3. Do something WILD in the middle of the day.

This may sound contradictory to the above point, but here I mean doing something that’s planned and beneficial. You should take the opportunity to enjoy your freedom, otherwise you may as well go back to full-time employment. You now have the power to control your working hours so stick something random that you enjoy right in the middle of the day. It will keep you sane. For example, going to the gym when it’s quiet. This is something people who work in offices can only dream of. Go on, hit the gym at 11am or 2pm. Like I said, WILD. 

4. Find a local cafe. Don’t take the piss. 

This is something I still actually need to do. But it is also something that I know I will really benefit from to stop me from becoming ‘crazy dog lady with no friends’. I’m going to chose one day a week where I work for an hour or two from a cafe. I will likely just do some of my own social media updates – i.e. not something that is right on deadline for a really important client. I put ‘don’t take the piss’ because it’s important to remember the cafe owner is trying to run a business too. So don’t sit there all day, order a tea and plug every electronic device you own into their sockets. If you have client meetings, maybe suggest you meet there. This shows willing with your new cafe owner friend and that you’re a benefit of a customer, not a nuisance. 

freelancer tips

Maybe order more than a tea. 

5. Promote yourself. Networking aint easy. 

Building up your connections takes time. Start promoting yourself with a blog, social media presence and networking regularly before you quit your full time job (and actually take on freelancing work before you quit!) Then, even when you are freelance and have a decent client base you will still need to promote yourself like you’re Kylie Jenner. Don’t be shy, put yourself out there. You are now the face of your business and you aren’t going to grow your business unless you are constantly connecting with new people and making a lasting (and positive, hopefully) impression. 

6. Get a kick out of saying ‘no’. In a non-sadistic way. 

OK, so when you first start out the urge to say ‘yes’ to anything and everything is strong. On the flip side, if you need to earn more money, then it’s understandable. The solution is to find a way to make this work for you. Be clear on what your services are and how you create value for your clients. Make sure your client is also clear on this before agreeing to work with them. Then, if it still doesn’t feel right, it is OK to say ‘no’. Be proud of yourself for turning down a job that isn’t right for you. You should be developing a specialism and a brand. Try and still be helpful though; this client may have a job in the future that is perfect for you, so put them in touch with someone you think could be better placed to help them. 

7. Make friends and ask questions. You don’t know everything. If anything at times. 

This may sound harsh but I have a tendency to want to do everything myself – hence: ‘freelance’. However, I have recently come to accept that I simply do not have all the answers. Plus, freelancing can be down right scary at times when you’re struggling with a job. Join Facebook groups with other like-minded people; I’m a member of regional blogger and PR Facebook groups, which are filled with kind people going through the same thing daily! You should also not feel scared about reaching out to people you used to work with if you just want some friendly advice. Just think, if it was the other way round I know I would be more than happy to help one of my former colleagues or friends if they came to me with a question. If they don’t want to help you, then maybe stop being friends with that weirdo. 

8. Be a pro.

Here we have the seemingly boring crap; written agreement, spreadsheet with your income and outgoings, receipts. All that jazz. You’ll be thankful for it when you come to doing your annual return, or when a client is late paying you. You will also feel like one of those really cool businessy people that knows what they’re doing / has had screwed on. Even when you mostly don’t. But if you can get your business admin down you are winning half the battle. 

9. Keep learning. 

When you go from working in an office surrounded by talented people with different career backgrounds and years of varied industry experience, to then working with two frenchies that know how to fart, sleep and eat really well, you realise how much knowledge you used to absorb on a daily basis. It’s now up to you to keep learning and absorbing knowledge and new skills in your chosen field. Using your hard earned freelancer cash is always well-spent in Boots or ASOS (my vice), but it is also well-spent when you reinvest it in a training course. I took a creative writing course last year (read my course review here) and I’m planning another one for this year. Whenever I hear of training I’m noting it down, I’m subscribing to online tutorials and I’m reading successful copywriter’s blog articles. The biggest fail as a freelancer is to stay still too long. Keep learning!

freelancing

Floyd is needy during work hours. 

10. Have confidence.

One of your best USPs for selling your services as a freelancer is believing in yourself. When you quit your job, you quickly realise that you kind of have no choice but to believe in you – it’s one of those ‘sink or swim’ situations. When you get your first payment and you realise you did it all by yourself, and that someone out there is actually willing to pay for your work – that feels pretty good. Really good in fact. If you have a tough time, try and remember the time when it was good and motivate yourself to keep going and be proud of your self-confidence!

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