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.

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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Learn a New Skill: How to Write a Novel Course Review

It’s never too late to learn something new, and with an abundance of online courses available at your fingertips, what’s stopping you?

Going freelance gave me the opportunity to do more things I loved. As a fan of storytelling in novels and in my work (brand storytelling – not just making things up) I decided to have a go at a six-week writing course with the Writers’ Workshop called ‘How to Write a Novel‘. This is my review, plus why taking a course could help open new doors of opportunity. 

Why I took a writing course

  • Learning new writing skills helps me grow as a professional copywriter and marketer – it’s basically a no-brainer in terms of work related benefits. 
  • ‘How to Write a Novel’ was something I always wanted to do as I am obsessed with reading books as well as storytelling in branding and marketing.

Why should you take any course?

  • Develop your interest in something you’re passionate about – treat it like a hobby!
  • Improve your skills.
  • Looks good on your CV to employers; “this girl is self motivated, independent and ambitious. I am not just going to hire her, but offer her even more money!” (It could happen).
  • Builds your confidence.

Six-week writing course structure

1. IDEAS

My advice would be: come with an idea you want to develop for this course. Just because, if you don’t have an idea already you can waste time chopping and changing throughout the weeks, rather than developing something fully and getting the most from the course. The main theme of this week was: write what you know!

2. CHARACTERS

This was my favourite part of the course, and my favourite part in all storytelling. You can go mad with spider charts, spilling out personality traits, quirks, jobs, looks, dress sense and much more. The possibilities are endless. Just be careful not to base your character too closely to anyone you know in real life – it’s unlikely to go down well. 

3. STORY

Here you get into the plot of your story and consider popular story lines such as rags to riches, a quest of self discovery, a tragedy etc. You really need to decide what events and conflicts are going to spur your character on, as well as making it a real page-turner for your reader. 

4. STRUCTURE

Now wasn’t this something to behold when reading one of my favourite books, Gone Girl?! The structure was so well planned out that the story continuously revealed itself in a surprising and extraordinary way. Author Gillian Flynn said she had hundreds of post-its covering a wall in her basement to create a timeline – just to help her keep track of the plot. Twists and turns in storytelling doesn’t come without a planned structure of scenes and sub-plots. Just make sure you don’t leave it up when you have friends over – they might get the wrong end of the stick and call the police on you. 

5. STYLE

Developing a unique voice is what separates good writers from great writers. It’s definitely something you can work on (I’m trying!) but some people are just born with a natural flair. This week was about finding your authentic voice and being confident about it. Try different extremes of voices before settling into what feels natural. Knowing what you are not gets you much closer to knowing what you are. 

6. EDITING

This is something I do ALL THE TIME. I even go back and edit my texts and Whatsapp messages. If I had to rely on a first draft of anything I don’t think I would have got very far in life. The rewrite is when your work starts to have style, personality, maybe an added surprise. If you have the time, sleeping on it can work miracles; there has been many a time a fresh pair of eyes the next day has lead me to think a moron wrote my work the day before. 

how to write a novel

Cost: Is it worth it?

Writers’ Workshop: How to Write a Novel Beginners  Six-Week Course – £365

Personally, I would be happy with the cost is it was a face-to-face classroom environment. As it was an online course I think it was overpriced. If you get a group that are up for critiquing each other’s work you will get a lot more out of it. My group was quite quiet so it felt like working solo unfortunately. 

What are the value benefits?

  • An experienced course leader who is a published author. 
  • Video introduction each week. 
  • In-depth notes for each week – almost 4-5 pages that I have kept and still refer to!
  • Suggested further reading so you can go off and continue to learn independently.
  • A forum for discussion amongst your class peers (as long as people are chatty!)
  • The structure and discipline of deadlines – making you think, write and learn regularly.
  • Individual feedback on each of your assignments. 

Learn a new skill and feel happier in 2017

There are now courses you can do in almost anything – ever considered Surf Science or Viking Studies? Maybe you should. Why not make a fresh start in 2017 and learn a new skill that makes you feel good?

EYES ON THE PRIZE

For a blog that’s meant to be all about living a more inspiring life I was feeling rather uninspired today. So there I was, sat on the sofa downloading photo editing apps to make my Instagram pics look even more awesome, instead of writing some sort of ‘how to get the life you want’ blog post, when I had a brainwave (it happens occasionally).

I Googled some lines that make you want to stop waiting for something good to happen and start making something good happen (this could be a quotable line too surely?), overlaid this on to a few of my own photos and created some mega-motivational, poster-style graphics. You’re welcome.

So what have we learnt today? Sometimes just allowing yourself to run away with your imagination can lead to something productive, its called ‘being creative’. So don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re procrastinating, unless of course you actually are. In that case just get on with it. Clear as mud? Thought so… again, you’re welcome.

step forward answer is always no motivational quote

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

CHANCES SAYING

So today I quit my job. With no other job to go to. Sounds crazy, right?

I thought about my personal life and my career and I decided I want the freedom to travel, to learn and to make my own money at a time that suits me. After all, I don’t have anyone else I’m responsible for so I may as well make the most of it. So I’m going to freelance!

As I read this last sentence back to myself visions quickly appear of the dreamy little girl in ‘Father of the Bride’ saying ‘Daddy, I met a boy in Rome and we’re getting married!’ Except I’m not a little girl and I really do know what I’m doing! Or maybe I’m still trying to convince myself…

So now the countdown has begun as I have until the New Year to find myself some interesting projects to work on. Hopefully I’ll start 2016 with a bang – and that’s not banging my head against the nearest wall.

‘Freelance’; this gets added to my list of words I like – it’s very ‘free’ after all.