Sunday, 14 February 2016

How Blogging Can Help Your Career | PART TWO

My last post on how blogging can help your career focused on your CV and why you should always consider including on it your blog or YouTube channel. Today we're going to discuss blogging and how it can eventually be your career.

Someone once told me that if you're thinking of your blog as a business, you shouldn't be blogging at all. Wrong! Don't be put off by people like that. There is no right way to blog - there's just you, your thoughts and your passion for writing (or making videos, of course). I mean, making money from something you love doing can only be a good thing, right?

Affiliate links, as I've said before, aren't the best way to earn money from your blog - unless you're a blogging superstar getting millions of views a month. But it doesn't do any harm, and it doesn't require a lot of effort to make an affiliate link, so what have you got to lose? It's a nice surprise when you get an email saying you've reached the payment threshold. Waterstones, here I come.

A slightly better option is doing sponsored posts. Some people are a bit iffy about sponsored posts because they're suddenly not sure if you're being genuine, but if you are being genuine and the post just happens to be sponsored, well... that's their problem and their opinion. As long as you stay true to yourself while promoting whatever it is you're promoting, there's nothing wrong with it and you earn some extra cash.

Ads are pretty good at bringing in some extra pennies, too. You can use things like Google Adsense where they pick ads to show on your blog and you get a small amount of money, but it only enters your bank account when you reach the payment threshold. The other option is to sell ad space yourself, like I did for the #HelpAmber campaign last year and which you can still see in the sidebar. Typically, you can charge £1 per 1,000 monthly views for small ads and scale up 20% for each bigger size. So, if you get 20,000 views per month, you could charge someone £20 per month for a small ad.

The next option is to join a network, a huge step and probably only something worth considering if you have a huge audience. This is mainly for YouTubers but I know a couple of bloggers who are part of a network, too. They'll negotiate with companies, getting you good sponsorship deals, sorting out anything legal, making you look more official... basically, they'll help to open doors you would struggle to open yourself. That said, they tend to take a cut of your earnings and you need to have a pretty big audience for them to even think about you. (Also, be very careful and do your research. Some networks/management companies aren't as legit as they might seem, and some would argue they're not as useful as they used to be. Plus, some networks end up owning your content as a condition of them doing all of this for you. Yup.)

Bear in mind that as soon as you start earning from your blog - even if it's just pennies - you need to register as self-employed - in the UK, at least. This is where I'm going to ask you to read this post for more info because it explains the financial side of things much better than I ever could.

Got any more tips? Share them with us! And if you're looking for more blogging tips, click here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

How Blogging Can Help Your Career | PART ONE

In a world rapidly becoming more and more digital, bloggers and vloggers can get ahead in their chosen career just by being bloggers and vloggers. Not for everything, of course, but if you're looking for opportunities that use the same kind of skills, lucky you - your blog or YouTube channel is likely to help get you there and set you apart from the rest.

This is part one in a series of blog posts on how blogging and vlogging can help your career. Today, I'll be discussing why you should always consider including your blog or YouTube channel on your CV.

So... why should you?

Firstly, it sets you apart from the rest. I've already said that, but it's true. Sure, the blogosphere is overly saturated and there are loads of people these days who consider themselves to be bloggers, but how likely is it that another blogger will apply for exactly the same job as you? And if they did, how likely is it that they would have their blog on their CV? Having a blog makes you interesting, especially if your blog looks professional and is written well.

Unless you post once every few months, it also shows that you're dedicated and that you spend your free time doing something constructive. It can showcase other skills that you might not have thought to mention on your CV, for example web design, social media management and, of course, writing. Blogs are essentially portfolios, whether you've set out for it to be like that or not. They're windows into who you are and what you do beyond what's on your CV.

Basically, having your blog on your CV shows your personality, expertise and dedication. It's an extension of you, so if you want to have it on your CV, make sure your blog compliments you. As good as it can be to include your blog or your YouTube channel when trying to get further in your career, there are some occasions where it might be best not to. I mean, if you're applying to be a teaching assistant at a nursery, maybe don't mention your blog about erotic fiction. If your blog doesn't immediately seem to line up with the position you're aiming for, maybe think about it a little more. I want to go into journalism - specifically, I'd like to write about books - so it makes sense to have this blog and my YouTube channel on my CV.

But does it make sense for you?

Bottom line: always consider having your blog on your CV. There's a small chance your employer might not like it or even care, but there's also a chance that it'll help you get to where you need to be. Everything is moving online these days, so if you're already there then you're already ahead of the game. I'm pretty sure that I've got both proper jobs I've had so far in my life because of my blog so, if you have one, use it to your advantage and see what happens.

Is your blog on your CV? If not, do you think it should be? Where has blogging got you in your career? I'd love to know! (And if you'd like more blogging tips, click here.)

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Title: Alex As Well
Author: Alyssa Brugman
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 8th May 2014
Pages: 216
Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBT
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Five days ago I stopped taking my medication. I think it might be one of those decisions. How do you know? Maybe if I just start taking them again everything will go back to the way it was?

I don't think so.

Why does it matter whether I am a boy or a girl? But it does. It really, really matters.

Alex As Well crushes all gendered stereotypes and offers insight into the mind of an intersex/trans teen. I'm completely accepting of everything LGBT+ but there are some aspects, like what's covered in Alex As Well, that I don't know as much about as I should. This book, for me, was incredibly interesting, insightful and unique and I learned a lot.

Alex was born intersex, and doctors told her parents to see which gender Alex seemed to gravitate towards and raise her as such. They chose male, giving Alex medication so she would develop as a boy would. However, Alex has always felt like a girl - and her parents never told her about the decision they made at her birth. At fourteen, Alex decides that something needs to be done, and begins the journey to find her true self.

Going back to what I said before, I learned a lot. I knew the basics but I never really stopped and thought about the psychological effects of being intersex/trans and some of it completely shocked me. In fact, some of Alex's mother's actions - purposefully misgendering her child, sneaking Alex's medication into her food - made my jaw drop. I couldn't believe the things she was doing/saying and yet she can't be the only parent out there who so strongly opposes their own child, so much so that they'll do anything to keep them as their assigned gender. Alex As Well made me realise how complicated life must be when you don't feel like the gender you were assigned at birth; it's not just about the physicality of it, but the mentality, how other people react, how you deal with their reactions and much more.

I've deducted a star because, for such a big concept, it's a very short book and I feel like it had the potential to go so much further. However, it's one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read and it's definitely altered the way I think. Alex As Well is a must-read, for sure.