Saturday, 28 January 2017

Why You Might Need to Become Self Employed if You're a Book Blogger


*puts on adulting hat*

As I've discussed before, the majority of book bloggers are hobbyists, and most frown upon earning from your blog; I'm not sure why, because other niches are the opposite, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. Today I'm going to discuss how to make money from your book blog, should you be one of the few who want to, and what you need to do once you've earned your very first penny.

First up: how to make dolla. Pounds. Squids. Notes, hopefully.

  • Ad space

Do you remember when that guy created The Million Dollar Homepage in 2005? He made a website, sold individual pixels for a dollar each, and... well, the name of the website explains it all; he made a million dollars. What a genius. Now there's a success that will never be re-created. So no, I'm not suggesting you make a new version of the Million Dollar Homepage... but if you have a blog, you too have pixels to offer. See the ad space in my sidebar? I offer a 250x250 space and authors/publishers/bloggers/whoever else (who I've vetted first, obvs) can 'rent' it for a month, six months, or a year. It's not an amazing way to make £££, but as my previous employer likes to say: every little helps...

  • Google AdSense

One of the ads in my sidebar is actually run by Google AdSense. I wouldn't reaaaally recommend this... I get a very comfy amount of visitors per day, and I still only get pennies per month. It's almost not worth it, but I look forward to the day when I check my account and finally get a little sum of surprise cash. I'm basically treating my future self. How nice. (These also run on my YouTube videos... and pretty much everyone else's.)


  • Maximise your social media accounts

Interestingly, my most frequent and reliable 'earner' (bleugh) has been Instagram (you can follow me here, if you like - I think my photos are gradually improving??) Not my blog, not YouTube, but Instagram. This is mainly thanks to apps which connect you to brands who are looking for sponsored content. A lot of them are rubbish, but some can be brilliant and have been a true game-changer for me. That said... you don't have to use apps to get #spon opportunities for your social accounts - and that leads me onto my next point...

  • Stand your ground and be brave

If you're serious about earning online, whether you're only after a bit of extra cash or you want it to become a fully grown business, you have to become more assertive. If you're a blogger, chances are your inbox is full of companies wanting you to do this, this and this, for... nothing in return. Well - that's what the email might sound like, anyway; they may well have a budget, but it's common for them not to mention it in case they can get unsuspecting bloggers to do the work for free. Good business idea, I guess, but dodgy af. There is nothing wrong with replying to these people and simply asking 'do you have a budget for this campaign?' or, when you're a little braver, firing off your rates and seeing if they're happy to actually, y'know, pay you for your work. You may be pleasantly surprised (but be aware that most of the time they'll say no. Don't worry, though; more and more companies are taking blogging seriously. It just takes time.) So there's a way you can make cash from your blog and social media accounts without the need for fancy apps. (A plus here is that, on apps, you're usually given a price and that's what you have to charge whether you like it or not. This way, you can set your own prices - but within reason and according to common sense, of course.)

Is it just me or do I look a lot younger here? IT WAS FOUR MONTHS AGO. Brb, having temporary mid-life crisis.
________

What I'm about to talk about is possibly the most important part of this blog post, because it includes taxes, self-employment, and all that fun stuff. (No joke, I genuinely find tax returns etc to be fun. My parents hate it, but I've been happily helping them with it for the last few years. I think I have issues?)

I'm talking about this because I've never seen it mentioned in the book blogosphere, and yet I know a few of us are earning something because I've seen way more #ads than usual lately. And I don't think any of us wants to get in trouble!

So... within the first three months of earning ANYTHING from your blog - even if it is literal pennies - you need to register as self-employed with HMRC. It takes minutes to do, and will mean that if they discover your blog - and, furthermore, ads on your blog - you won't get fined. There's no minimum age at which you become liable to pay income tax (the thing about under-18s not having to pay tax is a myth). What's important is the amount of your taxable income; if this is below a certain level, you don't have to pay tax (but you still need to go self-employed). So if you're, like, a thirteen-year-old millionaire blogging superstar, 1) help me 2) you have to pay income tax. Sorry.

So, recap: even if it's literal pennies, within the first three months of earning ANYTHING from your blog you need to register as self-employed, no matter how old you are.

What counts as income?

  • Money you have received from a company in return for creating content for them.
  • Money you have received for ad space.
  • Vouchers you have received in return for creating content for a company.
  • A lot of bloggers also receive 'tips' - so, they might share around their PayPal address, or have Patreons (*cough* here's mine), and anyone who wants to can contribute financially to the upkeep of the blog. This is taxable and has to be classed as income.
  • If you're a book blogger, you might be wondering if you have to declare the books you receive. It's a bit of a grey area, but from what I understand, they're tools of the trade; without them, you wouldn't be able to write about them, and therefore they don't have to be classed as income unless you've promised coverage. Loophole: just don't promise coverage. Like my disclaimer says, all books I receive are for consideration only. It makes things a lot easier for your day-to-day reading, your stress-levels, and your taxes... 

What counts as expenses?

  • WiFi.
  • A percentage of heating, water, electricity, all the boring but essential stuff.
  • Your laptop/phone/camera/mic/lighting/SD cards/batteries.
  • Repairs to these gadgets.
  • Travel costs for blog-related events.
  • Clothes bought specifically for blog-related events e.g. events you're hosting, meetings, premieres, conventions.
  • Postage for giveaway prizes and other blog-related post you may be sending out.
  • Industry magazines e.g. Blogosphere magazine.
  • Phone bills (but only the percentage used on blog-related communications as opposed to personal.)
  • Hosting, domain, web design, etc.
  • STATIONERY, my one true love.
  • Food bought at blog-related events/whilst travelling for blog-related events. Accommodation, too.

Neither of these lists are exhaustive - this is just what I came up with off the top of my head (and then researched, obvs. You're welcome.)

Tip: Get yourself a ledger (in other words, a fancy mathematical accounting notebook of crippling financial insecurity and unicorn blood, sweat and tears) and record all of your blogging income and expenses. Then, when you register to become self-employed (within three months of earning anything, remember) you'll have everything you need to know right in front of you.

When you've done that, congratulations - your blog is officially your business. That's pretty snazzy. I'm an actual businesswoman, now. Can I go and ponce around Liverpool Street in a suit now, or...? As Will from The Inbetweeners wisely and famously said... 'briefcase banter'.
________

To recap:

________

Thus concludes your lesson. I should probably do a little disclaimer here: this post was written solely with UK laws in mind because, hello, British. Also, I'm not an accountant, so whilst I heavily researched this post, had it proofread by several people, and I'm pretty sure everything is correct... it might not be. There are some great accountants who also happen to be bloggers, which means they definitely know what they're talking about. I recommend Raj Dhokia who answered a few questions for me when I registered to become self-employed.

Do you earn from your blog/social media? Would you like to? Are you self-employed, or are you going to register soon? Let me know!

Monday, 23 January 2017

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

Title: Unconventional
Author: Maggie Harcourt
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st February 2017
Pages: 464
Genres: Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Lexi Angelo is a Convention Kid - she's got a clipboard and a walkie talkie to prove it.

Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoyingly arrogant author and he's disrupting her perfect planning.

In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned... Things like falling in love.

Fans of Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell, say hello to your next favourite book!

Lexi Angelo's dad is one of the most successful organisers of conventions, and Lexi helps out with each and every event despite coursework, exams, and family problems. She knows all there is to know about conventions, and they even have a 'Convention Family' consisting of the regular staff members. But then a certain nineteen-year-old debut superstar author attends one of the conventions, and things get shaken up...

There are so many things I loved about this book. SO MANY. Firstly, the fact that I snagged an early copy from Usborne, because I read the sampler at YALC last year and honestly didn't know how I was supposed to wait seven months for the whole thing. Secondly: Harcourt's attention to detail was much appreciated, endlessly fascinating, and authentic - I love getting to see behind the scenes! And thirdly... THIS BOOK HAS CAMEOS FROM REAL YA AUTHORS. NO, I AM NOT JOKING. I was basically just fangirling over every page. Don't mind me.

In addition, Unconventional boasts a believable romance that I loved, and some truly beautiful scenes; I'm not sure if this is something I've ever noted in a book before, but there really were. If you're good at making fan art, you'll get some gorgeous creations out of this, trust me; the material is alllllll there.

If you're having YALC withdrawal symptoms, you need this book in your life. If you're not having YALC withdrawal symptoms and you've never even been to a convention (WHY?) you still need this book in your life. Unconventional is beautifully crafted, full of fandom greatness, and is sure to make you feel good. A definite must read.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

How I Became Confident Filming YouTube Videos

Credit: @laceypr on Instagram
I'm not a confident person. I have chronic anxiety, for a start. Then there's the matter that I've always got good grades, but I constantly worry that I don't actually deserve them and that it's some kind of marking error. I dislike the way I look sometimes, so much so that one year on holiday I turned away from the camera every time a photo was taken. When I meet new people, all that's going through my head is what if they think I'm weird what if they think I'm ugly what if they laugh about me later what if they think I'm stupid what if they're disappointed what if I come off as rude because I'm so busy worrying.

I don't think I'm completely alone in that.

And yet, a few years ago, I was happily prancing around at drama school, drama club, and another drama club - yeah, I did three - because it was My Thing. Diving into emotional improvisation with people I'd never met; learning pages and pages of a monologue until I was word-perfect and then performing it in front of important director-y people; attempting to run through an entire world of accents in front of the class; being given a leading role and being nervous but not that nervous. All of that was My Dream, and I was doing it. Words can't explain how much I loved it. I was going to be an actor one day and no one was going to stop me (except myself, as it turned out.)

And before that, I was on track (oh, puns) to be pretty successful in sport... Which is interesting, because the sofa is my best friend and I genuinely miss my bed when I get out of it. McDonald's is life. The only time I run is if I'm about to miss a train. And yet, I probably would've been well on my way to being on Team GB by now. Apparently. This is not my own opinion. I was very young and I quit because even at the age of 5 or 6, the coaches were big on pressuring us about our weight (yet bribing us to work harder with free chocolate???) but that's another story for another day... I may or may not include an embarrassing photo. We'll see.

MY PAST IS WEIRD AND OFF-BRAND, OKAY? WE DON'T TALK ABOUT IT.

Anyway. Amber, how is that relevant to your YouTube videos?


It's relevant because even though I would now hate being in the harsh environment of a drama school, and sport really isn't my thing anymore... there's still a sliver of performer in me. Just a little bit. Enough for me to not care too much about being on video. Not that I like the sound of my own voice, but I don't think it sounds terrible on camera... And I often think I look gross in my videos, but I upload them anyway because this is the face I was born with and I'm not going to let it stop me from doing things I like to do. That said, I nearly have let it stop me in the past. I still have a video I made in 2014, announcing that I would be quitting YouTube.

I never uploaded it because I saw sense and got over myself.

My point is, I think everyone has a sliver of performer in them - or, if not, I think this is something that can be developed over time. No one is immediately comfortable in front of a camera. It's easier for some people, sure, but it's something you get used to, just like starting at a new school, or learning to drive; some people take ages, some people are fine within a few weeks, but most people get there eventually.

Related: How I Make My YouTube Videos

Aside from that, there's the fact that everyone sees you differently from how you see yourself. You might think you look disgusting, but I guarantee someone else thinks you're beautiful - after all, there are 7.4 billion people in the world, not to mention a bunch of wonderfully different cultures each with completely varied ideas when it comes to beauty standards. And as for your voice? It's exactly the same concept. I find my accent pretty boring and ordinary, and kind of annoying sometimes, but there's one person who literally only watches me because I'm British.

Which, now I think about it, is not the best thing I've ever been told. But I'll take it. Thanks for subscribing anyway.

To wrap up? I became confident on YouTube by finding my inner performer, talking to the camera like I would talk to a friend or even myself, and... I try to ignore my issues. Yep. If I'm having a 'bad face day' (every day, kids, every day) I just make myself not think about it; the same goes for any other visible thing I dislike. They say that we're our worst critics, and it's true - who's going to notice that you're having a bad hair day? And if they do notice... will they really care? The world doesn't revolve around me, or you. There are worse things going on, after all.

It's easier said than done, but it's the truth.

A good tip floating around on the Internet is to film loads of videos and get comfortable with it before uploading anything - then you'll be awesome straight off the bat. I didn't do this. Learn from my mistakes. (And if you're not subscribed to me on YouTube, you definitely should be. Just saying.)

If you make videos, how long did it take you to become confident with it? If you don't make videos, do you think you ever will?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoe Sugg

Title: Girl Online: Going Solo
Author: Zoe Sugg
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
Publication date: 17th November 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Friendship
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


As Penny starts the school year she's ready to face the world - alone. Noah has gone off the radar after ending his world tour early and no one, including Penny, knows where he is. So when she accepts Megan's invitation to visit her performing arts school it seems like an opportunity to make some new friends.

Helping everyone else seems to be the right remedy - Elliot needs her friendship more than ever, and she meets Posey, who she can really help with her stage fright. But is charming Scottish boy Callum the right kind of distraction? And can Penny truly move on when Noah's shadow seems to haunt her round every corner?

One of my favourite trilogies has come to an end, and I am so sad that it's over. Girl Online has had a bumpy ride in 'the industry' (to be said in the voice of a hipster record-label manager with an open shirt and sunglasses) but I've really enjoyed the new instalments that have popped through my letterbox every November. What am I meant to do next November? This is like when The Missing ended and my Wednesday nights were suddenly a lot less exciting/creepy. Anyway, staying on topic...

In Girl Online: Going Solo, Noah has disappeared after ending his world tour early, and only his manager knows where he is. Megan is no longer in Brighton but in London at a prestigious drama school, where not everything is as it seems. Elliot is dealing with more family troubles, and Penny is juggling heartbreak and her mental health with trying to further her photography career, move on from Noah, help out with her mum's business and help her friends who need her now more than ever. The question is, can Girl Online cope with going solo?

Related: My Picks for Future Rounds of the #ZoellaBookClub

If you hadn't realised by now, I relate to these characters so much - especially Penny - that by the end of the book, I feel like they're actual friends, and then I'm like: Amber, they're fictional, it's over, chill, move on. For a while, Penoah is simply PenPo, in which I mean Penny is on her own as Noah has disappeared. And, even though I love Penny and Noah's relationship, I liked getting to see who Penny was on her own and what she got up to, and in this time she made loads of progress with her anxiety, which I was so happy to see. Sugg has really found her footing in terms of writing, and coupled with the fact that Penny has grown, achieved personal goals, and found what is 'uniquely Penny', this is my favourite book of the trilogy. So far. Because you never know and I live in hope.

Full of feel-good vibes, Girl Online: Going Solo is perfect for fans of Cathy Cassidy and Holly Bourne. (Also, if Girl Online has given you a book hangover too, you might enjoy Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell, the Jessie Jefferson books by Paige Toon, and Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout. I've got your back.)

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Trying Something New, Overcoming Hurdles, and Hanging Out With YOU!

I try to avoid writing short posts like this, because I prefer to give you something a bit more... more. You know? Like, why would I give you a grain of rice when I could give you a whole bowl?


...Anyway, the point of this post: come and meet me! That's right, I'm actually leaving the house and socialising for once. 'Tis a rare occasion, so make the most of it. In fact, I'm not just socialising, I'm getting up in front of a room of people and trying to hold their attention for an hour.

That's... a thing that is happening.

I've been invited to chair panels and even do my own workshops before, but due to my anxiety, I always had to say no. Part of me wanted to do it, but a bigger part of me absolutely detested the idea, so it was fine. Years of drama fees weren't wasted at all, then...

But recently I arranged to film a video with Beautiful Broken Things author Sara Barnard, and her wonderful publicist gently asked if I wanted to chair a bookshop Q&A for her later that day. There was no pressure, and she thought I might like the opportunity... and this time, my mind was 50/50. That was enough. That was better than usual. So, seeing as this felt doable for the first time ever, I said yes.

Sometimes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. That's how you grow. And I have to take all the growing opportunities I can get, because I stopped at 5"2' several years ago.

I might've taken that a little bit far, though, because a few days later exactly the same thing happened with Perdita and Honor Cargill, and I said yes to that, too. So, I've gone from absolutely no experience in chairing author events... to chairing two in a month, one week apart. THE NERVES ARE REAL. I know, though, that once I've done these - and done well, hopefully! - I'll be able to do it again, and I will have got past a hurdle that has been there for a while... a hurdle called Public Speaking. I mean, I was so anxious a couple of years ago that I couldn't even see most of my friends, so... let's give it a go, yes?


Sara Barnard
in conversation with Amber Kirk-Ford

WHEN: Sunday 22nd January 2017
WHERE: 8 High Street, Downham Market, PE38 9DB
WHAT: Join us for nibbles, drinks, a Q&A with #ZoellaBookClub author Sara Barnard, and the opportunity to get your books signed! You'll also have the chance to ask your own questions, so get your thinking caps on...
HOW MUCH? A donation to the West Norfolk Deaf Association is encouraged but optional. This is a non-ticketed event, so just turn up and we'll be happy to accommodate you!
RSVP: Click here to let us know you're going. Not required, but it'll help us to know numbers!


Perdita and Honor Cargill
in conversation with Amber Kirk-Ford

WHEN: Sunday 29th January 2017
WHERE: 8 High Street, Downham Market, PE38 9DB
WHAT: Join us for nibbles, drinks, a Q&A with mother/daughter author duo Perdita and Honor Cargill, and the opportunity to get your books signed! You'll also have the chance to ask your own questions, so get your thinking caps on...
HOW MUCH? A donation to the West Norfolk Deaf Association is encouraged but optional. This is a non-ticketed event, so just turn up and we'll be happy to accommodate you!
RSVP: Click here to let us know you're going. Not required, but it'll help us to know numbers!

I would absolutely LOVE to see some of you there. It would honestly make my day, so please come and join us!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

GUEST POST: 10 Things I (Know) About Amber Kirk-Ford, by Hawwa Alam

The Savage Savannah and The Punk Butterfly did a blog swap and talked about their friendship; Amber sent me a link to their posts and asked if I wanted to do it with her; I was busy running the world and got my secretary to look into it - and now here we are.


[WARNING: THIS IS GOING TO BE AN IMAGE HEAVY POST.]

Eh. But who's this, you ask with a relieved expression on your face, thinking finally, someone a bit more interesting than Amber! I know, I know, it's your lucky day (and Amber's).

Why? Because the blogger she looks up to, loves unconditionally and hopes to be like someday is gracing her humble home on the web: Hawwa.

You should all know who I am, really, considering I am Amber's favourite blogger and person of all time but just in case you've been living under your bed for the last few years here's a link to my BLOG, my INSTAGRAM, my YOUTUBE and my PINTEREST. You should probably go and follow me on all social media otherwise I can guarantee there will be a piece missing from your life - and just like when you've lost the last square of a jigsaw puzzle, you may go mad because of it.

A QUICK POINT TO MAKE: WE 'MET' AFTER I FOUND AMBER'S BLOG AND EMAILED HER ABOUT EVERYTHING TO DO WITH BLOGGING AND BOOK REVIEWING - SHE'LL PROBABLY TELL YOU IT WAS ANNOYING BUT HERE'S YOUR FIRST FUN FACT ABOUT AMBER: SHE GETS ANNOYED EASILY AND WILL PROBABLY CHASE YOU WITH A BAGUETTE IF YOU IRRITATE HER. ALSO IF I'D NEVER EMAILED HER WE MAY NOT BE FRIENDS NOW, SO REALLY, SHE SHOULD BE THANKING ME.

1. FROM THE GET-GO, WE'VE DISCUSSED STRANGE THINGS.
Sometimes they make absolutely no sense, sometimes we just throw words at each other without knowing what we're doing. As I was going through a few screenshots today for this post I stumbled upon some highly confusing conversations that I won't even pretend to understand. We probably didn't understand them in the moment either.


2. OCCASIONALLY WE HAVE INTELLIGENT CONVERSATIONS, I PROMISE.
We discuss politics, history and foreign affairs; literature and laissez faire. We cover all bases: racism, terrorism, sexism, xenophobia. Religion and education and careers. Also sometimes they don't make complete sense because passion trumps the ability to grammar. (Editing Hawwa: I just realised these two screenshots make Amber out to be my (stereotypical 'literally') hype man. Not mad about it.)


3. SHE THINKS SHE'S FAMOUS.
I mean, even before that blue tick on Twitter gave her an ego the size of the file detailing every single instance that Donald Trump has said something offensive, it was already swelling. Sometimes she would take longer than a minute to reply to my messages, occasionally she would try and masquerade as a celebrity (you're not fooling anyone my friend, just, stop embarrassing yourself? I'm saying this for your own good, not mine.) I mean, just look at this. (Disclaimer, I promise she made these herself.)

(Editing Amber: As you can see, Hawwa is an utter bumhole who breaks her promises. Yes, I made the Jessie J photo but not the other one. I don't hyphenate my blog name. So WHO DID? It's a mystery, kidz.)


4. HER PUNS/JOKES ARE FUNNY (sometimes).
Now I'm rubbish at compliments, we both are - it's much easier for us to be savage to each other - but occasionally (this is as far as I can go with being nice) she makes a funny comment, or a decent pun.


5. WE DISLIKE THE SAME PEOPLE.
Nothing brings people together more than a mutual dislike of the same people - sadly.

6. WE HELP EACH OTHER OUT WITH 'IMPORTANT THINGS'.
Homework, exam revision, blogging advice, proof-reading, choice of GIF - I'll help her and she'll help me -- awwwh, that actually sounds so sweet - and our friendship isn't the 'sweet' kind; it's the savage and sarcastic kind, but I guess sometimes we can be nice human beings.

(Editing Amber: Hawwa's literally given no context for the below screenshot, so I'll do it: I think she was writing something about home education - something we both have experience of - and she wanted my opinion, or something. You're welcome.)


7. IN OUR DREAMS WE'RE GOING TO LIVE IN AN AESTHETICALLY PLEASING APARTMENT ONE DAY.
At one point it was going to be in New York with exposed brick walls and a cool wooden bookshelf with a ladder and a family of succulents, with my art on the walls. But then Donald Trump became President-Elect and the plans sank like a lead balloon. Maybe London? Because of course, one day we're going to be millionaires too. (Actual fact: I have my (monopoly) money on Amber becoming the most famous person I know one day - I can just see it happening, with me all the while living in a cardboard box alone...)

(Editing Amber: True, thank you for acknowledging it.)


8. SHE'S ACTUALLY REALLY WEIRD.
Really really weird. But 'you've got to be odd to be number one' -- (shoutout to my mum for sending me that meme, as cheesy as it is.)



9. SHE'S OBSESSED WITH CIMORELLI.
She's met them and taken selfies with them and tweeted them and been tweeted by them and basically by now she's part of their family.

10. SOMETIMES WE HAVE ENTIRE CONVERSATIONS IN BOOK QUOTES.
Because first and foremost, we are book buddies. We discuss and rant and rave over books and characters and plots. And then we get carried away and re-enact entire scenes.


So there you have it, a 'short' and comprehensive profile of Amber - and after writing all this, I'm beginning to wonder why we're actually friends, I'm so much cooler than her?! (Editing Amber: Where's your blue tick, Hawwa? Non-existent? Shame.) Applications for joining my friendship group are now open, link in my Instagram bio.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

3 Books That Will Get You Into Poetry


In my recent post A Life Update: Books, Films, Blogging Struggles and Rambling, I mentioned my love of poetry. It's not something I've ever really talked about before, probably because this blog has always focused heavily on YA fiction, but yeah - I'm a sucker for a good book of poems.

I don't know about you, though, but I hardly ever see poetry recommendations unless a book hits the big time, like Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey. That's why I'm about to show you three books of selected poems that will blow your socks off. Or whatever else you're wearing. This just took a weird turn. Shall we talk about some nice poetry, instead?

A Choosing: Selected Poems by Liz Lochhead


This is one of the books I'm studying this year, and although we haven't started on it yet and probably won't until spring, I've already devoured it because I'm that annoying kid who actually buys and reads the summer reading list in, like, June. What drew me to A Choosing originally, aside from the obligatory reading list, is that it is modern and feminist. Um, yes please. At GCSE and AS we had to study much older poems that I never really connected with, so to study something that actually appeals to me straight off the bat is pretty cool.

Buy the book: Amazon | Waterstones | The Book Depository

Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson


Chasers of the Light shows the miracle in the mundane and the epic made simple, all whilst being an extremely photogenic little hardback. It magnifies the small moments and I'm in love with it; the book itself and how it came to be. (Gregson stumbled upon a typewriter, started writing and hasn't looked back since. Ten years ago I randomly started writing a blog post in a paddling pool and I'm still here. I think sometimes the things most valuable to us in life start as accidents.) The thing I loved most about Chasers of the Light is that it's appreciative of the little things in life and captures the most fleeting of thoughts.


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


Of course I had to mention this one - it's my favourite! I most connect with the first poem which you can see here on my Instagram, but a lot of them resonate with me. It's so, so, so gorgeous and, unsurprisingly, everyone has been talking about it. It's a phenomenal little book of raw and honest poetry, complete with simple but perfect line drawings. If you're going to get any book from this post, make it this one (although all of them would be preferable because, y'know, they're all great.)


What poetry shall I read next? And have you read any of these?

Monday, 2 January 2017

Starting 2017 As I Mean To Go On: Waiting, Making Things Happen, and Patreon

Happy New Year! I'm writing this on 1st January, a day I usually spend waiting for the plans I've made and the goals I've put in place to happen. The thing is, they don't happen unless you make them happen, so instead of waiting, I've decided to start as I mean to go on and, in the words of Shia LaBeouf, just do it.


First up: Patreon. It's a website which, in their own words, 'helps creators of all kinds connect and get sustainable income.' Basically, creators - bloggers, vloggers, authors, musicians, artists, film-makers, actors, illustrators, and many more - can sign up, make a page, and set up a bunch of rewards and exclusive content not available anywhere else in return for monthly pledges from kind members of their audience. These pledges can be as little as $1 a month (about 50p). It all adds up, and means creative people can keep creating.

Blogging, vlogging and all that jazz is expensive. 'You don't have to do it,' you could grumble - but there are many things we don't have to do, and yet we do them anyway, because they fulfil us, give us a sense of purpose, fill our lives and generally just bring us joy. In that case, we kind of do have to, otherwise we're not being very nice to ourselves... Oof, that was deep. I was about to tell you about the kinds of expenses that can crop up, because if you're not a blogger, you've probably never considered it. Let's just do that.


  • Hosting
  • Domain name
  • Blog design
  • Coding help
  • Postage for giveaways
  • Boosting social media posts
  • Camera
  • Lighting
  • Microphone
  • Tripod
  • SD card
  • Props for photos/videos
  • Travelling to events
  • Guest posters/authors appearing in videos (I can't pay for this at the moment and it makes me uncomfortable. These people deserve payment for their work. This is something I'm desperate to sort out when possible)
  • Your time (if it's your job)
  • WiFi (nearly forgot that one!)

I doubt anyone pays for all of these, but I bet everyone pays for at least two things on this list. I don't pay for props, for example (though I would LOVE to because how fun would that be, and also, how much better would photos/videos look?) I don't pay to boost my social media posts, either, though again I wish I could. Anyway, there's your insight into the running costs of a blog.

So... to the point: I've decided to make a Patreon. I did a poll on Twitter just to check it wasn't the worst idea ever, and the overall answer was 'do it!' so... here we go. It's the sensible thing to do - the only thing I really can do, unless you want my blog to start looking like the classifieds of a newspaper - and I explain that in more detail over on my Patreon page. It's what needs to happen for TMLB to grow, and for my big plans to actually become a reality. Pledging is completely optional, and if you're really struggling to buy your own necessities, please don't try to fund mine - you come first! If you would like to pledge (or become a 'Patron', as I think it's called) you can do so here, and pick up a range of rewards for your generosity. This includes but isn't limited to:

  • A bookish mug designed by moi
  • Bookmarks, again, designed by me
  • Access to an unpublished blog post or video
  • A personalised thank-you video from me
  • A box of surprise gifts I've picked out for you
  • Book recommendations personalised and tailored to you

...and more! It wouldn't be fair if I didn't offer things in return, and I wouldn't want to do it without giving you something for your money, anyway. (If you have any suggestions, or anything in particular you'd like me to offer, please do let me know.)