The Blogging Sites You Should and Should Not Use

I’ve been blogging on and off for more than 5 years. I’ve gone through 10 different layouts, 4 different names and 3 different hosting sites. I’ve tried all the popular ones, and these are my experiences. Hopefully, I can save you some hassle (and money).

Screenshot (26)Blogger: Blogger is the blogging platform created/run by Google. I started my first blog on this hosting site. (Awww baby writer) It is like blogging with training wheels. It is very basic, but that is what you need when you are just starting out. Instead of using it to generate traffic, or be the fanciest blog on the block, I used Blogger as the place to really nail down my personal voice. Writing content is easy, as is adding embedded links and pictures. The best part is how straight forward it is to design the layout how you want. In addition, it links so well with your Gmail, Youtube, and Google profile. The help page was useful, and if I had further questions I always got prompt responses. I was never able to get Google Ad Sense to work…which is ironic because Google is the host… I recommend Blogger for the new writer who is just exploring what blogging is and where they want to take their writing. I give Blogger a 6 out of 10.

Screenshot (27)Wix.com: Wix was my second hosing site. I transitioned from Blogger to Wix because I thought Wix could generate more traffic and take my blog to the next level. I was wrong. I will say the layout was better than Blogger, although it took me much longer to arrange the way I wanted. It had more options for personalising my various pages. They have free images to add to the blog, but they make it difficult to Pin on Pinterest. It was the prettiest version of my blog that I have had. However, I paid a premium rate so I could have Google Ads…and Wix never gave them to me. I was paying a fortune to the company every month for services they never delivered. The Wix help is HORRIBLE! They mostly redirect you in a circle on their FAQ page. The traffic for my blog went waayyyy down on Wix. They do nothing to help with blog promotion, which Blogger did. And the final issue is it is next to impossible to leave Wix. They bill you for things separately, so I tried to cancel my plan and domain, and I managed to cancel for one of them. But, Wix continued to charge me for hosting a blog that no longer existed. The website wasn’t live online, but I was paying for it….When I complained, they refused to refund. And the free version they offer for blogs is next to useless. Wix is not a good host for a blogger, maybe for a different kind of website but not for a writer. I give Wix a 2 out of 10.

Screenshot (28)WordPress: This is the 3rd blog host I have tried. It is a bit more complicated to use than Blogger, but they layout looks better. I have been able to personalise it to my liking. The help page is equal to Blogger. Creating content is easy, and they offer a lot of stock images which is crucial to a small writer. I still don’t have Google Ad sense. All blog hosting sites now charge you to use Google Ad sense, and it is only worthwhile if you have a lot of traffic. But, if you have a lot of traffic, most sites offer you abs for free. So, is not the ideal situation. The one thing that WordPress is spectacular at is attracting traffic to my blog! I’ve gotten more likes and follows with WordPress than any other hosting site. The free version is more than enough for me. I would say this blog is good for the writer who knows their content, knows what they like, and is prepared to put in a bit more work to make their website look how they want. If Blogger is for a beginner and Wix is for NO ONE, then WordPress is for the intermediate-advanced blogger. I give WordPress a 7 out of 10 (so far).

If you are a new (or old) blogger and you are thinking of switching your hosting platform, or upgrading, read this! I wish I had found more honest reviews of hosting sites before I started out. I would have saved myself a lot of time and money. Please comment and share which sites you like or hate!

M.I.A in Life

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I realize I have been missing in action on this blog. Sadly, I have not only been missing from my writing, but from my life. Somewhere in England, I lost myself. Now, I’ve been going through a period of self-discovery. It started with a last minute job I got teaching English as a Foreign Language in Oxford. Who knew a summer job could change so much?

Moving away from friends and family is never easy…except this time it was! I think that by sometimes getting out of our comfort zone and being thrust into a challenging situations entirely on our own, we are forced to develop as a person. I certainly have.

I don’t think I have changed much, what I think has happened is that I have remembered who I am. I am a person who loves to live out of a suitcase. It keeps me on my toes, it gives me freedom of movement, and most importantly an excuse to shop for things I forget! Living out of my suitcase in Oxford has taught me that I am much less materialistic than I thought. I used to think I needed to shop, spend money. It used to be the only thing that would make me feel good in my miserable life. But now, shopping is an occasional past time, but not something I need to improve my mood.

I have remembered that I am a social person! I’ve gotten used to seeing the same people, doing the same things, and I grew bored. I stopped wanting to go out because it was never something new. I thought I had grown into an introvert during my 20’s. Not so. I was just bored of my surroundings. In a new place with zero friends, I have blossomed. I talk to strangers, invite acquaintances out, go drinking, try new foods. My life feels full again, and I’m back to my usual extroverted self.

I learned to let down my guard. 3 months ago, I hated working out in a gym, and would never willingly exercise with another person. I would never take a fitness class. I was too embarrassed by my perceived lack of athletic ability. Now, I both don’t give a shit and also know I am a lot more capable than I thought. I’ve also lost a good number of inches off my entire body. I have a gym buddy that I work out with almost everyday, and I don’t care if they see me struggle. I tried an abs class for the first time, and it nearly killed me. I don’t compare myself to others at the gym anymore. And I willingly join in sports games and physical activities. Because I would rather be the worst player on the field than the best watcher on the sidelines.

Most importantly, I have learned that I am independent. I used to need to talk to my mom or friends everyday or I would feel lonely. But, living in Oxford, I have discovered I am completely ok with being alone. I don’t need other people to fill my time because my own company is more than enough. At night, I’m perfectly content sitting in my room. I’m fine with eating a meal by myself.

I know this isn’t my usual, informative post. But, I do have some life advice to offer you. If you are ever feeling stuck in your professional or personal life, get out! I don’t mean quit your job or marriage. I mean, change your surroundings. Go volunteer for 3 months in South America. Take a college course over the summer in a different state. Go to France to learn French. Force yourself to leave your physical comfort zone, and soon you will find that everything else will change as well. I think that what controls us isn’t who or what we do, but where we are. A change in destination is all that is needed to change your life.

Crucial Advice If You Are Going to University

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I started university earlier than most, I had my first uni class at 14 in China. I officially started studying uni in America at 16, three and a half years later I had my first degree. Now, I have 2 degrees and have attended 4 different universities all over the world.  I’ve lived on and off campus, taken out student loans, paid tuition, and pulled all night study sessions. Suffice it to say, I am an expert at university life. 

In all my experience at universities, I’ve been given massive quantities of advice. Don’t drink on a Sunday, hand write your notes, focus on studies, maintain a side job. The suggestions never end. And NONE of it has helped me in the real world. No one warned me that university is the easy part of life, that studying is for an exam is relaxing compared to job hunting. No one said student loans would make me suicidal. No adult has ever given me worthwhile advice about university. 

So, I’m going to do every student the favor I was never given. There are only 3 things you need to know about university. Live by these rules, and life will be simplistic. 

  1. Unless you are going to Yale, Cambridge, Harvard or some other Ivy League, NO job will ever care where you got your degree from. They WILL NOT care if you went to your local college or a state university. (Honestly, a lot of jobs won’t care if you went to an Ivy League either). So, DON’T take out more $$ and debt to go to a fancy private school across the country. Go to the school that is the cheapest for your chosen major. 
  2. Your grades/marks DO NOT MATTER. At the end of the day, on your resume/cv you will put down that you graduated from X university with Y degree. I’ve had dozens of interviews and an employer has never asked me what GPA was, they don’t care if I got honors. An employer cares if you got the physical diploma and THAT IS IT. Therefore, don’t drive yourself crazy at university to get the perfect scores. Learn what matters for your chosen speciality, enjoy sports, party with friends and experience life outside the lecture hall. I promise that your marks/scores truly will not matter once you walk across the stage at graduation. Literally, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT GRADES.
  3. The real world and job market all rely on one skill. The ability to sell. If you can creatively interpret your skills and summer jobs on your CV so it matches for each position you apply for, then finding employment will be easy. Every job should have a personalised resume that uniquely sells YOU to that specific employer. This is all a nice way of saying, on your resume/CV and in interviews, YOU JUST GOTTA BULLSHIT. I’ve been hired for dog walking and teaching English, and my degree is in political science. How did I get those jobs? I sold the hell out myself. I am my #1 product. 

There you have it. These 3 things are the most important pieces of advice you will ever get. By following my words of wisdom, university life will be less stressful, you will get interviews, and most importantly, you will survive in the real world. 

(Please excuse my colorful language in this post, my goal is to get the point across as clearly as possible)

 

How To Turn a Side Hustle Into a Career

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Does your ESL teacher look like this?

Staying in England, I have struggled financially. The cost of living is high all over the country, and finding a well paid position in my skill set isn’t easy. Around Christmas of 2017, I had a lot of people to buy gifts for and no cash to do it. I was desperate, and even though I already worked 2 part time jobs, I took on another. My parents taught English online, and suggested a company that had flexible schedules and decent pay. It was called Cambly, I applied, and was hired within 3 days.

I initially took the job as a way to get through the holidays, but, I was so good at it, and I made so much money that I never got around to quitting. I’ve been with Cambly 6 months now, and I work online almost every day. I swore that I would never be a teacher, but, I have a knack for teaching English. Just a few months into working for Cambly, I became one of the highest rated teachers, and I rarely have any open slots in my schedule. Sometimes my teaching hours are booked up weeks in advance.

Teaching English was my side hustle. I never thought it would turn into more. But, I was miserable in my day job working at a nursery/daycare, and was desperate for a change. The UK is a hot spot for ESL summer camps, and all of them were looking for qualified English teachers. I applied for 2 different companies and was hired by both. So, I immediately left my job at the nursery and NEVER looked back.

My side hustle was born out of necessity. I needed money, and I had the skills to teach English (those skills were a degree and understand of different cultures). But six months in, my side hustle is now my primary source of income. I make at least $100 a week and I only work 10 hours teaching online. I make around $500 a week teaching English at summer camps. My schedule is insanely flexible, I design my own classes, and am basically my own boss.

Will I always be an ESL teacher? I don’t know. For now, it pays the bills and allows me the freedom to write. Turning a side hustle into a career was never my plan. However, side hustles are usually things that people enjoy, are good at, and treat as a hobby. Like running an Etsy store or a blog. It only makes sense that something a person is passionate about would become more profitable than a job they despise.

If you have any questions about side hustles, making profits out of them, or about teaching ESL, DO NOT hesitate to contact me. I will answer any questions and happily lend support!!