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!

Google Might Soon Be In China, and What That Mean’s For You

China pictureGoogle is taking some heat this week from its employee’s. Many aren’t happy to discover that Google is attempting to develop a Chinese friendly search engine. This means that it would be a search engine like Google, but it adhered to the censorship guidelines/laws that the Chinese government have in place for the country. The Google employee’s are mad because they feel that their work is being used for “unethical” things and they Google is no longer the moral compass they expected the company to be for the tech world.

Since when do employee’s get to dictate what a company does? Teacher’s don’t design the school curriculum, the state governments do that. Do teacher’s get up in arms because they have to teach stuff they don’t like? Rarely. As an English teacher, I don’t like that I need to teach students to eliminate their native accent when speaking English, but I do it because that is what I am paid for. I think the Google employee’s have been given more control and rights within their company than most employee’s. Now, they are taking advantage of that.

Honestly, I don’t blame Google for wanting to re-enter China. It has the worlds biggest population, and literally gives Google access to billions of people. All tech companies want to be popular there. So, of course Google is trying to work within the restrictions to get their company more revenue and users. I don’t blame Google, it is a smart business decision. Google isn’t removing more information from the Chinese people, so, why be mad at the company? As the saying goes: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Meaning don’t be mad at Google for acting like a smart business and playing China’s game.

An article with more details on this issue is here. Furthermore, this article claims that Google is the one that left China. I would argue that Google was unceremoniously blocked by the Chinese government and just “claimed to leave”. I was living in China in 2008 and I can tell you that Google was hard to access due to censorship even then. So, Google may have been heralded as this moral company for refusing to give into censorship, but it was really a clever marketing scheme to spin the fact that China wasn’t allowing Google access anymore.

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!!

 

Is Having a Good Work Ethic Connected to Having a Good Work Environment?

woman holding paint brush
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Research has demonstrated that employee’s who have a good working environment with proper benefits improve their productivity and get better results. However, what about research into working environments that are made a little too good? I know this will probably sound insane, but I think that if the working environment is too comfortable, productivity and work ethic can go down. I have one clear example of this.

In the UK, contracted employee’s get 25-26 days of mandatory leave plus holidays. They are allowed to call in sick and not lose pay or holiday days. They work decent regulated hours, and have huge levels of safety standards built in. All British residents get free health care, and if they lose their job they get government support. Maternity leave is usually about 6 months, father’s also get a bit of time off. Lastly, it isn’t easy to fire someone in the UK. You have to have a really good reason.
In the US employee’s aren’t so lucky. Maternity leave is 3 months, maximum. There are no paid sick days. If you are fortunate, you get a total of 10 days off work, plus holidays. Employers offer health insurance, but it will usually cost the employee an arm and a leg. Getting fired is easy, and if you want to claim unemployment, you can only do so for a maximum of 6 months and that is with a lot of paperwork involved. You are frequently expected to work a lot of overtime, without compensation.
Overall, the US work system isn’t the best. Especially with regards to time off and health benefits. However, I see a huge discrepancy between British work ethics and Americans. In America, people work hard at their job because they have no choice. If you slack, you are fired. And you have no government benefits to fall back on. Many people must work multiple jobs to make ends meet and cover all their expenses. In the UK, the government lends more of a helping hand. Rarely do people work multiple jobs in the UK. This is all fine until it leads to poor ethics in the workplace.
By being allowed to call in sick with no repercussion, I think it causes people to take advantage. I only call in ill if I am going to spread illness to others, or if I have a doctors note. I would say I take less than 5 sick days a year (usually). However, in Britain, I’ve seen people have more than a month off (with a doc note) and still keep their job and their pay! I truly believe this causes people to make every cold seem like a deadly virus. Furthermore, when you know your job is very protected, people get comfortable. They work slower, they don’t try as hard. Often it is in their benefit to work slower because they can get paid overtime.
In many ways as an American I am grateful for the good working environment in the UK. However, I treat my job as if it was in the US, which means I respect it. I believe American’s have been forced to have good work ethics. . Working in the UK is nice, but I think that the British have a poor work ethic because of it. There are other countries that have achieved a happier balance. In Japan, employee’s are expected to work upwards of 50 or 60 hours a week. But, they get extremely good salaries and built in company benefits. In Turkey they also work around 45 to 50 hours a week, but they get 20-30 days off and public health care. America needs a better work environment, and the UK needs to develop a way to keep employee’s incentivized to continue to maintain good work ethics.

Red Tape Connects You, Me, and Everybody

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If there is one thing I have learned from travelling the world, it is that somethings are the same in every country. A McDonald’s burger always tastes the same amount of greasy and wonderful. People universally dislike the average American tourist. Lastly, bureaucracy is a impossibly difficult no matter where you go. I speak from experience, I have dealt with governments agencies on 3 different continents.

In the UK, it is challenging because they want multiple documents for one thing. Proof of address for example, they want you to have at least 4 items, from different sources! This is especially challenging when most bills and mail are sent via email rather than physical post.
In China, they expect you to wait in massive, huge lines (queue’s). Upon reaching the front, the believe you should already know the paperwork, documents and information you need. There is no room or error or leeway. Everything must be perfectly in order to get what you need.
I think America is one of the worst locations of this. Trying to simply prove your identity is a chore. They want your birth certificate, passport, drivers license, social security care, and your left arm. This is just to prove you exist, to prove your address/residency is a whole other matter. Today, I attempted to get a driver’s license. As I have residency in two countries, having snail mail isn’t easy. But, I managed to round up several pieces of mail with my name and address, along with a title to the house I was in that also had my name on it. Yet, none of this was enough! Proving that I had a partial ownership of a piece of property in the state wasn’t enough evidence that I was a resident. My mother had to sign a legal form stating that I was a resident at the address. Then, they attempted to say our physical address wasn’t correct. Oh, the drama!! Then they charged me $70.
I shouldn’t complain. I recently discovered that in Turkey to obtain a driver’s license, you need to have a health examination to assure the government you have no health conditions that might impede your driving abilities.
I take comfort in the fact that bureaucracies are the same world wide. We might all live in different lands, but we can all unite in our loathing of the red tape.