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!

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Buy This If You Are Renting or In a Dorm

Screenshot (21)I don’t frequently do reviews, unless something truly warrants my attention. But, hands down the best investment I have ever made is a foam mattress topper. I have moved every year since I was eighteen. I’ve lived in three different states, and two different countries.

The one thing that has stayed constant in all that is, I move into furnished houses/apartments. I don’t move furniture, just clothes. And all of the beds in the places I have moved to have been less than heavenly. Usually, they are old, threadbare, and covered in stains. For a lot of these years, I’ve been a poor university student, or struggling graduate. I could not afford to buy a new mattress every time I changed homes. So, for five years, I just accepted having a bad back from constantly sleeping on terrible mattresses.

Then, one day I got smacked with the worst food poisoning of my life (and I’ve lived in East Asia so that says a lot) and I was trapped in a bed where I could feel every single metal spring. It was agony. In a haze of vomit, I rush ordered a foam mattress topper off Amazon Prime. It cost me £50 and was the only cheap, highly rated option that had next day delivery.

From the minute I put it on my ancient bed, everything turned magical. It was like laying on a cloud. I’ve moved three times since I bought the mattress topper. And the only thing I have always brought with me is this foam pad of heaven. The foam mattress topper is nearly two years old, and it hadn’t worn down. The eggshell like top is still visible, and there are no dents from my partners larger frame.

No matter where I live, from now on, I will always buy or bring with me a foam mattress topper. They can compress into a box, and it ensures I always get a good nights rest. For any university student, or anyone renting a house that comes fully furnished, this is an investment you will NEVER regret. Plus, you can find them for fairly cheap, and it will save you loads in coffee and chiropractor costs because you won’t have a bad back or lack sleep due to your bed arrangement.

Starbucks Is Becoming a New Luxe Brand and You Should Be Glad!

StarbucksI recently read a piece that said Starbucks has shown a 3% drop in growth in the last two years within the US. It has left the business baffled. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the incidents that have occurred with regards to racism towards employee’s. But, the stranger thing is that I have seen a surge in Starbucks stores abroad.

As a teacher, ALL my kids buy is Starbucks. These are kids from all over Europe and Asia, many of which have Starbucks in their home countries. But, it is more rare, therefore they are going to Starbucks on the high street in Oxford EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am unsure how they afford it, but afford it they do.

Starbucks has only increased in popularity with their progression towards the straw ban and being more environmentally friendly. Now, I have to ask for a straw. I also know that they are testing out new cups that are strawless. In addition, I have seen that Starbucks will now charge an additional .05 pence for non-reusable cups. It used to be we got a discount for using our own mugs, now we have to or pay a fine.

I can tell you that other coffee brands in the UK and Europe are not taking drastic measures such as this to cut down on their environmental impact. So, why is Starbucks less popular in the US? I don’t have the answer. The corporate office shouldn’t be concerned however, because Starbucks is only growing in popularity around the world.

Perhaps like Chanel, Dior and other luxury brands, Starbucks will only hold mass appeal to people from other countries. The allure of Chanel is that it is French. French people like it, but they have other brands that are also French that cost way less. The same could be true for Starbucks. Perhaps Starbucks should focus abroad and sell the “Americanness” of the brand and accept that the US is no longer it’s target audience.

M.I.A in Life

background beautiful blossom calm waters
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.