In Interviews on
February 12, 2017

A Conversation with Poet, Blogger and Author Nicole Gulotta

Nicole-Bio

These days, it’s rare that a blog strikes you as being refreshingly different. But Nicole Gulotta’s is exactly that. As a voracious reader and writer, Nicole’s popular blog, Eat This Poem, invites you to bring poems to life on the plate, infusing recipes with personal stories, thoughtful commentary and simple ingredients. Her blog is also home to a selection of city literary guides, which just so happen to be one of my favourite corners of the Internet.

In this conversation, we discuss writing rituals, how to stay creative while working full-time, and her upcoming book (!!!).

 


Can you share a little bit about yourself, what you do and why you do what you do?

I’m a writer, author, tea drinker, and home cook. At the moment, I work for a food startup in Los Angeles, the city I’ve called home for nearly a decade. Because I’m a content editor, writing is the core component of my day job, but I always have several creative projects of my own going on, too.

I write because I can’t not write. Writing found me early in life (I have memories of family vacations where I scribbled songs, poems, and our daily adventures into notebooks), and in high school I started writing poetry very seriously (so seriously, in fact, I went on to study it in graduate school). Now I write more about food, but regardless of subject, the impulse to write has always been there.

This past year I’ve started connecting with fellow writers to encourage them on their journey. I absolutely love this work.

The writing life is hard, but I believe the more we’re empowered to embrace our desire to write, combined with practical tools to navigate balancing work and creativity, the easier it becomes.

Read more

In Guest Posts on
February 11, 2017

How to Stop Robots from Taking Your Job… But Seriously

Robots | Jobs | Career advice

What will the job market of the future look like? Are robots really coming to take our jobs? Where is all this technology taking us… and do we want to go with it?

E-commerce consultant Patrick Foster answers the big questions… 


VR, artificial intelligence, robots, the internet of things -– these shiny new technologies promise a world of possibilities. They will improve our quality of life, free us from mundane tasks, and make our homes smarter. What’s not to love?

It may be early days, but these technologies have already created new work opportunities, and helped industries grow and develop. Japan, for example, is showing how robots can help battle isolation for the elderly (and they may even run our hospital wards one day). After all, using technology in care is a great way to address the problems of an ageing population.

But what about the other side of progress? The changes technology brings – are they all good? While many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of robotic assistance, you don’t need to. Here are some tips on how to embrace and be excited about what’s to come…

Embrace different career trajectories

These days, careers aren’t straight roads, but rather meandering paths. We change, we grow and we move on. Digital has played a big part in opening up the career playing field, as people embrace working on the side and changing jobs frequently. Some of my predictions about what’s next include:
Read more

In Lists on
February 5, 2017

Hey, Your Page Views Obsession Is Holding You Back

Blogging | Blogging tips | Blogger | Success | Motivation | Wellbeing | Health | Career tips | Entrepreneurship | Online success

Page views.

 

I’m obsessed with them.

 

It all started when my blog started gaining a little traction. A few hundred here, a few hundred there.

 

Suddenly, a project I didn’t have any plans for became a possibility. An exciting possibility.

 

My page views went up and I liked the way it felt.

 

Validation for my efforts. Attention. Recognition.

 

But what goes up, must come down. (Or so the saying goes…)

 

As I saw my WordPress bar chart go from looking like a New York skyline to straight-up suburban, I felt, well… anxious.

 

Perhaps I’m not meant to admit it, but page views and vanity metrics and Google Analytics and unique visitors are making me miserable. Instead of focusing on the positives, I find myself obsessing over my next milestone.

 

“How many newsletter subscribers should I have? Why did Instagram have to change their algorithm? Will I ever become a “big” blogger?”

 

If you put yourself and your work out there on the Internet, I applaud you. Because this shit is hard. Hitting publish takes courage. Promoting your work takes courage. Building something from nothing takes courage. 

 

It doesn’t help that the amount of noise around growing your blog is deafening. Everywhere you click, there’s a friendly-looking blogger with an online course to sell you. More page views! More subscribers! More! More! More!

 

Damn.

 

But that isn’t why I started blogging.

 

I started because I love to write and, for the first time in my life, felt like I had something to share.

 

Maybe you dream of being a full-time blogger. Maybe you’re already one. Either way, my point is this:

 

Obsessing over your follower count isn’t going to change anything. It’s only going to STOP you from coming up with the ideas that can actually grow your audience.

 

So! The next time you start obsessing over your page views, here are some more productive and positive things you can do instead:

 

1. Write your truth

Authenticity may be the buzzword du jour, but it’s true. Writing honesty and candidly for yourself, rather than purely for page views, will help you attract your tribe over time. Repeat after me: Your tribe is out there. Make sure they find your best, truest self when they visit your blog.

 

2. Get to know your audience better

If you haven’t already heard the term “micro influencer”, you soon will. Many brands are shifting towards wanting to work with bloggers who have a strong and loyal audience. Quality not quantity, basically. Instead of spending ten minutes checking your stats, use the time to ask your audience’s opinion. What do they love about your content? What do they want to see more of? Invest time in building your engagement.

 

3. Support other bloggers

Go read another blogger’s work, leave a comment, share it and support each other. Building your online audience is all about building a community. How can you build your future audience when you’re too engrossed in your current metrics?

 

4. Trust your timing

If you’re consistent and continually producing high quality content, your blog and social media networks *will* grow over time.

 

Your value as a content creator isn’t based on your page views, or your follower count, or any other online numbers. It’s based on your engagement. With your audience and yourself.

 

5. Focus on your wins

Start keeping a blogging journal. This will get you away from the screen (hallelujah!) and be a positive outlet for you to reflect on all you’ve achieved so far, without looking at a graph for validation. Write down a monthly win. Document the posts that have done well. Identify any trends. My best ideas always take place away from my laptop. Writing everything down in pencil is proven to help you think more creatively.

 

6. Remember your intention

Disclaimer: it’s totally ok to want to grow your blog. Running a blog is time-consuming and you deserve to make money from your efforts. Just don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place

 

From now on, I’ll be following these steps religiously. 

 

And if my page views go up in the process? Well, that’s just great 🙂

 


Sign up for my free newsletter & you’ll receive insights from great minds + musings on careers, creativity and more. 

In Guest Posts on
February 4, 2017

Why Being A “Mature Student” Might Be The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

afd3dba1a0c12f24e6342852db38a428

As Rebecca Hunter becomes a “mature student” at 30, she wonders: is being a lifelong learner the key to fulfilment?

 

I’m sitting in a classroom, next to a guy who’s ten years my junior. We’re discussing the merits of two film reviews we’ve been asked to analyse – comparing their stylistic components and their content. We’re reflecting on what we’ve learnt in previous weeks about sub-editing and crafting the most engaging of headlines and standfirsts.

Conversation turns to why we’re both here, on this Tuesday night, learning about the world of journalism. He has no A-levels so he’s here on an alternative path to university. “History and politics” are what he tells me he’ll be studying. “Boring, I know.”

I beg to differ. If I could, I’d be a professional student fo’ life, of politics and all.

Tonight though, I’m here to satiate more than an unquenchable curiosity and a peculiar love of writing essays.

I want to switch career paths, you see. When I tell the guy this, as well as the fact that I’m turning 30 this year, his reaction is one of mild shock. (*congratulates self on not visibly aging since 2005*)

I’m breaking one of the golden rules of storytelling here and definitely not starting at the beginning, so let’s rewind three weeks. I’m sitting on my bed, savouring the last of Sunday and eating the best fish and chips in London (I’m from Yorkshire, so I dare you to challenge me on this). I’m fresh from a conversation over wine and cake – AKA the very best kind of conversation – with a friend who’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. I always feel fired up following a chat with her, and tonight was no exception. I’m licking the grease from the fingers of one hand as I use the other to Google ‘part-time journalism courses in London.’ I land on one that looks decent and affordable and takes place weekly at a time that suits my schedule. And it kicks off just two days from now. Perfect.

That’s how I end up sitting next to a teenager on a Tuesday night in Lambeth, discussing the merits of being a film reviewer, playing critic myself (“‘I, Daniel Blake’ is a scathing attack on systemic injustice and a gut-punching MUST-SEE,” FYI) and taking the role of student for the first time in nine years.
Read more

In Lists on
January 31, 2017

5 Inspiring Books I Read & Loved in January

IMG_6136

Nasty Galaxy — Sophia Amoroso

Ok, so this isn’t technically a traditional reading book, BUT if you’re a fan of coffee table books (who isn’t?), Nasty Galaxy deserves a place in your collection. It’s a piece of art in itself, filled with inspiring interviews, essays, quotes, and amazing photography. Since buying it, I’ve flicked through it on the regular and instantly felt motivated and excited to curate my life. 


Keep the Aspidistra Flying — George Orwell

IMG_7009

It’s the age-old debate: a corporate life with money or a creative life with none. Although this book is set in wartime, it’s insanely relatable. In synopsis: Gordon Comstock gives up his good job in advertising to work part-time in a bookstore, giving him more time to pursue his real dream: writing. But he slides into a self-induced poverty that, in turn, destroys his creativity and spirit. I won’t give any spoilers away, but this book is thought-provoking, and challenges many of the existential crises that apply to millennial life today. 

Listen to it for free with a *free* Audible trial! 

 

 

In the Company of Women — Grace Bonney

FullSizeRender (4)

I absolutely adore this book. I feel happier just having it in my home. Seriously. It’s that good. Profiling over 100 influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds and industries, In The Company of Women is filled with the BEST actionable advice for anyone dreaming of forging their own path. 


Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living — Manjula Martin
IMG_6950

In Scratch: Writers, Money and The Art of Making A Living, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from today’s most prominent and promising writers, from Nick Hornby and Jonathan Franzen, to Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay, to confront the age-old question: How do creative people make money? The result is an entertaining and inspiring collection filled with candid, revealing discussions about money, book deals, freelancing and everything in between. It’s an essential resource that will help any reader or writer understand how to make art in a world that runs on money–and why it matters. 


Swing Time — Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith needs no introduction and Swing Time, a story of friendship, music and true identity, should be on everyone’s reading list. Deeply human and filled with emotion, it tells the coming of age story of two black girls from London and the different paths their lives take. It’s brilliant, basically. If you’re looking for some escapism, I can’t recommend it enough.

Listen to it for free with a *free* Audible trial!




Sign up for my free newsletter & you’ll receive insights from great minds + musings on careers, creativity and more.

In Lists on
January 28, 2017

22 Tips to Help You Nail Your Next Job Interview

Copy of 22 internet writing tips that work (15)

 

  • First step: Know that you deserve to be there. Because you do.
  • It’s ok to feel nervous. It shows you want it. Everyone you admire has felt exactly how you’re feeling and still persevered. Do the same. You owe it to yourself.
  • Research the hiring manager and mirror them. In dress code, manner and formality. (If that means stalking them extensively online, so be it.)
  • Glassdoor.com is the best preparation tool ever. EVER. For larger companies, you can even view past interview questions. Result!
  • Practice your answers extensively. In the mirror, on the phone, to a friend. Practice until you’re comfortable with every syllable.
  • It’s also worth rehearsing your ‘story statement’, so when you’re asked to ‘tell us a bit about yourself’, you’ve got your life story down. Two paragraphs is plenty.
  • Get to know not only their website and what they do, but any recent company news. Then be sure to reference it.
  • Take a portfolio with you. It’ll help guide your thoughts and show you’re prepared. Plus, a prop is ALWAYS helpful, let’s be honest. 8-12 great examples is the sweet spot.
  • Remember: you’re interviewing them too, you know. It goes both ways.
  • For the love of god, breathe!
  • When they offer you a drink, only ask for water. Trust me on this one.
  • Talk less about your experience, and more about your achievements. It’s all about your achievements. Read more
In Essays on
January 25, 2017

Why We Need to Stop Calling People “Successful”

a42192717b0e5dc6b1c8a31218d6fad1

 

The importance of being mindful about not only our own success, but other people’s success, too.

I’ve always been the “successful” one.

The first to be a published writer. The first to have a managerial job. The first to save £10,000. The first.

There isn’t a conventional benchmark of success that I haven’t, at some point, tried to get to.

Last night, I was having dinner with a friend when she, a talented, smart and delightful woman, declared herself the “least successful” of our friendship group.

As I heard her talk about all of the things she thought she’d have at 30, I, an overworked, stressed and exhausted woman, realised something.

By now, most of us know that we need to be mindful of our own success. “We can be successful on our own terms!” say a recent flurry of think pieces, and I totally agree. But, perhaps most importantly, we need to be mindful of other people’s success, too.

Hear me out…
Read more

In Essays on
January 22, 2017

How to Practice Patience. Because What’s The Rush?!

IMG_6843

 

“It’s alopecia areata” the doctor said, as the lump in my throat rose.

“While one of your bald spots is growing back, the other isn’t. And we need it to.”

As she continued explaining my prognosis, the room blurred and big, fat tears followed.

The uncontrollable kind.

The kind that you couldn’t possibly conceal, even if you wanted to.

I’ve written a bit about my unexpected hair loss before. In a nutshell, I found two round bald spots on the back of my head over Christmas.

Granted, they’re hidden by the rest of my hair, but the anxiety is harrowing. What’s causing it? When will they grow back? Will there be more?

Some doctors say it could be stress-related, others say it’s an autoimmune disease… but the short answer is there are no answers.

It’s a waiting game.

“If I use the steroid creams and do everything I can, how long do you think it’ll take to grow back?” I replied.

“Give it time. You need to be patient.”

Read more

In Guest Posts on
January 18, 2017

How to Grow Your Social Media Following Without Selling Your Soul

Social media | Marketing | Blogging | Blogging tips | Success | Business | Girl boss | Entrepreneurship | Twitter | Instagram | Social

 

By Michelle Rick

 

“If you get bored with social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create.” Fast Company

Have you seen that episode of Silicon Valley where Jared, out of good intent and desperation, hires a click farm to spike his company’s user numbers? Click farms are real, and they’re a good example of how far people will go to boost their follower count. And then there are the robots that automatically like posts with certain hashtags, people who follow you just so you’ll follow them back before they unfollow you, et cetera.

But you don’t have to swipe a credit card or sell your soul to build a following on social media…

The first time I really saw a post of mine resonate with an audience was at my first social media job, when I wrote about harmful thoughts and how they block creativity.

I was stunned at number of comments I received. People all over the world were pouring their hearts out to me about the inner critics they wanted to defeat so they could keep doing what they loved.

That’s when I realized that authenticity and speaking honestly about what matters most is key to getting shared and seen. If it mattered to me, it had to matter to someone else out there.

Boosted posts and audience targeting have their place, but there’s no real substitute for human interaction in social sharing.

Jordan Dansky said it best:  “In some way or another, your story will resonate with others. Sharing our collective human experiences is the most wonderful benefit of social media in my mind.”

Plenty of people use social media get attention and collect likes, but if you’re missing the puzzle piece of authenticity, it can end up feeling like the world’s most difficult video game. Teenage Instagram star Essena O’Neill addressed this when she quit social media in 2015, and rewrote the captions on all her photos with honest but imperfect truths. This move got her more attention than her Instagram stardom ever had.

What are we really looking for when we instinctively scroll through our Instagram feeds as we wait for our morning latte? Are we really trying to see how great someone else’s life is, or do we crave the authenticity that made Socality Barbie an overnight success?

Read more

In Essays on
January 15, 2017

A Story About Imposter Syndrome… and Overcoming It

c95147eb50d1944fd0fd380ca7ea7f0f

 

Picture the scene…

I’m 20 years old, bright-eyed, nervous as hell and attending an interview at a famous fashion magazine.

I’ve spent the entire morning preparing my outfit, because WHAT do you wear to such an occasion?!

“This is my time,” I think as I carefully apply my makeup. “This is the beginning of everything.”

Flicking through their latest issue, I finally decide on an outfit and walk out of the door. Portfolio in hand, butterflies in stomach.

In case you’re wondering, I opted for a blazer, a shift dress and point-toe flats because, let’s face it, layering is vital during an interview.

Oh, and a bag. A fake designer bag.

“Nobody will notice.” I tell myself. “My friends always say it’s a good fake and, besides, every magazine editor has a designer bag. It’s a faux pas not to.”

As I walk from my house, to the train station, to the office of my dreams, my stomach is ablaze.

I’m only two minutes into the interview when the sour-faced editor notices my bag.

And just like that, the conversation is over.

At least for her.

I carry on talking, hopeful and determined and trying so hard to be whatever it is they’re looking for.

The job itself paid a pitiful £15,000 a year for 50+ hours a week and yet I would have sold my soul for it.

But I never heard back. Every time I checked my email to see tumbleweed yet again, I felt like even more of an imposter.

My fake designer bag was more than a bad wardrobe decision. It symbolised my desire to fit in, and how I thought that simply being myself would *never* have been enough. Imposter syndrome.

Read more