For Christmas content, I have been very lucky to work with Anna Calvert, a jewellery maker and designer. (You can visit her website here.) However, her designs really intrigued me; how can you create that amount of detail? I also think that they are wonderful for people who have Aspergers like me; the material used does not create sensory intrusion, which is wonderful!

Anna’s personalised necklace.

Growing up, what did you aspire to do, in terms of a career? 

I didn’t really have a particular thing I wanted to be  but I did for a while want to be a hairdresser and every time I get my hair cut I still think I’d  have loved to have done it.
What was it that got you interested in Jewellery making?
My nan she always had such beautiful jewellery, she was old school and never went a day without a matching set on. So her jewellery box was like a treasure chest to me when I was young and I got to play around with some broken bits and that’s where it all started.
Could you take us through how you make an item of jewellery? 
Yes I’ll talk you through my personalised necklace. 

To start with I cut the pendant out of a piece of sheet metal. Then put it on a steel block and using a round headed hammer, hammer the disc to give it a dappled texture. Once I’ve done this I turn it over and using a metal letter stamp I put it In place and strike it with a hammer to leave the impression of the letter on the disc. Then I make a tiny mark with a punch where I want to drill the hole that the jump ring goes through (this is so the drill bit doesn’t slip and mark the metal) then drill through it so I can put the jump ring through and solder it together so that it can’t come undone. For the chain I cut off 17.5 inches add a jump ring and the clasp to one end, thread the pendant on and add 2 jump rings to the other end and then solder them all shut as the chain is so delicate it can’t slip through the gap if the jump ring isn’t closed properly. Now I’ve added the clasp and the jump rings the chain is 18 inches long. So it’s nearly done now it just needs a quick polish and then the letter is oxidised (which is a solution that basically extremely tarnishes the silver leaving it black) and then the excess is washed off and that’s it finished!

The personalised necklace.

For people who aspire to also make jewellery, what are your tips?

Practice makes perfect when I started out I was so worried about breaking things and melting them that I was overly delicate but it’s metal and it doesn’t break that easily and yes I do still melt the odd thing but silver is really a lovely metal to work with.

Oh and wear the things you make that way you know how it sits and if it hangs nicely.
For a day at the office, what could we find in your handbag?

My diary/planner is always in there with a handful of pencils (I don’t really like writing in pen!) A pair of pliers, a lipstick and some dog treats for my 2 four legged assistants Hugo and Phoebe

Random: do you like Pizza?
YES!! My favourite pizza is a vegetarian hot one I’m not a vegetarian I just love this pizza

As some of you may know, one of my pencils is Abbie, from Abbiechic.com; earlier this year, we met, up, and explored Brighton. (See my post here.) She very kindly sent me a book by her husband, Dan. He has autism, yet writes about it, creates youtube videos, and more. So: I wished to find out a little bit more about his work.

Dan Jones C/O Dan Jones

Firstly, in terms of youtube and your writing, could you tell us a bit about what you do?
 
I describe myself as an autistic hypnotic YouTuber and author. I create eCourses teaching how to do hypnotherapy and psychotherapy and occasionally teach live courses and hold talks. I mainly write non-fiction. I have written about autism spectrum disorder (my autobiography ‘Look Into My Eyes’ reached number 30 in all Biographies on Amazon.co.uk even getting ahead of Khloe Kardashian and I’m not naked on my front cover! My wife, Abbie also wrote a chapter of this book about what it is like to be married to someone with autism), hypnotherapy, meditation and parenting. I have also written a novel and some books of therapeutic stories to help children relax and sleep based on an approach I developed years ago when I used to work in children’s homes with children with challenging behaviour and who often had very difficult backgrounds leaving negative associations with bedrooms and sleeping, so they struggled to sleep.
When were you first aware that you were maybe on spectrum?
 
As a child and teen I had never heard of autism. After my Dad died in 2014 I went through many of his belongings and found that he thought something was ‘wrong’ with me when I was about 4 or 5 years old and wanted me seen by a Doctor. My Mum and Dad were separated and my Dad’s concerns didn’t get listened to so I never got any support. I knew when I was a primary aged child that I thought differently, I knew some of my struggles and was more aware of these as I passed through my teenage years and into my twenties.
It was in my early twenties that I first heard about autism. I was working in homes for adults with mental health issues like Schizophrenia, Psychosis and Bi-Polar. The homes had some residents with autism despite this not being a mental health issue. There was no training about what autism was, whereas our training was extensive around mental health issues.
When I was about 22 I started working in children’s homes. Many of the children were diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s and fairly quickly other staff used to joke about how I was like the children, I used to laugh it off but in my head I was aware that they were right, I had similarities to the autistic children. In that job I also started getting a lot more training about autism and Asperger’s and the more I was learning the more I would say “I’m like that, I’m like that…”
I purchased a couple of books on autism and Asperger’s to read, my wife, Abbie, read some of them and commented that the books were describing me. I never wanted to say I thought I was on the spectrum because I worked in an environment where you always see people self-diagnosing and saying they have things because they have a few traits and then they become the label and define themselves as the label, often focusing on the negatives and developing a defeatist attitude to life. I didn’t want to do this and didn’t want to be treated as a label when I am an individual not a label.
By about 24 years old I was fairly sure I was autistic but didn’t think of getting a diagnosis, I didn’t feel it would be any benefit, my belief has always been that you treat people as individuals, you shouldn’t only offer help someone needs because they have a label and not help the person without the label, everyone should be offered help if they need it.
It wasn’t until long after this where I faced multiple examples of workplace discrimination and reached a point where I became suicidal and thought the only way to tackle the discrimination was to have occupational health support, but the only way to get the support was to have a diagnosis I decided that was the time to see whether I was on the spectrum or not and I ended up being diagnosed with autism.

The Book. C/O: Dan Jones.

Do you think that being on spectrum has enhanced your life at all? If so, how?
 
It is difficult to know what difference specifically being autistic has had, if I wasn’t autistic there are traits I wouldn’t have, but I may well have other traits which would enhance my life, I do believe people with autism have many strengths which can be utilised and that people should focus on helping those with autism to develop their strengths and develop skills and ways of managing challenges. I don’t know if being autistic enhances my life. It gives me skills that can help others like my ability to notice patterns and not get drawn into content of what people say so I do better therapy. It helps me handle larger emergencies because I don’t have the same emotional connection to the situations, I’ve had guns pulled on me, I’ve been in very violent situations etc., and these situations don’t particularly bother me because I have already mentally rehearsed what I need to do in these situations. What I struggle with is situations with dozens of different outcomes so I can’t mentally rehearse them adequately. I struggle far more with walking into a shop and talking to a shop assistant than I do having someone threaten to kill me.
What has been the most offensive/stereotypical thing someone has said to you, upon learning of your diagnosis, in spite of all of what you have achieved?
 
The two things that probably annoy me most are people saying “we’re all on the spectrum somewhere” or “we’re all a little bit autistic”. I have to point out that you are either autistic or not. If you are not autistic then you are not on the spectrum. The other one is people being dismissive as if people with autism are just putting it on or have a label to justify being rude or difficult and that it is a made up condition.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I’m always working on many things at once. I have been working on an interesting project, I have made some video courses for The Church of Jediism which will go live at the end of November. I am also working on a book with a neuroscientist Dr David Lewis as part of a project I’m involved in called The Mind Changers. We are writing a self-help book together about the idea that there are no problems only solutions. I am also in the process of organising autism talks and hypnotherapy masterclass workshops for next year. I am also writing a third book of therapeutic children’s stories and in the planning stages of a fantasy novel I want to get written next year.
I have many other project ideas I’m yet to start. Every year I set new years resolutions, sometimes they are clear, like saying over this year I want to do x, other times they are more vague, like every month achieve at least one thing. I never expect to complete everything, I like to set more than I think I can do, I don’t get annoyed if I haven’t done everything, but I don’t want to make things too easy for myself and I like to try to do some things I’ve never seen others do.

C/O: Dan Jones.

For people who wish to follow in your footsteps, what would be your advice?
 
A couple of years ago I was made redundant and trying to make a living online was a challenge. It took me a lot of time for very little financial return, but because my situation meant I put about 80 hours per week into building an online business I have now reached a point where I still work hard, but I can also take time off whenever I want and have many weeks where I do very little work but still have income coming in.
To do this takes a clear plan and hard work and it involves being humble enough to go with what generates income and, at least initially, focusing your efforts in that direction. My YouTube channel has grown by 7,500 subscribers in the last year and 600,000 video views, but to achieve that I have posted every week on the same day at the same time and interacted with viewers. I have also watched my analytics and created more of the types of videos which get significantly higher views and less of the videos which get very few views.
I did the same with eCourses. I use Udemy.com for my eCourses. Initially I made the courses I wanted to teach, then I saw which courses would get more students and started making more similar or related courses to those and less courses about subjects which weren’t particularly popular. An advantage of doing this is that when I make new courses because they are similar or related to my current courses I can let my current students know about the new course and get hundreds of students on my new course straightaway.
It can be slow to set all this up and to establish yourself, but once you have, income can come in each month even if you take time off. Money earned is no longer connected to hours worked, you start to generate residual income. This has always been my dream and why I like YouTube, eCourses, audio downloads and books, as all of these are things where you put in lots of hard work once and they make you income ever year from then on.
For books I use CreateSpace.com (for paperbacks) and Lulu.com (for eBooks and paperbacks) and KDP.Amazon.com (for Kindle eBooks) to self-publish my books. It means I have to pay for cover designs and for proofreading and copy-editing and I have to do all of my own PR, but I also get greater royalties per sale than being traditionally published and I keep my rights to my work. These services are easy to use and are free. Anyone interested in writing who wants to write books/eBooks I would recommend self-publishing, it is very easy to do, but as with everything I’ve mentioned you want to create an audience and position yourself as an authority on your topic, even if it is fiction, you want people to want to know what you are writing and want to read what you write before you release your book so that you have people who want to read it. You also want to treat how your book will show on Amazon etc., like a website, so you want to do search engine optimisation. When someone searches on Amazon, Amazon tries to use the terms to bring up the product they think the person is after, just like Google brings up the websites they think the searcher is after.
Random: What is your favourite pizza topping?
 
I don’t feel I have a favourite, but I always have the same. I always have something with chicken and chilli’s and deep pan. There is normally a pizza on a menu which matches this whether it is Domino’s or Pizza Hut, or Papa John’s. I find things bland and don’t appreciate food for its taste at all, I find eating a chore, so I like strong clear flavours which is why I like the chilli. For me it is more about the textures than the flavours.
Thank you to Dan for agreeing to this interview; to buy his book, click here. And to find out more about his work, click here. 

Back in February when looking at how to maximise my Twitter engagement, I came across ‘Teacup Club’-an account that organises comment swaps, chats, and more. The Blogger behind it, Bre, had me intrigued with her posts, and how she writes. So, for the next Blogging For Business interview, I thought thatI would ask her some questions. You can view her blog by clicking here. 
What was it that introduced you to blogging?
I blogged as a teenager! I actually went back and looked at one last year, and I was horrified! Like, It was so bad I had to laugh. Oh my god. It was such a diary style blog of an angsty, “I’m not like other girls” 15/16 year old with bad self-esteem. I got into blogging *for real* in college. One of my writing professors said a piece I wrote could be a blog post. I’d already had a craving to start a site again, and I remembered how fun blogging was. The rest is history.
Cute Simple Waves

Bre. C/O Toocuteforlife.com

What was it that inspired you to blog?
 My blog I started in 2016 was intended to be a mental health blog. Gah, I feel like this makes me sound bad, but I was always complimented on my self-esteem and told I inspired people to be more confident. You can’t say that and not sound douche-y, right? I thought I could blog about confidence and self-esteem because I wanted to help people. It makes me sad how many people are unhappy with themselves and block themselves from their own happiness. I was way too formal though and kinda backed myself into a corner. There was so much to blogging I didn’t know! I’m much happier with my current blog where I write about all different subjects.
Could you tell us the story behind your blog name?
 It kinda just came to me! I had shut down my last blog and was already planning my new site. The name I was tossing around was Bredefined. Not the greatest, but it was a play on my name and redefined. I wanted a name that would be true to every part of me and not limit my content the way I had been on my previous site. TCFL : Too Cute For Life hit me out of no where mer weeks before my new site was going to launch. I think it’s sassy, charming, and silly. I’d like think that’s me.
How did you settle in your diversity of subjects?
What was the appeal of pole dancing, enough to write about it?
Well, they’re all the things I love. It’s not so much I settled into these subjects. It’s these are the parts of me that excite me, and I want to share with others. I’d already fallen into the trap of writing content I wasn’t passionate about before, so I found that allowing myself to write about anything I want keeps the passion alive.
Red Gingham Mini Dress Zara Photo 1

C/O: Toocuteforlife.com

Why did you decide to start posting your poetry?
I hadn’t seen anyone else writing about it, and I thought it was something different I could share with people. I actually backed off from that category because the only response I was getting was “I’m too fat/clumsy to ever do that.” I hear that enough in real life, and it’s not the vibe I wanted on my blog. I don’t want people reading my content and finding ways to shame themselves because of something I wrote. I love pole dancing and I’ll still write pieces as they strike me, but I chose to not make it a full category anymore.
What do you think about blogging for business?
I’m a poet! I’m working on a collection (or two), so I figure I need to be comfortable putting my art out there. My blog is me and so is my poetry. My poetry belongs on my blog. People have already told me they want to buy a collection of my work, and I only post rough drafts! It’s encouraging for me to get the feedback I do by sharing this way. It’s, like, oh… people actually like what I’m creating.
Would you ever turn your blog into a business?
I would love for my blogging to be my main source of income. Like, ooo skippy is that the dream! I think I think it’s the career I’ve always wanted and didn’t realize it.
I’d like to. I hold myself back in a lot of ways. I’m working on making changes so I gradually build my brand into something more than it is now. I mean, I haven’t even partnered with a company yet. I’ve received offers, but they either didn’t have a budget to pay me or didn’t align with my content. Like, bruh? What about my blog screams multivitamins? I want to pursue opportunities that stay true to the heart of what I write. I’m not gonna just take any ol’ offer because I want the money or want to look like a *real blogger*. I’m trying to focus on making my content better and consistent before I worry about getting into business.
Where do you see your blog in five years time?
Who actually knows? I’d to think I’d have a genuine following, consistent, quality content, and a passion that’s the same or greater than when I started. I want to do whatever I can to make it the best it can be.
Ahh-mazingly Soft Boyfriend Flannel AEO

C/O: Toocuteforlife.com

For a day at the office, what could we find in your handbag?
Haha! I actually just bought a new purse. Let’s see. I have my wallet, sunglasses, hand lotion I use multiple times a day because the papers dry out my hands, headphones for listening to podcasts, phone charger cable, my bullet journal, pens, and Chipotle gift certificates.
 And for bloggers who wish to follow in your footsteps, do you have any advice?
 
Really think about your voice. We bloggers are told constantly to be authentic and be yourself, and I think the language aspect of that is entirely overlooked. I don’t wanna sound mean, but I read so many posts where an exclamation point is the closest thing to personality. I read my posts out loud (when I’m cramming last minute oops sorry) to make sure they sound like I’m speaking and it’s actually *me* my readers are reading. Think about how you talk and make it how you write. It’s harder than it sounds, and it makes all the difference.
Thank you Bre for answering my questions; you can read her blog by clicking here. If you’re a Blogger who would like to get involved with Teacup Club, click here. And if you’d like to be featured on the next interview, send me an email by clicking here. 

Jordanne is one of my favourite Bloggers at the moment; she runs Life Of A Glasgow Girl (click here to see her blog). She has a great USP, an eye-catching blog header, and is a lovely pen pal. For today’s post, I emailed her a few questions about writing, blogging for business, and brands.

Firstly, how were you introduced to blogging?

When I was about 16 I started using tumblr then it escalated to reading blogs on different platforms. After reading them for so long one day I picked up my Micellar water and decided I wanted my opinion to be heard. I have been reading blog for so long now that it’s amazing seeing how much they have changed from basic web design with pictures taken on old smart phones to now all these fantastic layouts with such established photography.

What gave your blog its name? 

My blog started off as just “Jordannelee” but then I wanted to re-brand, Thelifeofaglasgowgirl just kind of came to me one night and it’s been that ever since. Sometimes I want to re-brand again but I’m not sure what to, but for now I’m content.

What do you think about blog opportunities for Glasgow-based bloggers?

Locally wise I wish there were more but saying that I still get quite a lot which feels amazing. I like knowing that we matter as well, that we have opportunities and bloggers are getting more recognition.

Bloggers Tribe (1)

Jordanne’s Blog header, c/o: Jordanne Lee.

What do you think about blogging for business?

If that’s what floats someones boat then I’m all for it, Live and let live is my motto.

What do you think about working with brands?

I love working with brands, I have come across the odd brand that really aren’t worth a second look after the way they have treated myself and fellow bloggers but 98% of the time it’s amazing. I really love that bloggers are taken serious now, our voices matter and it’s shown in the figures as more people are reading online content than ever before.

How would you suggest for bloggers to monetise their blogs?

I really am not the best person to ask about this as I know nothing about this haha I have been trying to figure out how to do it myself but I’ve not gotten much further in my search.

For a day at the office what would we find in your handbag?

Probably everything barr the kitchen sink if I’m honest haha I take so much with me for “just in case moment” My most loved items have to be my brush, water, purse and some gum.

For bloggers, do you have any tips?

I know it’s cliché and it’s said so many times in the “bloggers tips” places but BE YOURSELF! It honestly helps SOOOOO much. Also write about what YOU want to write about, not what you think other people will want to read because that does not work. No one wants to read content that’s flat, boring and has no personality what so ever. If you don’t enjoy your content then people will pick up on that, believe me!

Also, get involved, reach out to people, take part in twitter chats, join some facebook groups and just get involved, that helps so much.

Thank you Jordanne for agreeing to this interview; don’t forget, you can check out her blog here.