Grab a Coffee with Me!

Hi, it’s me again.

tenor

Can I honestly just slap myself for yet another rebrand? I know, I know… it’s only been a year that I announced my other new blog ‘October Rain‘ and here I am, not even a full year with Coffee with Claire.

As I’m typing this entry, I realized how much I miss blogging. I was looking back at old posts and miss interacting with other bloggers, and reading what people were up to last weekend. Hell, I even miss documenting my life and what I did last weekend!

So, what happened to October Rain? Is it still up and running? Am I abandoning it? I loved October Rain when it first started. I was able to mix my personal life with lifestyle entries, although I felt a little weird doing my lifestyle entries sometimes. A few months after I felt like I was ramping up with October Rain, a publisher emailed me and asked if I wanted to share some of their posts to make some little side money.

I thought why not? I mean, I was making money from blogging… so they sent me an article that reflected what October Rain was about – articles on fashion, photography, health and fitness, finances, etc. I did a few and true to their word, they paid me. Then they kept on sending me more articles to do and the money was good – it was such a nice add-on on top of my wages that I continued. I spent almost half the year posting their articles (and some other articles) on my blog that eventually, it felt like a chore. I would come home from work and log onto my blog asap to quickly publish the new articles they sent my way, while my PayPal was growing bigger and bigger. The most articles I published in a month netted me about $2,000 CAD.

Some of the articles were amazing and I could pull it off as mine, but some of them were so ridiculous but I published them anyways because it was money. I wasn’t ashamed of what I was doing, it’s all about business in this world, but I was so turned off by my blog that I didn’t make any attempts to try to incorporate my own entries. I’ll be posting about 2-3 articles a day that I didn’t have time to do my own entries or bothered with posting anything because it would get lost in the clutter.

Over the past few weeks, I thought about my blog. I enjoyed the extra income but I missed my own blog. I’ve given it some more thoughts and realized, I’m not a fan of lifestyle blogs because I feel like a lot of them are in it to get some sort of revenue, and it’s no shame in doing that – if you can make money out of our hobby, that’s perfect. But, it wasn’t for me. I miss reading into people’s lives. I miss reading about a random uni student’s authentic weekend house party, rather than reading their tips on getting through university. I miss documenting my life for the occasional reader, but ultimately, I miss going back and rereading some of the best days of my life. I didn’t want to read about my review on ClassPass or why Fresh Prep didn’t work out for me. I was trying those things so I have something to write about.

Hence, my move to Coffee with Claire. I created a new WP.com blog and spent the last couple of days going through my entries, rereading and deleting a few. I chose specifically to not be self-hosted anymore but just purchase a domain with WP. I chose to keep banners off my website, and not create an email anymore so I won’t be tempted to give in to publishers.

I want to keep this blog personal. None or very little lifestyle post. I want to interact with my readers again and not post rubbish articles about health that I don’t care about. I’d keep October Rain up as long as possible as a lifestyle blog because, hey, like I said, the extra monthly income benefited me, but I’d like to post more personal entries going forward.

So, without any more chit chat, I’m officially switching back to personal blogging, circa 2011, haha. Those were the good ol’ times…

What it's Like With a Public Blog

It’s a been a few months since I’ve rebranded to October Rain and publicly and actively shared my blog again. If you didn’t know, shortly after high school, I created a new blog and kept it “off the grid”, meaning, I did my best to hide it from my peers. I didn’t promote it by any means – hell, I didn’t even mention to people that I was a blogger.

I kept it so private, that the only way you could’ve found me was stalking my online friends or following me as I moved through multiple URL changes.

(But, a few did find me, lol).

I kept that blog “off the grid” for years! It wasn’t until last year when I shared little bits of my blog on Snapchat and casually mentioning to my peers that I blogged. Since then, the idea of having a “public blog” grew stronger and stronger until I talked to a few friends and ultimately decided to have a public blog again – thus, the rebranding to October Rain.

So, what’s it like having a public blog again? It’s embarrassing and shy.

What it's Like With a Public Blog

It’s not like I’m trash talking anyone that I know of or posting explicit things. For me, blogging has been such a big secret hobby of mine and for the first time ever in years, I’m sharing my hobby with everyone again. It was different having a public blog back in high school because I wasn’t thinking about the consequences or cared much about it. I didn’t think people were even reading my blog because I never got any engagement on it, nor was I promoting it (I mean, did Facebook and Twitter even existed back then – wait, Facebook did but not Blogging Groups).

I feel exposed to the world for all my peers to read my thoughts and opinions. Including those who I normally wouldn’t share my thoughts with. I’m a personal blogger and always will be so I enjoy sharing fun adventures and deep thoughts I have at 3am. I mean, I can always stop posting about my life and transition into a lifestyle blogger, but then I get shy about that.

Who am I to “professionally” blog about travelling when I haven’t seen the world yet? Or talk about finances like I’m sitting on my ass raking in bank? I classify myself as a lifestyle blogger because I do blog about these topics but from time to time, and it’s from personal experiences. But I don’t want to blog about it full time like I know all there is to know about that topic.

I’m also very shy about my blog still. I don’t know why. I want to hide it from my peers (but not the world) because I fear that peers would judge me about my interests and what I say online. It’s like… do I want my peers to know how frugal I really am? Do they think my money saving tips is stupid and lame? The other day, my boyfriend was telling our circle of friends about my blog and what it’s called, and what I do, etc. My face wasn’t growing hot but I squirmed a bit because I’m being exposed as a blogger.

I guess, after years of hiding and secretly blogging (hell, even my ex-boyfriend didn’t even know I blogged), it’s like everyone is slowly discovering my secret naughty hobby. It’s like hiding your darkest secret for the longest time and having it exposed to the world. There’s nothing bad about blogging or being labelled a blogger – it’s almost like a norm nowadays.

When I re-launched as October Rain, I was also a bit scared and paranoid. You may have noticed that I blog under my middle name now, Claire. The reason being, I’m paranoid and conscious of my online footprint. I am aware that employers and people do Google you and back then, even if you didn’t search my full name and searched “[first name] + Vancouver”, I’m on the Google results. I hated it. I got so paranoid that I was so convinced that employers didn’t schedule any interviews with me because they found my blog and/or Twitter. I told my friends that if I was to have a public blog, I’d definitely be using my middle name, whether or not I do land on Google searches.

But, I’m getting used to it. I promote my blog actively and am no longer as shy as I was before to talk about my blog. Maybe I won’t openly mention it and if it comes up in a conversation, I’ll go with the flow, but it’s something I’m happy about it. It’s an online journal of my life and articles where people do find helpful. I’m so happy to have discovered blogging back in 6th grade and it’s one of the only hobbies that I’ve truly invested in time after time.

Why I Left Self-Hosting WP for Free WP (Je Suis Jessica)

If I was a regular reader, I’d slap myself for changing my blog… again.

Yes, not even a year into my self hosted blog (and after preaching about moving to self hosted), I realized it’s not for me. I had a first year promo rate, but after the first year, I would be paying nearly $100/year just to maintain my blog.

And, as someone that’s cutting back on literally everything in life to save money for my move to New Zealand, $100/year is expensive compared to a free service and a yearly domain fee.

I don’t make money from my blog. I don’t consider myself a professional blogger so all the fancy SEO plug ins, and expensive themes weren’t for me. I can go months without blogging and it wouldn’t matter to me. But to know I cough up $100/year and not blog sort of eats at me.

I wanted to go back to Blogger but the process of moving my posts from WordPress to Blogger was a hassle and lately, my life doesn’t have time for stuff like that. So I chose to go back to WordPress which works out for the best and caters to what I need. It is a bit more expensive ($17 more) than Blogger, but I think I fell in love with WordPress over Blogger 😛

That being said, I also needed a new URL for WordPress. Exactly, Jess was taken but I wanted to have my name in my URL since it is a personal blog. I wanted French in my URL as well and next thing I knew, I came up with Je Suis Jessica. After claiming that URL, I realized there’s also Je Suis Charlie which in no means, did I “copy” their name. As bad as it sound, Je Suis Charlie was no where near my mind until I realized how ‘familiar’ my URL sounded.

Soooo, this is the last change for my blog, I promise. Even I’m getting tired of brainstorming new URLs and moving my blog back and forth!

5 Things to Consider About WordPress (from a casual blogger'sperspective)

Here’s the thing. I can go on and on about the lovely features of WordPress and why you should transfer your blog to self hosted WP but you’ve probably read 10 million articles gushing about the same features.

Admittedly, I was attracted to self hosted WordPress for the features. I jumped the gun without thinking much of the other things that comes with the WordPress package. I don’t regret it. Blogging is a huge passion of mine so I chose to invest in WordPress.

I am a casual blogger. I’m a full time student so blogging isn’t my job. I don’t earn money off my blog (aside from $0.01 from my Google Adsenses) or ten thousand sample products. I don’t speak fluent HTML or CSS – I Google all the codes I need to customize the blog I want. I don’t have fancy web designing/graphics skills. And I don’t have 10k followers. Blogging is a passion of mine but I do it casually and for myself.

If you classify yourself as a “casual blogger” , here’s five things to consider when switching over to self hosted WordPress.

1. The Cost

If your blog isn’t aimed at generating an income of some sort, then your hobby for blogging just got slightly more expensive. You can host a WP blog without breaking the bank but compared to free Blogger or just a yearly fee to have a domain name, the cost is something to consider about self hosted WP.

On top of the hosting fees, you should consider the price of WordPress themes. They’re much more expensive than a traditional Blogger template. For example, an average Blogger theme from a well known designer can cost about $150 (entire custom design) where as an entire WP theme can run you up about $500! Aside from premium themes, some best or custom plug-ins can cost you some money too.

Back on Blogger, I paid about $10/year. $10 for my domain name and I designed my own Blogger template. Since switching over to WordPress, my expenses have gone up to $60/year plus any additional themes I would buy in the future (which is unlikely).

2. HTML/CSS… and PHP

You’ve read that WP is extremely customizable and yes, it’s true… if you know how to design a blog. I know the basic of HTML and CSS but don’t talk to me about PHP. I didn’t think it’d be THIS bad but yes, I would say you have to know more than the basics of coding for WP if you want to tweak your theme a bit.

Don’t get me wrong. Most themes on WP have a simple customizer feature that allows you to edit basic stuff such as site title, widget placements and logo/banner. But if you want to center your entire menu or adjust the width of your blog, you’ll have to go into your theme’s files and start tweaking it a bit. It get’s confusing when your basic knowledge of HTML is bolding, underlining, etc.

3. Strict Designs

Adding to the ability to speak fluent codes, if you’re like me and sort of just want a template for your blog and be able to upload a lovely banner, tweak the colours to match your banner and call it day… well, that’ll be tough.

Back on Blogger, I used the Simple Template. I made a new banner every now and then and edit the colours and fonts on my blog to everything looks nice. On WP, very few themes that I came across takes headers. Many of them are aimed towards businesses so they allow you to upload a 150×150 but not your fancy 875×346 banner. If it does, it might look distorted. The best way is to design a header that is based on the recommended pixel sizes that theme suggests. Sometimes it works out but most of the time it’s just testing your creativity habits.

To fully customize your blog, you’ll have to pay for premium themes or learn to code/design a WP blog.

4. Limited Support

Remember how you can easily Google your question and it’d give fool proof tutorials/CSS codes for Blogger to get your blog the way you want it to look? You can’t do that with WP (unless it’s with an extremely popular WP theme such as twentytweleve or twentyeleven). Sure you can send an e-mail to your theme’s designer but most free themes would not have support. And while there is a chance that someone is asking the same question, there’s a high chance that the solution won’t work with your theme for many reasons.

There are so many sites that are dedicated to customizing Blogger and tips and tricks for Bloggers. Those sites rarely exist for WP and if they do, sometimes it gets confusing because all themes are different!

5. Viruses and Deleted Sites

Plugins? Super fun! I love checking out the plugins page and see which ones I can download. Same with themes! If I’m not in the mood to make a new header, I can easily transform the blog into a nicely coded site without any graphics (and without doing the work :P). So, if you’re not gifted in Photoshop, don’t worry – WordPress has SO many beautiful themes that are text based only that gives your blog a different and beautiful look.

That being said, the more you download for your blog, the higher the chances of getting a virus. There’s also risks of hackers targeting WordPress blogs. There’s a chance of deleting your entire blog with a push of a button. You can easily mess up your blog if you mistakenly delete part of a code. You can corrupt your blog if you accidentally delete a file.

It’s scary.

But WordPress is so fun and so amazing! Despite my limitations, I don’t regret switching over to WordPress. I’m currently taking coding classes online to help with my blog. I’m learning more about WordPress everyday. The list of features that everyone raves about is definitely worth it even with the tedious backstage work.

Say Hello to 'Exactly, Jess'!

I changed my blog name!

For 4 reasons:
1) I found my high school ex reading my blog which I find extremely uncomfortable.. I mean, I’ve worked hard to keep this blog on the D-L! (and no, I won’t be changing my URL everytime I found out someone has stumbled across my blog)
2) I’m getting fed up with a creeper/stalker named “Stacy”. And honestly, if she finds this blog.. well…
3) My blog traffic comes from a lot of spam websites so I want to be able to have an actual representation of my blog visitors
4) As much as I liked my old blog name… it was time to part ways to get rid of people, and also, I felt that the fact that I had ‘sushi’ in my name made it feel like I had to design my blog with sushi related stuff. Exactly, Jess feels much more personal, and, well, exactly!

PS: I do apologize for the spam of Bloglovin updates… 😦

New Blog Design (#MightyMOtivation)

See something new?!

I redid my blog design because I sort of dislike the image mapping AND I decided to make a bucket list page and realized if I continue to make more pages/links, I’m probably going to have to redo a banner every so often.

Gosh, I feel so.. self centered to use my own pictures as a theme but.. it’s my blog, hahaha!
HA! (sorry, I’m just feeling a bit off today).

So, earlier today in Instagram, I got tagged by Mo and this week’s theme is change. And I figured, what’s a better way to make change by changing my blogger theme? I mean, sureeeee, I can change my life (seriously, it’s changing alright!), buuuuuut… my blog!!

I based this design off my old, old, oooooooooooooold design from my old blog. It’s simple and I fell in love with the final result.

click for full size.

I couldn’t replicate the polaroids because it was generated by a discontinued program 😦
I also couldn’t replicate the font (I know, it looks similar right?!) because I forgot the exact font name, but I found some cool ones that I enjoy better. I didn’t think of capslocking my title at the time I was making it… but I sort of wished I did 😦 oh wells. 

I’m making final tweaks (maybe new buttons?) to the theme such as what to do with my sidebar headers… I seriously HATE making those things T___T

Anyways, enjoy!
Chhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhange.
#MightyMOtivation

Blogging Tips: Switching over to Disqus Commenting System

Me, sharing blogging tips?!

HA!

I have been blogging for quite a while, however, I don’t do it on a professional level. So, being a personal blogger, I don’t give much thought to my blog as others would do – you know, scheduling posts, purchasing a beautiful template, Facebook Page, etc.

I did, however, switched over from the native Blogger comment system to Disqus Commenting System a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it!

What exactly is Disqus? It’s an alternative commenting method used by many, many, many, popular websites, especially news sites. It’s easily installable (literally, just a click or so to install to Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress, etc.), and it’s highly customizable in colours and settings.

A lot of you will also be pleased that Disqus also drives additional traffic and activity to your blog!

I don’t know why I never installed Disqus the very moment I created my blog, but nonetheless, I hope you guys make the switch and marvel at how awesome this commenting system is.

Pros:

  • Easy 1-2-3 installation to Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr. You can also choose to install it manually if your site isn’t supported by their auto-installation.
  • Customizable in colours to match your template and in settings (profanity settings, moderating, etc).
  • Syncs with your existing/new/future Blogger comments. So, if you chose to install it today, all your comments will be synced with Disqus, and any new/future comments left while having Disqus installed is synced with Blogger (so, if you ever choose to uninstall it, your comments won’t disappear).
  • Transferable. I’m not too sure on this feature but the site said you can transfer your entire Disqus to a new website if you wish.
  • E-mail notifications when someone replies to you. This is the key feature to driving additional activity and traffic to your blog. Before installing Disqus, I’ll reply to comments but nobody seems to come back and hold a conversation. Since using Disqus, I’ve seen a big improvement in activity on my blog. And, I also get notifications when other people reply to my comments which is nice too! 
  • Many log-in options! Your readers can leave a comment with their Disqus account, Twitter, FB, or even the regular, Name/E-Mail method.
  • Less spam! Oh my gooooodness, ever since installing Disqus, I have not received a single e-mail notification about spam comments! Sure, Blogger did a great job blocking spams but it still e-mails you when a spam comment is blocked. However, Disqus doesn’t allow any spambots whatsoever!
  • For those moderating comments, you can approve or disapprove via e-mail!

Cons:

  • When you sync comments, any threaded conversations you had with a commenter will be displayed like an individual comment. So, if you replied to Commenter A, once synced with Disqus, your reply to Commenter A will be a sole comment and not replied to anything. I assume that’ll also happen if you ever uninstalled Disqus.
  • You have to install the mobile version of Disqus manually, otherwise mobile readers will be greeted with the native Blogger comment. This aspect might be tricky for those unfamiliar with HTML.
  • Sometimes, it takes a while to load, or it might not load at all. This might be contributed from the amount of other downloads (heavy images blog), I’m not entirely sure. I’m a patient person and would click on the Reload button if Disqus doesn’t load properly, but I can’t say that for other bloggers. 

Do you have reasons to why you installed and loved Disqus? Let me know below! 😀