#OldSchoolBlogging and Why I’m Tired of Fake Experts Online

I was planning to write a blog post about the snow we’ve been lucky to have (it basically never happens before Christmas here), but then I stumbled upon an article that made me realize how much tired I am of self-promotion and why I want to go back and write just for fun in my accounts.

Back in 2009, I was struggling with my hate for studying (yes, I’m getting my MA in archaeology and I hated studying) and I had to graduate from high school. I was completely burned out and depressed, so my mom started looking for tips and advice on the internet. She found a nice Italian website (I’m not going to mention it because I don’t want to appear as a rude person, even if it would deserve it) with lots and lots of tips and tricks and advice on productivity, how to beat procrastination, how to study better and things like that. I loved reading it, it was something completely new to me, back then I didn’t even read in a different language than my own (Italian) and outside of my comfort zone (personal blogs).

I followed and supported the author for several years, even during the beginning of my university career, and I even bought a couple of ebooks by him. Then, I discovered the joy of reading English websites. There were a lot more topics out there, so many people writing about so many different things. After a couple of years, I started realizing that that guy didn’t invent anything, he was just reading a bunch of famous blogs and books written by American productivity gurus and repurposing the content for his little Italian blog. Nothing wrong with it, I mean, he wasn’t breaking the copyright rules, but he wasn’t sharing what he learned, he was just sharing stuff as if it was his own personal knowledge using titles tailored to impress the audience (like How to Study a 500-page Book in 3 Hours). I didn’t like that and it wasn’t even useful anymore.

I moved on from that blog and I started following other people I enjoyed more.

I don’t even know why I typed the URL of his blog earlier today, but I did and I noticed that the content wasn’t changed. The same topics over and over again, after 8 years he keeps writing the same stuff, using the same impressive titles. However, I stumbled upon an article that looked interesting and I started reading it. It was about how people are addicted to their smartphones and gave a couple of advice on how to stop it. The last one made me shiver because it wasn’t even crappy marketing, it was a pure mockery.

If your issue with notification often brought you to scroll Facebook, a solution to stop was to like his page and choose the option “View First”, so every time you’d open Facebook you’d see his posts first and that would remind you to not waste your time on social media. I mean, really?? We all know that this advice is crap. This is just a way to get more likes and self-promote your stupid page.

And the best part is that, in the comments, nobody even mentioned it. They all wrote how useful the article was (and I bet they liked his page).

This made me think once more how blogging has changed over the years and how we are all in search of more likes, more followers, more page views, more money. I don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to write a productivity article in disguise, that looks like it would help people but then it’s just another miserable way to get more followers and it isn’t helpful at all.

I’ve seen more and more bloggers and friends writing about how they want to start blogging about personal stuff again in 2018. I think we should start a movement, a community, a hashtag (what about #oldschoolblogging? LOL). Please, don’t get me wrong, I don’t criticize all the people who monetize their work, I’m the first one who writes as a paid contributor and will keep doing it, I’m just against fake experts and people who cheat to get more followers.

December Small Goals + End of the Year Reflections

After enjoying for months all the posts about monthly goals that Kay and Kristin have written, I finally decided to give it a go and why not starting in December? I discovered that the “Small Goals” series is actually a link up by Nicole of Writes Like a Girl!

So here are my small goals for December.

Avoid procrastination before the Holidays. I have a thesis to write and research to do and when the calendar is set on December my inner clock says CHRISTMAS and so the only things I want to do is to watch Christmas movies on Netflix. But the truth is that I have so much work to do that I should definitely avoid distraction and procrastination and stay productive at least until December 23rd.

Exercize daily. My body is currently a wreck at the moment and my osteopath gave me 3 simple exercises to do every single day, they are not very time-consuming. I want to be sure to actually do them every day even during the holidays, so I’ve set up reminders on my phone.

Choose a word for 2018. I stopped setting goals for the new year because I never achieved them and they weren’t actionable, so I decided to pick a word and let it guide me. This project was inspired by the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards and my word for 2017 was MAGIC. I wanted to reconnect myself with my fandoms and my passions because I’ve put them aside when I started learning about blogging and biz and all the marketing you can find online.

Spend less time on social media. Meaning Instagram since all the other social media platforms are automated now (my Facebook page and Twitter, while I completely abandoned Pinterest for now). I’d like to check it only a couple of times a day (or not at all during the various Christmas parties) and use my phone to take photos rather than scroll a feed of other people’s lives.

And now the boring part: my end of the year reflections (you can skip it if you want). 🙂

2017 has been a great year for me. I finished all my exams at University, I participated to my very first Instagram workshop, I’ve met in person another Instagram friend, I collaborated with other bloggers, I became a contributor to Page Flutter and I also moved my blog to WordPress.

I was so excited to have some extra money to upgrade my plan and map my domain, in order to have a more professional presence here. I was seeing a bright new future for my blog and I was so happy of that that I even announced it to my parents (I never share internet stuff with them). But things started changing just a few months after.

First of all, I discovered that the price of my plan has increased and I’ll have to pay a lot more next year, only to have my domain mapped, and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to afford it, if a miracle won’t happen in the meantime, this also means that I’ll have tons of broken links around the internet that I won’t be able to fix, especially on Pinterest. I also noticed that comments started decreasing and decreasing here on the blog after moving to WordPress, not sure why since my posts are still visible on Feedly and Bloglovin’. I don’t care about numbers anymore, so I don’t even know how many followers, page views, readers I have at this point, but comments were what kept me going, this way it’s almost like talking to myself, which is good, but I already do it all the time in my journal. 😀 Please don’t take it like I’m begging for comments or things like that. It’s just a general consideration and my curiosity makes me wonder why it happened (I love studying marketing strategies!).

But not everything that happened was negative, I also managed to do some incredibly fulfilling collaborations with other bloggers and, the excitement I got doing that, made me question whether I still want to run my blog or not. The answer is: I don’t know. I hope to find it out during 2018 and, in the meantime, I’ll keep blogging and I’ll try to stick with my small goals.

One of the reasons why I kept writing here, even if when I didn’t feel inspired or encouraged, was to keep improving my English, to keep forcing myself to write in a language that it isn’t mine and to have a sort of portfolio for my articles. But now I contribute to other blogs (Page Flutter, Travelling Geek Show, Middle Earth News) and I have all my “useful” posts on Medium, I write lengthy captions on Instagram and I chat every day with English-speaking people on WhatsApp. In short, I have to find other reasons to keep running this blog. I love to contribute to other blogs and I love to remble in my diary. So 2018 is going to be the year of discovery, I guess.

Let’s see what the future will bring us.

Broken Moon by Sarah Beth Moore

Disclaimer: the lovely Sarah reached me out to send me an ARC of her newest book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In a post-apocalyptic world, Naiya Barrigan’s life flips upside down and she finds herself on a mission and her family to protect. With the help of her adoptive brother, Naiya starts the most dangerous journey of her life.

This fast-paced novel will bring you into a close future where demonic guards and stolen children are threatening the citizens of a big city divided by Upper and Lower. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, the world building and the way the characters are introduced and described. Naiya is a complicated teenager and, even if I’m older now, I could totally relate to her feelings. The end of the book surprised me and now I hope there is going to be a sequel because I really need to know more!

If you like young adult books with relatable characters, an engaging story, and an urban fantasy setting, this is the book for you.

4/5 stars

Goodareads

My Bookish Rules

Living far away from libraries (and basically everything useful) means I always had to buy books if I wanted to read something, even if I didn’t know if I would like the book or not. So it’s not surprising that I have accumulated a good amount of them during the last few years, until the end of 2012 when I got my beloved Kindle and I started buying ebooks. Owning Amazon’s e-reader isn’t amazing just because you can buy books from the comfort of your home and immediately read them, it’s amazing also because you can read a lot saving money and also without filling your shelves.

But no matter what, books were still cluttering my little IKEA Billy (I have a thinner version that they no longer produce), bending my shelves. Fortunately, this Summer my village got a little free library and I’ve been able to donate many books I didn’t care to keep, like those random chick-lit novels or those I didn’t enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love paper and I’m often tempted to buy new physical books when I visit bookstores. But since my living space is small, I decided to set some boundaries and I came up with some self-imposed rules to manage my impulse buys in 2018.

  • I’ll buy physical books only by my favourite authors (Tolkien, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie, etc.). I know this is a very difficult rule to follow for a bookworm, but believe me, you would try to stick with it if you’d live in a tiny space like mine.
  • I’ll buy only pretty editions. After donating tons of old books, I realized how ugly were the editions I used to pick up, obviously because I was always trying to save money, so I mostly bought the cheapest pockets/paperbacks around. Now, because of my strict rules, if I’ll buy a book, I’ll choose pretty editions, possibly hardcovers (my favourites).
  • The rest of my reading time will happen on my Kindle. Ebooks have many perks because I can highlight passages (this is why I love reading non-fiction in a digital format), read them everywhere, they don’t take any physical space, and so on.
  • Finally, before purchasing a Kindle book, I’ll always send an extract to my device first. This is such a useful service offered by Amazon, but somehow I always neglected it and directly bought the book, maybe to discover later that I didn’t enjoy the way it was written/formatted/whatever.

That’s it! This is how I plan to handle my bookish life next year. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to own a bigger bookcase and I’ll be able to reduce the number of rules for my book-buying habits.

How I Stay Organized | Fall 2017

One of the things I struggle with the most is my love for technology. While I finally forced myself to automate my social media profiles and I just left Instagram (and a couple of Facebook groups) into my life, I still struggle with my insane love for apps. I like to watch videos and read posts about them, see how other people stay organized and I keep downloading new ones and testing them for some time until I find myself not knowing where my stuff is anymore.

I tried Todoist, TickTick, Asana, Pocket and Instapaper (and many others) because they looked cool and I thought I needed them. I switched so many times my to-do list app during the last few months that I ended up picking up an old notebook one day and just jot things down because I was too frustrated with my tech.

I love Google Drive and I use it all the time since my University moved our academic emails on GSuite, but somehow I forced myself to use Evernote, try OneNote or Dropbox Paper only because people recommended them. The truth is that I already had my own system but I wasn’t paying attention to it because I was too busy switching apps.

Normal girls get excited about a new pair of shoes, I get excited about a new app to try.

Now that we’re about to enter the Holidays season, I want to narrow down the list of tools I use and try to stick with it until the end of the year. Then, I will decide if I want to bring something else back or not.

My System

Here are the apps that I use on my system, the ones I always come back to, and other more recent apps I find very useful.

Google Calendar: I never found another calendar app with the same amount of features for free. Also, the new desktop redesign makes it even better to use.

Google Drive: here is where I store everything, from documents to pdf to online class workbooks, this is also where I draft my blog posts.

Google Keep: I finally ditched all the other to do list apps. After being an all-time fan of Wunderlist, I decided it was time to let it go because I had created so many lists there that it was incredibly cluttered and I even forgot about them. Keep is amazing, I love the way everything is in front of you and you don’t have to open folders or additional lists in order to see more, I even wrote a post on how I use it here.

Google Inbox: while on my laptop I keep using Gmail, I prefer Inbox on my phone because it’s more mobile-friendly and, above all, has a great reminders widget for Android that allows me to set reminders very quickly without even opening the app. The best thing about using Google products is that you can limit the number of accounts and login info to keep in mind.

Evernote: the native notes app on my smartphone isn’t very good and can’t be synchronized on another device, so the notes are just saved locally. Not very secure because if something happens to your phone, the notes are gone. That’s why I use Evernote for my random ideas, drafting blog posts on the go, Instagram captions and so on. I was very pleased by the experience with Simplenote (more suitable to my very simple needs), but I’ve been an Evernote user since 2012 and I didn’t want to create another account on another app. I used to have a very complex system with notebooks, stacks and tags, but I ended up not being able to find my notes (I’m not a fan of the search bar), so I decided to store my files on Drive and simplify my Evernote setup. These days I keep only one notebook and I always try to stay under 50 notes.

Trello: my favourite project management app. I mostly use it to collaborate with other people and plan specific projects. You can find all my posts about Trello here.

OneNote: this is a recent addition to the “collection”. I was looking for a handy way to save articles to read later without having to deal with another app/account. Then I found out that I could use OneNote with my incredibly old Hotmail account and that the feature to save posts there directly from Feedly was free, so I started using it as a “read later” app. I also decided to store some pdf and articles there, because I prefer the way they look there rather than Evernote and so I can keep my Google Drive decluttered and organized. So OneNote is basically my reading centre now, where I also keep blogging resources and interesting articles from the web. Finding thing is easier than Evernote because the way OneNote organize stuff with tabs and pages is exactly how my brain works. I should use it for notes and checklists, but I still prefer Evernote for that since synchronization and formatting work better on mobile.

Photo Editing

Snapseed and A Color Story are both free and they are the only apps I use these days to edit my photos.

Just For Fun

Goodreads Beta: Goodreads recently released a new app for Android and, even if it’s still in beta, I’m loving it. The layout is way better than the standard app and it has nice features.

Libib: this is a recent discovery and I use it to catalog my physical books. I love it because everything is private and it isn’t a social media.

Miscellaneous

Firefox Focus: I still use Chrome for day to da stuff, but when I have to just search random things, I prefer this app. It doesn’t save your chronology and doesn’t allow to open different tabs, so you’re forced to stay focused on what you’re doing. It’s nice to bring a bit of mindfulness in my browser research.

Adobe Scan: I tried tons and tons of scan apps and this one is definitely my favourite. I use it at University to scan notes of my classmates or documents, pages from books and things like that. I can easily scan my documents and save them as pdf files of one or more pages and export them to Drive.


I didn’t want to include the analog part of my organization because I already talked about my journals and planners in the past. However, I wanted to be sure to mention that my system is not completely digital and it will keep being a hybrid one also in 2018.