UK lifestyle and money blog

Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo

 

Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  I'm Victoria Sully, a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker.  I’m passionate about making money online, saving money, self-employment, healthy living and blogging.  I’m on a personal mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Thank you so much for joining me.


 

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  1. It’s coming up to that time of year again… no, not Christmas, but the other time of year that all self-employed people start freaking out about… tax return time!  OK, not everyone freaks out as some of us do our tax returns as soon as we can, like in April!  I’ve always wondered why people put it off until the very last minute. 

    The only thing I’m freaking out about is remembering to pay my bill!  I have several alarms at the ready near the end of January.  I have the money sat waiting to pay it and just need to log in to make my payment.  I did actually pay it right away, but it just sat there in my tax account doing nothing, so I thought it better to earn interest on it until the due date if they’re not going to actually deduct it from my tax bill until 31st January.  I had it refunded and it’s been sat patiently waiting until the end of Jan whilst nicely earning a bit of interest (which of course I will declare on my next tax bill!)

    Many bloggers find the whole tax thing really scary and intimidating.  I’m here to tell you it’s not at all.  I am by no means an expert, but I want to share with you a few tips and some handy links to get you started.  I should probably mention at this stage I do love spreadsheets and form filling doesn’t faze me, so maybe that’s why I find it OK.  I get not everyone is like this though, but hopefully you won’t find it scary and if you do then seek professional advice.

    6 handy tax tips for bloggers

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    Things to note – I am not an expert, so please do your own research.  I’ll share some links here.  Also, tax rules change all the time and I am writing this in November 2018 so do check the links and investigate for yourself as allowances and rules can change each new tax year.

    Keep records of everything

    Firstly, if you are planning on running your blog as a business then you need to keep records of everything.  Even if you are only going to make £10 from your blog this year, that’s a profit and an income and it makes your blog a business.  You might not have to register for self-assessment with such a small income from your blog (see next point), but you still need to keep records.  There’s a chance your blog will make enough over the next few months to have to register as self-employed, so it’s best to keep on top of record keeping.

    Keep all invoices, receipts, bank statements and email correspondence with customers.  I keep a spreadsheet with all my incomings and outgoings which I update every day as and when I have an incoming or expense.  I then cross reference this with my bank account and PayPal every week and ensure the balances match up.  I have a separate spreadsheet for each tax year.  I rarely have paper receipts, but when I do I keep these in an envelope for each tax year.  Many of my invoices and receipts are electronic so I keep them in my email account all sorted into ‘incomings’ and ‘outgoings’ for each tax year.  I can easily print everything and find records of everything for each tax year.

    You really need to come up with an organised system to keep records of everything and stay on top of it so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

    The HMRC website says “examples of the records you may need to keep are:

    • copies of your invoices, paper or electronic
    • a spreadsheet of your income receipts
    • emails confirming income received
    • statements from the company who paid you which show the amount you received
    • bank statements
    • bank deposit pay-in records
    • a diary or appointments book showing your income from each customer

    HMRC can charge you a penalty if the records you keep aren’t accurate, complete and readable or if you don’t retain them for the required period of time.”

    Go digital

    I must admit, I love spreadsheets.  I love adding formulas that work out all my tax payments and national insurance contributions and automatically update as I add new figures every day.  Some people loathe spreadsheets though or they simply don’t get them and get into a muddle.  Just because I use a spreadsheet, it doesn’t mean you have to, but you have to have some way of recording every incoming and outgoing each month.  If you’re making enough money or as your blogging business grows then you may wish to consider hiring an accountant to manage your tax returns or using some digital software to make everything easier.  I’ve heard many bloggers talk about using Quickbooks before to make accounting and invoicing simplified and of course, digital.  Digital tax accounting company Tax Kings also offer digital bookkeeping services for sole traders including ‘preparing, recording and completing your annual return’.

    If your gross income is £1000 or less, you don’t have to register with HMRC

    If your gross trading income from one or more self-employment trades is £1000 or less then you don’t have to tell HMRC or register as self-employed.  That means your total income before any expenses.  It’s known as a trading allowance.  If you don’t make much money from blogging (under £1000) and you have no other trades then it can save the hassle of doing a self-assessment. 

    However, there are some reasons why you may wish to complete a self-assessment, even if you earn under £1000 from blogging and any other trades.  These include if you’ll want to claim Maternity Allowance based on your self-employed income, if you want to claim Tax Free Childcare based on your self-employed income and if you want to voluntarily pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions to help towards some benefits.

    You can find out more information here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tax-free-allowances-on-property-and-trading-income

    Register for self-assessment if your income is over £1000

    If your gross (before expenses) income from blogging and any other trades is over £1000 then you’ll have to register for self-assessment with HMRC.  Even if your income from blogging is under £1000 then are some circumstances mentioned above where it could benefit you to register anyway.

    You can register for self-assessment here: https://www.gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return

    Use ‘simplified expenses’ to claim for utilities

    If you work from home then a proportion of the energy bills will be during the hours you are working.  Instead of trying to break down exactly how much gas, electric and water you used during working hours to claim as an expense, you simply use the ‘simplified expenses’ flat rate  which tells you exactly how much you can claim as an expense each month:

    Hours of business use per month

    Flat rate per month

    25 to 50

    £10

    51 to 100

    £18

    101 and more

    £26

    Click this link to find out more: https://www.gov.uk/simpler-income-tax-simplified-expenses/working-from-home

    I work anywhere from 30-50 hours per week on my at-home business so I can add £26 per month as an expense towards our utility bills. 

    Note – this doesn’t include telephone or internet bills, so these need to be worked out and claimed as a separate expense.

    Save as you go

    This is probably one of the most important things to do!  Save your tax as you go!  As mentioned, on my spreadsheet I have formulas that are linked to my profits each tax year that work out my total costs for the following:

    • Tax (20% of income over my £11850 personal allowance)
    • Class 2 NIC (set amount £153.40)
    • Class 4 NIC (9% of profits between £8424 and £46350)
    • Student Loan Plan 1 (9% of income over my £18330 personal allowance)

    So by the end of the tax year I already know exactly how much I owe thanks to my spreadsheet.  I save throughout the year though by putting £500 a month to one side – a savings account – so I have the money ready to pay the tax bill at the end of the year.  Anything left over, £2000ish, will go in my pension pot.

    I know roughly what I’ll earn now as I’ve been full-time blogging for a while, but if you’ve no clue how much all your outgoings are then search Google for a ‘self-employed tax calculator UK’ where you can enter your monthly income and it will tell you how much tax and expenditure for student loans, etc, you’ll have to pay on that.  Then you can put this amount to one side and do the same the next month.  This might be a handy way of doing things if your income really fluctuates each month.  If you save too much then just see it as savings!  Better to save too much rather than too little or nothing at all!  You want to be prepared and all saved up for your tax bill at the end of the year.

    I’ve no idea of the accuracy, but this looks like quite a good calculator: https://www.employedandselfemployed.co.uk/tax-calculator

     

    Hopefully these 6 tips have been useful.  By no means is this a definitive guide!  There is so much more I could say, but this is a good starting point.  You’ll also need proof and amounts of any interest earned on savings for the year, dividends earned and other income such as from an employed job.  Basically, just keep records of all monetary income or make sure you have digital access to them as proof and for filling out your tax return when the time comes.  The HMRC website really is so helpful and full of so many guides to help you or you can always choose to seek professional advice or hire an accountant to make the whole process as easy as possible.

     

    Helpful articles if you want to monetise your blog:
    6 secrets to make more money from your blog
    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
    Make money from your blog without Google ads 
    4 ways to find paid blog opportunities 
    How I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph
    How to improve your domain authority (DA)

    Work from home blog posts:
    The 5 ways I made £30000 money from home in 2017/2018
    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum
    How to deal with overwhelm as a work at home parent
    How to survive the half term when you work from home
    5 tips to stay healthy if you work from home

    6 handy tax tips for bloggers

  2. A question I am regularly asked is how I make money from my blog and how to find those opportunities.  Whilst I share how I find blogging opportunities in my blog post 4 ways to find paid blog opportunities, today I want to share some of my secrets of how I believe make even more money from my blog each month. 

    These are the things I believe I do that help me make a consistent income from my blog.

    6 secrets to make more money from your blog

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    Follow up

    How many times do you reply to an email about an opportunity never to hear back again? If you get emails directly to your inbox every day like I do, then I bet it’s a lot.  Every time I reply to an email opportunity I am interested in, I then move the email to an ‘in progress’ email folder.  Once a week I will look through this folder to see who hasn’t replied to me in more than one week and I’ll send them a polite follow up email asking if they are still interested.  I then move the email to a ‘complete’ folder and I don’t bother them again.  If they aren’t interested then they may let me know or won’t reply.  But sometimes, they are interested and my original reply was just lost, forgotten about or they had tons of replies, but now I stand out as someone who is keen.  It’s surprising how many will actually reply if you send a polite follow up email.  I only like to do this once as I figure they’ve had my original reply and now one follow up, so that’s two chances for them to get back in touch with me.  You don’t want to keep emailing as it’s annoying and they might blacklist you!

    Email previous contacts 

    I keep a list of all contacts I’ve worked with on a spreadsheet.  I have a column for the date I Iast worked with them and the date I last contacted them.  I also have columns with their name, business name, email, type of collaboration e.g. ‘advert’ ‘product review’ and so on.  I don’t keep details of single brands as they tend to only work with bloggers once, so this is just for PR companies and agencies.  I sort the spreadsheet in date order and contact anyone I haven’t spoken to in three months.  I update the ‘last contacted’ date each time I email them.  I then colour code once I’ve contacted them – yellow for once, orange for twice and red for three times.  Once I’ve contacted them three times (once every three months) and had no reply then I won’t contact them again as they’re either not interested in working with me or they don’t work for that company anymore.

    Be timely

    I believe I get a lot of interest and repeat work because I respond to emails promptly – usually within a few hours, sometimes instant, but definitely within 24 hours.  I am also prompt with my work and turn pieces around quickly.  I don’t rush, but I love to write and can write quite quickly - as soon as I have a title then I’m off and keen to write!  I never leave work until the last minute and prefer to complete before a deadline (unless it’s a strict don’t do it until the deadline type scenario!)

    Start another blog

    I now have four blogs, well three of my own and one I’ve taken over!   I have my main blog, my husband’s website blog, my second blog that I set up almost one year ago and my third blog that is almost one month old so very new.  Setting up new blogs has allowed me to niche down on these separate blogs and to begin niching down a little more on my main blog instead of covering so many topics in one place.  It takes time to build authority and readerships on the newer blogs, but I was able to monetise my second blog after a few months and I hope to do the same with my third blog.  it also gives me back up and means I can apply for different sorts of opportunities for each blog.  It’s also meant some opportunities are relevant for all of the blogs and so I can let PRs or agencies know I have more than one blog and sometimes they want to work with all of them.

    Have more than one niche 

    So I am trying to niche down on some of my blogs, but I’ve always been a big believer in write about whatever you want and love.  I’m sure I get a lot more opportunities than some because I do cover a lot of topics, especially on this blog.  I’m trying to go more with a money angle on this blog now, but I do still love to write about other topics that fascinate me too and this opens my blog up to more opportunities.

    Be active every day

    I saw a blogger recently tweet something like ‘hey brands, I’d love to work with you, email me at *** and I’ll respond within a week or so’.  Really?!  I am active every single day checking my emails and responding.  Sometimes brands will have a deadline in the future and take a while to collate interested bloggers, but the majority in my experience are looking for bloggers NOW.  They have a deadline and want a response sharpish.  With that in mind it pays to be actively responding each day and hunting out the opportunities on Facebook, Twitter and blogging platforms daily, or at least every other day.  I check them all every single day and apply for any that interest me.  Yep there’s a lot of spam now on the Twitter feeds for example, but if I want to find the work then I have to fish through it daily to dig out the real opportunities!  Checking all the blogging Facebook groups daily is something I do too.  People often share so much advice that I can learn something new each day or even learn about a new networking group or somewhere to find paid work.

    Obviously you might not have time to write four blogs or you may only want to write about one very niche topic and that’s totally fine. These are the ways I believe I have been able to consistently make a full time living from my blog for 18 months and hope that it might offer you a little deeper insight into things I do, especially as I’m asked a lot.  There might be something here that helps you or you think ‘that’s a good idea, I’ll steal that’!

    Happy blogging!

     

    Helpful articles if you want to monetise your blog:
    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
    Make money from your blog without Google ads 
    4 ways to find paid blog opportunities
    How I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph
    How to improve your domain authority (DA)
    The 5 ways I made £30000 money from home in 2017/2018
    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

    6 secrets to make more money from your blog

  3. Today I’m going to share with you a platform that is a great way to make money from your blog when you are a new blogger.  That’s because they have opportunities for blogs that have a domain authority of just 5 and above.  It’s the first site I’ve seen that offers paid opportunities for blogs with such a low DA.  The site I am going to be reviewing and talking about in this blog post is Get Blogged.

    Make money blogging with Get Blogged website

    Who are they?

    Get Blogged is a platform that connects brands with bloggers.  As bloggers we can use the site to find paid opportunities, product reviews and even paid social media shout outs.

    Types of collaborations available

    Here are some of the types of collaboration I’ve seen on Get Blogged

    • Paid blog posts (written by the blogger)
    • Paid Facebook shout outs
    • Paid tweets
    • Paid Instagram shout outs
    • Product in exchange for review

    What do they pay?

    The pay is quite low, but great if you need the money, are writing about a topic anyway or if you are a new blogger needing a paid assignment for a low DA.  At the time of writing a social media shout out is paying £8 and the highest paying DA20+ assignment is paying £27.50.

    Make money blogging with Get Blogged

    How often do they have paid work?

    I’m pretty sure they have paid work all the time.  I am sent emails every week alerting me to opportunities and whilst they may not always have paid work for each domain filter, there is usually something on there for at least one of the domain authorities.  For example, there is nothing on there currently for DA5+, but loads of opportunities under DA10+.

    Whilst Get Blogged may not be for everyone, especially established high DA bloggers, as they offer quite low paying blog posts, I still think it’s worth signing up to as many platforms as possible and getting your name out there.  You never know when you have a quiet month and could do with the work.  Plus, it's up to you what you charge for your blog and time, some charge more, some charge less.  For new bloggers it’s really a great platform to find lots of paid work when your DA is 10+ and they even have a category for DA5+ so it’s worth keeping an eye on this when you are a very new blogger and are looking for opportunities.

     

    Sometimes they have different collaborations that pay a little more than their usual rates too, so you need to be signed up to hear about these.

     

    You can sign up here: https://www.getblogged.net/r/08047fe3d2-261

     

    Helpful articles if you want to monetise your blog:
    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
    Make money from your blog without Google ads 
    4 ways to find paid blog opportunities
    How I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph
    How to improve your domain authority (DA)
    The 5 ways I made £30000 money from home in 2017/2018
    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

     Make money blogging with Get Blogged (even as a new blogger)

  4. If running your own business from home has always been your dream, you might be happily settled in your office space all day not thinking about the dangers. Whether you are working too much, forget to eat healthy, or simply neglect going out and exercising, your body will tell you that you need to make a change. It is important that you listen to the early signs before it is too late.

    Below you will find a few areas to focus on when working from your home office.

     What working from home can do to your body

    Photo by bruce mars

    Diet

    We are often too caught up with projects, blogging, and updating our sites that we completely forget about eating healthy. You need to find time for breaks when you can sit down away from your desk and enjoy a delicious and organic meal. Whether you take the time off at night to make yourself a salad you can eat for lunch, or are making a sandwich when you are having a break, you will have to allow your body to digest the food, too. Snacking on chocolate and crisps will be very bad for you long term, however easy it is to grab these junk foods! Instead, search online to find easy vegan snack ideas on websites such as Authority Health.

    I always make sure I stop for a lunchbreak and sit down in another room for 30 minutes to refresh my mind and ensure I don’t rush my food.

    Exercise

    If you are constantly busy running your business, chances are that you need to create an exercise routine. Start your day with a green smoothie or tea, jump on the yoga mat, and make sure that you stretch during the day, especially if you are sitting by the computer most of the time.  Take the dog for a walk, go down to the local coffee shop to meet with clients, or just do a quick HIIT sequence.  There are so many videos for free on YouTube and you’ll be able to find an at-home exercise routine for however long or little time you have. 

    I always start my day with some yoga to set my mind up for greatness and to awaken my body.

    Posture and lower back

    Sitting on front of the computer will put too much pressure on your body, even if you have an ergonomic desk and chair. If you start feeling your lower back at night, you will need to start doing regular stretching exercises to relieve the pressure on your joints and your muscles, so you can avoid long term problems.  

    I have just invested in a walking treadmill which goes under my desk and a rising laptop stand so I can stand and work, or even better, I can walk and work!

    Eye strain

    Starting at the computer all day doesn’t do any good to your eyes, either. There are a couple of things you can do to prevent eye strains and sight loss. Make use of natural light, adjust your chair, screen, brightness, and prevent glare. However, once you have had an eye test and you were told that you need glasses, you will have to make a decision. Learn about the difference between varifocal glasses vs bifocal glasses and support your eyes through healthy diet.

    My desk is positioned next to the window to make use of natural light and I try to look away from my screen, at least for my lunch break, to give my eyes a rest.

    Circulation issues

    When you are sitting down for a long period of time, you might find that you get pins and needles and your legs become swollen or painful. You can get a foot rest for your home office that will support your legs, but using various leg stretches, or even standing on your head or your hands for a few minutes each day will help you prevent issues, such as varicose veins.

    Again, try a standing desk to prevent sitting down all day.  It doesn’t need to be expensive – simply find a stand you can put on your existing desk so you can reach your laptop standing up.

    If you spend a lot of time each day in your home office, it is important that you are aware of the health risks and address them every day.  It’s still possible to take care of your health even when working from home.

     

    Great blog posts if you’re a parent who works from home:

    How to deal with overwhelm as a work at home parent
    How to survive the half term when you work from home
    5 tips to stay healthy if you work from home
    Keeping safe while working from home
    5 ways to manage your time effectively when working from home
    Managing life as a full time working parent

     

    What working from home can do to your body

  5. I’m a bit late to the party with these cashback apps, but I’m absolutely loving them!  Today I received my first pay out of £2.50 from Shopmium for buying some soup.  The offer was a ‘buy one get one free’, so I had to buy the two soups myself in Tesco, upload my receipt to the Shopmium app and then they sent the cashback directly to my PayPal account!  You can also choose to have it sent to your bank account instead.

    How to save money at the supermarket with Shopmium

    Simply sign up by clicking my referral link here  and enter my referral code 46e3t – there is sometimes a freebie in the app if you do this…  at the time of typing it’s a free Nutella jar for you!

    I hadn’t even checked the app before going to the supermarket, but remembered to check it when I got home and saw that the soup I had already purchased was on the app.  I simply had to take a photo of the receipt and scan the barcode on the product to receive my cashback.

    You could check the app before you go to the supermarket as it will save you money doing it this way round if you buy items that are on offer.  For example, you can choose to buy the on offer items as an alternative to what you normally buy.  So if you are going to buy crisps or soup anyway, as an example, then take a look at the app and see if there are some crisps or soup that have money off and buy these ones instead to save!

    It’s also a great way to try new products by getting them at a discount.

    How to save money at the supermarket with Shopmium cashback app

    Which supermarkets can I save at with Shopmium?

    Shopmium is a cashback app that helps you to save money every day in the supermarket.  They currently have offers in the following supermarkets:

    • Tesco
    • Sainsbury’s
    • Asda
    • Waitrose
    • Morrisons

    How much can I save?

    Every offer is different, but you can save up to 100%!  Some are money off vouchers such as 50p off, some are BOGOF and some are to try a product for free with 100% cashback!

    Is it easy to use?

    Yes!  It’s so simple and easy to use, so if you have a smartphone then definitely download the app and take a look.  As with most apps nowadays it just takes a little clicking around on the different tabs and icons to see what’s what and away you go!

    Will I get paid quickly?

    I am pretty sure you will.  I was paid in less than 48 hours after uploading my receipt.  The money went straight into my PayPal with no fees and it was only for £2.50.  Usually apps like these have a £20 threshold to avoid a fee or even to cash out at all, so this is a real bonus for using Shopmium – no pay out fees and they send you the money pretty much straight away so you don’t even have to cash out yourself.

    I’m looking forward to saving a lot more money with Shopmium and will now check the app for every supermarket trip to see if anything tempts me or whether I can save on my usual shopping list.

     

    How to save money at the supermarket with Shopmium and get referral credit

    Earn £3 in referral credits for referring your friends

    Once you are signed up you will get a special code and link in the app that gives you £3 in referral credits any time you sign a friend up using your link!

     

    Simply sign up by clicking my referral link here  and enter my referral code 46e3t – there is sometimes a freebie in the app if you do this…  at the time of typing it’s a free Nutella jar for you!

     

    Related - 5 ways to get more money out of every in-store shopping trip

    How to save money at the supermarket with Shopmium