Career

    #1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome

    Starting a podcast, ey. Bloody tricky business but it's happening, finally it's happening. 

    WERKIN' ON IT WITH NIAMH SERENA IS FINALLY, 100%, DEFINITELY LIVE.

    But where on earth did it come from? Bet you thought I was just bringing you another outfit post or a pity party about how I haven't been blogging lately. Haha - NOPE. 

    What once started as a slow burning love affair with podcasts has quickly transformed into one that consumes my every thought (hardly surprising when you take into account every technicality involved in starting your own). 

    I played it cool with the podcasting industry for a long time. To be honest, I was never really that interested to begin with mostly due to my own ignorance. I didn't know many podcasters or podcast genres that would actually interest me. When would I even listen to them? It's not really the same thing as plugging in your earphones and listening to a motivational playlist on a Monday morning. Nor can it replace the joy of belting out your favourite tunes any time you're in your car. Right?

    Oh. So. Wrong. 

    It was as I found myself on a new daily commute that involved a 25 minute walk and 5 minute trip on the DART that I learned to fully appreciate a good podcast. I went so far as to subscribe to at least five or six (until iCloud decided enough was enough and played me on the storage front). Every morning, I would leave the house, lock up, stick my earphones in and catch up with the latest episodes. At a very lonely time in my life, living in a new city where I knew next to no one and was getting used to cultural differences I had never expected from somewhere not so far from home, these podcasts, their hosts and their guests kept me company. They kept my thoughts stimulated, geared me up for the work day ahead and sparked masses of content (and general life) ideas. I learned about new people who I may never have discovered before. Fair enough, each podcast played on my interest of fashion and entrepreneurship but it also opened my eyes to new possibilities, new people, stories I never would have learned otherwise and best of all, the power of female friendship (Lady Lovin' hosts Lo Bosworth, Greta Titelman and Jilly Hendrix along with Keeping It Candid girls, Sophie Milner and Millie Cotton - yep,I'm looking at you). 

    During these commutes, the seed was planted that maybe I could do this one day. It wasn't a seed ready to grow just yet though, just a fleeting thought that quickly disappeared when I nearly missed my train and immediately had to switch my focus to legging it down a little Irish country road. 

    It wasn't until my beloved podcasts and me took a romantic stroll along a Californian board walk last summer that I really entertained the idea - romantic in the sense that I let my thoughts on the idea really run away with me not you know, anything weird. By this stage my podcast of choice was The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast by fitness and beauty blogger entrepreneur Lauryn Evarts and her husband (also an entrepreneur). I was religiously working my way through their entire feed during that holiday and by the end of the two weeks I'd decided on a name and format for my podcast. 

    Werkin' On It represents the idea that regardless of which age or stage of our careers we're at we're all constantly "werkin on it". Quickly after I thought of the name, Rihanna's song Work placed itself firmly in my head for the foreseeable future (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk - you know the one), influencing the change in spelling of "werkin".

    For now the podcast will be released on a fortnightly basis. I would love nothing more than to make this a weekly release but if I've learned anything in the last few months of preparation it's that these things take time, especially when outsourcing production isn't an option. Every other week I'll sit down with a fellow female creative and grill her on her career story, the good, the bad and the ugly served alongside the reminder that everything works out in the end and despite the lives we lead or interpret on social media, nobody has it easy in life particularly in pursuit of a career that truly fulfils them. 

    In this first episode I met with Niamh Cunningham - blogger, model and an unstoppable creative entrepreneur. I asked Niamh about her creative career to date as well as her hopes for that same creative career in the future. Niamh's individuality is something that really caught my eye on social media a few years ago but in recent months her honest and genuinely creative approach to producing valuable content has really shined through. We talk a lot about her Instagram stories in particular, the process of creating this kind of content and how it felt posting that first Instagram story vlog on to her profile for all of the social media world to see. Adding value through her content is clearly something very important to Niamh and in essence of this she was willing to share some of her tips on taking the plunge in producing the kind of content YOU want to create, using this content to deliver a message to the masses and maintaining uniqueness in an industry that's increasingly saturated. If you've ever felt lost along the way of chasing your creative dreams, Niamh's advice will certainly help see you through. She's been there and at times, still feels she is but she's clear in her vision and incredibly decisive when it comes to her own happiness. Oh, and rumour has it she's up to something and launching a business all of us creatives can seriously benefit from. Watch this space. After you've listened to the interview obvs. 

    So here we are. My first episode. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. It's a long one but Niamh's wisdom is worth every minute. Grab a cup of tea. Listen while tidying your room or recovering from your Sunday food coma and please, come back for my next episode with local artist and beautiful human being, Aly Harte - I'm very excited about releasing it. 

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings AND podcast episodes (eeeeeek!)

    Massive thank you to the very talented, incredibly helpful and creative genius Sophie Rose Brampton for the cover art. Check out her fabulous portfolio on her website / Instagram.

    Niamh ♥

     

    LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE

    Werkin' On It with Niamh Serena

    #1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome

     

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    The best resources for regaining blogging motivation

    I’ve recently confessed my struggle with blogging, my lack of inspiration within the industry and overall, lack of motivation with my blog. I’m still really lacking in motivation and inspiration and unfortunately, I’ve got into one very lazy rut but I'm working on it. At the moment I’ve mostly escaped the guilt (mostly, not completely or I wouldn’t be writing these posts) that comes with lack of motivation. This comes down to the fact that for the last 6 months, my internship has become a much bigger priority than my blog so with a reduced amount of time to commit to my blog, met with a reduced amount of energy, I’ve much more readily made excuses as to why I haven't been putting in the effort with little niamhserena.co.uk. However, in two weeks time my internship comes to an end (where has the time gone?!) which means no more making excuses. Sadly, it’s not as easy as just flicking a switch and bam, you become a dedicated content machine. With the end of my internship looming and a promise to myself that I would give my blog the attention and commitment that it deserves and once had, I got thinking about the different resources I’ve turned to in the past when I need a little boost and thought maybe, just maybe, a few of you out there might find them helpful. I’ve broken them down into three sections - books, websites, and videos - all of which are things I definitely bang on about at one point or another on my social media.

    BOOKS

    Whether directly related to blogging or fashion or just motivational books in general, I find it so helpful reading other people’s stories about how they’ve made their career a success. At the start of the year I went through a phase where every book I read, one after another fell within this genre. Then I suffered a little bit of book burnout and felt a need to switch it up with a little fiction. While I love reading fiction and think it’s important to keep a little variety on the go, there’s a definite correlation between my levels of motivation and effort and my choice of non-fiction, career focused book. Personally, it feels a bit like when you filter the people you spend time with, only including those that build you up and encourage positivity within your life only in this case there’s the added bonus of boosting productivity. If you’re in the market for a few motivational books, these are the ones that I’ve found most helpful over the last few months.

    My Story - Jo Malone

    Man Repeller: Seeking love, finding overalls
    (while not exclusively about her career, she’s someone I admire so naturally, her writing inspires me)

    Crush It! Why Now is the time to cash in on your passion - Gary Vaynerchuk

    Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg

    Girl Code: Unlocking the secrets to Success, Sanity and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur - Cara Alwill Leyba 

    Websites

    There’s probably nothing surprising about the fact that the websites that inspire me are mostly written by other bloggers. There’s no denying that the blogging industry is getting more and more saturated and a lot of people turn their noses up at blogging. The same people will most likely think I’m crazy for dreaming of making my blog a business one day. It’s easy to let those people get to you and affect your motivation but if we spent all of our time listening to them, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Every so often (usually on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea) I let myself get lost in the atmosphere of amazing blogs out there. Through blogging and my internships, I’ve become more aware of media sites that aren’t blogs nor mainstream sites but their quality of writing and creative voice brings enough content to spend your entire day devouring. Looking at those bloggers and writers out there who have successfully boosted their websites to the top fills me up with faith that it is possible, despite those that doubt the industry. The below websites are the ones that have gone from a Sunday scrolling session to refreshing daily, subscribing to newsletters and trusting to help dig me out of most creative ruts.

    Retro Flame

    Zanita

    Not Another Blonde

    The Every Girl 

    SheerLuxe

    Man Repeller

    The Coveteur

    My Domaine

    Videos

    We all need a pep talk every so often. Today in particular I was in desperate need of a few. As I checked through  my emails, I thanked myself for forwarding on the below video featured on My Domaine recently. It hit the nail on the head considering it’s entirely focused on making blogging your business, something I’ve been daydreaming about more and more frequently. Most of the videos embedded below are directly relevant to bloggers but the likes of Gary Vee, who I’m sure a lot of you are aware of, are great for giving you a little tough love career motivation, guaranteed to get you out of a rut regardless of your industry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9eOE_nrXFE&t=326s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIJKCpOkKY8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRj144Gd7EA&list=PLfA33-E9P7FBRJw28h5CApmMtNumCIHCp&index=2

    Are you following me on Bloglovin’? Bloglovin’ is the easiest way to stay up to date with your favourite blogs and all of my latest blog posts. 

    Follow me on Bloglovin’ Instagram / Twitter / FacebookSnapchat

    Niamh ♥

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    INTERVIEW: Orla Corrigan - Travelorlabout

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    When I decided to start an interview series on my blog I had hoped that it would give me the chance to meet some interesting people along the way. So far, I've been right. This is only my second interview on Niamh Serena and already I've been so amazed by people's stories.

    Orla Corrigan of travel blog, Travelorlabout, hasn't taken the most conventional career path since graduating and if you happen to know me on a personal level, you'll know exactly why this sparked my interest but more on that another time.

    After graduating in 2011 she decided to take a 3 month trip to Zakinthos. This turned into years of amazing travelling and an explosive CV. In order to fund her travels Orla took on odd jobs, working in roles including promoter, event planner, fashion stylist, au pair, freelance writer and so much more in countries across the world.

    The 26 year old has now gone back to her roots and come home to Ireland. Dying to hear more, I was lucky enough to sit down (virtually) with Orla for an interview.

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    FIRSTLY, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO ON THIS AMAZING TRAVELLING ADVENTURE AROUND THE WORLD? TALK US THROUGH HOW IT ALL STARTED.

    I think growing up in a remote countryside village (Ballinamuck) in Ireland gave me a push to want to see the bigger world. Even when I moved to Dublin for the first time to study my degree I fell in love with city life and having a fast paced lifestyle.

    My brother had moved to Australia before me and I remember seeing his pictures and him telling me of his adventures and that sealed the deal for me - I just had to go! It was officially after a three month season of living in Greece that I wanted to keep travelling for as long as possible. I have been travelling now for five years and have no plans to stop anytime soon.

    I'M REALLY INTRIGUED AS TO HOW THE WHOLE PROCESS WORKED AND I KNOW THAT MAKING TRAVELLING PLANS CAN BE TRICKY AT TIMES. HOW MUCH OF THE TRIP, IN TERMS OF DESTINATIONS, CAME DOWN TO SPONTANEITY? HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHERE TO GO AND WHEN TO LEAVE?

    I would say I am a pretty random person, if someone invites me along on a trip, it’s unlikely I would say no. Sometimes I could be scrolling through Skyscanner and I will see cheap flights to a destination I have never been, I’ll book them straight away without even thinking too much about it.

     As far as the five countries I have lived in (Greece, UK, Austria, Australia, Thailand) that took a lot more planning. I like to research destinations I am going to live in, in depth and have everything from visas to job sorted if possible. I always connect with people living in the country I am moving to beforehand as well. I usually leave a country when my visa runs up or I get itchy feet to move somewhere else.

    THROUGHOUT YOUR TRAVELS YOU'VE EXPERIENCED FORMS OF TRAVEL COMPANIONSHIP IN MOST FORMS, TRAVELLING BOTH BY YOURSELF AND WITH FRIENDS. WHEN IT CAME TO TRAVELLING WITH OR WITHOUT PEOPLE WHICH DID YOU PREFER?

    I will have to admit I feel very fortunate to have experienced all the different travelling types, solo, with friends, with a partner and even with my family. If I had to choose between solo and with friends I would choose friends. Being an incredibly social person I like to share amazing experiences and create memories with others. However if there is no one available to come on a trip with me that will never stop me from going. I make friends pretty easily and hostels are a great place to surround yourself with likeminded people.

    YOU'VE CHOSEN TO TAKE A LESS TRADITIONAL APPROACH TO BUILDING A CAREER PATH FOR YOURSELF AND IN THE PROCESS HAVE HAD THE CHANCE TO REALLY TRY A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FINDING WORK AS YOU MOVED FROM DESTINATION TO DESTINATION?

    Yes my resume is exploding at this stage from all the various jobs I have done. Finding the work all really depends on the place and my current situation at that time. Sometimes I had contacts in certain places that knew of employment opportunities that were going. Most of the time I was trying to experience jobs that I could see myself having a career in. I loved my time working in events and that is still an area of employment I could see myself in. The opportunities I have had work wise are amazing. I got to work at the Grand Prix in Melbourne and as a TV extra too. Next month I am starting a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing and Online PR and I am pretty confident this will be the career area I will pursue from here on in. My best advice is to push yourself to try jobs even if you don’t meet all the requirements the job role has listed, show and demonstrate your willingness to learn, that has always worked for me. I find agency work to be great for when you are travelling, you have the freedom to choose your working hours etc.

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    WERE THERE EVER MOMENTS WHEN YOU WANTED TO JUST PACK IT ALL IN AND COME HOME? IF SO, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO KEEP GOING AND PUSH THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES?

    Travelling isn’t always easy that’s for sure. I have experienced hitting low points where I found myself in another country with not a lot of money. Luckily I have an amazing supportive family who are always there for me. You also learn to grow up and live independently very quickly when travelling and you find the friends you make travelling will help you through anything. Once you believe you can do anything, you can make it through anything. There will often be down days but they are rare in comparison to the good times, I can promise that.

    WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR OVERALL TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE?

    There has been so many amazing moments that it is difficult to pick one stand out moment. Travelling wise the highlight has been making friends for life all over the world. I am regularly in touch with loads of travel buddies I have made. Only a couple of weeks ago I met an American friend of mine in Dublin whom I met years ago on a Contiki trip round the Greek Islands. Next month I am off to Morocco with a friend I met in Melbourne.

     Work wise I am very proud of the international jobs I have nabbed and the skills they have taught me over the years. Getting my first travel article published in an Expat lifestyle magazine is one of my proudest moments and seeing my travel story featured in INSIDER travel two weeks ago was also a major travelling/work highlight. See it here.

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    WHAT DO YOU FEEL THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

    It has taught me so many things. I am now such an open minded person who is willing to try new things. Travelling has made me always want more in life and be quite ambitious. It’s also helped to make me more independent and confident in various ways like job interviews and networking. It has also taught me to appreciate little things in life when you witness other cultures who have much less than we do. The main thing it has taught me is to live in the moment and never turn down an opportunity. I am scared of nothing now, travelling is such an empowering experience.

    WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO COME HOME? 

    There are a few reasons I came home for a year

    • To learn how to drive and get my licence (hopefully). I drove a motorbike in Thailand but have never actually drove a car so that was one of my major priorities for this year. I am still a danger despite being eleven lessons in.
    • Work on and grow by blog by revamping my website and creating new engaging content.
    • Complete my course in digital marketing which also includes an internship for 3 months
    • Travel more of Europe. Living in Ireland it’s so easy to just hop on a plane and experience a new country in an hour or two.

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    LASTLY, NOW THAT YOU HAVE RETURNED TO IRELAND, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED FOR YOUR NEXT MOVE? ARE YOU HERE TO STAY?

    The next three places I am visiting are Morocco, Lisbon and Amsterdam. I honestly don’t think I am here to stay in Ireland (unless I get an amazing job offer where travel is part of my role). I am hoping Canada will be my next location to live and work. I never like to plan too far ahead though as my plans often change on a weekly basis which keeps life very exciting.

    WARNING: When interviewing a travel blogger expect to leave with severely itchy feet. Prepare to feel inspired to ditch the day job, pack it all in and travel the world starting tomorrow. I know I was certainly tempted. Between her attitude and incredibly impressive CV this girl is definitely destined for great things.

    Keep up to date with Orla's adventures over on www.travelorlabout.com 

    Follow her along Facebook , Instagram and Twitter or contact Orla at orla@travelorlabout.com

     Niamh  ♥
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    INTERVIEW: Spacehop

    spacehop-photo

    As a blogger and occasional freelance content creator, I have the privilege of working from home at times. To many of you I'm sure this sounds like bliss, PJs on, endless cups of tea on tap, access to all of your favourite snacks, and I'll admit, when you put it like that it does sound like a fairly ideal working space. But believe it or not, working from home definitely has its cons and sometimes you just need a change of scenery to really get down to business. This is where the ingenious start up, Spacehop comes in.

    Spacehop was launched in January 2016 providing the Air B'n'B style office answer that  freelancers have been dreaming of. Spacehop is a service that works with hosts and freelancers to provide a working space for freelancers and some extra cash for hosts as you rent out other people's homes to work in. The idea, simple. The results, next level.

    I was lucky enough to interview Luke Eastwood, Co-Founder and COO of Spacehop and pick his brain about the business.

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    Talk us through how the idea for Spacehop came about and how you were involved in the process of bringing Spacehop to life.

    Matt Beatty the CEO had the idea for Spacehop a couple of years ago. He wanted to help make work space more affordable for freelancers and start-ups whilst making the most of beautiful under-utilised space. Matt is an old school friend and we discussed the legal ramifications of people using their space this way. I began by helping him work through these issues before eventually joining full time as the COO.  

    Prior to Spacehop you were living in Northern Ireland with a career in Law. Changing your career and moving to London must have meant that you really believed in the idea and quite rightly so. What was it about the idea that really sparked your interest and your confidence in the concept?

    I felt advances in technology meant working from a traditional office was no longer necessary. I could not see why so many businesses would burn thousands of pounds every month for rent when all their employees needed to do a job was a laptop and a WIFI connection. A lot of businesses still do this but many are starting to see the benefits of letting people go freelance and reducing their overheads. I expect this trend to continue and perhaps accelerate over the next few years and Spacehop is very well placed to lead this new industry.  

    With a focus on the idea of being “Built by freelancers. For Freelancers” as advertised on your website, what are some of the key benefits of using Spacehop both as a host and as a “Hopper”?

    From a host perspective it is an easy way to make money from your space. All guests are ID verified and we provide free insurance. You set the days and hours you'd be willing to have people work from the property and the price. We transfer the money following the booking. From a hopper perspective you can find your ideal workspace. Our spaces are beautiful, in some of the most desirable postcodes in the UK and available at a fraction of the cost of a co working facility or traditional office. 

    Since the success of Air B’n’B, the idea of renting out your home to others has really taken off. What is it that sets Spacehop apart from other competitors on the market?

    Spacehop is the UK's only residential co working provider, separate individuals can book into the same space and co work for the day if they choose, giving a really good opportunity to meet new people and network and making it more affordable for the money conscious. We also have the lowest service fee's of any sharing economy business with a free group insurance policy for all hosts. 

    Was it difficult to get homeowners on board to work with Spacehop in the beginning? How were you able to convince them?

    It was difficult to get properties at the start yes, we met a lot of homeowners for coffees and talked them through it, gave demonstrations of the prototype website and took any questions they had. It was slow going but as soon as hosts started getting bookings they told their friends and word spread from positive referrals. The beginning was definitely difficult. 

    Do you have any plans for expansion and bringing Spacehop to other cities both within the UK and further afield?

    Yes, 2017 should be exciting. We have plans to expand. 

    Can you give us any clues as to what we can expect from Spacehop in the future? 

    We want to keep improving and simplifying the process. We will be bringing out a new and improved website shortly. 

    What has been your highlight while working for Spacehop and bringing it to life?

    There have been a lot of highlights and we have been lucky enough to meet some really interesting people and do some amazing things since starting. Having said that if it were to end tomorrow I would miss the banter we have in the office everyday the most. It is a very fun place to work with a great atmosphere. 

    Lastly, having pulled off setting up Spacehop with the rest of the team so well, do you have any parting advice for young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

    I think it's important to just start. Make a plan, write it down and try to stick to it. 

    Thank you to Luke for participating in this interview. Spacehop is definitely one to watch and here's hoping we see it coming to a city near you soon!

     

    Niamh ♥
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