Preparing For December and Reaching my 2020 Goals

Hey pals,

I don’t have a traditional post for you this week as I’m struggling to get everything organised and fit into my schedule to be able to complete everything during the upcoming month before 2020 ends. I still have some follower count goals to meet on my Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook and one of the ways to improve this is creating content regularly!

I’m 8 books away from my GoodReads challenge goal of 50 books, so I need to read 8 books in the next month, which I think is doable. I have a video coming out next week about this part in particular so subscribe to my channel to get an alert when it comes out. But I am organising my reading live stream schedule right now so I can let people know when they can expect to see me this next month, plus my gaming streams on Twitch I had decided I wanted to put some focus on this coming month.

Stream one of December will be my NaNoWriMo finishing up and wrap up stream on December 1st, so if you have been following along for NaNoWriMo, come join us it’ll be roughly 4pm, possibly later.

If you want to give your input on my streaming schedule I have active polls on my Twitter right now you can vote on and leave any other feedback there!

My aim is to stream on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays a mixture of Reading Streams and Gaming streams in the evenings with possibly some extra ones on the weekends if I feel like it or want to get some extra reading done. I will stream maybe every day the week before New Year as I wont be posting any Videos or Blog posts that week. I promised myself a week off from posting edited and thought out content but think streaming could be fun to either chill out or, again, get reading done! I’m going to try and create an image on canva for my Schedule of December… but I’ve never done that before, we will see how that goes.

I’ve been putting more work into creating and posting TikToks more often, because I have seen a trend between posting regularly with gaining followers even if the videos aren’t necessarily super popular. How to go viral? No idea. I did it once early this year and had a few videos since then occasionally gain over 1k views but I couldn’t tell you why. I like to mass film a selection of TikTok videos ready to edit, title, tag and post whenever, and we are doing well so far. I’m less than 40 follows away from my 2k goal! (Find me at artiecarden)

I’m trying to write up Christmas cards to my friends to be ready for posting by end of week one December. I wanted to spread some positive energy to my friends and try to make myself feel Christmassy too. I’m not a Christmas person but this year has sucked a lot and I think this will help me feel better and my friends (because most of the people I am sending a card to, is also planning on sending one back so I get some cute cards too this year!). So, trying to fit in some card writing time and making sure I actually get to a post office in opening hours is something to think about. I also like the idea that I will be helping support my local post office with posting all these cards and present parcels!

My video this week I did the ANTI-TBR TAG so I talked about all the books I won’t read, check it out.

Instagram Is so much harder to figure out what to post, when and how. The updates keep moving things so I’m struggling to find where I’m supposed to even see when my best time and days for posting at the moment, so tend to post daily at 2pm but many of them are not permanent grid posts. I use instagram to promote my blogs and videos, but will deleted them after a week. I have been dabbling with reels, or posting my tiktoks to insta reels, not seeing a whole lot of growth or interaction really even though instagram is supposedly pushing reels the most at the moment. I have made a few reels that aren’t just tiktok re-posts and seen no difference in views, but I’ll continue as they don’t have to stay on the grid I can hide them but they are still accessible. I do plan on getting some videos off my hardrive that I used to get photos of myself, I think I can do something with them and see if that makes a difference by using the reels music options. Any tips, let me know!

Facebook is a weird one, I post almost all my work over there and anything writing related. I share my posts from there to other groups which is great for views, but all interactions are then on my personal Facebook’s post not the original from my page. It basically never leads to any new likes either, I have run out of Facebook friends to invite at this point and not everyone has see and responded to the invite. I find it weird asking my friends directly to like my page because they didn’t see the invite, I feel like page like invites are hidden away and not easily see-able when you check your app or use Facebook in a computer window so I know I will probably have to ask people directly to like the page if I want to boost the likes, but once that’s done… then what? I share the link everywhere (including here) people just don’t really use Facebook? Or, I guess my audience doesn’t… but I do see a correlation between my chronic illness posts being shared and gaining more views this route and often leads to repeat clicks further down the line from people browsing the group or having saved the Facebook post link so it’s not something I want to give up on!

On Twitter, my growth has slowed. Occasionally when a larger account RT’s me, I gain some subscribers or participating in some trending topics and hashtags but it’s been a while since that happened. When I made enemies with Sia last Friday, I did gain a decent number of new followers but a lot of them have started to trickle off, I guess they see what I post on a normal day and aren’t fans haha. I am under 100 away from my goal of 1.5k so I’m hopeful I will meet that before the end of the year.

If you didn’t know, Spotify finally updated their system to allow username editing! So it finally reads Artie on my profile and I’m slowly gathering playlists together for the shit pandemic we’ve all lived through, and my next year playlist. I have loads of playlists you can check out so worth a follow there too!

This year I did manage to boost my blog DA from 2 to 9 from some simple SEO techniques, so now I’m looking into how to take this a step further and continue to improve my blog ratings.

That’s a summary of what I’m thinking about and planning. I hope you enjoyed reading this update and me being a bit open about my thoughts and struggles with blogging and content creating. If you have any easy to understand and follow tips for all of this, leave me a comment!

~ Artie

(they/them)

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#NaNoWriMo Writing Progress

Hey Pals,

If you follow my YouTube Channel, you know I’ve been participating in a slower paced National Novel Writing Month challenge. For full details, watch this video I made at the start of the month! I wanted to talk through an update here, because I have no other post ideas for a start, but I also wanted to remind you of my channel and tell you to check out some videos and my NaNoWriMo writing streams (all saved and archived, available to view again if you wish) and join in before the month is finally up.

With 10 days left, I have 2 more streams on the channel scheduled (subscribe and turn notifications on to get the alerts) I have been keeping up with my word counts. I aimed for 100 words a day for the 30 days, 3,000 words over all by the end, but also let myself have the flexibility of catching up if I didn’t write for a few days. Won’t lie, I have not written every day and each of my writing streams have been catch up streams. I have managed to write roughly 500 words each go, so now I’m at 1,500 (hopefully 2,000 by the time this goes up as I plan to have a stream earlier in the day) and I am pretty pleased with myself and the ability to sit down and write when I set down an hour and a half for streaming.

This has opened up my eyes to possibly doing this more often, either with editing or writing other things, maybe even reading or studying? I see people do most of these on YouTube and didn’t really get it before. The more I think about applying for a Masters the more I think using this streaming system will be handy for my focus and motivation. While writing personal statements? Writing and editing the submission pieces? Whenever I actually start the course, reading streams for course books or studying streams for essays etc. A side of University and the internet I didn’t know existed when I was last at uni and might actually be a beneficial study hack!

I know it must sound a bit barmey but I think it’s the accountability of people being on the stream and recording yourself live to stay on the channel. It’s like being able to study with people at the library, or dedicated class time. It helps me feel like I have accomplished something if at the end of an hour and a half I have 500 words added to my WIP. It reminds me of being in Uni doing my Bachelors, writing to a deadline. The deadline here is the end of the month, but there’s no grade depending on my perfectionism. It’s all just about getting the words down for a first draft. I think this is something I’d like to incorporate into my YouTube Channel more often. Maybe a couple of times a month? I’m not really sure, but It’s working out almost twice a week, once every five days. Maybe I’ll set up a schedule? Honestly, who knows. This is all very new and a big experiment and kind of exciting. It has a similar feel to the virtual writers retreats I have done before, but there are more people involved in those, I hope my streams will grow to be something of this size. I’d also like to go to a real like writers retreat sometime, I had my eye on Ruckus Retreat run by a YouTuber I met a while back at a small book event. Sadly all of that has been put on hold because of Covid, but it has been nice to see more web based organised events popping up like Underrep’d Writers Fest.

If you want to support me and indie bookshops please use my affiliate link to the Bookshop when buying books!

As a chronic procrastinator, I’ve had to constantly find new ways to work around it and figure out techniques that help me focus. I am diagnosed dyslexic, I talked about this a little very early on in my blogging journey, but I am pretty sure I have something else going on that I am not entirely comfortable discussing at this time. My physical disabilities also impact my abilities to work and study and have given me barriers I had to learn to tackle and work with. Chronically fatigued and brain fogged can make ‘doing the words’ hard to do. If you know me in person, you know I often struggle remembering the names of things and we have to do a mini game of charades, and I’m useless with names, I made a tiktok recently joking about my habit of binging shows and having next to no idea what any of the characters are called even when it’s 6+ seasons long and 22 episodes a series. I talk a lot about these kinds of barriers in my recent video, and how chronic illness can often make me feel like I can’t do anything I want to do. (cw: mental illness talk, suicide ideation, lots of crying, discussion of some medical trauma)

Will I be doing this next year? I’m not sure, but it’s not a no. I may do another more chill version of NaNoWriMo like I’ve done this year, or just incorporate the habits I’ve picked up this month year round, maybe I’ll set out to complete my WIP or another novel within the month. Who knows, the possibilities are endless right now. I have definitely learned some new skills and a new appreciation for taking time out of my week to talk to people and write my story. Finding an enjoyment in writing again has been really important.

That’s all from me for now. Subscribe to the channel to keep up with this particular journey, I hope you join in for some livestreams.

~ Artie

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5 Main Tips for Being a Better Trans Ally

Hey pals,

November is Trans Visibility month, and this week is specifically Trans Visibility and Awareness week with Trans Day of Remembrance landing next Friday (20th). We still have a long way to go with Trans Rights in the UK, but also globally. being a trans person of multiple marginalised identities is even more scary, isolating and dangerous. Many trans people are also mentally ill, neuro-diverse, disabled, chronically ill, Black, Indigenous, a person of colour, or queer in some form as well, or any combo of these things all at once. If you are new here, I am Artie, I am a nonbinary trans person with multiple disabilities and chronic illnesses, neuro-diverse, mentally ill and queer. Many people like to mock these long lists of identities, claiming it isn’t possible to be all of these things. I have to say, though, a lot of these things end up becoming several things in one go or leading to other things. Being trans alone can lead to mental illness because of the lived experiences we go through. Like, PTSD from a traumatic event that only happened because we are trans. Or depression from living with dysphoria or having to hide our identity for survival. I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that.

I wanted to bring you a list (incomplete, obviously) to help you become a better ally to trans people and giving you more direct ways you can help make a positive impact on someone’s life. It’s all fine and dandy thinking about the bigger picture, voting in people who are trans or support trans people, but we have a way to go before laws are changed. However, the U.S election did make me feel a sense of hope for trans politics as many trans people of different lived experiences were elected. Maureen Turner, for example, is the first Muslim nonbinary person elected as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives! With the hundreds of deaths every year of trans people being murdered or committing suicide, I thought this list might be more helpful to make a more direct impact and maybe help some trans people reach the safety they need.

1. Stand up for us, use your voice: lots of people are all talk with their trans friends, but when it matters, many people stay quiet. Now that almost everything is online, it’s easier than ever to offer assistance to your trans and nonbinary friends, and help make their corner of the internet safer. It’s really draining being harrassed by transphobes and TERFs and can often be really demeaning and humiliating. Many of us struggle with mental illness as well, which can make standing up for ourselves really difficult. In a calm conversation with friends, I can explain why trans lives matter and the many facts I have memorised to help myself feel validated in my identity, but if someone chooses to confront me or question my right to live peacefully, everything goes out of the window and I can’t think! It’s a lot easier to stand up for a friend than it is yourself, so speak to your friends and offer to help them if this happens. I’ve had a couple of cis friends say I can send them to any post of mine that is being targeted by a transphobe, and they will sort it for me, and they did! That’s something small you can do that means a lot to trans people. 

2. Write some official Letters: similar to the point above, arguing with people about our rights as human beings is really draining and endless. If you know of a business or company that aren’t doing enough for trans customers or workers, contact them! If you follow politics and hear trans rights being threatened (as they always are) or you hear your MP say something uninformed and ignorant about trans people, send them an email! Contact local schools, or schools of family members and ask what they are doing to support trans students and teachers. The list really is endless, but start at home. Where do you go regularly? When do your trans friends and family go regularly? are those locations doing enough? I’ve found publically tweeting these businesses can do quite a lot, they don’t like the bad publicity… You can send them emails, contact them on social media, or do it the old fashioned way and send a letter. The more people who make these moves, the more the outside world will be forced to change. 

3. Stop Supporting Transphobic Celebrities: This goes for any kind of celebrity. Writers of all kinds, actors, people in film at all levels, social media stars, influencers, reality stars. etc. etc. Unfollow them, stop consuming their content, stop buying their merchandise, and tell your friends and family to do the same. Obviously, you’re not going to know all the time if someone is transphobic or has declared transphobic views to the world. That’s fine. But make a habit of maybe doing a quick Google search every now and again. If someone tells you someone you like is transphobic, ask them a bit more about it and do your own research. I’m not telling you to blindly follow what people tell you, but I’m telling you to start making the effort to educate yourself and help to educate others.

4. Educate yourself. A follow up to the end of my last point. I’ve given Beverly a long list of books that are a good place to start but there is so much more out there. Following trans and nonbinary activists online is a great way to learn from someone’s experience in real time. My Genderation make great trans films and projects on YouTube, a mixture of fun things and informative documentaries. Google is a free resource to learn more, and you can request books at your local libraries. Trans charities are a great place to go to find useful resources, Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids are three you can start with. Also, there are Facebook groups made especially for cis people to ask questions and learn in a non-judgmental space and allow for accidents and clumsy language. I also recommend looking into some of my past content as I have talked about my personal experience with gender across platforms like instagram, youtube, twitter and this blog.

5. MONEY! Redirect your cash. One way is supporting trans charities. Think about things you like to buy for yourself or others as presents and find some trans creatives who make something like it (because there will be many, trust me!) many trans people have their own small businesses or are freelancers of some kind. Support local shops and businesses that also provide a safe space for trans people to go and have groups. If you don’t often have a lot of money to spare, there are other ways you can fundraise for charities. I recommend you read up on some and decide which you would like to support and ask them directly the ways you can help. Some examples are the recycling schemes, many charities accept or are part of the ink cartridge scheme, or you can decide to make your Facebook birthday fundraiser for them. But all in all, support trans people all year round, not just when we are being attacked again from whatever news source, celebrity, or politician. 

Being trans can be really lonely, and many trans people also overlap with other marginalised communities. It’s important to support all trans people not just the skinny, white, non-disabled, cis-passing ones. Fill your feeds with diversity of all kinds. Learn to open your mind and get used to a bruised ego, it comes with the territory of learning to be a better ally. You won’t always do the right thing, no one is expecting or demanding perfection. We just want more people to try.

I hope this post was helpful. Don’t forget to follow my blog and subscribe to my youtube channel. Follow my instagram too for posts kind of like this but short form. I hope you take some time to find trans creatives and activists that appeal to you and your learning. Hopefully next year will be better.

~ Artie

(they/them)

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Tips for Shopping for Christmas in Lockdown

busy image with images of books, christmas bows, lights, bawlballs, tips for shopping online, lockdown 2, christmas on the way

Hey pals,

It’s a lot harder going secondhand shopping with a lot of restrictions that keep varying depending on where you go or are located. It’s not as easy as rummaging through piles of clothes or racks, we can’t try things on (very often) anymore to make sure items fit before we buy, and with the limited shoppers many places are bumping up their prices even though they’ve all been getting mass donations throughout Lockdown 1. We are entering a second official Lockdown and it’s looking like nowhere will be allowed open. How are we shopping now?

Christmas is coming up upon us and many businesses are struggling. It might be tempting to just quickly grab some things from Amazon, but please think again before doing so. I have been and will be doing a mixture of buying directly from shops, buying from independent sellers, and shopping secondhand for presents this year. I hope to help keep some local shops alive by doing so and encouraging my family to do the same. We’ve seen a lot of shops disappearing from the local high streets and if things keep going this way… I’m not sure we will have many shops left full stop. But we have less control over the products by shopping digitally, so I wanted to bring you some tips for thrifting online and a few for buying new too.

A while back, a friend of mine gave me great advice I had never thought to do before. Make a List of all my Thrifted wants! Sometimes the list changes a little but for the most part it’s basically the same for months because I struggle to find ‘the one’ that really matches my dream items. I know that buying online, I’ll probably have to spend a bit more on the items, so I want to make sure I buy something I actually want!

This is my list at current:

  • Buffy T-shirt L/XL
  • Charmed T-shirt L/XL
  • Sports jersey style top L/XL
  • Ties/bowties
  • Black fedora (a la AHS Coven)
  • Wolf t-shirts L/XL
  • Collarless shirt in white
  • Patterned pillowcases for present sacks
  • Paranormal T-shirts (ouija/zodiac/tarot etc)
  • striped tops (long for layering, also short sleeve)
  • Tube socks (vans/cute colours like mustard)
  • Vans low top classics (with or without platform)
  • Exercise leggings/bike shorts
  • Nike Air Force 1s Black
  • Doc Marten Sandals/Platform Boots Black

There were other items on this list I have found and am really happy with. My favourite is a pair of vintage, high waisted black jeans as I really loved my light blue-ish Levi’s I picked up in Brighton on the outside racks in the Laines for a tenner, this pair was £15 but I was able to try them all on to see if I was better suited to a 38″ waist or stick with my usual 36″. I did nearly die trying on jeans that day though with a mask on! I would say it’s worth it.

I know this list is specific to me and my wants, but you can give your personal list to friends and family for ideas of what they could get you. Plus, I also make lists of present ideas for my friends and family and cross them off when I’ve picked up that item. This tip also works for books whether you’re looking for certain series or genres, it’s helpful to have a list you can refer to.

I’ve found some of my best pieces from thrifting and made videos such as this one about clothes, or this one about books! I mostly post this kind of content to my instagram now, like trying on my thrifted shirts.

My next big tip is MEASURING! It’s so important to get your measurements right, and if they aren’t on the listing, ask the seller to provide them or at least more details of the fit etc. For me, the three main measurements I worry about are arm length (I have very long arms), waist (i have a very wide waist), and across the chest to get an idea of how loose or tight the item is. I also throw in head measurements if you are looking at hats, I have a big head and always struggled to get hats that weren’t stretchy beanies so if I see a black fedora I like, I’ll be asking for measurements so I don’t waste my money!

If you’re looking for books and want to buy brand new, check out this blog post from a while back where I list some UK based Black Bookshops and talk about Hive.co.uk as some good beginning options!

If you’re mainly looking for books (or possibly DVDs, who knows, some people still use DVDs) or even video games, besides local charity shops here are some places you can use online. CEX is the number one place for tech based items, you can find all kinds of things there and everything can be delivered to you. You can definitely grab some really good deals on DVDs and old video games. GameStop used to be a thing, but I think they may have died out. If you know of one locally though, send them an email! Some indie shops have secondhand books available to buy so it’s worth checking out some of your favourite or local places, maybe shoot them an email and ask! Otherwise, Oxfam are a pretty great source for books and DVDs online, though their prices are a bit high. If you’re looking for specific titles, you might be better off looking on selling sites like eBay, Depop, or Vinted, maybe Facebook Marketplace. Ethical Revolution is a great site to use for a selection of stores for books, DVDs, etc. but also other products. There’s also a lot of useful information that comes up if you Google “second hand books uk not amazon.

A new Amazon alternative launched in the UK this week where bookshops can set up a digital storefront, check them out and support local bookshops! This includes an affiliate link.

Obviously, we don’t buy beauty or bathroom products secondhand. But here are some things to think about when looking for these items for friends and family. LUSH has this facade of being ethical, but they have been exposed time and again for being racist and ableist towards their staff, so rather than giving your money to a large chain, find some indie creators and small businesses that make similar products for similar (if not better) prices. There are also many people making reusable or recyclable items like cotton pads, loofahs, toothbrushes, etc. it really does go on. These are items almost everyone uses and can be a good idea for stocking fillers instead of that pair of socks.

If you’re looking for some indie artists and small businesses to support and buy from, check out my Christmas Gift guide from last year. I have updated it a few times this year and will continue to do so! There’s a broad selection of products there.

This one is a bit of a random idea, but how about buying a tree? The Woodland Trust sell trees online that can be delivered to you (please check the site about delivery etc. as things may change with Covid restrictions) but for many people, we don’t necessarily want anything physical for gifts or would rather do something that makes an impact to the world. This can be a great idea for that, or if there’s a loved one you want to dedicate it to, it can be a nice group activity to plant the tree somewhere. There are some trees as cheap at £9 and if you don’t have somewhere you can plant it, take to Google and see where allows trees being planted. You can also do this and support a local Garden Centre! Something that goes along with this is donating to a charity that means something to someone in their name, or adopting an animal (not literally but where you get updates, like with dolphins for example or guide dogs) so, for example, a great idea for me would be donating to an animal charity, an LGBT+ charity, or Crohn’s and Colitis UK, maybe even Vasculitis UK. Tell your friends this is your idea for the year and get them to come up with which charity they would like you to donate to.

For anyone looking for LGBT+ specific bookshops, I have included a few in this post mostly UK based ones that you can support!

Another general tip (which I hope this post would be helping you to do anyway) is to try somewhere new. There are so many local businesses wherever you live, it might be worth using Facebook Marketplace to search if Google is only showing you big companies or put up posts on social media explaining what you are looking for. Many small businesses are struggling at this time and need the business of online orders to stay afloat, you might find a new brand you really enjoy.

For anyone wanting to use an online wishlist, check out Things To Get Me, totally separate from Amazon and works with pretty much every online shop. Use my Referral Link when you sign up!

I hope this post was helpful and shed some light on other options for buying your christmas gifts (or even just some holiday treats), let me know of your favourite small business, I’ll allow some self promo just this once too. I hope we can all make some good choices this year and enjoy ourselves as much as we can during all of this.

Wear a mask, sanitise your hands, don’t make unnecessary trips out.

~Artie

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