Christmas: Staying vs. Leaving

Celebrating Christmas means different things to different people. For most, it’s the right opportunity to spend time with their loved ones. Where I come from, Christmas is the pure definition of family time. The first time I suggested travelling during the holidays, the air went still at home. 

If you come from a family who never missed one single family Christmas gathering, I believe you can easily relate.

The option of travelling against staying at home during the holidays is a constant internal battle. It’s something we start debating once we realise that summer is almost over and we still need to plan out our remaining leave days […]

New article @timesofmalta

Get the e-paper to read more: Click here

[Christmas Supplement, 2 December 2018]

#inthespotlight @Elizabeth Cortis

#inthespotlight - amandalia

My passion for writing led me to Elizabeth earlier this year. I was writing an article for the Times of Malta last March and Elizabeth helped me shed light on being a mumpreneur.

Mumpreneur: the modern superhero

After our virtual chatting, we then had the pleasure to meet up at Nakita‘s book launch event. In case you missed her interview, click here!

Elizabeth is one of the most interesting persons I have met thus far. She is positive, driven, and extremely focused. Our conversation flowed easily over a cappuccino in a quaint coffee shop in the heart of Rabat. It was a nice way to start the day; especially on a Monday morning.

I started off with what would seem like a basic question.

What does proofreading involve?

When I proofread, I’m improving what can be improved and eliminating any errors. It’s the perfect version of your own work. I like to refer to it as the four-eye principle; having someone else look at your work with fresh eyes.

Technically speaking, proofreading takes place during the final phase and involves checking the written work for typing errors, missed words, punctuation marks etc.

I find that most people confuse proofreading with copyediting. The latter involves sentence structure. Say you’re writing your dissertation and the ideas are still unclear or not flowing. Sometimes, clients mean they need both. Nowadays, proofreading is a requirement and an essential part of the academic career.

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What is unique about your business?

I set myself apart from others who work on proofreading as part-timers and have an unrelated full-time job. Don’t get me wrong, they have my respect! But, this is my passion and my focus 24/7.

I approach it as a professional. That is, I’m fully aware of the responsibilities involved. For most students, thesis-writing can be a stressful moment and I acknowledge and respect that – that is why I meet deadlines, read guidelines and work to the best of my ability.

My 11 years of experience provides me with not just knowledge but also an understanding of how things are done. For example, I know what universities expect and can see things from a much broader perspective than the client does.

 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I have to balance my two roles; a mother and a business owner. I have two little kids who are still in their formative years and who need a lot of my time. On the other hand, I’m a business owner; not just a proofreader or book editor. So, I have to run and further develop my business as well.

Typically, I work around my kids’ schedule. I’m also lucky to have the full support of my family, especially my husband. So, if I have to put in more effort or schedule meetings, they back me up every time. I believe that the role of a mumpreneur is managing your business as well as your family without denying yourself anything. For instance, you need the time for yourself because it’s important not to experience a burnout.

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When did you decide to take the leap? Was it something you have always intended for yourself?

Running my own business has always been my dream. I’m an ambitious person and always try to think of ways to develop and grow my business further. I spent 10 years of my life teaching English; which I loved. But I wanted more. It was a huge leap. I remember my friends questioning my sanity.

Quitting a safe job was not easy but I don’t regret it because I’m doing something I’ve always wished to do. And that is, spending quality time with my children. Up until they were three years old, I still worked but less intensely because they were my sole focus. I don’t believe a mother should forget about her aspirations just because she becomes a mother. The will to work, aspire and improve are all great skills to pass on to your kids. They see you as alive, driven and passionate about your work. We have our crazy days, but we make it work.

 

What is your biggest failure? Your biggest success?

What is a failure anyway? I am a very positive person. I don’t acknowledge failures; they’re small setbacks. It’s all about how you look at it. I see it as learning something new about your skills or about your limits. You either going to give it another go and be more prepared or decide that it’s not something that you would like to pursue. Either way, you have grown. Self-growth and improvement mean everything to me.

I believe that small everyday successes are still successes. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are challenging drives me onwards. Another one of my biggest successes is seeing my kids grow, and not just physically. Looking back, I feel extremely satisfied that I managed to give them my all.

 

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

Find time for yourself and set small goals. Don’t set big targets and overstress yourself. I try to take things one step at a time to stay motivated with short-term goals. Try creating a personal plan and keep in mind that not everything will go as planned either. Don’t close up shop just because you’re having one bad day. Be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

That is when I realised how important it is to be part of a support network. If you’re in need of help, don’t et your pride get in the way. Know your limitations and accept the help you’re being offered.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in every area. Outsourcing can save you time because trying to do everything on your own is a struggle.

Join the Group: Malta Mumpreneurs Network

 

Three (3) tools you would recommend to anyone starting their own business?

Google Keep – for your to-do lists. Or, more likely in my case, the I WILL DO list.

Self- Motivation techniques – I believe in these techniques. E.g. when I’m tired, I try and work five minutes more; just a step further to improve self-discipline.

Take mental breaks – You need your off days. When I don’t have tight deadlines, I take pleasure in reading and listening to motivational business speakers.

Oh, and coffee! Haha!

Quick questions 🙂

Tea or coffee?

Tea to relax, Coffee to work

Books or movies?

Books

Time travel or teleportation?

Teleportation I’m a very realistic person – li I just leave and visit different countries/places. I love travelling.

Winter or Summer? 

Winter

Adventurous or Cautious?

Adventurous; I love doing things out of my comfort zone.

 

Go follow!

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🌐 www.proofreadingmalta.com

My not-so-typical workdays

amandalia.com

I see this question on my friends’ expressive faces whenever the topic of work arises. What does a day in my life look like? Well. It depends on which day because every single day is different.

Saturday, I spent most of the day planning work, creating content for social media (client work) and following online courses to stay updated and to further broaden my knowledge. Yesterday was slightly toned down. I started out with a hearty breakfast in Sliema, which was cut short thanks to Nina’s incessant barking (currently undergoing training). The morning transitioned into quite a ‘lazy’ afternoon of conversations, coffees, baking, creating lists (always) and writing.

A lot of people don’t really get what it is that I do. I saw the confused look on my aunt’s face a couple weeks ago; she was still trying to wrap her head around the idea of not having a salaried job. Just this month, it also happened with my friends. I have explained to them time and again what my work involves. One of them simply stared blankly at me and said, “You’re our Chandler.” If you haven’t watched FRIENDS, that comment is lost on you, as it was on me. Apparently, it means something along the lines of, “What you do remains a mystery.”

Let’s unravel this ‘mystery’ once and for all:

1. Content and creative writing

This is my absolute favourite. I love creating content from scratch; be it scripts for radio ads, TVCs, newsletters, newspaper articles, blog posts, website content or copy for social media. Storytelling has seen me through my toughest years and keeps the imaginative little child within, alive.

2. Social Media Management

Through my love for words, media, and communications, I found my passion for social media marketing. To date, I have helped businesses and individuals create and maintain their online presence on multiple social media platforms.

There is a misconception that I would like to address.  Some people think that taking care of, say, a business Facebook page is something that anyone can do. All you have to do is publish or share a post, right? Well, not quite. There’s so much more to take into consideration than just that. And this is exactly why the work of professional social media managers goes unappreciated.

Let’s put you in the picture for a second. These are some of the things I work on:

  • Planning & creating eye-catching graphics
  • Creating the right copy in the correct tone of voice for the right audience
  • Planning and creating targeted adverts and campaigns
  • Close & constant monitoring of accounts, comments & incoming messages
  • Creating monthly & quarterly reports

The list goes on. I’m writing a separate blog post on must-have skills for social media management to help anyone interested in learning get started.

3. Consultation

Through my coaching experience on digital marketing in collaboration with the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), I realised that helping small businesses and self-employed individuals who are willing to learn and expand their knowledge, is something I love doing. I have helped individuals understand the works of email marketing, mobile marketing and social media, in particular. Seeing them succeed gives me the boost I need to keep going.

It’s exciting to work on multiple projects and meet different people every week. It keeps me on my toes. One thing I’m sure of about my work is that it never gets boring. Hectic, yes. Crazy, maybe. But never boring.

Amanda x

Finding Inspiration: Interview with Caroline Ciantar-Barbara

It is safe to say that one of the hottest topics hogging the headlines is property. We have been debating the inflated prices, questioning the existence of a property bubble and shaking our heads in resignation at every block of apartments we see in construction.

But, in this article, published today on the @Times of Malta, I deliberately chose not to go there. Instead, I reached out to the talented interior designer, Caroline Ciantar-Barbara, to learn more about what comes after investing in a new home.

Get today’s e-paper to read the interview: Click here

[Property & Construction Supplement]

Check out Caroline’s work:  🌐 https://www.ccb.com.mt/

Go follow!

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Travelling to #Porto?

Porto - amandalia

Porto was added to my travel list the minute I saw this ⬆️  ⬆️  I was doing some research on Portugal 🇵🇹 at the time and inevitably came across this charming port city.

It was late June when I arrived there and as expected, the city was flooded with tourists. Next time, I’d probably go during a less popular month (there will definitely be a next time). Thing is, the main reason for this mini-holiday was to finally see Muse play live @Rock in Rio.

Going around is as easy as communicating. The locals are super helpful and friendly. Knowing the local language is always a plus. However, I had only started learning Spanish then. And this, whilst trying to learn Japanese (still a long way to go). So, there wasn’t too much room for Portuguese as well! Even though I could understand the written word (e.g. menus, signs), the spoken language sounded completely different. The only key phrases I managed to master were:

  • Obrigado/a Thank you
  • Bom dia Good morning/day
  • Boa noiteGood evening/night
  • Por favor Please

And that is an extremely sad, short list. Still, I managed to get around just fine  🙌🏼

As a writer and total bookworm, I wanted to visit Livraria Lello. That was high on my list. Experiencing a port wine tasting will also be worth your while, trust me. Portologia is somewhere I highly recommend. And, for a heavenly lunch or dinner, Jimão is the place to go. I wanted to stay there forever.

Pictures below 👇🏼👇🏼

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Amanda x

 

 

 

 

#inthespotlight @themamamanual

#inthespotlight - amandalia.com

There are so many talented people out there. So, this year, I figured, why not get to know some of them a little bit better?

My 2018 #inthespotlight monthly interview series will kick off with none other than  the inspiring Nakita Attard Vassallo at @themamamanual.

I’ve been following @themamamanual on Instagram for quite a while now and I have to say, I’m impressed. She even has a debut book coming out this Summer!

 Nakita, I would love to know more about @themamamanual. How did all this start?

It all started with a book! I’ve been dreaming of writing my own ever since I was a wee girl with a sizeable home library of my own.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a pen or a laptop and poured my heart out, but I never really put my finger on what I wanted to write.

One night two years back I could not sleep with excitement.  It had finally hit me!  My book would be about time management for busy mamas, and how to create time for the things you love, but most importantly, for yourself.

When the book’s initial draft was ready, I felt I had so much more valuable information to share, and I had to take it a step further.  I was very keen to connect with and help like-minded mamas manage their time better and prioritise self-care, and a blog would be the perfect way to do it.  The name ‘the Mama Manual’ was born after long hours brainstorming.  I wanted something catchy and original – and it felt right!

Care to tell us more about the woman behind @themamamanual?

I am a multifaceted woman 🙂  I’m a mama, wife and a homemaker around the clock.  My two adorable kids, Yanik –  12, and Nina – 3, keep me happily busy.  I’m married to the love of my life and best friend, Neil.  I’m also a working mum, and I’ve worked hard to build a career for myself.

By night, I am a writer and a blogger, and I run ‘the Mama Manual’ brand with a passion. Time management and organisation skills are my forte; I could spend hours happily decluttering and organising a space, or planning busy days to perfection! Food (not only eating it – but also cooking it!), travel, reading, and slow days at home or in beautiful surroundings with my family and friends are things I enjoy doing and make time for on a regular basis.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me!  I never in a million years expected such a phenomenal response from ‘the Mama Manual’ social media pages.  The amazing women I connect with everyday are my sole inspiration and basis for doing what I do.

Being both an entrepreneur and a mother doesn’t come without its challenges. How do you manage everything?

You know how they say ‘do what you love and you will never work another day in your life? That is exactly how I feel about the work I do with ‘the Mama Manual’ brand.  I literally crave working on the book, the blog, and social media every evening – so it’s easy to get started – but challenging to stop might I add!

Of course, effective time management is the secret to being able to make time for my work.  Planning, being organized and pre-empting are essential tools to have.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to having our meals all planned out for the week, as well as cooking wholesome but very quick meals so as not waste precious time.

 

themamamanual-byamandalia
I know there are many women out there who would love to take the leap. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

If you have not yet had the courage to do so, do not feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  You can very well start off slow.  If you are a working mum, keep your job and side hustle.  A mere hour a day is better than no time at all! You can always decide to dedicate more time as things pick up, or go full-time when you feel confident that what you are doing is what you want to do and is paying the bills.

Whatever you do – be patient!  It’s easy to look at successful people and think that everything ‘just happened’ for them.  Being successful takes a lot of work, dedication, time and perseverance.

Where can we get your debut book? I know I want to read it and I’m definitely not the only one.

the Mama Manual – How busy mums get organised will be available for sale on my website: 🌐  www.themamamanual.com, as of the end of the month!

Should you wish to receive an email notifying you that the book is for sale, please let me know on nakita@themamamanual.com.

Go follow!

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Adopting a puppy

amandalia

“I remember how timid she was at first, sleeping all day long. She’s now seven months and all over the place; a highly energetic explorer. And, our bundle of joy!”

Check out my latest article featured on @dogsofmalta.