Sunday 13 March 2011

Why I gained weight after I graduated...

£0.45 Loaf of Tesco's cheapest bread
£1.00 Jar of peanut butter or chocolate paste
£2.00 20 packets of Tesco's ultra cheap noodles or 2kg of spuds
£2.55 vegetables and fruit from the market
£1.00 milk

When I was still in uni, my food budget was about £7.00 a week. Occasionally, I would treat myself to 33 pence roll of Tesco Value chocolate digestives, and of course there were nights in the pub when I spent four times the amount I was allowed to spend in a week in a couple of hours without buying any food.

I didn't expect my food budget to grow as a full time author. But I had a fennel-and-sage-risotto for dinner yesterday and this was not a special occasion. Thai yellow curry, home-made lasagne, gnocchi with butternut squash and blue cheese or a vegetarian Sunday roast are all on the weekly menu these days. How is this possible? Because I'm not only writing a new novel, but also engage in a spot of copywriting on the side (see sidebar on the right).

One of the companies I work for is They pay me for each sponsored post and believe me, if I were still in uni, just one post a month would have allowed me to live in luxury! Anyone with a blog can join ebuzzing, even free blogs through WordPress or Blogger (like mine) are fine, as long as the blog is updated regularly.

Of courseFind out more on it is controversial to pay bloggers for their posts. However, ebuzzing is very careful when it comes to integrity. Bloggers always need to mention that it's a Sponsored Post and only use no-follow-links so that Google doesn't classify ebuzzing as a link-farm. And most importantly, bloggers are free to express their own opinions as long as they incorporate all elements of the brief. In the Code of Conduct, they emphasize that they “will not censor content nor pass judgement on the quality of an article you’re publishing on your blog”. I put them to the test and found that I was allowed to explain to my readers why I didn't like Barclay's 56 Sage Street game.

There are many big brands in the UK on the ebuzzing platform, such as Lloyds TSB, PayPal, Levis, FHM and the Mirror. I'm looking forward to the day they manage to add Nutella or 'Tesco Value' to the list. I would write about life as a vegetarian chocoholic, which isn't as easy as one would expect. I recently discovered that the Nutella produced in the UK contains whey powder that is produced with non-vegetarian rennet. I was shocked by this, as I have been a strict vegetarian for over fourteen years and always read the labels of everything I buy to make sure it doesn't contain gelatin etc. Unfortunately, I have occasionally consumed Nutella because the information on the label isn't clear about the origin of its ingredients. The worst bit is that it's utterly unnecessary. For example, the Nutella sold in Germany, France and Israel doesn't contain whey powder so that it's suitable for people with a vegetarian or kosher diet, and the Tesco Value Chocolate Spread sold in the UK is produced with whey powder that is suitable for vegetarians. In a sponsored post about chocolate spread, I would urge readers of my blog to join the Facebook Group "make Nutella vegetarian".

Some people argue that advertisement is polluting the creative space, but I don't see it that way. If anything, brands are giving artists the opportunity to do their thing by supporting them financially. Perhaps my recent blogposts aren't exactly artistic, but they are writing exercises and the pay allows me to write my next novel. And what to think of bands that became famous because they were used in a commercial? In Holland, Gabriel Rios' Broad Day Light became a hit because it featured in a fruit juice ad and I still think James Blunt wouldn't have been as big if his songs hadn't been used to announce the new season of Gilmore Girls fifty times a day. I hope the same thing will happen to indie band Tall Ships now that their music is used for an ad for the new Label Lab menswear collection, which has been launched exclusively at selected House of Fraser stores and online. The video suits both the band and the new collection because the colour scheme contains mainly black, different shades of grey and other neutral colours, and there's something edgy and macabre to it.

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