After a catastrophic eye injury in 2017, I found myself in a spot of bother and had to find a way to earn some money from home. After a lot of reading and research, I started blogging as a creative and cathartic outlet as well as starting a fledgeling Social Media Management agency.
My first blog was a hot mess.
It wasn't sure what it was, I wasn't sure what it was, but, it was the perfect testing ground for me to find my creative groove, and to be honest, it was a total saviour for my personal sanity.
My own personal slice of the internet. My digital home.
I literally love the internet.
Too much people might say. I say they can bite me.
A world where you can teach yourself any skill from your sofa, take management meetings in your pyjamas, start a business from scratch... Or watch videos of cats or read autocorrect fails, or watch a whole series of some twaddle or another in one day.
I am known amongst my friends for finding the good stuff on the internet. The weird, the wonderful, the downright absurd. The rude, the wholesome, the magic, the fails.
I love puns, the arts, comedy, social media, memes. I love listicles and trends and faces in inanimate objects.
I love the humour in the everyday.
But I also love to hustle. I like to always have a side gig on the go and once I discovered it was all possible to do while being location independent? Well try and stop me.
I love the fact that the internet has all the tools you need to be a success... except ambition and drive.
You've got to bring those to the table yourself.
And so sidegiggles was born, a home for side gigs and giggles. My favourite things online.
My name's Heather Topf - I'm a thirty-year-old woman from Cornwall who loves adrenaline, being upsidedown, puns, leopard print, pizza and living in my pyjamas.
Let's roll it right back to the beginning...
After several years of working in the banking and finance world, I literally fell out of that line of work!
Way back in 2011 I signed up for a charity skydive, dutifully raised my sponsorship money and headed off for my jump. Buuuuut I left with way more than just the adrenaline rush I was hoping for.
I discovered a whole pocket of people who were working to live, rather than the humdrum living to work I'd fallen into after college.
I was hooked. I suddenly realised there was a different way and so much more I wanted to experience. I wrangled a deal with the owner and for several months commuted from my finance job in Falmouth to the Dropzone in Devon, and worked the weekends in their cafe until I had saved enough to complete my skydiving licence.
I was then offered a full-time job and I flew the nest from my hometown for the first time.
Fast forward a few years and that job dried up and I was forced back into finance to line my pockets. But by now I knew the 9-5 wasn't for me.
I fell in love with blogs to explore the world through the internet, scouring page after page in the search for my next adventure.
I found it in the form of ski seasons. I packed up my life and headed for the French Alps, where I honestly felt more at home than anywhere else I've ever been.
I started working at festivals in the summer months to round out my working year. Five months in the mountains and five months trawling the British countryside, working as one of the Strumpets with Crumpets, a burlesque crumpet selling venue at festivals across the country.
Three years in, I was craving some more stability and aimed to started working in production full time. I moved to Bristol and decided to commit to a six month period in one of my favourite cities in the world.
The world, however, had different plans for me. Less than a month after moving all my things into a new flatshare (for the first time in nearly a decade), at Glastonbury festival I got a particularly nasty bacteria in my eye.
A week of intensive treatment in hospital later, I left, blind in one eye and so light-sensitive I barely left the house for four or five months.
For someone who spent nearly all their time outdoors and earned their money on the move, it was catastrophic. Let alone for my mental health - that really took a battering.
I was also financially not in a good place. Having spent so much time outside of the UK, I wasn't eligible for help from the Government and I didn't really have any skills that didn't involve my physical presence.
I started researching online and became fascinated with Digital Marketing - Social Media trends, Influencers, Affiliate Marketing and SEO.
I also started writing, bored with telling my eye story over and over again.
Before long, people started to approach me for help with their Social Media Marketing needs and with ad hoc writing jobs.
I went freelance and suddenly realised I'd inadvertently become a Digital Nomad. I was totally location independent! As long as I had the internet, I could work.
This became my long term goal. I decided I'd focus on work that I could do from my laptop and take with me on my adventures. I realised I could continue to spend my winters in the mountains - and without scrubbing toilets to pay my way!
Since then, we've had a long road of ups and downs on the eye front, my fair share of freelancer fears and a few fails. But ultimately I've got a life I wouldn't change and a blog I write for the sheer love of it (okay, the money doesn't hurt either).
So, settle down, get comfy and dive in my friends.