For over three years I’ve been blogging ‘full time’ in the sense that I rely on it for a source of income. I was one of the first to successfully evolve a passionate hobby into a full blown career, but the journey hasn’t necessarily been an easy one. For three years prior I’d used this site as a platform for my passions and interests, to connect with like-minded individuals and have something outside of my normal ‘nine-to-five’ to keep my juices flowing even when my to-do list didn’t. I never dreamed that I would be able to turn something so embedded in me as a person into a ‘job’ in the traditional sense, but I worked hard enough to make that possible. (Note how I didn’t say I was ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate’? More on that later.) As blogs provide an increasing way to connect with individuals and allow us to digest information in a more relatable fashion, more and more homegrown talents are turning their sites into a way of achieving their dreams. Never has the mantra of the Spice Girls been more apparent, but ‘Girl Power’ is still sweeping the nation as women (and men) are carving out their own way, breaking down barriers and proving that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. It’s amazing to see brands embrace blogs and social media influencers as a more effective way of getting their message across, and with that has seen the growth of the ‘professional blogger’ who no longer needs to rely on a regular job to pay the bills. However, increasingly I’m seeing more and more bloggers feeling the pressure of having to turn to the dark (full time) side when it may not be for them. If you’re thinking about making the move, or have recently made the jump and need some words of advice, here’s a realistic account of why professional blogging isn’t necessarily for everybody.
FULL TIME BLOGGING ISN’T A RESULT OF LUCK
As someone that can look back on the six year journey it’s taken to get to where I am, I can absolutely tell you that the possibility of full time blogging is in no way a result of luck. Sure you can be in the right place at the right time, but essentially if you don’t put in the hard graft and create content that people want to read then you won’t be able to turn your beloved site into an earner. It’s incredibly frustrating when the media pick up on superstar bloggers and build articles about ‘how easy it is to become a millionaire from your bedroom,’ forgetting the years of hard work and sleepless nights it took to get there. Just because someone has a website it doesn’t mean that website automatically earns them the right to turn it into a full time job. I took six months out of my career to focus on my blog alongside freelance projects, only really being able to call it my job a year later; those first months were pretty horrific without a guaranteed income, but my determination and business acumen saw me through.
YOU HAVE TO OFFER UP SOMETHING OF VALUE
Aspiration is absolutely to be celebrated, but realism is also a crucial quality to hold. Often the relationship between having something of value, and a brand wanting to work with you so much they’re prepared to pay, gets lost. Just because an individual has decided they want to work on their site full time doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to happen; just because you want to get paid it doesn’t necessarily mean a brand will open their purse and ask how much. My advice to anyone wanting to turn their blog into a career is to ensure you have something to offer above and beyond the blogs out there that already exist: who do you want to work with and why would they be willing to pay you? Spending time working on this alongside a 9-5 is the best thing you can do for your future; don’t just jack it all in and hope for the best.
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS IS HARD
Working by yourself can not only be incredibly lonely, but can offer up a world of issues you’d never consider when working in a ‘normal’ office environment. You have to get to grips with managing your time, negotiating commercial opportunities, keeping track of your finances and knowing when to say no. The pressure is immense and it’s not suited to everybody. Some people thrive within a freelance and self motivated environment, but others flounder and fail because they’re not used to having to carve out their own day and tick off their to-do list without someone breathing down their neck. Either is absolutely ok – it’s about knowing what works for you.
A TRADITIONAL JOB HAS SO MUCH VALUE
Having worked my way up within brand marketing departments and digital agencies over about eight years, I can’t express how important it is to not undervalue the experience a traditional job provides. It was only within these environments that I learned how to negotiate, compromise, sell and strategise; without these roles and experiences I wouldn’t know how to develop a media kit or proposal, how to behave in a meeting and how to ensure I carve my brand out in the way I wish to see it develop. Far too much focus is placed upon turning blogs into full time careers, and not enough is placed on the value working in a professional environment can bring. Never has it been more important to think of the long-term and consider your options when the blogging bubble bursts – which it inevitably will.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE NUMBER STUFF
Unfortunately full time blogging involved about 20% of the actual creative stuff, and 80% of the administration and numbers stuff. If you’re not very good with managing your finances, then you need to fix up and look sharp – because you won’t get very far if you don’t keep track of what you’ve got coming in and what you’ve got going out. It’s easy to get excited when a big cheque arrives through the post and be on the first tube to Topshop, but unless you know where the next cheque is coming from it’s best to squirrel it away for when next month’s rent is due and your purse is bare. Filling in a tax return is far from fun, so be prepared to practice skills you’d forgotten you had as soon as you stepped out of that GCSE maths exam.
BE PREPARED FOR A SEVEN DAY WEEK
I’m sorry to break it to you, but blogging full time really isn’t an easy route to pyjama town. Sure you can have a lie in or go out on a school night without suffering the consequences, but you’ll be paying for that later when you’re still trying to pull together a blog post at 3am. When you’re your own boss, there’s no such thing as a day off; there’s no such thing as a working week and there’s certainly no such thing as a holiday – for the first few years at least. It took me over two years to book my first holiday and embrace the downtime that came with it (even if I was actually checking emails every three days so as to not miss any opportunities.) If you have to work over the weekend, then that’s what you have to do; if you have to spend your cocktail time on the beach editing photos or replying to emails, then that’s what you have to do; if you have to turn down an invitation to a gig because you’ve got a pressing deadline, then that’s what you have to do. The lives you see on Instagram are carefully curated and don’t show us bloggers working in our dressing gowns at 2pm, with seven cups of half-drunk coffee on our desk.
PRESSURE CAN STIFLE CREATIVITY
There’s nothing that stifles creativity more than the pressure to be creative. Before I started treating my site as a business I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted; now I’m on a schedule and need to keep those hits coming, it’s increasingly tricky to remain unique and creative when the pressure is on. Many thrive under such conditions, but for others it’s their idea of hell. The great thing about blogging for fun is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not getting a new blog post up every day, or deciding to write about why you love green socks so much better than red socks – you have the freedom of knowing your next meal doesn’t depend on how well received your content is. When your livelihood is determined only by how many comments your last post received, or the quality of your latest brand collaboration, it’s hard to keep those ideas coming.
I’m incredibly thankful for the experiences that my corner of the internet have brought me, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am without the support of readers and brands over the last few years. Although I’m more than happy to work for myself and by myself, I know the reality of full time blogging isn’t for everyone. If it’s your dream, then absolutely go for it – but if it scares the beejeezus out of you, don’t feel like a failure for not having achieved the pinnacle of ‘professional blogger’. Like brain surgery, goalkeeping and landscape gardening, it’s not for everyone.
Have you ever considered full time blogging? Do you admire the bloggers that have managed to turn a hobby into something more substantial? If you’re a blogger, what are your struggles?
By the way, the bronzer in the picture is the Clarins Aquatic Treasures Summer Bronzing Compact (£30.00)
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