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So nearly two months have passed since I made blogging my full time job. When most people start out on their own, they feel liberated and slightly nervous. For me, it was different – it was like convincing myself to take off the training wheels because I know how to ride, I was just too scared to admit it. A few weeks into immersing myself in what is a dream job for many, I realised that ‘success’ has much more to do with confidence than I’d previously imagined. So when I decided to write this guide, I knew it couldn’t just be about practical things like having a mission statement or how to fund your business. Read on for my five essential tips for a full time blogging career, from what to avoid to how to pay yourself to always improving.
How it happened
It was just last year that I was adamant that I didn’t see myself blogging as a career. I believed that there wouldn’t be much to add to the industry if the only people I met were similar to me and the conversations I had never extended very far. We would be like fish swimming around the same great big bowl. But my first month of full time blogging came about for two main reasons and one is a lot more inspiring than the other.
Let’s start with the motivating one: Fashion bloggers are a disruptor to the fashion industry, and this is a sector adverse to change beyond artistic vision. But bloggers represent a new and exciting wave. And those that argue that this is a bubble about to pop, well they’re either looking for a story that doesn’t exist or merely bystanders to a cultural boom. Professional blogging is niche but it’s an opportunity to capitalise, especially if like me, you’ve always wanted to be in the business but weren’t sure about how to make a living from writing.
The less thought-provoking reason is also more practical. I turned to this because I was so deeply unhappy at my day job. It was never ‘lesser’ but I didn’t prioritise my personal social media activity while I had my 9 to 5 role. I loved my responsibilities as a social media and content editor but a change in management had negatively affected me so much that even during the Christmas break, I would get terrible spells of anxiety and sleepless nights. If you’ve ever been in that situation where work is damaging your health – even on holiday – you know that it’s gone too far and you have to get out.
I’ve always been Monica Geller obsessive over schedules, deadlines and lists. They make me feel warm inside. Knowing that this isn’t a problem for me, I took it one step further:
- Adjusting my schedule to reflect what I actually did the week before, so I can always look back and tell if I was as productive as intended.
- Colour coded what were home office responsibilities and which were ‘off-site’ meetings, like press days, PR catch ups or shoots. This helps with general organisation of your entire week and gives a great visual of what you’re spending most of your time doing.
- Have a flexible content schedule. Know what you’re going to write over the course of the month but be prepared to chuck out ideas or add in time-sensitive ones. Spread these out in case a few client deadlines crop up in a week full of seasonal articles.
What to pay yourself and what to reinvest in your blog
This is a tip I learnt from my friend who has been running her own successful brand for the last three years. Pay yourself what you need for groceries, rent, socialising and a little bit extra for all the miscellaneous things in between. Starting out as an entrepreneur, I often feel like it’s not really my money but my business’s and I was quite anxious about taking away from it. I had to learn that if you worked for it, you shouldn’t feel bad about spending it.
Figuring out blog expenses is the easiest part but in my first month, I forgot to factor in a few things that are variables. These are some questions to ask yourself, if you’re unsure:
- Do you regularly hire photographers? Put aside a set budget for this.
- Do you have an Adobe subscription (Photoshop and Lightroom)?
- When it comes to travel costs, do you need to commute everyday and can you go in during off-peak hours?
Setting financial goals
Do you save? Having asked around, none of my friends actually do this, regardless of income. If you’re going to start blogging full time, prioritising a security nest is essential because even though your business is healthy, a few late invoices can really upset your cash flow. A few blogger friends recommended saving up around three months worth of expenses before blogging full time. And my advice would be never let that pot go stale – it’s better to pay yourself a little less and put the difference into savings. At least do this in the beginning, because you have to get used to a regular expenditure.
Create your dream job
I made a list of all the things I loved from my past experiences and what I wanted in my future. This included things like having reliable colleagues I liked outside of work, always learning and upgrading my skills, work for recognised and global companies, opportunity for career growth and work in an aesthetic environment (I know that one sounds so stupid but I genuinely need it for my creativity).
A pitfall would be to see these points as top priority and put them in place before working on the critical driver of your blog, which are content and visuals. These are things to set as milestones and work on as side projects. It’ll help with envisioning your business as something long term rather than indulging a whim or a burst of passion.
Use negativity to keep growing
This is one of my least but most effective nuggets of wisdom: listen to the haters. Most people will tell you to ignore them but shying away from harsh criticism, no matter how biased or personal, is counterproductive. You just need to learn how to pick out the slithers of objectivity from the pile of muck. It’s a tough process but it builds character.
The first incident for me was when I had a well paid, cushy job in Singapore but I was completely miserable. I knew I wanted to write but I kept putting it off because I didn’t think I had any chance of making a living. Someone told me that if I really wanted to be a journalist I would already be doing it, so I must not want it enough. That struck me hard – since I was 11 I was writing fiction and composing articles in my free time! I read classical literature like Lolita and Jane Eyre instead of playing Pokemon on my Gameboy, so I’d have a stronger vocabulary and writing style. You can tell I wasn’t that popular. But with that remark in mind, a week later I quit my job and was signed on as an intern at Time Out.
There is also something to be said about biting words that cut deep. Why did that comment in particular hurt so much and stay so long in your mind? I find that it’s usually because I was bothered by it to begin with, subconsciously or not, and haven’t found a way to address the problem. Most of the time, when something makes me way more emotional than I should be, it’s because it’s an issue that deserves my attention.
Did this give you more confidence to make the jump to blogging full time? Or are you looking for more inspiration? Read my post on how I came to accept entrepreneurship.
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