It’s been one year since I took a leap of faith and decided to work on my blog full-time. There’s been plenty of heartache, stress, days spent questioning my sanity, and tears. But there have also been plenty of rewards. I’ve learned about blogging as a business, met amazing fellow bloggers and mentors, took an HTML class, got a better understanding of WordPress, expanded my knowledge of photography, attended Career Contessa webinars, and ultimately began mapping out what I would like to do in the future both with my career and this site.
The past year has not been easy. It has been one of sacrifice and struggle, but it also taught me more life lessons than in any prior year. I wish I could say that after one year I had all of the answers to life’s most difficult questions. But I do not. I can say that I have zero regrets about quitting my full-time job and trying to embark on this new, more challenging path. If you’ve been thinking about pursuing your own creative endeavor, here are some tips to help you along.
It’s harder than you think: I (incorrectly) assumed that if I build it, they will come. I thought all I had to do was announce to the world, ‘Hey, I’m here,’ and brands would come running to collaborate with me. Not so. Prior to leaving my job, I had been approached by a few brands here and there. I had also found my voice and decided to pitch to brands that I loved and with which I wanted to cultivate a relationship. I found the latter strategy to be hit-or-miss, but I would absolutely encourage you to reach out to brands if you’re inclined. If you are going to pursue a creative life, you always need to remember why you started. There have definitely been days where I’ve thought ‘what am I doing?’ And there have been weeks where I have felt utterly uninspired. But at the end of each day, week, and month, I always remind myself that I love what I am doing. Even if I don’t have 50 comments on every post and brands banging down my door to work with me, I enjoy the creative life and for the first time, I can say that I am happy and fulfilled doing what I love.
Know your worth: In the beginning, I was so thrilled to have a brand reach out to me, that I would write a post for product. I felt that I needed to ‘pay my dues’ and get my name out there, so I was always happy to partner with them. It wasn’t until I decided to work on my blog full-time and met with a mentor from Career Contessa that I started charging for my work. Later my photographer said it best, “you do yourself and your industry a disservice when you work for free.” My credit card company would not be happy if I sent them a piece of jewelry or a pair of jeans instead of actual currency. So why should I work for that? There is nothing wrong with saying “yes” to this type of arrangement, so long as it benefits you (i.e., a product that you could use and would have bought anyway). Otherwise, I would suggest asking a brand what their budget is and having some type of fee schedule for your work.
Save…save…save: Obviously, blog work is not the same as receiving a paycheck from your 9-to-5 job. If you are planning on devoting all of your time to your blog, make sure you have at least 12 months of living expenses saved up (the more, the better). You will also likely be spending money on photography, props for shoots, accessories, clothing, etc. So know going in that it can be a costly endeavor. Also, if you find that working at home is too lonely or isolating, take on a side-gig for extra income or a part-time job. It can help you to establish a routine and keep you from spending too many days cooped up at home.
Creativity & Inspiration: Loving what you do is a good start, but there will be plenty of times when you sit down to write and nothing comes to you. Or you don’t feel inspired to write anything at all. That’s okay. Like anything else, you will have good and bad days. I found the jump from writing three blog posts to five blog posts a week to be a challenge at first. Some weeks, everything just seemed to flow better than others. This is where having an editorial calendar can be helpful. Plan ahead and think of topics that you would like to cover. Even better, write drafts of those posts when the thought comes to you. A lot of my blog topics come to me at night, and I’ve been known to whip out my iPhone and start writing down a few paragraphs. They won’t be perfect, especially if you’ve just awoken from a sound sleep, but they’ll be a good start. Then when you’re lacking inspiration, you have those posts to refer to.
Don’t get discouraged: As I mentioned in the first point, remember why you started. Blogging isn’t as easy as it looks, and blogging as a business is definitely not easy. Many people do not realize all the work that goes on behind-the-scenes, from creating and editing content to shooting gorgeous images and promoting your work. You’ll probably have friends and family who see no value in what you do or do not consider it a legitimate career. If you love what you’re doing, try to ignore the nay-sayers and keep on doing you!
What tips would you add?
*Image courtesy of PicLab