A whole year of doing this full time eh?
This post is a tad late, as I "officially" started earning enough money to call this whole blogging thang a "full time job" last January. And we're in March. But regardless, I wanted to do a litttttle update on the whole thing and share a few wise words. I like to think they're wise, but they're probably not. SO. A little bit of background info for you, I have never had a "normal" job, ok so I did like a month of waitressing once but essentially, I didn't really work in my teens (and I was so poor what was I doing???) and then I went to uni for three years and got a big ass student loan so that was that. As I'm sure you all know, I got pregnant in my final year of uni, I graduated heavily pregnant, yada yada yada - I couldn't get a job. I did a bit of freelancing as a graphic designer in my student days which I continued to do after I finished uni but honestly, apart from a couple of well paying clients, I earned peanuts. So hello blogging, my first (what feels like) real job that has earned me a real wage. Thanks to you guys!!! But seriously thank you to everyone who reads my blog and follows me, I would not have a job without you. Well technically I would but it wouldn't be one I love as much as this AND I would have to be away from Reuben all week. So, back to the main point here, I have now been officially self-employed as a blogger for an entire year. It's been one hell of a learning curve that's for sure but here's a few of the things I have learned along the way...
It's totally okay to wing it.
It hasn't felt like it's okay to completely wing it but it is, and I am. Sure it's a scary thing just taking each week as it comes, not knowing how much you're going to earn at the end of the month but being self-employed is the biggest learning experience. For me, alongside raising a child by myself, it has taken time to figure out a routine and how I'm going to get shit done. As long as you have a safety net in the way of a partner/your family/a business loan/savings before taking the leap into self employment then you're good to go. I would personally always advise you had one of the above just so you don't end up in shit, because starting a business is scary and it's hard work figuring it all out initially!
Tax returns aren't that scary.
But really, they aren't. Maybe I'm a bit biased as my first one was pretty easy considering I basically earned nothing after business expenses in my first three months but it wasn't that bad. My official first 12 months is next month so I'm sure next years tax return will be a bit more horrible. But I'm prepared, I'm pretty organised when it comes to my accounts and receipts so I should be fine.
You'll never get along with everyone.
Just like in any other work environment, I'm not going to get along with every blogger and every brand and that's okay. We are all different and some of us have clashing personalities, some of us just don't like each other, and I've had to learn that it's okay. What isn't okay is being unprofessional or nasty in this industry but I certainly don't have to like everyone and the unfollow/mute/block buttons are there to be used. Anyone who has a problem with that... well that's their issue.
Childcare is a godsend.
Reuben started nursery just two short months ago and my gosh, have I got so much more done in such a short space of time. He's only entitled to 15 hours a week but he's doing mornings Mon - Fri so instead of waking up when he wakes up and starting our day at about 10am, we are up and ready by half 8 during the week, and come 9am I have three sweet hours to crack on with photos, emails, whatever I like in peace. It's bliss. He isn't ready for full days yet but I can only imagine the amount of things I'll get done when he finally does some!
Driving is a self-employed essential.
I finally passed my driving test last May and immediately got a car. It's not only given me more work opportunities but it's also meant that I can travel wherever I like taking photos and I think my content has improved massively because of it. I don't know where I'd be without my little car now, and it's lovely to know that I can just head out to a different environment to work whenever I feel like it.
You need a backbone.
You think blogging as a job is easy? It doesn't end at the photography and the writing, there's the web design (made easier thanks to Pipdig I admit) there's also the finance side, the pitching to brands, the negotiating... and you really have to be firm. There's none of this "my fee is £350" then them coming back with £80 and you just accepting it. You can never earn a wage that you can comfortably live on with that attitude. It's hard work being the woman behind the business aspect (and it does take time for the confidence to grow) but you have to have a backbone with the amount of brands that take the biscuit!
It's okay to take a break.
It's so easy to work through weekends when you work for yourself, especially in this particular industry. Social media is constant and there's never an end to a working day. There's the admin, emails, photography and writing during the day - but you get to 5pm and it's time to schedule an Instagram post or post some evening stories, catch up and engage with other bloggers, reply to comments... it's exhausting! I'm the worst for just working allllll of the time and in January I spontaneously booked an Edinburgh trip for a break. Whilst I was there taking photos/shooting content for the blog, I took a complete break from everything else and it was bliss. I'd definitely be bored without a camera in my hand so that part is okay, but the other stuff can get tiring trying to keep up with it 24/7 and sometimes you need to give yourself a break to save your sanity. I'm also trying to avoid working on weekends now that it's my Ru time so whether that's just having a lazy one with Netflix and a takeaway or making plans to go out exploring, whatever I do I'm trying to make sure it involves as little work as possible.
Saving is essential.
Whilst my first year involved quite a lot of 'winging it' I hit the end of last year at a bit of a low and barely had any money coming in throughout December. It picked back up massively in January but there were a few weeks where I was quite literally living off my savings (thank god for credit cards too) and it was a bit scary! I have learned that it's really important to make sure you put some money aside each month so that when these slow periods come around you don't have to stress. Self employment will always have its busy periods and its slow ones, you just gotta balance it all out.
It's easy to spend.
It is SO easy to just buy anything and everything when you blog as a job. Every time I go to a homeware shop I'm like "ooh that would look perfect in flat lays" or at a makeup counter "I could review this on the blog!" but I have learned that I need to slow down the spending and create more content with things that I already have. I mean let's be honest I'm never going to stop purchasing pretty homeware or makeup but if my first year full time blogging has taught me anything, it's that I have accumulated a large collection of stuff that never gets used. The amount of blog props I've bought and just binned is crazy amounts - it has to stop.
I don't want to be unrealistic so it's important to know that full time blogging is a rollercoaster (and a scary one!) but I didn't go full time until I was really sure that I was ready for it and earning enough money each month. The alternative for me was getting a crappy job and forking out hundreds a week on childcare whilst also being away from Ru - and blogging is something I'm so passionate about so it was an easy call for me. You don't have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to do this whole thing as a full time job, you just have to be happy earning enough to live comfortably rather than living amongst 20 designer handbags. Plus, I love that this industry is one that evolves constantly and it's possible to work your way up to a larger income, just like in most other jobs.
I had quite a lot of questions on Instagram about the finance side of blogging (way more than I expected) so I'm going to try and put a few helpful guides together for anyone that wants to know the ins and outs of earning money from blogging/social media. You don't have to want to be a full time blogger for it to apply to you either, I'll just pop together some posts on some fresh tips for reaching out to brands and knowing what to charge! Not sure when they will be live but keep a look out 🙂