7.6.15

Blogging In 2015 Can Be Lonely, Overwhelming & Harder Than You'd Ever Think

You may have a clear idea in your mind what full-time blogging is like: endless cocktails and canapes, free samples and press trips coming out of your ears, opportunities at every corner and the lifestyle of a minor celeb. Although blogging has opened up a whole new career opportunity for many hundreds of thousands across the globe, very little is spoken about what it's *really* like to work for yourself, and by yourself, within perimeters never before undertaken. I'm not one to complain about this incredible lifestyle I've carved for myself (Let's make one thing clear: nobody handed me this on a plate and I've had to work my backside off for every penny that's landed in my bank account. It's not an 'opportunity I've been given' - it's a career I've developed with nothing other than tenacity and skill.) but I am one to keep it real and be completely honest, often to my detriment. Blogging can be hard, lonely and overwhelming. There, I said it.


A few weeks ago I was feeling so low I almost didn't know how to scrape myself off the floor; I'm not a 'cry-er', I'm not overly emotional and I'm not into self-pity, but I genuinely felt like I was falling apart at the seams and I didn't quite know why. You may have caught my unabashed periscope broadcast, which started as an honest account of what it's like to be a full time blogger in 2015 and quickly evolved into what only can be described as a 'Big Brother breakdown' in front of the hundred odd people watching. I was sobbing, but between the sobs I was being completely open and honest about the pressures bloggers face in 2015 - it's often pushed under the carpet and simply never spoken about, so it's no surprise that it sent shock waves out into the community. Since that pivotal moment I've been able to take stock, re-align what's important to me and take a little time out for myself; what's been fascinating is the amount of incredible support I received from the blogging (and reader) community, many of whom admitted they totally related to every word I was saying. A broken heart and mind isn't as aspirational as the newest makeup launch from Urban Decay, so it's rare you see bloggers opening up and telling it how it *really* is - to those that want to know.

When you become a blogger you become not only the writer, but the editor, photographer, social media manager and web design expert. When you become a full time blogger, you add the skill sets of a sales manager, finance department, account management, marketing and CEO. That's a lot on anyone's plate. Unlike a freelancer (who often has a contract for a set period of time, which offers a little security and regular income,) a blogger has no clue where their next pay cheque is coming from - or if it will come at all. Campaigns and consultancy are often one-off projects that keep you ticking over financially for a week, before you need to find something else to ensure your bills are paid; there's no security whatsoever and you're only as good as your last blog post. Pair that with the fact that the ever increasing number of 'pro' bloggers are after a slice of the non-infinite piece of pie too, and you have yourself and incredibly competative and threatening environment. It's no wonder we're all going a little bit cuckoo and wondering why.

Blogging has changed so much from when I started playing the game back in 2010; bloggers were united in one common goal and there simply was no money. Five years later and, inevitably, the financial side of things has caused friction and split friendships apart; it's difficult (although by no means impossible) to remain friendly with everyone when you're all competing for the same piece of work. Although I do have my close blogging friends who have provided an invaluable source of support and reasoning while I'm in irrational mode, I've started to seek out alternative social circles and have definitely taken a step back from the cliquey world I previously thrived on. It's totally normal and rational to feel disappointed when someone has been given an opportunity you wanted, or you're overlooked in favour of someone that's massively inflating their stats to get ahead; however, it's how you react to that disappointment that's important. Rather than sulking and moaning, I'm now trying to turn that sinking feeling into a positive and ensuring it spurs me on to do even better than I was before.

Furthermore, working from home may seem like a dream come true if you slog it on the underground or motorway every day at 7am, but when you don't have a reason to get dressed or leave the four walls of your flat for three days on end, you will find yourself striking up essential relationships with all the couriers within a five mile radius. Sometimes I'll speak to nobody but my boyfriend and the postman for three days; sometimes I feel like I have to talk to myself just so I don't forget how to speak. The comradery of an office really is second to none and something people don't think about when making the leap to self employment; having someone to ask how your weekend was, read over a piece of work, bounce ideas off or simply have a bitch about a client, keeps your mind clear and focused. Not having anyone to talk to, rant at or ask advice of is incredibly difficult - especially when you work in an arena which is constantly evolving and there's really no set 'right and wrong' answer. Constantly second guessing and questioning yourself can have severe consequences; if you don't believe in yourself and sell your skills to others, then who will? Although there's no magic answer, realising that the same environment day-in-day-out does nothing for my mental state, I've started to spend more time in coffee shops and taking little day trips just for a hit of inspiration. It's amazing what a soy latte with a shot of sugar-free hazelnut can do for your emotional wellbeing.

The amount of time injected into every blog, as well as the passion and skill, is immense and should be recognised - both by readers and brands. When you work for yourself there's no such thing as a weekend, and days off are hard to come by; there's always something else to do, someone else to reach out to and three more things to tick off your list before bedtime. Social media may be 24/7, but it's important to understand you don't have to be. I've come to realise that the world won't stop turning if I don't post for a couple of days, or if I don't pin anything to Pinterest this week; putting more pressure on yourself is only counterproductive, so taking a step back could be just what you need in that moment. It's easy to take negative comments, anonymous insults or bitchy feedback personally - because a blog is a reflection of someone's inner most passions and interests. It would never be acceptable to walk up to someone in the street and tell them their foundation is too orange, but because we're online and intangible it seems that anything goes. That's pretty hard to deal with and can knock you for six if you're already having a down day, so perspective and a sense of humour really does go far. Learning to take comments with a pinch of salt doesn't always come easily, but knowing you have the power to publish or delete does offer up a solution.

Trying to continually come up with new ideas, new angles, new photography styles, new stories to tell is harder than you ever imagine; now many of us have been doing this for four, five, six years, we're reaching the point of burn-out. If you did any job for that length of time without a proper break, you'd inevitably need to make some major changes in your life. Although being a full time blogger is incredible and has opened up a career path many of us never even imagined, it's also important to realise the pressures that go alongside this kind of work. Eventually we're all going to deflate - whether or not it's exhaustion, lack of creativity, feeling overwhelmed or simply not having someone to talk to about what we've been up to that day. I guess I just wanted to say that it's ok if you're feeling a little bit down in the dumps or it gets too much; we've all been there and it's perfectly normal. Have a little cry, make yourself a cup of tea and start to implement small changes that will provide a cumulative difference overall - sometimes just admitting you're not ok is the catalyst you need to make a change. In the last few weeks I've gradually got my mojo back and understand where I need to place my efforts for the best possible outcome; I know what my skill sets are and I no longer feel like I should be doing everything and anything. I'm focusing on bigger ideas, worrying less about what everyone else is up to and re-igniting my passion for beauty. It's not the end of the world if you have a mini breakdown: we're still growing, learning and evolving. Nobody's perfect, but that just makes us all the more interesting.


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35 comments

  1. Loved this post because of how honest it is. I was thinking the other day about how lonely it must get sometimes blogging when you don't have co-workers and I can imagine that being really hard. You do an amazing job with this blog though, and you should be proud of how hard you've worked and how talented you are :) x

    vvnightingale.com

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    1. Thank you VV, that's so kind of you to say. It is hard (rough with the smooth and all that!) but we power through because we love it. Sometimes it's good to be open and honest and let people know they're not alone in feeling this way.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this and can completely appreciate how much pressure it is to have the weight of a business completely on your shoulders, so it's no different for those who choose to blog for a living. I'm by no means big - in fact, by today's standards, my blog is very small and laid back - but even that feels like pressure at times when you're lacking inspiration or feeling lost in the growing world where everyone wants a slice of success.
    All I can say is that I'm glad you seem to be feeling better and knowing which direction you want to take - it's a tough thing not knowing where your money is coming from week-to-week so I applaud anybody who takes that leap of faith because they are so passionate about writing :) xx
    www.LaurasHaven.com

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    1. Thanks Laura. The blogging world has changed immensely and it's sometime tricky to remain ahead of the curve, while continually comparing your position to others. We all just have to take stock and celebrate our successes I think, no matter how small! X

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  3. Great post Hayley. I really think there needs to be more talk of the realistic side of blogging and also freelancing, it's really not as fun and straightforward as many dream it will be. Since the blogging world has become more commercial it really is very difficult to find the joy in it that we had when we started out, so much is about competing with others or being the best at what you do and in such a crowded field that is hard work and definitely lonely. It's also difficult to find that life balance when you're so immersed in a digital world too.

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    1. I definitely have struggled with that in 2015 - knowing that it's important to switch off, but equally feeling like I can't afford to have a day away from my laptop. Things have changed hugely and it's not all about the 'love' anymore; it's about moving forward and evolving so you can earn a living from a passion. Tricky. x

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  4. Well done for putting this together Hayley - these words could be also pouring from my mouth. It's easy to present what we do as glam and glossy when the reality is at times so different. Which is not to say we don't have any fun! We sure do.. but this year the pressure has got to me to the point that I have seriously considered pressing the delete button for good. It's not helpful when agents ensure that their 'talent' only promote each other - that was kind of the death of the blog community - and actively try to ensure that those outside of the talent roster are excluded from campaigns... I think readers need to know what we're up against. It's not even the money aspect - it's more that we lose the opportunity (time and time again) to put our message over; and we're for the good! Cutting out the nonsense and talking to people like ourselves who don't want to make a bad purchase etc.. and who don't want to be promoted to as part of a PR campaign. If anything, we're trying to undo the PR to get to the truth.

    I've been 'told off' by PRs for not attending events (if I'm out all day, who do they think is writing the blog, posting the instagrams, taking pictures, editing, collating, tweeting, pinning, Periscoping, Linked In-ing, Google+ing, Tumbling, swatching???) or being difficult to get hold of.

    It is a lonely job - it really is.. especially when you're bombarded by people whose job it is to be your friend; very hard to tell the difference between who is professionally pleasant and who is genuinely pleasant - I'm kind of on high alert all the time because I've been caught out so many times on this. I'm having a word with myself all the time not to get seduced back into it.

    On the up though, look what we did! And who knew we could do it? All bloggers will find aspects of what you say resonates with them and I think we have to really give a cheer out to all bloggers still sharing their words of wisdom, beautiful pictures, personal thoughts and basically just a part of themselves to change the face of beauty. Because it is changed, forever.

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    1. To you and Hayley, thank you both for the astonishingly frank words. I know being held in high regard doesn't necessarily pay the bills, but I love reading your honest words. They are refreshing and true and I hope that you both manage to maintain the new balance that you're finding/seeking.

      Sash x

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    2. Thanks for your amazing comment (and support, always!) Jane. You're so right on every point raised - I often get 'told off' or sent a snarky email if I can't make an event or meeting; who do they think is doing the work while we're out eating cupcakes?! I guess brands and PRs are so used to working with teams that it's hard to get their head around the fact we're one-woman-bands doing it all (or trying) within a five day week.

      I agree with your point too about those agents encouraging collaboration only amongst themselves, therefore cutting out a huge amount of talent from view for many. It's so frustrating when it's all about a select few when we equally have a viewpoint and something to say, just in a different format. I definitely feel like people are only interested in themselves, rather than supporting others and cross-promoting like we used to - but I guess that's just the way it goes.

      You're right though - we've achieved amazing things and changed the face of the beauty industry, so here's to the next chapter... Whatever that may be!

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    3. And thank you Sasha! x

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    4. I completely and utterly hold my hands up to you and Jane! Seriously, the amount of content you guys produce on a daily basis, but yet manage to keep up and ahead of trends and make it original, thought provoking and interesting. It is SO refreshing to read this. It is absolutely fine to have a mini melt down and a good cry, you are human and we can only take so much. Just remember you have built up a platform that you should be incredibly proud of and no one can take that away from you.


      xxx

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  5. I started blogging around 2009/2010 and lots of oldtimers, including myself, are having a blog block at the moment, it seems, regardless of if we are 'pro' or not. Thank you for writing this, and I'm glad that you're turning this blip into a positive learning curve x

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  6. This is an amazing and well written post that I am sure anyone would relate to even if they are not a blogger as we all have melt downs from time to time. This has really helped to put things into perspective for me. As a new blogger it's very easy to assume that established bloggers lead an extravagant lifestyle and perhaps some of them do. The fact is I don't and I sometimes feel like I don't have any cool instagram posts to put up or interesting things to post on Twitter.

    In addition, I have a full time career outside of blogging and therefore I can't post everyday without lacking in sleep and feeling rubbish! I have therefore just come to accept that I can only do what I can do, I can push myself and set myself some challenges but not to the point of despair. Comparing yourself to others does no good.

    Wish you all the best. You have done amazingly well and if we didn't have meltdowns every so often we wouldn't be normal! sabiha x

    franklyflawless.com

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    1. Thank you Sabiha - there's definitely something going around at the moment amongst bloggers that started in 2009-11! It's hard to juggle everything, but we need to take stock and celebrate how far we've come. X

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  7. This post must have felt good to write and get out there, and working alone is bound to make a lot of full time bloggers feel like this. The blogging game is going to change a lot in the coming years I suppose but what I want to know the most is will blogging slowly die down? Is there a future in blogging? :/

    www.yasminqureshi.co

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    1. I don't think blogging is going anywhere at all; it's here for the long-term, but I think it will definitely evolve. Right now everyone has a blog and there's a lot of 'noise' - I think different types of blogs will rise to the top, but who knows what's around the corner! X

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  8. It does seem like a lot of my favourite bloggers are going through these feelings at the moment. But I guess when you've been doing any job for several years, this kind of feeling is probably par for the course. I really appreciate bloggers like you - you've basically been trailblazing for those of us who are just starting out. So thank you for this post x

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    1. Thanks Sally. You're right - there are so many of us feeling the same thing right now!

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  9. This really resinated with me. My laptop and phone Charger went out of action last week and I was shocked how much easier life was without blogging! I did miss parts though so I've decided to overhaul what I do with my blog and when I do it. It's so easy to get pulled into the commercial side and lose your voice. Lovely writing x

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    1. You're right - it's easy to forget to write about what you love, focusing more on what will get you hits. Balance is key, as is retaining your passion. Good luck with your site!

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  10. What an amazing piece, and so true. I'm a freelance copywriter at home and after just 2 months I have only spoken to a limited amount of people. I deliberately spread out my weekly food shop so I have a couple of chances for human interaction.

    Picking up my blog 3 weeks ago I wanted some more writing to do, because that's what I love, as my contracts are not staying long enough to keep me busy. I love blogging but I have already hit the remark saying 'we don't give freebies'. So i'm proud to say I stood up for bloggers saying it isn't about the freebies or PR. It's about writing about what you love.

    Its a shame those after just the freebies give bloggers a bad name in some people's books.

    Katie | http://cayennelifestyle.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Totally - it's not all about free stuff (if anything, I'm often like 'keep the free stuff!') but about having a voice and doing what you love. The lack of interaction with others is what I really struggled with, having always worked in an office and been a somewhat loud and visible member of the team! And I understand you when you talk about food shopping - small tasks to break up the week and get you outside! X

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  11. Great post - it's great to see you being so frank about the realities of blogging. It's part of the reason I follow you. Blogging is your job, you are self-employed and with that comes challenges such as having to do it all yourself and being alone while you are doing it. When you do feel like it is all too much, remember us - your loyal followers and readers who really appreciate what you do. Your hard work has definitely paid off. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that if you need a break, we will not hold it against you - your good health is important. If you feel good, your work will be good and we will be happy readers!

    I love your blog; your blog, periscopes, newsletters etc. are great. Keep up the good work - you're great at what you do!

    http://tashasface.com/

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  12. Ah, this is so well timed for me - I actually just published a post about full-time blogging yesterday, which touched on some of these points, and I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one feeling like this! For me, the thing that resonates most is your point about "only being as good as your last post" - it's just so RELENTLESS, isn't it? I sometimes find it exhausting knowing I can work really hard on a post, pour my heart and soul into it... and then the next day it's already yesterday's news, and I'm having to do it all over again. (And again, and again, because as you say, you never really get a holiday or a break - you're just always *on* and once you've been doing that for years, you start to wonder how long you can possibly keep it up. )

    I also really relate to your point about not having anyone to talk to about it - I'm hugely introverted, so I can happily go for days without much in the way of social interaction, but I do miss having someone I can talk to *about the blog*, and all those little things that get to you. Just someone to turn to and say, "Can you believe what this person just said to me?!" and know they won't just tell you to "grow a thicker skin" (easier said than done), or that "You put it out there, so you have to expect something back!" My husband tries to listen, but his eyes start to glaze over after a couple of minutes, and my real life friends just don't "get" blogging, so they can listen politely, but they can't really understand what it's like, the way a colleague would, who's dealing with exactly the same things.

    As I said in my own post, I see a lot of newer bloggers seemingly seduced by this idea of an 'Instagram' lifestyle, where they'll be doing very little work, and just swanning around having their picture taken in free outfits all the time, so I love posts like this that talk honestly about what it's really like!

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  13. A very interesting post, I think a lot of people don't realise just how much goes into running a blog, it sounds like you are under a lot of pressure from lots of people and it must be a struggle sometimes to wonder if it is all worth it. I along with a lot of others really appreciate all the hard work you do for your blog. I hope you are feeling better now and remember we all need a rest sometimes which can then bring a fresh outlook on life.
    Take care and all the best.

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  14. This post makes me feel sad! All I wanted to say is that I think your blog is incredible and I think that you do a great job. Im always stunned by the innovative content you come up with day after day!

    Everybody has a bad day in the work place. The difference is when I do, I moan to the people in my team and we all get out of the slump together. So I definitely understand that you can feel lonely at times. I think it's underestimated how much work goes into running a blog as a full time job, just know that your regular readers appreciate it!

    Stephanie xxx
    https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/hope-freedom-love-3436251

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  15. Kylie8.6.15

    Just wanted to say how well written this post is and really eye opening. I don't blog myself but a few years ago I did start my own business and have worked for myself since on a freelance basis, although I have to admit the stress of it did mean I now only do it part time as well as having a 'regular' job to help pay the bills and keep my finances predictable. Being self-employed really can take over your life - as you say, there's always something more than you can be doing when you are doing the marketing, the design, the PR, the sales etc. It's very hard to step away from that and find time to switch off and be yourself. I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate how much hard work you must put into it. I hope the feedback that you've received has been encouraging and that you're feeling happy again x

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  16. Hayley, you do a superb job! Your periscope and this blog post will truly be inspirational and helpful to others. There are times, when I feel like slapping a big sticker on EACH blog post letting others know how many hours it took to develop it (conceptualizing, writing, photographing, rafflecopter, twitter, instagram, periscope, snapchat, facebook etc.). It's extensive! And ONLY people that DO IT, can understand how you feel day in and day out. It's an art and it's not always appreciated (but EXPECTED). We live in a society, where things are expected NOW and RIGHT AWAY! I can understand deadlines, but I don't believe in SHOVING products out without proper reviews or conceptualization. That's why I always appreciated and RESPECTED your reviews and explanations on things. You CARE! And you don't see that much anymore, which is sad. I don't find people reading much anymore. I'm happy to say I'm working with brands, that understand my philosophy. Keep your chin up. Continue to do what you feel is best. Take care of yourself. That should be your first priority. Do what is best for YOU.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  17. What a great post! I think with blogging in particular, there is so much pressure always appear perfect - but also continuously improve. That paradox in general is stressful enough to anyone, but more so to people who do it full time. While I'm sorry that you had a mini-breakdown, I can't wait to see how you channel it for the better. As it is I know this will be such a relatable and helpful post for anyone who has gotten into blogging - not just to those who have transitioned to doing it full time. [=

    ♡Em | www.haulanddupes.com

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  18. Such a brilliant and truthful post! Its about time the blogging world wasnt sugar coated and that it is seen for all of the hard work, exhaust and time that is spent doing it! Hope your okay lovely, and good on you for being so honest! Wonderful post x

    heldtogetherbypins.blogspot.co.uk

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  19. What a brilliant, honest and important post! I'm pleased to hear you're feeling better about things now.

    Personally I really envy those who are able to make their blog a full-time job on pretty much a daily basis, so reading this post adds a lot of balance to my unrealistic idea of what it must be like!

    Gemma x | flutterandsparkle.com

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  20. You're amazing! Hopefully you'll have even greater things coming out of blogging for you! All the love xx

    Mary Bloomy

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  21. This is an amazing post; thoughtful, honest and real! Though I'm in no way in the same league as you are, I still feel very lonely when it comes to the blogging world. Also, I know what you mean when most people say they would love to work from home but I agree with you, not seeing anyone or speaking to people face to face for days at a time, would drive me insane.

    Blogging is a very lonely business and though friendships do form from it, it's definitely hard to cultivate and grow friendships from behind a keyboard.

    I hope everything is getting better and you're feeling more chilled.

    Kirsty || blessedbymeow.blogspot.co.uk

    =^.^=

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  22. Thank you for writing this post! I am by no means a big blogger in the slightest, blogging is still very much a hobby for me - and that's the way I plan for it to stay too, but I was having a similar conversation with a friend last week about things you never think will be an issue when you start.

    As a new-ish blogger (18 months) it's hard being a part of an already very saturated market - I think now you have to have no expectations of it becoming a career, as I know some people have asked me for "blogging tips" want to do, as they have the idealization that they just receive things, write about it and get paid for doing so. It's just not the way it works.

    No one tells you at the start how time consuming it is - on top of my full time job, I do the hours as if have a part time job at least on top for my blog, which leaves little time for anything else.

    When you're starting out no one tells you how much money you'll need to invest, not necessarily in fancy equipment - but because people want to see what's new as those are the products that hype are around, or just new products to you.

    Luckily, I'm a web designer - so haven't had to build my knowledge of those areas, and know how to use photoshop, edit photos, redesign etc - but I can't imagine how hard it must be starting out with no prior knowledge at all.

    I'm just at the point now where people are offering to send me things to review, test and try - so now have the deadlines from companies as to when they want these reviews as part of the condition of send, so now have pressure not just from myself and my own pride in my blog, but others too.

    That being said - I wouldn't change anything, it's such a fantastic community as everyone always says!

    Rachael

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  23. I'm not a full-time blogger and I don't intend to take this hobby into financial territory. But I still find it difficult to balance my blogging with the rest of my like (like uni for one thing) which can be overwhelming. Sometimes I just need to realise that university work, my friends and family, and my mental health take precedence over my blogging. And everything will still be there when I come back! Allowing myself a bit of break when I need it and not putting so much pressure on myself is almost as important as coming up with new ideas and scheduling my posts!

    xx Julia
    missjulziez.blogspot.com.au

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