BUBLE

14.7.16

Full Time Blogging Isn't For Everybody. Follow Your Dreams, Not Someone Else's.

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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30 comments

  1. I get so frustrated when I see the Facebook ads - "How to make your first $1000 from blogging in 1 week" (Or whatever ridiculous statement they are making).

    This kind of article is REALLY refreshing, as it actually does spell out that working for yourself isn't a stroll in the park... There's no one to call in finance to ask whether an invoice needs to be XYZ, there's no co-workers to vent with. It can really suck at times, but also does have it's benefits (as I write this, I'm supposed to be working on a client project which I have been doing all day from my sofa....)

    I really admire anyone who has managed to carve out a business, however what I have noticed is that the really successful people are obsessed with adding value to other peoples lives, whether that's with great content, new products, etc.

    I could go on all day about this topic, so I'm going to cut myself off there and finish by saying great post and thank you for highlighting these issues in an open and honest fashion!

    Bethan Vincent

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    1. Thanks Bethan! Those ads and articles drive me round the bend too. Like everyone just 'fell' into working on something they love full time and managed to make a living from it... Although it's great and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way now, it's not a walk in the park and it's important for young women to understand that before they make such important choices.

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  2. Really interesting post. I think so many people think that it is easy and even though I only blog part time, I know it's seriously hard work. Thanks for sharing.

    Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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  3. I'm not sure where I will be 5 years from now, but just the thought of turning blogging into a full time career is quite scary for me. Maybe its because I'm still new to it and have only just started my own blog, but it is quite a leap! I really admire those who have worked hard to make it happen and continue to work hard to stay successful. It really isn't for everyone, I agree! Loved your post, a real honest take on turning it into a full time job. :-)

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  4. Now this is a true post about blogging! I'm not doing it full time because I know how hard it takes & for now I'm just by doing it for fun. Still, you're one of those bloggers who aren't afraid to write what's reality vs. idealism.

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    1. I try to keep it open and honest as much as possible - even if that sees me come under fire or criticism!

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  5. It's so good to read a post like this. Often we see some of the big bloggers living 'perfect' lives, but people don't realise how much hard work goes into blogging.

    For now I'd rather still with blogging on the side.

    Chichi
    chichi-writes.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. Awesome insight. I've been doing the full time blogging thing for two full months now, and I know I made the right decision. It was a very calculated risk, with lots of $$$ in savings and many partnerships lined up but it's still definitely scary because you never know what will happen to the internet tomorrow. But I knew the time was now, with a fresh degree and momentum growing (it had already been my main source of income for over a year and a half). I definitely feel more of a fire under my belly and the stakes are high so I have to hustle, and you're definitely right about the stress being an enemy of creativity. BUT I have the freedom now to take a day off and regroup, as opposed to when I was working a 9-5 and I had no choice but to cram blog work into the weekend.

    Miranda // Slashed Beauty

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    1. Good luck with your journey Miranda!

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  7. I've been blogging for 17 years, and at no point have I even contemplated turning it into my full-time career. The pocket money and the opportunities that it brings me are great, but for me having the security of a steady income (and the prospect of sick leave in the event that my mental health problems take me out of the workplace again) outweighs any positives about "working for myself". As it happens, I don't really get weekends either - I have a pretty decent freelance journalism career alongside my business journalism day job, and my blog - but knowing that I CAN have them when I really need a break is a godsend.

    Anyone who doesn't think it takes a 40-hour work week (at least) to deliver the quality, one-of-a-kind content you do on a daily basis is kidding themselves. I have so much professional admiration for you Hayley - but you don't need to worry about having me as a rival any time soon!

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. Thanks so much Lis for your kind words! And I'm so with you on the flexibility. It's been great in the last few months to be able to take time out for family emergencies and so on, when realistically in a traditional job I'd probably have to use up all my holiday in one shot just to be there for the people that need me. It's a great benefit : )

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  8. This was such a great post. I have been working on my blog and youtube for 2 years now and it is a slow growth however I love it so much! I think the hardest thing is finding your own identity in this huge blogging world!
    www.ivyrode.co.uk

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    1. Absolutely Ivy, finding out who you are is really difficult.

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  9. I love this post, it was so insightful. I've been blogging for over 2 years now and have been working in online marketing for the last year and a half (it was my blog that made me change my career path from photography to marketing). Over the last 6 months I have started to think, 'Hmm, could I ever go full-time with the blog?' and 'Would that work?'. I udnerstand it most definitely will not be an easy journey/transition and is by no means something that will happen in the next couple years, but it's something I am considering in the future as my 'little space on the internet' grows.

    Kayleigh x
    www.scampinchips.co.uk

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    1. It's always worth considering Kayleigh, and having the options there in front of you so you can make the best decision for you. Good luck with everything!

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  10. So many reasons why I'm not even trying to become a full-time blogger... Thank you for being so realistic.

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  11. such a good post. so realistic and true. I don't think people realise that full time blogging is more than just posting on instagram and doing your make up, it's tough work and can be quite lonely too. xxx

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  12. SO many people say to me 'you've been blogging for years, why not make it your job?'. I love blogging, but I also like a steady salary and having my weekends free. I like what I do for a living and I also like having my blog for fun, and earning a small amount of side income. Thanks for sharing this - it's so true about how the image people project on social media isn't how they actually live.

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  13. Great insight into it. I couldn't imagine doing it full time myself, but you never know. Well done for getting where you are!
    Can I ask, do you still enjoy it, and see it as your favourite passion? Or do you struggle sometimes? I find myself struggling but still love it, so just wondered :)
    haveyouseenhowshespeaks.blogspot.co.uk

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  14. Thank you! I'm glad someone said it. I work on FBL Bloggers part time and then my blog and then hold down a job in social media. I've never wanted to be a full time blogger, as it is semi-professional. However, I am working to take my skills to work on other digital projects.

    www.lookwhatigot.co.uk

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  15. As usual, an honest and refreshing post from you Hayley, brilliant! I would love to make money from my blog, but I am not sure I could do it as a full time job. As much as I love the freedom about writing what I want and am passionate about, ultimately I'm a team player and have been successful in previous jobs because of this. Lone working is hard work and I admire anyone who does it! Xx

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  16. Thanks for this honest post. I'm a full time artist, I totally get all of this even though I only blog part time. It was an eye opener to read this, now i'd better start my tax returns!

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  17. I love these kind of spots, it really puts things into perspective and make you realise what it could really be like! Thank you so much for sharing

    gemsblogstorey.com xxx

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  18. Brilliant post Hayley! I definitely have the fear that if I was paid to blog then the words wouldn't come out and I'd get frustrated and stressed. At the moment, if I don't have a post ready to go up, I don't stress over it because I don't need that money to pay my mortgage :)
    Holly ∣ Closingwinter

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  19. Really great post Hayley, and definitely food for thought. I just blog as a hobby at the moment, but even I know how much work goes into my posts and YouTube videos, so it's frustrating when bloggers/YouTubers are made out to be overnight stars/an easy job! I have a chronic illness, so I'm not sure traditional 9-5 work will ever be right for me, which is one reason I started my blog. I'm studying on a Journalism degree, so I'm not sure whether I would want to be a full-time blogger/YouTuber as such, but I'm hoping to be able to do freelance writing, and would love to include my blog and videos as part of that :)

    Jenny xx

    www.jaffacat.co.uk

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  20. Such a great post! I am no where near being a full-time blogger even though I really do put in the hours. It annoys me when people do not realise how much time, sweat and tears go into doing 'my hobby'. The amount of friends who say 'maybe I should become a blogger so I can get free stuff' ugh! Free lipsticks don't pay bills! People need to know that it is rewarding if you love being creative but it is serious hard work too!xx

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  21. Interesting post Hayley! As a Nurse, blogging is my 'escape' and I quite like it that way. I've considered blogging full-time but for me it's about the finances. To stay relevant requires investment, and trying to renovate a house and feed and clothe 5 boys requires a lottery win at the best of times ;) Maybe one day when they are not eating me out of house and home!

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  22. I've only just come across your blog through a Bloglovin' recommendation and I'm so glad.

    This is such a realistic piece and it brings it all home. At the moment I'm still at the stage where you were for 3 years; just doing it as a passion and something different from my normal job. I've embarked on a marketing career so it may just be a blog of the past but I'm enjoying it as it is. Great advice and I'm excited to see more posts.

    Georgina

    Geo The Leo | https://geotheleo.com

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