I try to always keep a running list of questions being asked either through email or DM’s on my Instagram, and if one in particular is being asked over and over, I try to address it in a public setting (in case others are having a similar thought). The question of blogging full-time has been coming up a lot, and I’ve been getting questions that vary from, “when did you transition to blogging full-time,” to “how did you know it was the right time,” to “what should I do?!”
First up, my backstory. I’m sure some of you who have been around here for ages have heard and know my backstory, but I’m constantly gaining new readers, and there hasn’t been a place to send you all before that answers all of these questions. Here’s the Cliffnote’s version (or as condensed as I can get it) on how I got started blogging and how I made the transition to this being my full time job (it’s been 2 1/2 years, so I feel like I can give some tips now that the dust has settled).
WHAT I DID BEFORE BLOGGING
I graduated in 2008 from the University of Connecticut with a BA in English — knowing I wanted to kick start my career in Public Relations. I had done a few internships that focused heavily on writing and research and after I graduated, I landed a job at a very traditional agency — helping secure placements in media for some commercial clients. Around that time, social media was starting to explode and I was part of a few Facebook groups for young PR professionals, where we would share tips and tricks (along with horror stories of first jobs). Twitter was the new “it” platform (I’m dating myself here), so I joined it to see what all the fuss was about. I had been itching to make my next move, and knew I wanted to move closer to Raja (we were long-distance at this point, living about 2 hours from each other and only seeing each other on very short weekends). I had my Dad searching for potential jobs (since I couldn’t be doing that at work), and he stumbled across a job up by Raja that seemed interesting. They were looking for someone young with a handle on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and were focused more on digital (new age) marketing versus traditional media. It was a complete 180 from what I was doing, but I somehow landed the job (and got to move to the town I currently live in). This agency was extremely fast-paced, I worked 10+ hour days on the regular, and to be honest, had no idea what I was doing half the time, because the landscape of social media and digital marketing was changing so rapidly. Just when I would start to get the hang of something (like recommending a Twitter approach for a client and successfully executing it), a brand new platform would emerge and shake up the social world. All of a sudden, Pinterest was the new girl in town, and everyone wanted to know how they could leverage it. It was part of my job to keep up with these platforms, so I joined Pinterest and fell in love. SO MUCH INSPIRATION and so little time. I started following a few blogs (Cupcakes & Cashmere and Sincerely Jules were all over Pinterest at the time), and they soon became my daily reads. In an office full of girls, we all loved to chat fashion and beauty (you know, important world events), and I sort of became the go-to on certain topics — like, how to use a curling iron to wand curl your hair (this was seriously before wands without the clamps were even a thing), and where I found my Free People top at a discount. I sort of positioned myself as the expert on certain topics and could spend hours and hours talking about them with more passion than I knew what to do with. At the same time, Raj took a temp job in New Jersey, and we were constantly traveling back and forth (my boss was amazing and let me travel with him some weeks), and I was basically living out of a hotel room and bored out of my mind. I decided to start a blog one night and just did it. How did I come up with Oh So Glam? Well, I knew I wanted something that sounded girlie and fun, and happened to look down at the nail polish I brought with me (OPI’s Oh So Glam), and it just totally stuck.
What was so great about working in social media AND being a blogger was how the two obviously went hand-in-hand. I would learn something at my job and totally be able to apply it to my blog and vice-versa. My boss at the time left and started a spin-off agency, and recruited me to come on board — he would read articles about influencer marketing being the future way of the world and would pick my brain on how we could recommend and execute plans to our clients and before I knew it, I would be presenting these ideas at meetings with fashion and beauty clients and felt like I actually KNEW what I was talking about — because I was also an influencer. I also knew how to reach out to influencers to get them to listen and sign on to projects — because, I knew how I would want to be approached. It was the ideal world, right?! In some cases, yes, but in others, absolutely not. My blog was starting to pick up steam, I was getting offers to travel and signing on to some really fun projects, and spending every waking second that I wasn’t working completing projects I had for Oh So Glam. I was exhausted, mentally drained, and started to resent both. When an opportunity to attend New York Fashion Week as a TRESemme brand ambassador came up, I invited Raja along to help with photos and my social media deliverables, and I used 5 vacation days (only having 15 days total that year) to get the gig. It was the first time Raja was exposed to other girl’s who were blogging full-time, the first time he saw other people truly running their blog’s like businesses, and the first time he saw the full potential of mine. He turned to me one night at dinner and said, “I think you should quit your job and give this a go.”
In the condensed version of this story, it seems like it was just as easy as that. But, a total of 7 years had gone by since I graduated college — 4 of those years were spent juggling both the job and the blog. How do you know when it’s time to give it a try full-time? I’m going to skip the obvious precursors and assume you’re making great money off your blog already. I honestly have nothing else to relate this with besides — when you know, you know. I knew in my gut, it was time to quit my job and pursue my blog business full-time. I can’t explain it any other way. I’m glad I didn’t quit before I was ready… I’m glad I put in those grueling days working two jobs for so many years, because when the time came, I knew I was making the right move.
If you’re planning to make the move, here are some tips:
Get ready to f’ing hustle. There’s nothing to fall back on, no other income to support you. I spent the first few weeks after going full-time lining up project after project so I could have some peace knowing I was set for the next few months. I had to get aggressive and negotiate my rate and know my worth. But, I also had to suck it up and be flexible, and sometimes sign on to projects where I didn’t love every single term (like an exclusivity clause or posting 1 extra Instagram to get the gig). I would try to save some of those projects for slower months (like January after the holiday rush). I had to quickly learn that delicate balance — making smart business decisions without being entitled was the key to success.
Focus, focus, focus. If you haven’t worked at home before, you might be in for a little rude awakening. Being your own boss is hard and you need to hold yourself accountable constantly. While it’s amazing (writing in PJs with my cat next to me isn’t something I would trade for anything right now), it also comes with it’s full set of problems. You have to be disciplined. I probably work harder than a lot of people I know. That’s not an insult or a dig against anyone I know, but I don’t have a salary and I’m just hungrier. You also absolutely need to stick to a schedule. No, I don’t sleep until 10am. I actually find it insulting that people would even assume that. I’m up just as early as some of you 9-5ers and am usually at my desk within 10 minutes of waking up. That brings me to my next point. You also need to not get so caught up that you don’t leave your computer for 6 hours at a time and your ass goes flat. TRUE STORY.
Know when to ask for help. I think this was my biggest challenge in the last 2 and a half years. I went full-time and just expected that I would have all the time in the world to get everything I wanted to get done. My list went something like this: I’m going to start a newsletter and sale roundup each week and respond to every single reader email and post 5 days a week to get my pageviews up and focus on my Instagram growth and post daily outfits that don’t need an outfit post and attend every event I get invited to… and the list went on and on and on (rambling, just like that). It was not all possible. First of all, there aren’t enough hours in the day and it’s crazy that my days filled up so quickly with tasks — how had I gone from doing 2 jobs in 24 hours to filling my now only job to the max?! You just do. Secondly, you can’t be good at every single thing… you just can’t, and that took some mental adjusting. I needed to learn to let go of the reins a bit and let other people in. If you don’t like editing pictures, hire a photographer. If you aren’t solid at keeping track of your income and expenses (because tax season is horrendous for a small business owner), hire an accountant. If you hate negotiating, hire an agent. Seriously, if you can’t keep up with a particular task… hire someone who excels at that task. It’s part of owning a business!
Have any of you taken your blog full-time recently?! Share your story and a tip below! If you’ve missed any of my other blogging tips, make sure to check them out HERE!
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