Today I have been a full time, self employed blogger for three years. I wrote after a year about how I was still pretty much winging it – and after two years I wrote about all the things I had learnt so far. Well, three years in and it still feels like I’m winging it and that I’m on a constant learning curve. Every day is a school day.
I know across social media people see the press trips, the days out, the ‘free’ stuff, the gift guides and the money. I know that people see bloggers and other online influencers and just take in the face value – all the lovely things we do and receive. But, being a blogger is so much more involved than that.
Every time we go on a press trip or a lovely review day out I spend such a long time telling social media about it, editing photos, writing about it and less time actually enjoying it. Those trips are very much work and they are something the children really get to enjoy and something we love as a family. But they are so far from a free day out or a free weekend away. So much work goes into them.
This is why, although life as a blogger looks quite easy, shiny and full of exciting things it’s actually non-stop. I work constantly from when I drop the children off at school until I pick them up again, often replying to emails in the afternoon before starting work again when they’re in bed.
I always have projects to work on as well as my own organic content to create. I have to work at securing more work once the projects I’m working on are complete and I have to constantly post on social media. That’s without the behind the scenes admin – the emails, updating old posts, analysing analytics, pinning content and working out what seasonal content to create going forward.
I have a constant to-do list and I know I put in way over 40 hours a week for this job. I work weekends and it’s very rare that I switch off completely – hence why we always book and pay for a two week summer holiday so, although I post on social media and write about it, there is no obligation to do anything. I can just relax and enjoy that time with my family.
So blogging isn’t easy. It’s something I’ve managed to do without any formal qualifications so in that sense anyone can do it. But, it’s constant. It takes time to build up a blog and get opportunities and I know that if I took a step back at any point, didn’t respond to emails for a couple of weeks, didn’t post content on social for a month that the momentum would die down and I would have to work harder to catch up again.
That said, outwardly I work a lot less that I did before I left my day job. I don’t publish new blog posts every day, I can turn my laptop off to watch a movie in the evenings if I want and I can go to the gym or run errands during my working day without feeling like everything is getting on top of me.
My aim long term – as three years doesn’t feel very long at all – is to get into a routine of regular working hours. To be able to switch off at 3pm when I pick the children up on a Friday and not switch back on again until the Monday morning – aside from posting on Instagram Stories which is pretty much ingrained in me now.
And I know that having a good work life balance as a blogger is possible – even if I haven’t quite got there yet. Jenny blogs full time as well as home educating her children and she says “as I have the kids with me all day I have no choice but to be organised. So I spend the day with the kids and work in the evenings. It won’t be the same for everyone, but I suggest you organise time so that you have set hours where you can solely focus on blogging. That can be when kids are at school/groups, napping or when they are at the childminders/grandparents. When you are with the kids or friends concentrate on spending quality time with them. Although when the kids are busy playing I still manage to answer emails!” This is definitely where I need to get to – having set work hours and prioritising family, friends and me the rest of the time.
Samantha has always been someone I’ve looked up to in the blogging world and really appreciated her advice on so many things – especially as she’s in the same place as me but a couple of years further forward. She says “I’m into my fifth year of full time blogging and still don’t always get it right – it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed. BUT I do go through periods of getting it right and when I do, it’s when I put time in the diary every day to do something just for me that isn’t related to work or household chores eg meeting the girls for coffee, going for a walk at my local national trust, treating myself to lunch in town….I feel like if we don’t physically make time for ourselves every single day, that’s when the balls start to drop. Basically – prioritise you!” I’m trying to do more of this but it’s definitely a learnt behaviour and doesn’t come naturally.
John has some great advice too “To make it work and get a good work / life balance, you have to be prepared to switch off and walk away from social media. Also, as a freelancer, you need to accept there will be busier times when you will be insanely busy and slack periods where you will have more time to dedicate to yourself, family and other interests.” This is something I know I really need to do more of – I find it so hard to switch off from social media!
Danielle says “I have the perfect work-life balance now. The children have both been in school since the beginning of September meaning I get FIVE DAYS to do everything. Compared to when I was blogging, teaching 3 days a week and had the children the rest of the time, it is like I have all the time in the world. Admittedly though, I am a homebody and recluse, so I take the children to school, walk the dog, curl up on the sofa and work, do some chores, eat, a bit more work, maybe crochet or craft a bit (kind of work but fun work), and then I walk to pick the children up 5 mins away. And repeat until Friday. I make more than I did teaching 3 days a week, though it is not consistent so some months are great and others are tight. But pinching myself every day.” I think I’m always going to be pinching myself that I get to do this job and be at home with the children. It’s something I’ll never take for granted.
As you can see, it is possible to get a good work life balance as a blogger. A lot of it is also down to how much work you take on, how busy the industry is at any given time and where you set your limits. I know that I’ll never turn down work above my minimum fee, I will always find the time to do it – and delay it where possible when I have a lot on. As a blogger you never know when the work will dry up, when there will be a quiet spell and when you’ll be wishing you hadn’t turned the work down. In that sense it’s very hard to say no.
I’m really thankful that I get to do this job. I love it and only find it stressful every so often. It works well around the children, adds so much to their lives and always gives me something to talk about. I get paid more than I used to working full time and, touch wood, I have earnt pretty consistently since I gave up my day job too. Long may that continue.
If you’re looking to start a blogger as a job it won’t be an easy career. It takes a lot of work and dedication but, it is incredibly rewarding too. I have so many memories documented and so many photos of the children that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t started this blog. And that is something I will always be really pleased about.
Three years of self employment. Here’s to whatever the next year brings!