Friday, June 21, 2019

How I Made Blogging My Full-Time Job ♥

There was a time when I felt like I would never be anything in life. I didn't know what I wanted to do, what career to pursue, what I was good at or what my passion in life was, and to a certain extent I think these doubts and unknowns still linger within me.

Never did I think a couple of years ago when I was out of the workforce on illness benefit due to crippling anxiety and agoraphobia, that I would one day be able to make this little blog of mine my full-time job and my own little business if you will.

I started blogging back at the end of March 2013, a month after I had my eldest son and I poured my heart into this little space of mine on the internet. Little did I know of the opportunities and rewards that having a good quality website and social channels could bring.

It still amazes me to this day that brands want to work with me, that they see something within the words and pictures that I choose to share on the internet that makes them want to collaborate and have me connected to their brand in some way. It amazes me that people will actually pay to collaborate on posts with me on this website and that this little blog of mine has created a full-time job for me, letting me remain at home with my boys while they're young.

For years I worked for free or for products. It wasn't a great exchange for all the time I put into reviews, etc. but it kept me busy and gave me a purpose other than just being a stay at home mother and I was extremely grateful for that. However, there came a time when I knew that I needed to start making an income in order to help support my family and save towards our mortgage deposit (which we so desperately need and want), so I decided to try and make blogging my full-time job.

Before you venture into making an income from your blog and social media, it's important to realise that you must declare earnings and pay tax (where applicable) on them. You should find out what tax credits you're entitled to, including child tax credits if you have children and begin to keep track of all the earnings your blog and social media bring, as well as receipts of expenses you have incurred due to blogging - internet, travel, photography editors, video editing tools, etc. I have hired a tax consultant to take care of my tax dealings and it's given me one less thing to worry about, so I highly recommend doing that if you're serious about making blogging your full-time job and sole income.

Here is how I made blogging my full-time job:

1. I practiced and grew my photography skills
Depending on your niche, photography will probably play a big part in your blog and social media channels. Almost every brand that contacts me states 'photography' and the 'look of my Instagram feed' as a reason for wanting to work with me. This is incredibly flattering as I'm a self-taught photographer and I'm definitely far from perfect in my captures but I spend a lot of time photographing, editing and making sure that everything I share here on the blog and on my social media is perfect and a true reflection of my skill.

I could never send out an unedited photo to the world. Photography is such an important aspect to blogging and social media to me and I want to be able to show my best to the world, my clients and any prospective collaborators. You don't need to spend a lot on honing your photography skill either. There are so many free apps available for simple edits - I personally use Snapseed for quick edits on phone pictures and if you want to have a more professional editor, I can't fault Lightroom (both desktop and mobile), which I pay for monthly.

2. I built up my blog DA
DA is hugely important in terms of gaining work from SEO's and people who are wanting to good quality websites to work with their clients. DA is essentially 'link juice', so the higher the DA, the better the juice. You can check yours via the MOZ toolbar (available as a Google Chrome extension) for the most accurate reading.

You can grow your DA by guest posting on other blogs and websites, contributing to articles in exchange for link back to your blog, commenting on other people's blogs and being featured on high-ranking websites. DA is something that needs to be constantly worked on and it fluctuates quite often so it's important to keep checking it regularly to make sure your site metrics are going up rather than down.

3. I became friendly and supportive of other bloggers
This has been key to the growth of my blog and social media. I feel very lucky to know some amazing and very supportive bloggers who are always on hand to answer questions, give advice and support me with engaging on posts, etc. and vice versa in terms of me to them.

There are lots of blogging themed groups on Facebook but I think it's important to find one that isn't all about self-promotion, but rather a community, where everyone is happy to support, encourage and offer advice to one another. Essentially, other bloggers have become my colleagues of sorts and it's something I'm very grateful for as blogging can be an absolute minefield and I find there's something new to learn each day as the world of the Internet is constantly changing!

4. I grew my site traffic
Having good site traffic is essential to making money from your blog - after all, if no one is reading or engaging brands won't be interested as they are getting nothing back from a collaboration.

My blog seems to naturally have very good SEO and ranks high on certain searches on Google. I also get a lot of direct traffic. However, I also promote my blog on Pinterest using Tailwind to grow my impressions on there and back in the day, when SocialOomph let you tweet multiple tweets per day, my main traffic source was Twitter. Marketing your blog can take a lot of time, but it really is worth is for the traffic it gives.

5. I formed a brand/niche for my blog and social media
This happened by chance due to the things I am genuinely interested in, but my blog and social all have the theme of the outdoors, flowers, photography, my children and days out. I like to think I share a very family-friendly and outdoing loving outlook on life and I often get people messaging me saying they saw - 'These flowers/ Peter Rabbit or Beatrix Potter items/ something about Ireland/ curly haired children/ vintage clothing' and thought of me. It's so lovely to receive these messages because I know that my branding is working well and it's associating me with these things in people's minds.

6. I shared my posts everywhere I could
One of my sayings is - you are your own best cheerleader, so, unless you're talking about yourself, sharing your work, what you have created, etc. then who else is going to? I make use of my social media when it comes to sharing my blog posts and this in turn helps to get the word out there about my blog and gain readers.

7. I approach brands/clients for work
Again, like being your own best cheerleader, when you're self-employed via blogging it's important to get the word out there about what you can offer prospective clients and brands, so approaching them and introducing myself to them is something I do often.

My stance on the whole thing is - the worst they can do is say no! Although I'm not a confident person at all, I'm yet to have a negative experience from doing this and often get thanked by PRs for alerting them to my blog and even if they have no current opportunities they say they will keep me in mind for future ones and that's always a great thing to hear too. You can look up the PRs for various brands on the brand's website and there are often opportunities posted on Twitter and within blogging groups on Facebook so I always respond if something is of interest to me and I would like to be considered for the job.

8. I run my blog as a business
If you want to make an income from your blog it's important to run it as a business. Set rates for the services you offer and explain what you have to offer to brands/clients who you come into contact with. It's important to leave room for negotiation though as most campaigns will have set budgets.

I make sure to conduct all my dealings in a professional manner and be courteous to the clients and PRs I work with. I try to send invoices on completion of work and it's my job to chase them if they're late in payment (a downside to blogging and being self employed unfortunately). I don't say or doing anything that I think would reflect badly not only on me, but on this blog too and I think that's important.

9. I don't dilute my brand
There are some things which I will not promote on blog or socials, no matter what the payment is. These include anything to do with gambling, pay-day loans or anything of a non-family friendly nature.

I also won't promote something if I don't think it's of use to myself or my family and I think it's important to not say yes to everyone just for the sake of it, because then you are diluting your brand. If I can't fit something in naturally to my website or my social channels then I won't share it or take on the work.

10. I treat my blog as a full-time job and work hard on it
Some people see blogging as such an easy thing to do and I've even seen people write that it's a way to 'get free stuff' - if only! People seem to underestimate just how long it takes to compile a quality blog post, edit pictures, put it all together for publishing, promoting it, etc. Instagram alone for me is like a full-time job, add in a whole website onto that and it becomes overtime, every single day!

I'm lucky that I genuinely enjoy it all because if I didn't I think I would have quit years ago. Running a blog as your actual jobs incurs costs too such as hosting, editors, social media management tools, web design, etc. and I don't think people realise all that goes on behind the scenes. I dedicate hours upon hours to my site and social media each day and I think it's essential as there are so many blogs these days and you need to keep your content, blog name, etc. out there in order to be noticed.

My blog has been ranked as a Vuelio Top 10 blog in Ireland for three years and I see this as a great credit to the work I do. It's okay to be proud of all your hard work, right?

Now that I've established blogging as my full-time job, I really don't see me ever being able to work for someone else ever again. I would love to use the skills I've learned over the years, such as photography, social media management, content creation, etc. and expand my sources of income at some stage too.

I hope this post was useful for anyone who is wanting to become a professional blogger and if you have any questions about it all, please feel free to get in touch.



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2 comments

  1. its really intersting reading about bloggers and how to actually fdo it

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your site is beautiful! Thank you for sharing these tips and being relatable and telling your story!

    ReplyDelete

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