Reflecting on a year of self employment
A week or two ago, I was sitting at lunch with a new friend, and she asked me about my blogging background. I told her all about how I came up with the name, when I started taking it seriously, etc. And I didn’t even realize it until the words came out of my mouth… but as of this week, I have been a full time blogger for a whole year. How crazy is that?! Time flies when you’re having fun 😉
Even though I hadn’t given it any thought prior to that conversation, I’ve since let myself be pretty proud of that milestone. Not only because I stuck with my decision, but also because I’ve secured double my old salary for 2019 already. And we haven’t even started holiday content yet! This year has been proof that hard work pays off, and that’s been extremely empowering for me.
What I’ve Learned
We should all be learning all the time, but when you’re self employed, you HAVE TO be ready to learn all the time. There’s no way around it! You can’t rely on anyone else to give you the answers or do everything for you. You are the boss. It’s all up to you. I’m definitely still figuring it all out – but that’s a part of the fun, right?
Creating a work/life balance is easier said than done.
A few months ago when I was feeling burnt out, I said to Adam, “I feel like I’m ALWAYS working.” Sure, I’m not chained to a desk every moment, and posting on stories isn’t typically called “work.” But some days it all adds up and feels like I never get a break.
The thing is, that’s my fault. Like I said, I’m the boss! If I need a break, I need to allow myself to take it. I can hang out with friends without posting anything to my stories. Or I can shut my computer at 8pm even if tomorrow’s post isn’t done yet. I make the rules! This has been a very important lesson for me to learn throughout the year. Sometimes sticking to consistent posting just isn’t as important as self-care. And that’s okay!
You can be grateful and ask for what you want/deserve.
I am very aware of how lucky I am that I get to call this my job. But working with a manager for a bit last year has taught me that my time, my work, and access to all of you is valuable. Instead of agreeing to do something for a brand I love for less (or no!) money, I am allowed to ask for what I want/deserve. The worst thing that can happen is a response that says I’m out of their budget, and we either let it go or negotiate.
The key for me is to remember that I can’t do it all. I’ve gotten myself into situations where all of the sponsored things pile up and become too overwhelming – not just for me but for all of you, too! It’s hard to turn down a collaboration with a brand I love, but if the timeline is too tight or the price isn’t there, I can gracefully decline. And that doesn’t make me entitled!
You have to create your own deadlines.
On that same note, I’ve realized that each time I sign on to tackle a sponsored project, I’m actually signing myself up for multiple projects. What do I mean? Well, for every sponsored post I create, I need to create non-sponsored posts around it. It sounds like no big deal – that’s my job! But it can get overwhelming very quickly. Especially when approvals are late or timelines get shifted.
This requires a lot of discipline, not only to keep up with the deadlines the brands present, but also to create my own deadlines, so you’re seeing non-sponsored content as often/more than you see the sponsored stuff. It’s a lot to manage, but it’s really important!
Administrative responsibilities are more important than ever.
This is the hardest lesson I’ve been learning. I am super organized on the content side of things, but I get really overwhelmed with the admin responsibilities. Keeping up with emails, reading every line of a contract, sending invoices, following up about payment, sending post-collaboration analytics, scheduling pins on Pinterest, etc.
In addition to that, I’ve also learned the importance of tracking income and expenses, getting help with taxes, finding the right insurance, etc. There are way more of those lessons I still have to learn, I’m sure!
Do I need to slow down to make time for bigger projects?
I’ve been wanting to film yoga videos FOREVER. I’ve also been wanting to create a No Waste eBook with recipes you can make in the same week so you don’t have extra herbs/veggies/meat that you have to throw out. And I’m currently brainstorming a Registry Checklist, Wedding Budget Template, and Wedding Planning Timeline (all downloadable) for my brides to be.
The issue is that blogging is a lot to keep up with as is. Instead of getting upset with myself for not keeping up AND producing something else, I know I need to take a step back. Can I create a less time intensive editorial calendar for a few weeks so I can focus on actually getting one of these things done?! Probably, yes… I just have to do it!
This also brings up quality vs. quantity. What gets you guys excited, and what am I posting in order to keep up with a consistent posting schedule? And which one is more important? It can be hard to let go of the “consistency is key” mentality, but I’m starting to think that stepping back to create more quality vs. quantity is the better choice.
Ask for help!
The best example of this? Everything is always easier when I work with a real photographer ? Sure, I could try to shoot everything myself – utilizing a self timer or Adam when I need to be in the photos. OR I could call Hannah and we could get SO MUCH done in a quick hour. Without any stress. It’s been such a huge game changer for me.
I’ve also gotten some help with SEO, which has been equal parts helpful and informative. And I’m currently working with Emily (who created my workout planner!) on that Registry Checklist I mentioned. I could attempt to make it myself, but there’s no doubt she will make it prettier and more user friendly for all of you. Worth it!
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
As soon as this became my full time gig, I felt way more pressure to do everything on my to do list as quickly as possible. Constantly pump out new content, get better at photography, increase my pageviews, learn more about SEO, become an LLC, tackle bigger projects, ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Of course, pushing yourself to be better is a great thing – but I’m in this for the long haul, not 15 minutes of insta-fame. My whole blogging “career” up to this point has been a slow climb. The most important thing right now is that I work hard every day.
Stay in your lane.
We all know this – but comparing yourself to other people isn’t productive. It’s a surefire way to get down about everything from your career to your body to your progress throughout different parts of your life. Even though social media is a huge part of my job, I realized (this week, actually) that I need to take a few steps back. I was using that task of “engaging with people” to scroll myself into a comparison trap. It’s not worth it!
On that same note, it’s been important to remember that one negative comment doesn’t mean I’m doing everything wrong. Some critiques are helpful, and some just aren’t worth fretting over.
Celebrate the wins!
It sounds silly, but it’s important to celebrate when contracts get signed or commissions roll in or a post performs really well. When you’re self employed you have to be the one to push yourself to be better AND your biggest cheerleader at the same time. Both are so important!
And of course, I can’t talk about this year without thanking all of you. YOU are the reason why I get to do this every day. YOU are the reason I could make this choice to invest in this business and share bits of my life with you. I appreciate your support more than I can even put into words. Seriously, thank you thank you thank you ❤️
PS. You might also like Why I Quit My Job To Become A Full Time Blogger and How Bloggers Make Money.
August 29, 2019 @ 9:22 am
YES YES YES YES YES TO ALL OF THIS!
Also, “Well, for every sponsored post I create, I need to create non-sponsored posts around it.” I never really thought of it like this, but totally true. But… I also feel like I get paid for every post because I get ad income 🙂
I’ll add that the one thing that has really helped me to work from home is having a dedicated workspace. I feel like I am “going to work” when I go to the office. Most importantly, I don’t feel like I am always surrounded by my work when I am at home.
Love you and so proud of you!!! xoxoxoxoxo
August 30, 2019 @ 9:40 am
Great post! And congrats on your business! I love following along!!
emily lil bucks
September 2, 2019 @ 8:46 pm
Love this!! so proud!! xx