When I started my blog, I never imagined it to turn into a source of income, let alone one that would surpass my income from my regular 9-5 job. I remember the first time I agreed to write a sponsored post for a company, and not being able to fathom that someone would be willing to pay real money, cold hard cash, just for a link. It’s been a fair while since, and while I now realize the value of ‘just a link’ I still find it almost surreal that I can pay my bills doing something that I love. Going strictly self-employed with your blog can be a massive leap into the unknown, and with every individual situation being remarkably unique, there is no way to plan or predict the outcome. I am still hanging onto my safety net that is a ‘normal job’, but slowly but surely the income from my self-employment has equaled and now surpassed that of the mundane 9-5 and it is a matter of now disregarding that safety blanket. Before I started to earn money working from home, I had this glorious ideal that involved putting my feet up with a cup of coffee and letting my inbox fill up. It didn’t quite work like that, and I’ve learnt a good few things now that I wish I knew before I started working as a blogger.
This month Furniture At Home have a new campaign ‘The Joys Of Working Life’ with a video to show the difference between the two and I couldn’t help but wish I’d watched it before I started working from home. In my head, I did imagine sitting in my slippers with unlimited coffee, free to work on the floor, on the bed or at my desk if it was one of those days, just as it showed in the video. What I did not imagine, was the riot that goes on in the surroundings. It’s easy to forget that just because we may be working on the floor of the living room, doesn’t mean that the ten month old crawling around us understands this. I can’t help but compare between a standard office job, and wonder if sometimes it’s easier to be surrounded by the office chairs and rows of desks.
Working For Yourself Does Not Mean Working When You Please. Possibly the biggest misconception of them all when it comes to self-employment is that the working hours are at your discretion. In some ways, yes, you can choose when you work. There is no clock in card or boss waiting at the door come 9am and there is no one blocking the exit at 4.58pm – to an extent you are in control of your own schedule. I went into this believing this would allow me have long weekends, a lie in now and again and plenty of time for lunches, and I was met with the exact opposite. I may have the flexibility to leave my work behind during the day to run errands, but I’ll always have to catch up at some point. I would gladly have been able to switch off my laptop at 5pm if it meant I could leave my work behind for the night, when in reality I’m often up to the early hours to catch up and find my feet again. When communicating over email, there is no working office hours and the turnaround times from collaborations can often reflect that. There are no paid holidays waiting come summer time, if you stop working, you stop earning, and god forbid a bout of the flu hits. Sick days aren’t feasible, bank holidays don’t exist, and at times you can’t help but just want a good old day off.
You Will Be Not Paid On Time. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve been paid within the same month of completing a piece of work in the last year. I had this understandable misconception when I started to look at working for myself that when I published a post, wrote an article or collaborated with a brand that the money was as good as in my bank account. This was understandable because it’s expected in a regular job. If an employer was to turn around on the 31st of any month and tell their staff that it would now be another 30 days before they would be paid, there would be riots. Mortgage lenders don’t operate on I-OWE-U’s, I don’t think my local Tesco’s would either -and yet it’s a reality we face when working freelance or in the world of blogging. If it wasn’t for my startling ability to save money (I call it startling ability, others call it being stingy) I’d probably be knee deep in an overdraft, and yet if I look at the amount of invoices I have outstanding I should be more than comfortable. If there is one recommendation I could make if leaving an employer to work for yourself it would be to save as much as possible beforehand. The ability to earn from a blog if you’re willing to work hard is there, but the point at which the money is available to spend is a completely different story.
You Probably Won’t Be Taken Seriously. If you blog, how many times have you heard a back-handed comment about the ‘free stuff’ you are given, or on the contrary, if you don’t blog, how many times have you looked at something a blogger has recommended and tutted at yet another freebie. Online influencers are becoming more common place with every year, but that doesn’t mean everyone understands their worth yet, and most certainly don’t understand the work that goes into running a blog- whether it’s a successful one or not. It’s all very well focusing on the free stuff and the events, but not many are aware of the forty hour weeks that go alongside. Even I still shy away from talking about my blog in public, it’s hard to be taken seriously when people find out you make your living from writing about weaning your baby and your favourite high chair. Jealousy, maybe, but more than likely it’s just the unknown.
If you’re not proactive, it probably won’t work. It is often easy to feel like you have little control over your success in the online world, I know have before. In a normal job, you can often watch your success correlate directly with the amount of effort you put in and it’s easy to feel in control of the outcome. I can write as many posts as I want, but if people are not reading them, it can be difficult to generate an income on the back of them. It’s a numbers game, and I know I can often lose my way because of this. I’ve found during the months when I have really been on top of social media promotion, interaction and optimizing my SEO alongside those posts I see the increase in page views regardless of what I have written. If you write but don’t tell, they won’t come. Improving other aspects of my blog and really putting the effort and time in with these areas (photography, search engine optimization and social media promotion) has given me the direct correlation I was looking for.
Working from home was the best decision I made for myself in the last year. I was not challenged, engaged or invested in my day job, and spending my hours watching the clock tick by is no way to live. When I am 85 years old and withering, I would look back on these wasted years and kick myself for not making the most of the years I have. I’m clinging to the day job for the job security and to allow me to save enough to make self-employment feasible, but the ability to have no cap on my earnings is new and exciting. Working for myself allows me to put the extra work in and reap the benefits for myself rather than a company. It’s not easy by any means, but my blog has allowed me to earn money doing something I love, rather than something I just have to do.
DISCLAIMER: This post was written in collaboration with Furniture At Work.