Photography: Joe Galvin | Words: Zoe London
Honestly one of the questions I get asked the most is “when did you know to take your blog full time?” Let’s answer that today.
First up, I do think this is super personal for everyone because not everyone comes from the same background and circumstances, but I know I can safely talk about my experience. I’ve just recently celebrated eight years blogging – eight years, where on earth has the time gone? – and i’m by no means an authority on the subject, but I am fairly experienced in this side of things. There’s a few factors to consider when contemplating taking it full time, and ones that I think need more consideration than others. My story is that I started the blog back in 2010, but went fully full time in late 2013 – so almost five years of doing this side of things as my full time job. For me, the main bulk of my income does now come from Instagram and YouTube, which I think is something you need to seriously consider if right now your only platform is your blog – but it’s not totally impossible. That’s my story. I’m still here, still doing it and already 2018 looks set to be my most successful year yet. I don’t know if I really fully know the secret to ‘success’ – mostly because I don’t think i’ve hit it yet – but what I do know, is that when I wanted to take my blog full time, I knew it was the right time.
Do you need a ton of money behind you to make the leap to full time?
Short answer? No. However, this is pretty reliant on how much of a risk taker you are. For me it was all or nothing, and I took a leap when I was quite financially poor despite having a £600 PCM London bedroom to pay for. I don’t necessarily think being poor is a bad thing when it comes to blogging though, it’s probably the hardest, most brutal, most fearless form of motivation you could have lighting the fire in your belly. For me, it wasn’t a case of ‘ahh i’ll roll around the bed all day now I work from home’ but more a case of ‘okay if I don’t do something about this today, I won’t be eating any food next month.’ Which, if you’re not used to working full time, can act mentally as sort of a ‘boss’ mentality in your head, forcing you up and at work in the morning and through the day to make it work. I do think having savings, putting money aside while you are working is going to make the whole process a lot easier for you, but I worry it would also be easy to rest on laurels. The major factor to remember is that you’re not paid like clockwork, you’re not on a retainer and your money won’t come in on pay day like it does with your friends. You need to budget, put stuff you earn aside for your tax bill and also for the next month, because you don’t know if you’ll be paid in 30 days, 60 days or even 90 days. Really. In some cases – longer. So sure, you might have a ton of savings right now to go full time, but can you say the same come June? Perhaps not. You will need to remember if you don’t work for it, it won’t come in.
However, if blogging has already been a hobby for you, you’ll already have some sort of camera, a drive to post and a bunch of stuff ready to talk about. So do you need money for this stuff? No, not really. When I first started out I shopped at charity shops (I need to still do this, there’s so many gems in there!), I bought off eBay, and I rummaged through my old stuff to rework it into new stuff. Not everyone wants to see the latest most brand new item all the time every time, and you can quite easily make up a fashion blog from the odd samples you’ll get sent – because you will – and the old stuff you have in your wardrobe. And hey, that’s realistic. Not everyone changes their outfit every single day – I rewear and rework loads of old stuff all the time. Don’t feel pressure to have the latest. Same with beauty items, home items and whatever else it is you want to blog about.
I think if you’re fairly new around here you might not remember where I started out from but I was not a rich girl. I am not from a rich family. I worked very hard on a very limited budget, at all hours of the day, spending my last few pounds on train tickets into central to network at events, to meet PRs for breakfasts, to pitch DJ jobs to launch events and to do whatever I could to make this blog and other social platforms work. All of which I did – on a very small budget.
Do I need to live in London to do this full time?
There’s not an easy easy answer to this, but of course, the answer is no. Of course you don’t. Look, like any metropolitan city – New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin… being in the city is always going to help. But no, you most certainly don’t think you need to up sticks and move. Those in London *will* have a lot more access to events, PRs and launches, and you mustn’t let that get to you, because that in itself could drag you down enough to not have the motivation. That’s just how major cities work, and should you live on the outskirts or in another part of the UK, you will see those London bloggers at more things. However, this is absolutely not the be all and end all of full time blogging. The most powerful tool you have at your hands is the Internet. The easiest, most worldwide form of networking and publicity. And, it’s free!
I heard a quote that was about how for American YouTubers, the work doesn’t end when they hit upload. They then have to play an intense game of getting as many eyeballs on their content as possible, due to the sheer volume of uploads every day in the United States. So they use all the tools they have. There’s instagram, twitter, snapchat, instagram stories, pinterest, facebook, twitch, blogger, wordpress… there are so many tools at your disposal and many things you can do to promote yourself more and help yourself grow. At the end of the day, if you spend all day working on content but then don’t push it out so as many people as possible see it – what did you do all the work for? You can’t rest on thinking people will see it just because it’s uploaded, you know first hand how the algorithms work now and how often you never see content from your favourite creators. Something i’m learning about this year and don’t get me wrong it is really hard as a one woman show to be constantly working on every single little bit – but you have to be brutal, be ruthless in your promotion. At the end of the day, you can’t expect other people to yell about your content if you don’t yell about it yourself. So no, you don’t need to live in London – but you do need to utilise the web wherever you can, and perhaps try and make a big London event here and there when your budget allows. If a PR wants to meet and you can’t afford it or there’s an event you’ve been invited to, ask for travel to be covered, so many people don’t do this and nine times out of ten the brand would rather pay the small amount to them and have you there than not. And if that really isn’t an option, Skype and Facetime are very powerful tools to have meetings – I do video calls all the time and I live close to London!
Do you need to have an agent or manager? What benefits do they give?
I really don’t think you need to be looking at an agent or manager until you’re at a level where it’s becoming unmanageable for you, or you see a growth you want to utilise. Getting one any earlier would take away precious revenue you could keep yourself to grow your empire. I didn’t sign with Red Hare until three years ago, so I had already done two years full time by myself, managing myself. Some of my old school friends still do. If you’re good at negotiating, know what you want and what you don’t want – you may never need one. I signed because I saw growth to the point where I knew a manager could help push me over the edge into a successful career. I feel I have been successful thus far, but I am one of those people that always wants to learn more, achieve more and do more, because for me I feel like why spend your time on this planet being lazy or resting on laurels when you could push to be something you perhaps never thought possible? If you’re at that stage, a manager or agent can help you. They can connect you with brands you previously couldn’t, and can negotiate more of a fair fee for the work you are doing.
Be wary of some managers though, not all of them are in it for the right intentions, and with the influx of bloggers and creators going full time – some of them look to exploit and take advantage. Do your research, ask other people who have worked with them or ask other talent listed on their website. Don’t fall into a trap of believing someone when they say they will move the earth for you, because they may not – but in the process they will take your money. A good manager or agent will be sourcing work for you, constantly finding you new projects or pitching you in on other projects they have going on. A bad one will just run your inbox and take the money you should be getting 100% of yourself. A well connected management with a good reputation will only strengthen your brand, and you need to remember that this is your livelihood at stake so if anything seems off, or you’re not sure – do not sign any contracts without speaking to a lawyer first.
Red Hare Digital have changed my life, and I couldn’t sing the praises enough. What they have done is understood my brand and taken it to the next level. They are always looking for new work for me, and if something comes in, even if the money is incredible – but it’s not the right fit, they talk with me to decline it for the sake of protecting my brand and to strengthen the bond I have with you – the reader/subscriber. They always have my best intentions at heart and that’s how I know they are good management for me. Do your research and find the right fit for you, there are so many amazing other agencies out there like Gleam, Storm, James Grant, Insanity and obviously Red Hare just to name a few with a good reputation, doing good work and helping creators reach levels they never knew possible.
Those are just some of the ways I knew and decided it was right for me to go full time, but like I said for me my revenue comes from a cocktail of Instagram, YouTube and the blog. Your cocktail will be different – and so is everyone’s. You’ll know when feels right for you, but my biggest advice I would give is that if it feels like it’s something you’re ready to do – you have to just go for it. There are always ways to make ends meet, and well, who knows how long this whole thing has left? You’ll kick yourself if you didn’t try, and you’ll be proud to look back and say you gave it a go, even if it didn’t work out.
Remember, you don’t need to be rich, live in London, or have a manager. You can do this by yourself. I started out with nothing, and as Drake says – now we here.
Let me know what you think in the comments and if this blog post was helpful! I’m always totally honest and transparent, I don’t like to bullshit you so if there’s questions being asked I always want to try my best to actually help and not just leave you with a load of fluff that didn’t really help. Those are my truths, my life and that is really what I did and how I got to here.
Good luck! And report back.