I'm a stay-at-home who blogs for a living, so I guess I'm a blog-at-home mom. I blog about fashion, motherhood, and life. When I first "monetized" my blog, I was making a few hundred bucks here and there. Then it grew to a few thousand per project. It's now heading in directions I'd never imagined when I started.
Like most bloggers who turned their sites into small businesses, my money comes from a few streams, with brand consulting and writing making up the bulk of my income. I enjoy working from my home, but what I love the most about my work is its flexibility. It allows me to be with my daughter much of the day.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, "How did you start?" The second question I get the most is "How can start my own XYZ blog?"
Here's my story--it should answer both questions.
When my husband and I learned we were expecting a baby, we were exuberant. Then, I lied awake in bed and worried: would I work, who would take care of the baby, how was I going to handle this? Some well-meaning friend gave me Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," then at the height of its buzz. I figured daycare might be my best, most feminist solution.
When I held my daughter for the first time, all those plans evaporated. I decided to lean out--all the way out.
My supportive husband became our family's sole breadwinner. It wasn't easy, but we made it work. Gone were the days of buying 10-dollar tins of almonds at the specialty food store. Now, I was standing at Target trying to decide which bottle of vitamins had the most value, before putting both back and leaving only with diapers.
I lived like this for a year before I had enough mental clarity (the baby finally slept through the night) and time to think about making a change. However, I wasn't ready to trade my SAHM life for a 60-hour work week in my old career. I needed something more flexible. But what?
Like many great things in life, the opportunity came to me when I least expected it.
I revived an old blog with posts about my new life as a mom and a few outfit posts. Not long after, I was invited to a blogger event in LA. I remember I didn't want to go: it was raining, I needed a babysitter, and I didn't feel in the mood to make small talk with industry people. Let this be a lesson that you might be your own biggest obstacle sometimes.
As my mom used to say, sometimes you have to meet God halfway.
At the event, someone who knew my parenting writing told me about a website in search of writers. I followed through, using my blog as a resume. That's how I got my first paid writing job.
My first check was small -- $500 -- but it meant so much to me. I'd sold words! Life became a balancing act of caring for a one-year-old by day and writing by night. I can't lie: I got little sleep in the beginning, but it was worth it. I started taking on more work. The quality of my life skyrocketed. I was doing something I enjoyed and I was being paid for it.
Once I started to flesh out the consulting side of my work, this was no longer a side gig. I told my husband we were a two-income household again and he agreed (and I'm sure he felt relieved too.)
Blogging for a living is not all glamorous Instagram selfies. If you want to be paid well, like in all professions, you have to put in the work. For me, this meant spending nights and weekends learning about Wordpress, reading marketing books, answering emails, writing and scheduling posts. You have to be dedicated and you have to be open to growing as a businessperson.
And grow I did. Now I say no to paid work that doesn't fit my schedule or style. I have no problem negotiating a deal and walking away from offers that are too low. In terms of the actual work: I might get hired to style a outfit for a fashion label, write some GIF-laden posts for a parenting site, or consult on content writing and strategies for a brand.
Being a mom endowed me with skills and values that make me a better businesswoman. We're great at multitasking, managing diverse projects, scheduling, budgeting, emotionally dedicating ourselves to other people and goals, and having an incredible reservoir of energy. I don't have time to procrastinate; I use my time efficiently.
Working as a fashion blogger.
My daughter inspires me in myriad ways. If I'm having a tough week, I only need to to think of her to push forward. If I can borrow a line from Interstellar, success is not impossible; it's necessary.
A big reason I wanted to write this post is that I routinely hear about moms who say they'd like to stay home, but need a little extra money to make ends meet. Or I'll hear about moms taking odd jobs that barely pay anything at all. All working moms know that a family's income gets offset by childcare costs--and some moms end up working for little. Now, I'm not telling anyone to quit their job and start searching for domain names. But as a side project? It definitely paid off for me. People think the most successful bloggers are just lucky, but you'd be amazed how far determination can take you.
Sometimes I think the heyday of blogging is over, but then I see new blogs getting mega traffic through Pinterest, or people becoming internet personalities through podcasts or video. Blogging is ultimately about informing, entertaining, or inspiring. I think there's always room for unique voices, good storytellers, and hard workers.
My reason for it all.
I share blogging tips and insights on my blog. Topics include different ways bloggers make money, how to get noticed by a brand, and negotiation tips. If you really want to know what it takes to start a professional blog, I cover that too.
This article is a great example of what bloggers do. I'm sending it out into the internet like a message in a bottle, hoping that the person who needs it will find it. Some call it information brokering, but for me, it's just telling my story.