When a Blogger Loses Her Day Job: 10 Months Later
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 months since I lost my day-job. (You can read all about it in Part 1 right here). I still walk around with the newspaper horoscope clipping that I found the day before I got canned. It’s uncanny how spot on it was, especially about the travel part, considering that I’m on a plane as I write this—my 4th trip in 30 days.
I just got back from Minnesota where I did my recent Duluth Trading Company model shoot for their spring collection (read here about how I was one of their 2015 model winners). Two weeks before I was in South Carolina shooting the RYOBI power tools Holiday Gift Guide video. So, yeah, things are going well! (You can watch the final video HERE, which I’ll post about soon).
10 Truths About What It’s Really Been Like Going Full-Time
But I wanted to take this time to reflect on what life is really like now that I’ve settled into this thing called “blogging full-time.” Because I’ve discovered some truths that I want to share with you, the good and the bad
Truth #1 – There’s Still Not Enough Time for DIY
You’d think being a full-time do-it-yourself blogger there would be heaps of time to get soooo many more projects done, but there really isn’t. The truth is that it takes me, on average, about 3 days to do a project, from start to finish, even the most simple ones, like this DIY ornaments keepsake box and this DIY bench with storage I just posted about.
Truth #2 – I May Never Want to Work Outside the Home Again
It’s a myth that every work-from-home person sits around in their jammies, scratching their bums, laughing at all you work-outside-the-home folks. LOL. It’s not like that at all! Yes, there are days when I throw on work clothes, leave my hair an unruly mess, and work on a project in the garage all day. I usually look like this, on my knees, unwashed and with uncombed hair.
But I’ve found that when you look like crap all day, it makes you feel like crap! So more often than not, I shower and try to at least throw some gel in this mop-of-a-head. Then I feel like I’ve done at least one thing right for the day! The beautiful part is having the option to bum out or beauty up. And because of that, I may never want to work outside the home every again!
Truth #3 – Sometimes I Fantasize About a Day Job
Hard to believe, right? After all that complaining about my “day job” cutting into my DIY time. The nerve of that employer! But there was one thing I hadn’t expected: the desire to sometimes live like normal employed people that can leave the office at work and who understand the joy of a Friday for what it truly is: a weekend off to relax. When you’re a blogger or entrepreneur, there almost IS no weekend off. Every day you’re “on,” trying to stay afloat or trying to get ahead of the tide, so it’s harder to pull away and really relax. To combat this, I have started reading fiction novels again! The diversion for a bit helps me to de-stress! (I just finished Girl on the Train. Have you read it?? Great read!!).
Truth #4 – I Had to Take on More Sponsored Posts and Ads
When my blog changed from being a hobby blog while I worked a day-job to suddenly being my sole source of income, one thing was clear: my blog had to earn me money. I was getting unemployment, which was minuscule compared to what I was earning working. But the blog had to make money.
There are many ways to go about doing this, but the easiest way is to do sponsored posts and to put ads (and more ads!) on my blog. Believe me when I tell you that this isn’t something I’ve always been happy about. There have been times even I have exited out from my blog because the ads were annoying me! HA!
But here’s the ugly truth: advertising revenue has contributed to 1/3rd of the income I earned blogging this year. One-third.
That’s a huge chunk. Without ads, I wouldn’t have survived (so thank you, blog readers!).
So as annoying as ads can be, just know that when a blogger’s ads make you want to throw your tablet on the floor and scream “#&%!#%!” just know that that little advertisement is helping to support them so that they can keep bringing you awesome posts! 🙂
P.S. Google just came out with a new feature called Contributor where readers can contribute a few dollars to a blog each month and in exchange see less ads! Woo hoo! I just learned about it myself, and plan to do a post on it, but if you’d like to see less ads on my blog, just click on Contributor below and it explains how it works!
When I do a sponsored post, which also helps to pay the bills, I try to make sure as much as possible, though, that the content is something I would I write even if it weren’t sponsored. Like the project I did on How to Make a DIY Tablet Holder For Your Wall. That was a sponsored project. And sometimes, my best project ideas come from sponsored posts that challenge me to think of new things to make!
Truth #5 – I Earned about $35,000 From Blogging This Year
I told my husband that the other day, and he soooo wasn’t impressed (“Yeah, but how much did you make with your day job??!!”). Yes, it’s less than the $67,000 I earned in my day job, but $35,000 isn’t anything to sneeze at, considering that in 2013 this blog earned about $10,000! (In an upcoming post, I’ll share with you exactly how I earned money, aside from ads).
But when I calculated everything up, it was exciting to see that I had grown so much from the previous year!
I’m still worried about money, though. Hubby is stretched further because of this change. And things are definitely tighter. But I can only hope that my blog grows.
Truth #6 – I Became a Better and Worse Mom
When you work from home and are passionate about your work (like I am), there is very little separation of when I’m “on the clock” and when I’m “off.” Plus, I have been traveling a lot this past month (4 trips back-to-back!!).
In fact, my 5-year-old said to me recently, “I wish you had a regular job like Daddy so you didn’t have to travel so much.” And sometimes I feel like even if I am in the same room, I’m not really present, because I’m thinking of the million things I didn’t get to on my To Do list and how they’re not enough time in the day to do projects, post, write Facebook posts, write tweets, schedule pins on Pinterest, etc.
So in that respect, I’ve become a worse mom.
But I’ve also become a better mom in that I’m teaching my boys how to find their passion and build a career out of it…. That you can create your own path… That with just a bit of creativity, you can come up with lots of ideas for your own business.
I also like that my schedule is flexible enough to take them to school and pick them up. The best conversations with my 9-year-old have happened in the car. One day we have an awesome conversation about how insurance works—everything from car insurance, home insurance, and even life insurance! All in a matter of 20 minutes while on the way to school :). I also get to hear all about their day when I pick them up from school, too!
Truth #7 – Opportunities Will Always Knock
One of the more worrisome things when I lost my day-job was where I was going to earn money. But surprisingly, in these 10 months, I have filmed professional videos with RYOBI power tools (watch this one HERE), I was a winner in the 2015 Duluth Trading Company model search (who would have ever thought!!), and I have a chance to attend a bloggers Furniture Painting Workshop with Amy Howard herself from the chalky paint company Amy Howard at Home (this painting workshop is the event to which I am flying to as I write this). Opportunities keep coming… money keeps flowing… and I feel confident that opportunities will always come my way because of the hard work I do and because the universe conspires to make happen that which you most want to happen!
Truth #8 – Sometimes I Question How I Blog
If there’s one thing that baffles me about blogging it’s how one blogger can write the most awesome tutorial or detailed post and it gets maybe 50 shares. Yet another blogger writes a short Top 10 list post on something ridiculous like How to Decorate With Eggplants (ha! totally kidding on that one, but you get my point…) and it gets shared 2,000 times in a single day.
At times, I have questioned the type of blogger I am: the one that writes from a personal point of view, with lots of value and content, taking hours to write just one post…or the blogger that’s going to push out a fluff post to simply generate traffic. I decided that I would rather keep writing the longer, more detailed, personal posts, because I want to engage with my audience and to teach and provide something more than entertainment. I want to inspire you, make you laugh, and become friends. I can’t do that with a Top 10 list post about eggplant or toilet paper rolls. LOL.I explained it all in this post about what blogging means to me. But I still question whether my approach is a smart one from a business standpoint.
Truth #9 – My Focus is Expanding
When I started this blog, there were no readers. It was just my family and me, our old 1973 house we’d just bought, and empty rooms that needed to be decorated and repaired. That’s where Thrift Diving came from. It’s what my original long-term readers remember. It was all about furniture makeovers for those bare rooms that needed prettying up. Now, it’s more than painted furniture and thrift stores. It’s whole room makeovers. It’s about inspiring readers to get up and tackle rooms, too. It’s about learning how to use power tools to put up crown molding. It’s about making the cutest little wooden crafts from scratch.
It’s about being creative.
It’s about carving out time for yourself to do what you love. It’s about passion. It’s about making time for your hobby. It’s about connecting with other people that love to be creative. It’s about teaching you and inspiring you to be creative, too.
Truth #10 – I Don’t Know What My Ultimate Goal Is
The other day I told my friend that my goal for my blog is to have about 4 sponsors/brands that I work with monthly and consistently—brands that I love and work well with (like RYOBI and Duluth Trading, for example).
She “tsk tsk”ed what I said and told me I was “thinking small.” That I need to “think big.” That these bloggers and YouTubers that got BIG focused on creating tons of content consistently and getting tons of traffic and THEN the bigger sponsors came. And her question made me ask myself, “What IS the bigger goal here, Serena?” Is it to have a certain number of subscribers to my blog? Is it to have a certain amount of traffic? Am I striving to earn a certain income? Is my goal to become so big that I become a household name?
And the truth is that I honestly don’t know what my goal is. Isn’t that terrible? I’ve just been creating and inspiring for the love it is.
And making a little money to stay afloat as comfortably as possible, never looking that far into the future to see where this blog is going.
I know that’s the wrong answer. Because whatever your goal determines your activities. But I just don’t know.
All I just know that I love creating, I love inspiring you, and I love learning right alogn side of you. I just haven’t translated that into a S.M.A.R.T goal for the future. So how do you grow when you don’t even know what you’re growing into??
What I do know is that I’ll never stop creating. I’ll never stop blogging. I may not always blog for business or income. But one thing is for certain: I’ll always be here creating, inspiring, and teaching.
So as my plane is about to touch down in Memphis, Tennessee, I think about these 10 truths and wonder what you’d think about these truths. I’m sure I’m not the only hobby-blogger-turned-pro-blogger to feel this way about blogging. I’d love to know how YOU feel about these truths. What surprises you the most?
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.