It’s coming up to one year since I left my 9-5 office job, to become a full time blogger and YouTuber. Slight disclaimer, I say 9-5 because it’s got a nice ring to it, in reality, I was often at my desk 8am to 7.30pm, but hey, that’s London working hours for you. So I thought the one year mark would be a good time to reflect back on how I made the jump from working for a company, having a boss, a full team around me, a regular monthly salary, to working for myself.
If you’d have asked me five years ago whether I’d be working for myself, I’d have told you that I’d love to, but it just didn’t seem realistic. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, and have always been entrepreneurial, from charging 5p to read fortunes to my classmates in class 3, to creating my own jewellery brand to raise money for a trip to Tanzania, to training as a spray tan technician to make extra cash in my gap year. I love to keep busy, I love to make money – and there’s no shame in that.
My late father was also an entrepreneur, starting a successful vehicle rental and property business from absolute scratch, and my mum was a freelance teaching assistant, making extra each month by teaching children Spanish at our home; so the corporate lifestyle was not something I was used to hearing about.
I’m often asked about my university and career history, and I’m planning a video to talk about it in detail, but to give you the DL, I studied Fashion Management at London College of Fashion (rejecting unconditional offers from the likes of Kings and UCL, having made the decision that I most definitely wanted to work in the fashion sector, and already dropping out of an English Degree which just wasn’t right for me) and graduated with First Class Honours. While studying I worked at Mulberry as a Marketing Assistant, and it was during my time at Mulberry that I started my blog. Just one or two posts a week, giving tips on how to get Internships, what it’s really like working with Cara Delevingne at London Fashion Week etc! After graduating, I moved to a software company, a startup who needed help turning their techy company into one that would be relatable to large fashion brands who they were hoping to sell to. Within a year the company had grown hugely and I was promoted to Marketing Manager, travelling regularly to New York to help set up their New York office. It was a great job, I was on a good salary and had lots of responsibility, but my passion still remained in my blog, and especially in 2015, I’d started to blog more regularly an started to work with brands on paid projects.
The Tough Decision
One of the questions I’m frequently asked by fellow bloggers, friends, and PRs, is ‘How did you know when to quit and take your blog full time?’ and personally there were 3 main factors. Firstly, money. Of course it had to be – I’ve got a mortgage, I pay bills, I live in London, all of which are impossible to do without regular income. So, I waited until my blog earnings were just about enough to cover my monthly outgoings, and also saved away part of my salary for four or five months, so that when I did take the leap, I’d be able to sustain myself for a few months at least. To put this into perspective, I started thinking about leaving my job in May 2015, so I started saving part of my salary each month in May, June, July and August, and when I handed in my notice and left in September, I had enough saved up so that I could ‘survive’ until Christmas.
Secondly, the opportunities that I was having to turn down. Spring and Summer in the blogging industry in particular are busy months with lots of opportunities for fantastic events and trips abroad, and before long I’d used up all my holiday days at work, and was having to turn a lot down, even paid opportunities. It really struck me when I had to turn down a One-Day job, which would have paid me more than my week’s salary at work. I love to travel too, and when offers starting appearing in my inbox for trips abroad, I had to turn them down too, because I couldn’t take any more time off work. I craved the freedom of being my own boss, being able to work from my laptop anywhere in the world, and this was a major decision maker.
Thirdly, my role at work. This was the final straw. I loved my job, and loved growing my skills and experience within the software company, but in the final few months, my job role changed from working on Fashion PR & Marketing, to working on financial PR. Not something I’m passionate about. While I worked hard at my new targets, even managing to wangle a Page 3 editorial in The Financial Times within a couple of weeks, I didn’t have a passion for it, so the decision was made.
Weighing it Up
Giving up a good salary, and bonuses was a very, very tough decision. I knew that I would be financially worse off for a few months, and may not ever be able to match my salary from the software company, but for me the lifestyle of being a full time blogger would make up for it.
Sometimes I think it would have been an easier decision for me if I’d have just left university and jumped into blogging full time, and if that had been an option for me, I would have been very tempted, but looking back I am thankful that I was able to experience the corporate world. Working for Mulberry and then the software company taught me a lot, it teaches responsibility, working ethics and professionalism, all of which are invaluable skills when working for yourself.
Do What You Love
I truly think that it takes a certain type of person to work for yourself. You have to be incredibly motivated and hard working. If you quit your job and then as soon as you don’t have a boss and deadlines, you start having lie-ins until 10am and spending hours watching Netflix, it’s probably not going to work out. My successful blogger friends and I are all incredibly hard working, spending every spare moment we have on our laptops, on our phones, working hard. When you are your own boss, you only have yourself to rely on, so you need to truly love what you do so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. No one is breathing down my neck telling me to make a video every single day in August, or put up another blog post, I make those decisions myself because I love creating content.
In the year that I’ve worked for myself, there have certainly been ups and downs. I spoke a bit more about the downsides and unexpected side of Blogging Full Time in this post – but the good points most definitely outweigh the negative.
It’s undeniable that blogging full time is a nice lifestyle, I get comments like ‘You guys have a nice life’ or ‘Wow you’re so lucky to stay here/do this or that’ and yes, I am lucky, but I’ve worked hard for it. What hurts the most is when friends and family don’t understand, and the snarky comments ‘you’re living the life of Posh and Becks’ or ‘we can’t all be perfect like Josie and Charlie’ ( yep, actual quotes from friends and family… ) just frustrate me how naive people can be, they don’t see how much hard work goes on behind the scenes, and I’m 99% sure they’ve never even read a blog post or watched a video I’ve created.
But, being my own boss means independence, I can accept whatever trips abroad I like, I can spend a few days in the Cotswolds, as long as there’s wifi and electricity, I can work. I can work from home (with Dexter curled up next to me), if I don’t feel like doing emails that morning, I can edit photos instead, there’s always something to do. With the freedom comes the responsibility, and most days I work from 7am to 7pm, and I’ve not taken a real holiday in 3 years, because every trip away is a blogging opportunity; I work weekends, evenings and while on holiday; in fact there’s never a moment when I’m not thinking about my next post, video, or business idea.
Financially, it took a while before my blog earnings became stable, but I can now proudly say that I’m earning more than I was last year in my job, and have the flexibility to pick and choose which campaigns I work on.
So what’s the conclusion here? Personally, taking the leap to blog full time was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I had belief in myself that I could make it a success, and worked hard to prove myself right. Life is short, but also long – so you have to find something you love, and do it. I’m not preaching that you should quit your job or change career, but if you don’t enjoy what you do, change it. Every decision I’ve ever made has been from a gut feeling – whether it was my A Level subject choices (which BTW happened to be the perfect combination for blogging; English, Economics, Photography, Textiles), to choosing my university, and then jobs, and each has been the right decision.
Do something that excites you, pushes you out of your comfort zone – you may just surprise yourself!
What I’m Wearing
Photography by Charlie Irons