Reader Questions Answered: Blogging as a career? Time Management? Freebies?

posted on: Thursday, 14 April 2016

So we thought we'd turn things a bit around for the latest segment of "Are we relevant yet?" and take a question or two from you guys. I mean it isn't so fun preaching all the time. Sometimes it's better to know that you're actually answering a question you might genuinely have, right? Queue the agony aunts of blogging. Mademoiselle Robot and I both took on the following questions and answered them in completely different ways. 

1. How do your organize your time?
The simple answer is an iPhone. Ok, that's more the technical answer. But it's really the only way in which I organize my time. I organize meetings, put them in the calendar and that's as organized as I get. Some people plan intensively - I just throw meetings in until I don't have any meeting times left. Sleep is for the weak. Kidding, kidding. Seriously, sleep is important. It's just that I don't get too much of it because I'm so disorganized with my time. That didn't help anyone did it? Or maybe it helps you feel better about being disorganized with your time as well and knowing it's all ok? There you go...

2. How do you deal with gifts/product to be reviewed? 
Well, here's a good question, and one that I seem to be asked a lot. Being honest, more than anything I get asked about how much free stuff I get, rather than how I deal with the reviews. The simple truth is that I firmly believe you are only as good a blogger as the items you recommend to your readers. If I tell you guys to buy something and you hate it, there goes your trust for me. I'd say about 1 in 12 items that are "suggested" to me are actually featured on the blog. And for those of you wondering - I still buy most of my clothes. My ass isn't easy to dress from a sample closet. So the American Express still gets a good workout. I'd actually go as far to say that about 85% of the clothes you see on FFG are purchased, not gifted at all. I'm not sure if that makes me seem cooler or more like a loser for having that percentage, knowing what I do for a living, but there you go - the truth will set you free.

3. Do you have an editorial calendar? Do you plan content in advance or is it more a spur of the moment thing?
Never have had a content calendar, never will. Are you starting to see a pattern here? I HATE planning. I find that the fun things in life happen to other people while you're sitting around planning. That also probably means I'll be living in a gutter when I retire because I have no forward thinking. But, I believe in the power of now. Preaching finished.

The real reason I don't have a content calendar is because of the fact that my life itself doesn't lend itself to a content calendar. Things pop up all the time - trips, launches, day to day life experiences - and they shift any cement calendar all out of whack. I'm a list person instead - a priority list person. I keep a word document open on my computer at all times and I add and subtract to it as posts go live. I definitely always need a reminder of what I need to write about - but I'm totally flexible with dates. You never know what might happen next!

4. How do you manage to keep your blog active while traveling?
I bring my laptop. No lie here, folks. I actually work better when I am not in London. You'd be amazed at what you can achieve when you are stuck on a plane with nothing better to do for 14 hours. Thousands of emails get cleared, blog posts for weeks in advance get considered and new creative concepts are born. I also love being able to write from wherever I am in the world. I ALWAYS create my posts the night before they go live. There isn't really any exception to that. And I find my pieces are all the more interesting if they are written from a place with an amazing view. 

5. How do you balance the blog as a creative outlet vs the blog as a business?
My business is creativity. Plan and simple, right? Well, not so much. The blog as a business of course has a role to play in my creativity, and vice versa. Since this is my full time job, the way I pay the rent, I have to make sure that business stays good and good business comes from great creativity. And we all know that nothing feeds creativity like pressure, right? Ok, nothing could be further from the truth. Pressure absolutely kills creativity. But, I do have a solution and it goes a little something like this... try to stick with me as I think this may come out as a bit longwinded.

There are times that blogging is VERY difficult, especially when it comes to finances. I made no money for the first couple of years- none. Then, as times started to change, I became a full time blogger who knew nothing about the idea of working freelance and leaving the comforts of an annual and dependable salary behind. But, I wholeheartedly believe that you are never ever thrown something you can't handle and that the risks we take in striking out to pursue something we love can only ever reap rewards - whether they be financially or emotionally fulfilling, or both. Never ever give up on this as a career if it's what you love, if it fulfills you and if it makes you feel like you are doing something in the world everyday that brings joy to yourself and others at the same time. That's a pretty special gift to be given - to be able to play that role in life - and it's one that I absolutely cherish for each day that I'm allowed to see it play out. I never take any of it for granted. And that's how I balance the blog as a creative outlet vs the blog as a business. I never let the business side rule. It's always, always, about the creative first and foremost. When times are tough and the jobs are few and far between, my creativity craves attention more than ever, and from that the business comes.

6. How do you blog if you have a full time job?
I feel like a real expert on this topic as I did it for four years. I worked 12 hour days and spent six hours a night writing on the blog - no lie - but, I've already told you that. The thing I haven't told you, perhaps, is that none of it felt like work at all. I came home every night and I put on a new hat. I continued to do my day job with pride and then I came home and got to have fun. And hey, that fun decided it wanted to take over my whole life.

If you are working full time and then coming home and sitting in front of your computer and feeling as if you are sitting down to a second job, you haven't found your life's passion just yet. Maybe blogging isn't your thing, or maybe the topic you're trying to cover isn't the right fit. Truly, I believe that if you are working a full time job and blogging on the side, the blogging should be as fun to you as a night out with friends. Seriously. This is no joke. I felt alive the first few years of blogging. I wasn't ever sleeping but I felt like I had more energy in life than I'd ever had before. You know it's right - just like you know when you've found the man you're going to marry or the place you are meant to live forever.

Feel like you just received a sermon? Ha! Sorry about that. In closing, I'll just leave you with a little video of quotes from a pretty amazing commencement speech that has always been a reminder for me of how important chasing your dreams really is... Don't let fear rule. Go after what you love with every ounce of who you are. What do you have to lose?