With everything that I’ve been up to lately, I’d completely forgotten that it’s been over a year since I started blogging specifically about well… blogging!
Last September, I decided to go part-time as a teacher- and wrote my first ever blog post about how I wanted to try and pursue my blog as a business for the rest of the time. This turned into a bit of series- until I decided that it was taking up to much space on my main blog and decided to launch The Bloglancer.
When writing that first post, I remember that many people felt I would only last until Christmas; and going ‘part-time’ without children and just because I ‘wanted to write more’ was a bit of a foolish idea. However, 12 months later I’m completely self-employed! So I decided it was high time to bring this blog series back and let you know how I’ve been getting on!
A Change In Sponsored Content
When I first decided to go self-employed last September, my initial plan was I’d have to do lots of sponsored content! However, a year on, I’ve found that I am actually doing less sponsored content! The difference being that the sponsored content I am doing tends to be a longer-term arrangement.
For example, on my main blog, I’m now a brand ambassador for a gluten-free brand and will be creating a series of recipes for them up until Christmas. I am actually focusing on trying to find these kinds of partnerships now- it means work is more secure and avoids spreading myself really thinly with lots of lower paying ‘one-off’ type ops. I’ve mentioned before in my Pitching Toolkit for Working With Brands that it’s always a good idea to offer packages for more content.
On my main blog, I’ve noticed recipe creation is where I’ve really had to up my game- and I personally think this is how most bloggers make their money (unless you’re Zoella and make your own advent calendar, but perhaps my thoughts on that should be a separate blog post!). I’ve spent lots of time on recipe photos and most of my partnerships tend to be about recipe creation or ‘how to’ articles. I’m happy about this as personally, I’ve never thought ‘sponsored’ reviews are a great idea.
Creating lots of content
As I mentioned in my ‘how to revamp old content‘ blog post, if you’re doing sponsored content, there’s definitely an expectation to create more blog content- so I’ve been experimenting with making sure that there’s lots of non-sponsored content on my blog too!
This is something I feel strongly about gift guides. I know I’ve done quite a few posts on gift guides but I personally think they should be a mix of all kinds of items: samples you’ve tested, items you’ve loved and purchased yourself and perhaps items you’ve reviewed in the past (then you can interlink which is great practice!). I think it’s a bit cringey when you see a gift guide which is basically ‘look at what I’ve been sent’ with little cohesion.
Looking back to when I started, I’m definitely doing a lot more different projects than I thought I would. I’ve already talked about how to branch into freelance writing and I’ve also done some copywriting in the past too. I’ve avoided sites like People Per Hour and Upwork as there are so many people undercutting each other.
However, I’d strongly suggest using a portfolio type site (e.g. journo portfolio) and having that linked on your site– I’ve had a few people come directly to me after reading my blog. If you’re thinking about blogging as a job, I’d really recommend thinking about how you plan to diversify. Not everyone wants to write for other sites, so you might think about selling your photographs or perhaps even running a second blog. Remember, there’s lots of ways to make money online. I’d recommend this post by Thrifty Mum for info on things like surveys and mystery shopping.
I’m now in tax return territory so I’ll give you an update when it’s complete. I’ve been using a cloud storage system (this is a great post on using Xero) o store all my incomings and expenditures and then kept a folder for receipts. I’d hoped this would help me avoid an accountant but I think I’m going to bite the bullet and get one anyway. However, I thought I’d share a few snippets that I’ve learnt in case it’s useful as I’ve been having to go back over my records to find some of these things! Here’s what you should keep records of…
- Hours worked from home. Even if you only work from home at a weekend, you can claim simplified expenses (more here) depending on how many hours you work. Evenings and weekends can soon add up!
- Travel. Travel to meetings and events can be claimed- so keep train tickets. For car journeys, you don’t need petrol recipes within reason but you can keep a log of car journeys done and what they relate to.
- Bettering yourself as a blogger. pitching toolkitI’ve reviewed hereAny resources you purchase to improve your blog can be claimed as reading up on good practice can increase your income. These can include ebooks (like my), courses (like the one ) or even- if you read them to pitch articles and make some income as a freelance journalist- magazines! I know I’ve purchased lots of blogging books in the past so I’ll be digging through my amazon account later to find the receipts!
There’s lots more but this is something to get started on!
So, 12 months on, I’m incredibly happy to be self-employed; and can’t imagine going back to a permanent job anytime soon. If you’ve enjoyed this, you might want to read my old ‘blog to business‘ transitions posts and do let me know if there’s a particular aspect you’d like me to cover in more detail!