For those who follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my recent rant about how the current ‘freelance/start-up’ narrative is still massively centred around those who have a real ‘leg-up.’
Whether it’s massive funding from family and friends, being supported through tons of unpaid internships or a list full of contacts, it’s rarer to hear real stories that go against this: from those who made it by themselves and took a different route. Those who made the switch later in life, worked like crazy to fit their freelance life around full-time work or broke into an industry without tons of unpaid work.
You might have seen The Bloglancer has had a bit of a revamp recently and one thing I’d like to do is share a wider range of freelancer stories! So in a new ‘How I Did It’ series, I plan to interview inspiring freelancers who did things their own way. First up is the lovely Lynn-full-time blogger at www.mrsmummypenny.co.uk/ and author of the book ‘Blogging Your Way to Riches’ I chatted to Lynn about how she managed it…
Q: Hi Lynn, When did you start your blog and how long was it until you considered it as a potential business?
I started my blog during my last maternity leave, June 2013. I knew the concept behind it, money saving family content was rare with no one like me out there in the UK blogging space, so always knew it had the potential to be big business. At the start, I had no clue about sponsored posts though and thought my blog could make tons of money from affiliate marketing!! Got that one a bit wrong! So I knew within a year that it could be a viable business.
Q: What made you consider blogging full-time? Was it when you’d reached a certain traffic level or income level? Or did you just go for it?
Redundancy gave me the opportunity to blog full time. I left my job in June 2015 and the redundancy package I received allowed me to pay the bills as normal whilst building up the business to a level of income that could replace my old job. I had 18 months to work like crazy, building up my profile, writing brilliant content, networking until I could network no more to become the go-to influencer in my specific niche of the market.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your transition to full-time blogger. How did you manage the switch? Did you prepare before by saving a set amount or phasing your job out?
As mentioned redundancy was my transition. At the point of leaving my corporate EE job, my blog had earned maybe £100 so there was a lot of time and hard work to go. But I did have a very clear period of 18 months where I had to make it work and be making at least £1500 profit per month by the end of this period. This was achieved.
Q: How do you currently make a living from your blog? (Not the specifics but do you have many different income streams?)
I make money on Mrs Mummypenny from so many different things. The key to blogging is doing a bit of everything and always being open to different ideas. The majority of my earnings come from sponsored campaigns with brands launching new products or services. These clients include brands like Starling bank, Aldi, Octopus Energy, Smart Energy GB. I also write content for brands that appear on their websites.
Affiliate income is an ever-building income stream for me where I am paid an amount of money when people sign up/buy things that I recommend. I also make money from the sale of my book, advertising on my blog, coaching, public speaking, case study work, appearances in the press. I have even done some modelling appearing in a billboard campaign.
Q: Many of us have days in the beginning when our inboxes are quiet and we think ‘what the hell have we done!’ Any tips for being productive on those kinds of days?
A perfect time for blog maintenance, and focus on those marketing opportunities that a brand reading your blog might sway them into contacting you. Ensure your contact me/about me pages are amazing and up to date. Refresh or create a knock out media pack. It’s also a great time to do some pitches out to brands.
Choose your top ten favourite brands and drop them over your content ideas with your latest stats and why you love their product or service so much. Or touch base with a few PR agencies whom you haven’t heard from for a while to see if they have any projects for you.
Q: We’ve chatted a bit before about networking. How big a part do you think that has played in your journey and any tips for those new to it?
Networking has probably been the one big thing that helped me make it as a full-time blogger. From the beginning of going full time, I signed up to as many events as possible and got invites to as many press events as possible. Meeting people face to face is the best way to get brands and PR firms to remember you. Ask in Facebook groups which are the best events to attend or ask if anyone has had any exciting invites, a plus one is normally fine!
Q: One of the biggest struggles with making a living from blogging is keeping an engaged audience, what tips do you have for those struggling to build traffic or find their readers?
You have to focus on SEO and getting the keywords right in popular posts to ensure they rank highly on Google. Social media sharing is only going to get you so far. You can use free SEO tools such as KW Finder to research the best keywords, aiming for green coded 30-50/100 for SEO success ratings.
Also, start collecting email addresses from as early as possible. This is the only list that you own and you are not at risk of algorithms dragging down your reach, so nurture this list. Talk to them regularly and give them extra offers, content that is exclusive to them.
Q: Talk to us about a typical day in your blog life. How much of it is spent pitching/looking for work or do brands come to you? How often do you spend writing content v promoting it?
I am in the fortunate position where most of my work now comes to me. I will still pitch to brands if I see a campaign going on with other bloggers and I feel I would also be a good fit. I will also pitch to brans whom I love and know I can write an amazing article for them. Many of my long-term relationships with brands including Aldi and Octopus came from me pitching to them.
My week has some structure to it with a couple of days per week out in London meeting with brands or networking and I have another day at my radio station recording my show.
If it’s a work from home day I spend around two hours a day writing content and then another hour optimising the content plus sharing it. Much time is spent on emails, replying to brands, analysing the results of previous campaigns. Keeping on top of social media and comments is another daily task. And of course, there is the admin, invoicing, chasing of invoices, doing accounts, SEO of older posts, Pinterest management etc. There is always something to do!
Q: And, finally, what’s your one top tip for those wanting to become a full-time blogger?
I would highly recommend nailing down a niche for your blog and working hard to become that go-to person for the specific subject area. I know I get a lot of jobs because there are so few ex-professional women writing about personal finance/financial planning for families
. Also remember that it takes time, time to build up that recognition and trust from your audience and the brands you work with. Mrs Mummypenny has been going for more than five years with me working on it full time for more than three years, it has certainly taken time.
One final thing is to go with the gut and say yes to things that might not be part of your plan, this can work well or not (if it doesn’t work well, you still learn!) Two years ago Emma Bradley asked me to write a book with her, I went for it, and doing that gave me lots of authority in the blogging world, Blogging Your Way To Riches was a huge success. Of course, there have been things I have tried that haven’t worked, but I certainly learnt about what not to do!
Thanks so much to Lynn for chatting to me-let me know who you’d like me to interview next in the series. Which type of freelancer and entrepreneur would you like to learn more from?
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