So, What Else is New?

I can’t quite believe it, but it’s been a month since I entered the overwhelming, wonderful, frightening world of the self-employed. It feels strange and self-indulgent to write an update post on my doings, but I’ve gotten a large number of questions via e-mail and comments, so I assume the topic is of interest.

Finances

One question that has arisen indirectly is about money. How exactly does a blogger make a living? I’ve been as transparent as possible about how I make money off of the blog itself, but now that I’m out on my own, I’ve had to supplement that income with other streams. Lots of them. I am contributing posts to The Frisky as fast as I can pitch them. I am contributing style features to the local daily paper, the Minneapolis StarTribune. I am working on several online and a handful of in-person style consults at a time. I am continuing in my role as a community leader at the BlogFrog Coffee Talk Community. I am teaching various classes and booking private and public speaking engagements. And those are just what’s happened so far! In the cooker are regularly scheduled style clinic events, community ed classes, loads more freelance writing, and whatever else I can drum up. All of these things make me small amounts of money, and I need to keep many of them going all at once. The blog revenue is key, but it is far from being the only thing that’s keeping me financially afloat.

Daily activities

Another indirect question that’s popped up in a few places is, “But what do you DO all day?” And before I launched this new phase in my life, I wondered the same thing about self-employed folks. I certainly cannot speak for all bloggers, writers, or work-at-homers, but here’s what my typical day looks like:

I wake at 6 a.m. with Husband Mike and start working in my PJs. I spend my first few hours answering e-mails from readers, vendors, and colleagues, as well as reading through the various blogs I follow (over 300 in my reader), and adding posts to the weekly Lovely Links roundup as I find them. By 9 a.m. or thereabouts, I force myself to step away from the computer and get some exercise – either a bike ride or a walk for 45 minutes or so. When I get home, I eat a snack and get sucked into a little more work before hopping in the shower. I get dressed, and on days when I don’t have any appointments I’d say my greatest luxury is actually taking my time to work on and hone my outfits … but that’s been a rarity thus far! I typically do more blog reading and correspondence until and through lunch. After lunch is when I tackle larger projects: Client work, freelance writing projects, or writing posts for the blog. As I have done since the early days, I write posts in groups and schedule them for publication. If I didn’t do that, I’d lose my marbles. This system allows me to think carefully about how to balance content for the week, and also is absolutely key to time management. I work until at least 5 p.m., when HM arrives home. We shoot my outfit for the day and I put that post up. We eat dinner. I typically work for at least an hour after dinner, sometimes longer, typically on more correspondence: Answering questions, pitching stories, working on event collaborations, hashing out details for giveaways, dealing with tech support issues, and similar.

That’s a day at home. I do group co-working sessions several times per week, so much of the afternoon work is done off-site, so to speak. I’ve also been doing the aforementioned teaching and consulting, so there’s a fair amount of running around. I have been able to do a few lunches with girlfriends, but absolutely none of the errand-running or deep-cleaning housework I imagined I’d have time to tackle. I’m kind of amazed to discover that I feel I have less time now than I did working a full-time office job.

Outfits and style

A question that has come up more directly is, “Are you just getting dressed for the blog now?”

Heck no!

To elaborate a bit, I consider personal style to be one of my major creative outlets. I enjoy dressing, playing with my wardrobe, crafting fun and expressive outfits. It definitely feels different now that I’m not an office worker, but I get dressed every day for myself. I love it! I imagine I always will. On days when I have appointments or leave the house to co-work, I am more likely to step up my game and do something eye-catching or fancy. And I can imagine that, as winter sets in, my at-home-day outfits may become more smart-casual than straight-up smart. But there hasn’t been a single day when I’ve stayed in my PJs until 3 p.m., then scrambled to throw something on before HM gets home to take my photo. I dress up because I enjoy doing so. And I’d do it even if the blog didn’t exist!

I’ve also gotten a lot of, “Did you really wear that all day?”

I surely did!

My outfit photos are taken when my husband arrives home from work, and they are of whatever I’ve been wearing that day. I will admit to kicking my shoes off on occasion so I can more easily cross my legs in my chair, but I did that at my office, too. The outfits you see are the outfits I’ve worn. I own a lot of crazy shoes and unusual garments, and I love wearing them. Even if no one but the cats sees them until they get posted to the blog.

Perhaps the most frequent comment has been, “Your style is changing.”

Yes, it most certainly is.

In the past month, I’ve made drastic changes to my career and lifestyle. Plus I chopped off ALL my hair. If my style had remained the same throughout all that, I’d actually be quite worried! I am still very much in the throes of figuring out where I want to take my personal style next, and it’s an exciting and challenging time.

The structure and built-in feedback of working in an office put many constraints on my style. It feels marvelous to be able to wear anything I want any day of the week, but also a bit daunting. I’m feeling both internal and external pressure to be more daring and creative than ever, and also to create some consistency in my looks, which means that many of my outfits are experimental and some of them are duds. But that’s what happens when you’re going through a sartorial growth spurt, and I’m fine with it.

The influx of “your style is changing” comments actually began as soon as I cut my hair, and it’s been interesting to field them all. I definitely feel that drastically altering my hairstyle has prompted me to tweak what I’m wearing: I’m more drawn to androgynous looks and pants than I have been in ages, I’m loving tough/punky accents, and many of the earrings I once wore now look completely weird on me. But some of what you may be observing is passive: My hair was fairly voluminous and about shoulder length when I chopped it. Now, my neck is more exposed, my face framed differently, my proportions transformed by this physical change. Even if I were dressing exactly as I did before I cut my hair, everything I’d wear would read differently. I am definitely implementing changes, but I may look different for multiple reasons.

Gratitude

If I’m being completely honest, this has been an incredibly stressful month. Incredibly. I’m pretty sure I overcommitted in an effort to prove to myself, my husband, and anyone who asked that I could totally handle this self-employment thing. I’ll have to be more careful about that in the coming months. But I also thank my lucky stars for everything and everyone that conspired to make this change possible. (Including you, dear readers!) I no longer get Sunday Night Dread, and am excited by every day’s self-made agenda. I’ve met some amazing people and am working on some thrilling collaborations with local luminaries. My brain is constantly abuzz with post ideas, improvements to the blog, article topics, and new projects. It feels like, after puttering around in second gear for ages, I’ve finally kicked up to third.

Everything in my life feels new right now. As a person who loves routine, stability, and ┬ásecurity, all this newness wigs me out a bit. But I’m smart enough to be unspeakably grateful for my opportunities and privileges. I know exactly how fortunate I am to be making my way, on my own right now in the midst of so much tumult and strife.

I hope this was an interesting and helpful glimpse into what’s been going on with me. I’ll do my best to answer any related or further questions you may have in the comments.

  • http://www.rosiemolinary.com Rosie

    As another self-employed person, I related to so much of this, Sally- especially the part where you realize that there really is so much LESS time available to do stuff like housework when you work from home. Thanks for sharing some of what your reality is like right now. Wishing you all the best and excited to follow your journey!

  • Katie

    Hi Sal! Just so you know, I think what you’re doing with this blog is amazing! I cannot imagine constantly looking for speaking engagements and outside activities along with always coming up with fresh, new material for us readers. You are incredible! You also must have an amazing work ethic and ability to stay on task, which is heroic in itself. As for style changes, I think it’s been so fun to watch your style change through the years on this blog. (I’m especially loving your stripe addiction! Aren’t they classy?) It shows us readers that even if you’re known for a particular look, it’s okay to change it. Yes, your friends and family will notice and perhaps comment on it. But you’re ultimately dressing for yourself and our likes and dislikes change all the time so why shouldn’t our style change too? Keep up the wonderful work!

    -Katie

  • Kathleen

    Do you ever worry that having a less office-ready style will limit your blog’s appeal to professional women who are stuck in an office all day?

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Yes, I do. But my style was never super conservative to begin with, so I hope that inspiration can be derived regardless. Of the outfits I’ve worn on weekdays since becoming self-employed, I’d say there have been maybe three or four that I wouldn’t have worn to my office job. I don’t feel that the changes have been all that drastic!

      Also my own personal style is just part of what I write about here. I post topical, tutorial, body image, style, and shopping posts five or more times per week. I hope those posts are helpful and engaging as always.

  • http://blog.threegoodrats.com threegoodrats

    I feel exhausted just READING about everything you’re doing!

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Thank you for sharing your new life. It is so exhilarating to be in charge of your own day. Stressful too, right? But so exciting, and any email or phone call could be a new opportunity!

  • http://braxtonandyancey.blogspot.com yancey

    Sally,
    Wow, you are just getting better and better! I have noticed that you style is changing, and I love it. You appear 5 yrs. younger (probably not a goal, but still) and ever so much happier and…..well…cooler.
    I can’t wait to hear that you are writing a book…you know in your spare time, ha!
    Have a great weekend.
    Yancey

  • http://spidersilkstockings.blogspot.com/ Cel

    I think it’s SO impressive that you are self-employed Sal, it’s amazing. So much hard work and dedication has to go into this for you to be able to support yourself and be fruitful and move forward in your new form of employment. I cannot think of a person better-prepared for this than you. I’m glad you are enjoying this and learning to live this new life to the best.

    BTW, seeing you in the VV commcercial was fun, you have a lovely voice.

  • Amy

    Thanks for the update, Sal! I too had been wondering how the self-employed thing is going. Sounds like it’s going pretty much as well as could be expected, which is awesome.

    Keep up the good work and keep us updated! i know I for one always enjoy these little glimpses into the inner workings of Already Pretty.

    (P.S. The other day I wore the following outfit to a party: My navy Anthro Field Skirt (purchased through an affiliate link of yours), a yellow gingham overshirt tucked in, a purple tank top, and an orange button necklace. I got a lot of comments on it at the party but by far one of my favorites was from a fellow AP reader: “You look very Already Pretty!”

    But the best part was I really felt like MYSELF, even though a lot of the outfit/my recent style has been you-inspired. Thanks for all you do!)

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Amy, you just MADE MY DAY! Did you take any photos? That outfit sounds absolutely stellar!

      • Amy

        Alas, no! If I ever do something similar again (VERY LIKELY) I’ll be sure to snap a few shots and send them your way.

  • http://modernsauce.blogspot.com ModernSauce

    Love getting a peek into a blogger’s life! (as well as their closet of course!)

    I like to see people’s styles change too – to remind me that they are, you know, changing people! I think it gives people courage and inspiration to try new things themselves and not be afraid to express that change.

    Unrelated PS – At one point I thought you mentioned only allowing snippets of your posts in blog readers and I don’t know if that is still in the works but I’m sooo glad that hasn’t happened yet! I’m like you – I read hundreds of blogs – and having them all easily accessible makes me read them more (and still come over to comment and visit your sponsors) not less. But I understand completely if that changes in the future and no hard feelings. I’d probably still come over and read but maybe only on the weekends. ; )

  • Kate K

    Sal, you’re such a rock star. (I know I say that too much.) Thank you for keeping us updated on this new stage in your life and keep up the awesomeness :D

  • http://rubynite.com NIcole

    I love that you are sharing the details of your new adventure! You are an inspiration,

  • Aziraphale

    You go girl! I’ve got nothing but admiration for you, and wish you much luck and success. You’re a delightfully funny and thoughtful writer with plenty to say. You’re brave and disciplined. And, of course, you have great style! I think you’ll have a rewarding career as a self-employed writer.

    Sending cheers from the stands from one shoe gal to another.
    Elisabeth xo

  • Lynn Bert

    Hi Sal:

    I may not agree with all your opinions but I keep reading your blog because you are such a positive and sunny person. Your attitudes toward life is an inspiration to me. Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.patience-crabstick.blogspot.com Patience

    Congratulations on taking the plunge into self employment. It’s my goal to do the same, although currently I’m in an office job. I at least quit a job I hated and my new job is less stressful and leaves me with more mental energy to be creative. Good luck to you!

  • Laurel

    As a regular reader of The Frisky, your pieces rock! I’m always really happy to see your posts over there.

  • http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/ Trystan

    Good for you! Honestly, I’ve considered going freelance, I know a lot of ppl who do it, my husband runs his own freelance biz out of our house, & I have realized there is NO WAY IN HELL I could myself. I’m exhausted from working my (supposedly) 9-5 office job & doing all the volunteer work & hobbies I love; it would be impossible to run my own biz w/all the required self-marketing, not to mention the uncertainty.

    I admire your work, your blog, your writing, all you do. Keep on keepin’ on!!!

  • http://tinyglimpses.blogspot.com Meg

    I’ve been curious about transitioning to self-employment (especially since I’ve been jobless since May). Thanks for this informative and inspiring post! It sounds like you’re doing great.

  • Secret Squirrel

    Thanks Sal, for posting an update. I’ve been wondering how it was all going. You are certainly an inspiration, as I try to ‘grow’ myself a new career :-)

  • http://wendybrandes.com/blog/ WendyB

    You’re a better woman than I — I don’t get dressed unless I have somewhere to go.

  • http://www.annsprojects.com/ Ann V

    Ooo! Community ed classes! What kind of classes are you going to do? Actually, it doesn’t really matter – just tell me where to sign up!

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Oh Ann, you’re so sweet! That project is in a VERY incipient stage right now, but as soon as I’ve got something solid, I’ll announce it right away! And thanks for your kind support.

  • Carolyn

    Great post–thanks for the glimpse into your life. I’d love to create a job like that for myself someday. I also love the new hair. I really am tempted to do the same. Of course your style will evolve–especially with a new ‘do. I love reading your blog.

  • http://line4line.blogspot.com K-Line

    Excellent glimpse on the new life!

  • SE

    Sally, as someone who now gets to experience Sunday night dread, I admire you taking on the challenge of self employment. It’s really wonderful to get a peek behind the curtain of your blog- and to see just how much work goes into blogger-work. Have to say, that as successful as you are, I get the feeling you are at some kind of tipping point and things will be taking off in a big way soon!

  • http://www.katieyumol.com Katie

    Hi Sal!

    What you said about your style changing resonated with me. Although I’ve been self-employed for almost 2 years, I spent the first year working onsite for clients – so in a way it’s still like working in an office. However, the last 3 months have been a drastic change for me: I started working from home and LOVED it. The stress-levels were 10000 times less and I was certainly at the top of my game. When you mentioned that your style changed since self-employment, I really know what that meant! I used to dress up a lot: dresses, heels, and all that. To be truthful, I was never wholly comfortable in that garb, even though I loved the look (and always looked forward to your very feminine, creative looks for inspiration!). Like you, I changed my hairstyle (I grew out a pixie to shoulder-length hair with bangs) that made me love my naturally straight hair. I started dressing in comfortable drapey casuals but with a bit of rock-and-roll, gothic edge. The weird thing was, I was also very accepting of my body type and started dressing to reflect this rather than “manipulating” its shape (I used to make myself look more “hourglassy.”

    Anyway needless to say – a self-imposed change in work situation changes a lot out of you. I find that it can make you a lot more self-accepting and more comfortable because you’re totally in your element.

    Also, I did notice your change of style. I see a lot more edge in you Sal! :) Keep it coming. I always look forward to be inspired by you!

  • Deborah

    You Go Girl!

  • Sue

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! When you mentioned being self employed, I imagined you had more “free” time somehow. But it’s good that you are busy. I admire you alot and I hope I can one day make such a step myself! I am just wondering, is it less stressful getting ready in the morning. I imagine that since you are working from home there’s less pressure to rush off somewhere?

    On your style changing I found it interesting that you felt that working in an office put constraints on you. I spend most of my days doing lab work in an academic setting and I can wear anything I want. However, lately I feel like I don’t have as much freedom since I can’t wear anything too nice incase something spills on it.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Hey Sue! Yes and no. I find that I am often running late for things – which sounds preposterous since I make my own schedule, but I’m notorious for getting sucked into tasks and losing track of time – and getting dressed ends up very rushed. But on days when I don’t have appointments, yes, it’s less stressful. It’s quite a luxury to take my time!

  • http://40plusstyle.com Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle

    You are absolutely right that we find this interesting. I for one find it very interesting how other bloggers spend their time and make their blogging business a success. Thanks and keep us informed!

  • Jen

    Thanks for this post. I too, was wondering what all you are doing, but didn’t want to pry. If you haven’t checked into taking a business class, I would suggest it. My community college has a whole small business center that provides classes on taxes, marketing, legal and insurance advice, etc. It’s really been a lifesaver as I get started on my jewelry making venture and hope to one-day be self-employed fully. You’re so brave to be making the leap. I second someone’s suggestion about looking for a book deal. I love your writing and would gladly buy a book of your wonderful body acceptance or fashion advice. Or maybe start with a calendar or planner with daily/weekly/monthly affirmations/fashion suggestions?

    • Jen

      P.S. A small business owner conducting a class gave me this advice: You got into self-employment to be your own boss. Presumably you love what you’re selling or doing. I talk to small business owners all the time who are working 50, 60, or 70-hour weeks. Many people find that because they are trying to make money, their business sucks up all of their time. Don’t let it! One of the best things about self-employment is that you can schedule your own time off. Don’t forget to sleep in late one morning or plan your vacation because you have to get your business off the ground. If you don’t take a break, you’ll soon be as miserable or stressed out as you were at your previous job.

  • paisleyapron

    Having been a spouse to a self-employed man for 9 years, I would like to second what Jen said. Be very careful not to burn out, plan date nights and phone and computer-free vacations (even for just a weekend). Keep track of your working time and learn when to “clock out”. I very much admire what you are doing and I’m cheering you on!

  • http://blog.kathastrophal.de Katha Strophe

    Wow, you’re such an inspiring personality! I love reading your blog and it’s really interesting to read about this self-employment adventure.
    Yes, your style is definitely changing, but I love to follow these changes.
    Thanks for writing about this, I hope that you keep us updated.
    You rock! :)

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com Allie

    Sally, I am so proud of you. Sounds like you are doing great, I wish you continued success with your new business. You rock!

  • Darlene

    Hi Sal — I’m coming late to the party but wanted to say that as a fellow newly-self-employed person, I really enjoyed reading this!

    I don’t have quite as many irons in the fire as you do (though it feels that way sometimes!) and I wonder if you ever struggle with prioritizing “guaranteed money” work over your own business. I have two freelance gigs in addition to my own business and, while I’m very grateful for them, I find myself spending so much time on the “if I work X hours, I will make $Y” work that my own business (where I can work X times 1,000 hours and make $0!) is getting the shaft. It’s a catch-22 because I know that if I don’t put in work on the business, it may never get to the point that it’s making more than $0!

    Thoughts?

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Hey Darlene! Hmm, our situations are a bit different since both my blog and my freelance gigs make me money, just in different ways. But, in a way, how I handle new ventures is similar to how you’re thinking of your business – brainstorming events and projects that may or may not go anywhere or prove profitable is something I do in addition to “guaranteed money” work. And I will say that those get back-burnered a lot of the time. But I also think that working for myself in a situation where everything goes toward the same general goal means that no time is truly wasted. Even of those events and projects totally bomb, I’ve made connections and learned lessons.

      Not sure what your business is, so this may not apply to you AT ALL … but I hope it’s somewhat helpful!

      • Darlene

        Thanks! Yeah, that does help. I make handmade chainmaille jewelry that I sell on Etsy and at craft shows, events, etc. I do make income at it but sometimes I work my rear off and it results in $0. But then sometimes I don’t work on jewelry at all for a day and get random sales! At this point it is a crapshoot.

        All the things I’m doing do have the common thread of being hand-made related (I also write for a handmade blog and do some freelance work for one of my suppliers) so the way you’re looking at all your work as part of the same goal actually makes a lot of sense. I admit I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s all money, right, regardless of what specific task is generating the cash? :)

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