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.
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.
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?”
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.
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 security, 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.