Technically it’s been more like 6 weeks since I logged off my Metro emails for the last time, poured myself a glass of Prosecco and set about putting on a festive smokey eye that didn’t make me look like I’d been punched in the face by one of my haters. But then Christmas and watching Hannibal and eating Miniature Heroes got in the way and I gave myself some space from my blog and entering the bloggersphere as a full-time professional – and then came January and I was like ‘err I should probs get dressed today and maybe sit at the new computer I’ve just forked out a grand for (LOL JK, it’s on finance because HA) and do some work’. So here I am, a month on.
It’s been a funny old month, and it’s been as up and down and all over the place and exciting and painful as I expected it to be.
The first issue is that it gets to about 11am every single day and I can’t remember whether or not I’ve brushed my teeth. The second issue is that now that it’s my main source of income I’ve become a bit glued to my blog stats and every time they start to drop dangerously low I’m like SOMEONE GIVE ME A JOURNALISM JOB AGAIN, I’M RUBBISH AS A BLOGGER, SEND ALL THE HELP.
The thing I think I fail to notice, and a lot of the world does, is that blogging and journalism – especially feature writing – is essentially the same thing. Whereas a decade ago a feature would be 1,000 words of carefully researched content complete with a photo shoot and a handful of interviews, a feature now, online, is something like a list, or someone’s opinions on a subject, it is essentially anything that isn’t a news story. And so I guess what I am doing every day is creating my own online version of a magazine with more of a 2015 spin on it – it’s more honest, more real and less edited to be a glossy product that’ll make you all want to cry because you’re not skinny enough/can’t afford all the clothes/don’t earn a six figure salary.
When I go to events I still struggle to call myself a blogger because I’m scared that there’s still this stigma against bloggers in the industry – especially by journalists. I know this because I was one of those journalists – the type who go, eurghhhhh there’s so many bloggers here, they make me want to shrivel up and die.
Journalists hate bloggers because they’re jealous – bloggers are stealing all their readers, most of them haven’t done a year of interning for free, haven’t got a Journalism degree and so for some reason they believe that bloggers don’t deserve their success, that they haven’t worked until they feel they may just collapse in a heap of exhaustion, when actually, becoming a success in the blogging industry is just as hard, if not harder, than becoming a success in the journalism world.
So yeah, this month has been hard to adjust to. To admit that I’m a full-time blogger and be proud of it, I’m trying to say ‘Hannah Gale, blogger’ rather than ‘Hannah Gale, blogger and journalist’. Because I’m not, I’m not really doing any freelance journalist work, and although I see the two as something which in 2015 are pretty much exactly the same thing – creating words to make an income – the world seems to see them as something so totally unrelated to one another.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed this month is how on to bloggers PRs are. I assumed I’d left my days of freebies and press trips behind in 2014 along with my PAYE and sick pay, but I was wrong 432785657 times over.
OK, so the high street fashion brands haven’t been emailing in their masses just yet, but I’ve been on more dreamy afternoon teas and been offered more beauty samples than I did when I was at LOOK.co.uk. Maybe the fact I went full-time was enough to convince people how serious I was, or maybe my blog is just starting to look more professional – either way, it’s good to feel a little bit important again, a bit like people care about getting featured on my blog and I love that.
Blogging is in no way about the freebies, or even about the money, but to me, being taken seriously by people in the industry signifies that I’m doing something right and that’s surely a positive?
This month I also learnt how fucking hard motivating yourself is. Mornings are the worst. Who wants to wake up and do work? I want to roll about in bed, drink some tea and then collapse on the sofa with Girls and Teen Mom 2 and Don’t Tell The Bride.
At uni I did most of my work in the evenings and that’s what I want to do with my blog, but I’m so desperate to stay on the same sleeping pattern as Chris (and the rest of the world), so I’m sort of bullying myself into working 9-5 from my computer, which sort of defeats the point of being my own boss but wah.
I say bullying because my blog doesn’t actually take 40 hours a week to maintain and it’s so difficult to tell yourself that you work to live, and not live to work, so if my blog is bringing in enough money but I’m not putting in as many hours as other people, then that’s entirely fine.
I’m working on a side project which hopefully I’ll talk more about this month or next month, but it too, requires a lot of self-motivation. So yeah, trying to eat healthily, go to the gym, do DIY, do my blog and work on my other thing is really testing my ability to push myself, which I guess is a good thing. It reminds me that I can do it, that I can do anything and everything that I want to do as long as I keep thinking about the rewards and how good I’ll feel once things are completed.
I tend to go into London once a week for meetings and shopping and press days (although this week it’s THREE TIMES, AH) and I love getting time out of the house to socialise with people in the industry. It’s not that I don’t love living in Ipswich, but not having that office atmosphere can often make you feel quite alone and isolated, so my weekly trip to London rectifies that and makes me feel part of a community.
I’ve also learnt that it’s possible for a day to go so quickly that you forget breakfast (uh huh, not just something celebs made up as an excuse to skip meals) because when you’re writing and answering emails and loving what you’re working on, time literally flies. And I love that, it makes Mondays far less intimidating.
I also tend to get dressed most days and shower and wear make-up and I paint my nails whilst working like A BLOODY LOT. I listen to Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. I always have a candle lit on my desk and fresh flowers. I have become obsessed with stationery. I have started to watch vlogs and YouTube videos, and I’ve started to become obsessed with other bloggers the way a 15-year-old girl might.
But mostly I’ve learnt that having a full-time job for the rest of your life doesn’t have to be scary and daunting and exhuasting. I pretty much never get the overwhelming urge for afternoon naps the way I used to when I worked in an office, I get ten hours sleep a night and I don’t give a fuck, and sometimes I take myself off to the local Costa with a notebook and do some planning and sometimes it makes me feel mega emotional because life is good and life is easier and life is exciting and I literally have no idea where it’s going to take me next, but I know it’s going to be good.
Working hard and being the best version of yourself takes you to places that are better than your teenage self could have ever wished for, but it’s also totally OK to cut yourself some slack and take days off just because your mind fancies it. Life doesn’t stop being brilliant when you cut yourself some slack.