This time last year I was gearing up for my last shift as a journalist.
I was working three days a week on my blog from good ol’ Ipperz, and was working another two days a week for Metro.co.uk, churning out lists and stories about omfg how insanely delicious is that bacon doughnut cheeseburger. And hey, it wasn’t a bad set-up.
I turned full-time blogger at Christmas and had this glossy vision that my lists would continue to pull in hella ridiculous traffic and that I would be laughing. Like literally, I’d be laughing from the comfort of some sort of IKEA armchair with a new H&M home blanket wrapped around me, whilst I was surrounded by Jo Malone candles and cute snaps of all the exotic press trips I’d been racking up.
And well, it hasn’t been *quite* like that.
I mean, next week I start a fortnight-long shift as a digital journalist.
And that is something that 2014 me would not have been delighted about.
I’ve had an exciting year. It’s been up and down. It’s been full of blogger envy and comments that make me feel a bit LET’S SHUT DOWN THE INTERNET AND START A GOAT FARM IN THE HIGHLANDS. But it’s also been full of incredible opportunities, lots of new digital BFFs, awards and well, a lot of content that makes me proud.
But what it hasn’t been is as easy and glossy and glamorous and full of sacks of gold coins as I’d so desperately hoped.
And that’s OK.
Because it’s OK to step back and say, hang on huns, I can’t actually be completely 100% reliant on blogging just yet, financially.
And actually, the more I step back and talk to other ‘full-time’ bloggers, the more I realise how many have little side projects. The more I realise how many write for other publications or do consultancy or take the odd shift for ex-employers every now and then because, hey, being a full-time blogger is just as unreliable as being any other type of full time freelancer.
It’s that just that no-one really talks about it, not publicly at least.
Some months you could literally sew yourself a cute little dress with all your wads of cash, and other months you’re like, wonder what gruel tastes like and how I make it. Lol. Might move home.
Being a full-time blogger doesn’t mean that you’re raking in a 6 figure salary just because the media says it does. Being a full-time blogger for most is the same as being any kind of full-time creative and there will always be financial uncertainty unless you’re in that tiny minority that reach that very top of their game.
When I first said yes to the two-week stint of full-time journalism work, I felt embarrassed. Like I was going back to the industry with my tail between my legs because the internet hadn’t lifted me up into a throne and chanted about how I was a queen and carried me around in a massive crowd of admirers and fans forevermore. I felt embarrassed because I hadn’t left journalism and the 9-5 and become an internet success story within an instant.
I felt like I’d let myself down for not managing to earn a higher income than I was earning as a journalist. Even if I was happier and didn’t spend half my life too-ing and fro-ing on public transport, it still felt like a bit of a stern kick to the shin.
My immediate career plan had never been to go back to writing for someone else. It had always been to adapt my way of creating content to wherever the need was. I wanted to be a magazine journalist originally and that quickly changed to an online journalist when I realised that that was where the jobs were, and as time went on, it became clear the HANG THE FUCK ON, I could write for my own website and start my own brand and lifestyle destination.
And so to me, and the weird, angry parts of my brain, it felt like to do anything other than that would be failure.
The same way that weird, angry part of my brain says, well people two years younger than you are planning their weddings and getting mortgages and you’re not, so you’ve failed at The Game Of Life. K, bye.
When in reality it’s not as black and white as that. And actually, it’s not about winning or being the best – it’s about being happy and doing what’s best for YOU. It’s about being in charge of your life and making decisions based on needs, rather than being too proud to put your hands up and say ‘hey, gurl needs to do what gurl needs to do’.
So, if right now, in the lead up to the festive period, the best thing is to take on extra work doing something that I’m more than capable of, to make a few extra bucks so that I can comfortably welcome in the new year, so what?
Does that make me a shit full-time blogger?
It makes me sensible and pretty mature. It makes me feel like my parents.
It makes me in control of my bank balance and in control of my career. It keeps my options open and builds on my experience in writing for the internet. It adds to my CV and expands my contacts. It gets me out the house and lets me submerge myself in office atmosphere and London life.
IT IS A GOOD THING. But it’s taken me a little while to see it. A little while to acknowledge that I’m the only person judging me, no-one else.
And I think it’s something we could all do with remembering – the plans and goals we set ourselves in our heads are only really very rough guidelines. They are not set in stone and statistically, they won’t play out exactly as we’d imagine it.
Did I plan on going to my graduation with only my weekly dole money for wine? Nah babes, did I hell.
But life and the future is always unpredictable and a little out of our control, no matter how talented or dedicated or immersed we may be.
And so, rather than dwell on the fact my blog’s going to have to come second place for a couple of weeks, I’m looking at the positives – the walks along the Thames, the countless Pret lunches and the chance to learn.
Life won’t go the way you want it to just because you thought it would. You just gotta get up, give yourself a fist pump and remind yourself that you’re bloody damn aces.