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The Pros and Cons of Blogging Full Time


Next month marks my third anniversary of working as a blogger full-time. It just seems like yesterday that I was handing in my notice into the NHS and I can't believe it's been three years. It's been quite a journey but I honestly wouldn't change it for the world.

The Pros and Cons of Blogging Full Time

As I was growing up, I used to love watching 'Wish You Were Here' and always said that reviewing hotels would be my dream job. It's kind of crazy that I've ended up doing just that. Today I thought I'd share something a little different and share some of the highs and lows of blogging when it's your job.....


1 - The Amazing Experiences

40,000-80,000+ people read articles on this website every month. That's a lot of people and it still kind of blows my mind. Because of this, I've been invited to enjoy some incredible experiences in order to share them with you all. Whether this is a trip to Florida, a new restaurant opening, a theme park in France or being invited as a VIP to the opening of Fenwick's Christmas Window, I am always SO grateful that we're able to enjoy these opportunities through blogging and it definitely has some of the best perks.


2 - It's a flexible Career that fits around Kids


Probably the main reason I love blogging as a career is that it allows me to work around my children. Like many parents, this has been a real struggle for us in the past. We don't have the luxury of having grandparents available to pick our children up from school and childcare costs for three children are just ridiculous. It was REALLY tough trying to find a job that fit around the kids. I ended up working 2 x 12 hour shifts every Saturday and Sunday at our local walk-in centre so I could be at home with the kids during the week (and take them to school/pick them up/look after Jack when he was a baby). Steve worked during the week and we ended up just being like passing ships in the night with very minimal quality time together as a family. I honestly felt like I had no choice though and it worked for us. Once I started earning bits and bobs through blogging, I wondered if I'd ever be able to make it into a career and decided to explore this as an option. I just decided to go for it and waited until I matched my employed wage for 6 months straight before making the leap to full-time self employment. I can honestly say I've never looked back.

Working around the kids at home still has its challenges - I'm at home with them during the school holidays and have to work around brand deadlines whilst entertaining three kids which isn't always the easiest and often I'll end up working late into the night if I haven't been able to work much during the day (although to be honest, now I'm approaching my fourth year of self-employment, this doesn't happen so much). In the early days of my blog, I used to spend 60+ hours working and it was pretty much non-stop. I'd work a 12-hour shift and then come home and blog then repeat the next day. Luckily, Steve is very supporting and understanding. Blogging full time is definitely not for the work-shy.

These days, I'm a lot more chilled and have worked hard to get a better work-life balance. I can work during the day when the kids are at school or on the weekends when Steve's at work and the kids want to play XBox or outside. I am a lot better at managing my diary and workload now and I think that's something that definitely comes with experience (and when your children growing up and don't need as much of your attention).

3 - Worrying about the future 

I earn a proportion of my living through Instagram, those posts with (ad) next to them mean that I've been paid to share them on my grid. It always scares me a little that Instagram wasn't even around when I started blogging yet now it's such an important part of my blog. We have no idea what is around the corner for blogging and are constantly evolving. My blog is based around family life and adventures - what is going to happen to my site when my children are all grown up? Will I still be able to blog for a living or will all the brand opportunities dry up? I am guessing that my blog will evolve over time and it will be fine but the uncertainty is a killer!

4 - Be your own boss


Towards the end of my time working for the NHS, I realised that I am not the kind of person who takes kindly to being micro-managed. It is so tough working on the front-line of a huge organisation, seeing all of it's flaws and not being able to do a single thing to change them.  I really couldn't take another second of the office politics, ridiculous rules and way that staff were managed. I honestly don't think I could go back to employed work now as I absolutely love being my own boss, being able to make all of my own decisions, noticing that changes need to be made and just getting on and changing them without any kind of 3 year consultation and although it's scary at times, it's kind of cool being completely in charge of your own future.

5 - Make some amazing friends


The blogging community is on the whole, very supportive and I've made some wonderful life-long friends through blogging. Your blogger friends understand you in a way that nobody else does and I wouldn't be where I was today without their on-going support. If it wasn't for blogging, I'd never have attended Chloe and Simon's fantastic wedding, travelled to Manchester for the weekend with The Hoopers or be helping to plan an amazing hen party for Katie Jane next year.

6 - You get to help people 


One of the biggest joys of blogging is receiving a little message or comment from a reader thanking you for sharing a day out or to say that they've booked a holiday on your recommendation and loved it. When somebody takes the time to do this, it is honestly the best job-satisfaction you could ever receive and it always puts me in the best mood.

7 - You need thick skin 

When you share your life online, you really need thick skin. There are trolls, people who will disagree with you, those who will comment on your appearance or parenting decisions and those who will try to discredit you. There's a lot of bitchiness amongst bloggers too and it feels like there's not a week goes by without some kind of drama. I try to stay away from it all as best I can but *sometimes* you do get sucked in - especially when it involves your friends or something you're passionate about (for me - those who buy followers and fake their engagement rates through pods or buying likes yet claim they are blogging gurus get me every time).

There's also a section of society who HATES bloggers and especially bloggers who are paid for what they do. I can never get my head around people like this as my first thought is always, why not just unfollow rather than trolling and just get on with your life?

Blogging is a fairly new media form. 99% of everything you see in a magazine is some kind of advert - the firming cream you read a review of will have been sent to the beauty editor, travel magazines will be filled with fully-hosted press trips and the 'top 10 must-have buys' will be product placements of some kind. NOBODY complains about this despite magazines never disclosing their full relationship with brands.

However, as soon as a blogger dares to mention that an item was gifted or they've been paid by a brand to promote somewhere (which is more than their magazine counterparts do), the trolls love to come out in full-force and say that we're 'blaggers' or our opinion can't possibly count as we've been paid. I can't speak for other bloggers but I know that myself and my blogger friends are always 100% honest and clear about brand collaborations - If you want to make it as a blogger, there is ZERO point in being anything but honest (even if you are paid by a brand to write about them). All that will happen is you'll lose trust with your reader and people will stop reading. Honesty is always the best policy and I wish the trolls would grasp this. Another mis-conception is that we only write nice things to stay in a brands' best books. This is also a myth and most brands I know, will choose to work with bloggers who have engaged and trusting audiences and will ask in their brief for you to give an honest opinion - I've written plenty of bad reviews or posts in my time and have still gone on to work with the same brand or PR agency on future campaigns.


8 - Cash flow issues


This is a problem for most freelancers and not just bloggers. Managing my money is one of the parts of blogging I find to be the most difficult. First of all, there's the question of what to charge brands? There's no guide to what you should be charging a brand to feature them in an Instagram photo or how much you should charge as a day rate when on a press trip. Every single blogger is different as we all have different audiences, different styles and skills, different engagement rates and different follower numbers. It's good to ask blogger friends from time to time so you can get a rough idea of what you should charge and it is a massive learning curve too. The amount I charge for a blog post has increased by over 10x the amount I used to charge when I first started.

With blogging, you are very rarely paid up front or even on the day you issue an invoice. Most brands have 30 day payment terms, many brands are late in paying and some can take over 6 months to pay you which is super frustrating. Travel expenses may be covered by a brand but you're expected to pay them up front and claim them back - often this can cost over £1000 and you won't get this back for months. In the summer, I was owed over £5000 in late payments by brands which is beyond frustrating but as we're just a sole trader working with international companies, it often feels as if there's nothing we can do about it without going to court and nobody wants to do that.

Our household income has increased over the past few years and at a rate which wouldn't have been possible if I'd still have been working for the NHS. We're far from rolling in it but we are definitely a lot more comfortable than we were 5-6 years ago and for this, I will always be grateful for blogging.

Your wage is never guaranteed with blogging either which is always a worry. I've been lucky so far but there is always the chance that I'm offered no paid work for a few months and that's something I'm always mindful of.


9 - You're always working 

When it's your job and livelihood to write about family holidays and days out, it's really hard to switch off and live in the moment. Even when I book and pay for holidays or days out myself and it's not a brand collaboration, I'm always thinking in my head 'oh this will make a great photo' or 'maybe I should Facebook live this as I think people would like to know about it' or 'I'd better take my best camera as I'll probably end up writing about this'. Even something like a family walk in the woods can feel like work.

I am getting a lot better at trying to switch off on days out or holidays and during our trip to Majorca at the end of the month, I'm going to lock my phone in my room for a few hours each day. I'm a natural over-sharer though and think it's just part of my life now that I'll never be able to fully switch off.

I am addicted to Facebook and forever on the look-out for articles to share and new places to visit. It never ends. I feel guilty spending so much time on my phone but when it's how you earn your money, it's very difficult to stop when it's always there in the background.

In all honesty, the only time I ever fully switch off is the cinema and that's only because I know I'll get in trouble if I start looking at my phone and it's nice to be able to sit and escape in a movie for a few hours. In fact typing this, I think I need to do visit the cinema more often.

10 - You need to learn new skills

Blogging is far more than writing a few words and hitting publish, you need to learn how to negotiate contracts with huge brands, you need to learn to say no to projects that aren't right for you (even if it means turning down money) and you need to teach yourself new skills such as how to edit a video or optimise a post for SEO purposes so people can find it via google. I've even had to learn a spot of coding over the years which is way out of my comfort zone.

Blogging and Social Media is constantly changing - I'm forever reading up about algorithm changes and 90% of my brand work involves writing reports and being able to understand and interpret google analytics. I've had to teach myself how to take decent photos, how to use Instagram stories, the laws and rules around advertising, disclosure and running competitions. I've had to put my brave face on and present on panels, speak on the radio and be interviewed as part of brand videos. Often brands will provide you with strict criteria and briefs for a campaign and I've had to learn how to follow these without alienating my readers. Plus there's GDPR too. It's never-ending and a job that you certainly can't sit still in.

11 - Being recognised in public 

The craziest part of having an online presence is being recognised in public and getting used to this. I remember the first time it happened back in 2014 - we were blogging for the Forestry Commission and taking part in their Gruffalo walk. It was a particularly cold day and 7-year-old Harry had had enough. He had a huge meltdown and ended up rolling around the floor saying he was bored, tired, hungry, thirsty and cold. We've all been there right! Just as we were trying to manage this tantrum, a lovely family walked up to us and introduced themselves and started talking about how they loved our blog. The timing could not have been more perfect and I was so embarrassed!

These days, we are recognised pretty much everywhere we visit in the North East - we've even been stopped in Orlando before. Some parents may feel a little paranoid about this and it does have safety implications but I'm pretty chilled about it all if I'm honest and I LOVE it when a reader stops us for a chat so if you spot us when out and about - please do say hello.

My kids are generally well-behaved but they do still have their moments and I used to worry about what people would think if they spotted us when out and about and I was sitting on my phone uploading a photo or I was filming a video or the kids were behaving badly but over the years I've learned that life is too short and we're just a 'normal' family and I think other people should see us like this too. We're definitely far from perfect, but who is?


12 - Feeling like you have to do it all

This probably applies to anyone who works from home. I estimate I work around 30-45 hours on my blog these days but as I'm at home all day where as Steve goes out to work, it feels like so much of the responsibility for running our family home is on me. I would say I do most of the cleaning now, I order the food shopping, I deal with all of the school admin, I'm the parent who helps with homework, organises after-school activities (in fact, I basically organise the kids lives). I'm the one who cooks the kids' dinner, makes the packed lunches, attends school meetings, reads with the kids, does 90% of the washing, cleans the Guinea Pigs out......I could go on.

Don't get me wrong, Steve more than pulls his weight when he's at home but it's just often the case that he's not here and I am so it falls on me. I think if I worked out of the home still it would be more of a 50/50 split but it just so happens that I'm at home so just crack on with it. I've learned that there's no point in feeling resentful about it - we're a team and everyone just does what needs to be done now and pulls their weight in different ways.

There may be days when I have a very heavy workload and have to spend the full day working before I pick the kids up - on these days, the breakfast dishes may still need to be washed when Steve gets home from work but we're both cool with that and it's the kind of compromise we've had to make. Other days, I might have less work and I might be able to do something like clean our cupboards out or declutter a room. It's swings and roundabouts.

Around one year into self-employment, I really struggled with feeling like I had to do it all and suffered pretty badly with feeling overwhelmed - so much so that it used to make me cry and I wouldn't know where to start. So I made a few changes (employing a cleaner, scheduling time off for myself, making sure Steve and I had time to ourselves away from blogging, giving the kids more responsibility and chores, putting the kids on school dinners for the last half of the week and regularly shopping online for groceries) and I feel a lot less overwhelmed and happier about working from home now. I haven't got the balance completely right, but I'm getting there.

13 - Blog awards 

I've had my ups and downs with blogging awards over the years. I won North East Blogger of the Year in 2014 and really think that helped to boost my confidence. Since then, I've been shortlisted for a couple of national blogging awards but nothing has ever come of it. What bugs me about most awards is that you have to ask your readers to vote for you, and as a naturally shy person, doing this makes me uncomfortable. Then there's the competitive aspect - I don't like competing with people I call my friends and it brings out the worst in me when I see other bloggers paying to boost Facebook posts asking for votes etc..... as I just don't think it's fair. Because of this, I never put myself forward for awards anymore.

BUT to my surprise, I've still be shortlisted for a national blogging award this year! I am so proud that North East Family Fun has made the finals of this year's BiBs2018. The BiBs (Brilliance in Blogging) awards are decided by public vote AND a judging panel so it doesn't feel as if the most popular blog or the blog who has the most money to spend on boosting their posts asking for votes will win. It feels a lot fairer.

Anyway, if you've enjoyed reading North East Family Fun and following our adventures this year, I'd really appreciate your vote. Simply select 'North East Family Fun' in the travel blog category (I think it's number 9) here: https://www.britmums.com/vote-for-the-bibs2018-finalists/ Voting closes on 21/9/18. Thanks for your support.


I'd love to hear about your thoughts on blogging? Do you share the same ups and downs as I do or if you don't blog at the moment, do you fancy giving it a try?

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The Pros and Cons of Blogging Full Time

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8 comments

  1. Brilliantly written insight into full time blogging Samantha. Like you say it definitely isn’t for the work shy. The thing I find the most difficult is having to do it all - writing, photography, video editing, pitching, invoicing, accounting, social media... there are many times over the last three years that I would of loved to have been working for a company and had an IT department to call to sort out my website issues, track down malware etc! I also work from my desk in the kitchen so I completely feel you re the dirty dishes stacking up on a busy day. Like you though I love what I do and it’s perfect for fitting in around family life:)

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  2. I’ve found this post really interesting! Thank you for sharing. Of course, I’ve already voted for you. One of the things I’m most grateful for in blogging is that you spotted one of my first blog posts and took me under your wing. I’m so lucky that one of my favourite bloggers has mentored me and become one of my best friends. You are such a beacon of how to do blogging right - you’ve got integrity, you always know what your audience wants and fit brand briefs around them so well. You are my daily inspiration. I’ll be keeping everything crossed that you win!

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  3. Great post Sam and love that we got a mention! Manchester was ace! We had no idea when we started our blog nearly 3 years ago that there was a fantastic north east online community of other bloggers! Your tips and ideas are invaluable to your readers! Keep doing what you are doing and good luck in the awards xxx

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  4. Loved reading this - nice to know how you manage your working life and made the step into full time blogging. Already voted for you in the awards.

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  5. Loved reading this, Sam. Even though I don't blog full time many of the points you have listed resonate with me. I have a spreadsheet that I add blog post ideas to and one of the ones I put down was 'why nobody close to me really understands what a blogger is' Mind you, I put them on the spreadsheet and half of them never get written!!

    It's weird isn't it when someone recognises you? I've had a couple of people do that .. certainly not on your scale .. only locally and its been more they recognise the blog name which kind of makes it feel good that hard work pays off.

    I too love the messages or comments on social or blog I get about people saying they've bought or done something.

    As you know you are always one of my go to people for sound, common sense advice.

    Loved your blog for a long time now ... I'm sure it will be around for years to come. Sharon xo

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  6. Great advice and wonderful insight, as ever! Thank you!

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  7. Brilliant read Sam! I will never forget the first time I ever met you - you seemed so so quiet and shy, who knew that you were a secret clever clogs with amazing skills! I think anyone can write a blog but very few have the skills required to make it into a full time job and you've done it all by dedicating so much time to perfecting your craft - there's a reason why EVERYONE always "asks Sam" - it's cos you're possibly the only one of us who truly knows what the hell she's doing!

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  8. Well done on a successful 3 years Sam ! I found this post so useful, people often don't talk about the struggles of tying to balance it all. Blogging certainly is a labour of love, you have to put your heart and soul into it to make it a success don't you.

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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