With so many career-focused fashion blogs popping up, it's time to show a little love to the ladies and gents that see blogging as a creative outlet, rather than a way to pay the bills.
Geri Hirsch, the founder of the curatorial blog because i'm addicted, started posting in 2005 while she was miserable working a finance job. It was a way to show her friends what she was up to, “much like a Facebook wall,” she said in a recent conversation.
She admits that her blog does generate a substantial amount of income with advertisements, however because she's kept it as more of a side project rather than a career, she's felt that she has less pressure to force posts. “I pay attention to analytics, I'm a perfectionist by nature. I get bummed out if my numbers drop but not too much,” she admitted. “No one helps me, I do it myself — it's still a hobby.”
“For me it always felt like something I could fall back on since it has been successful,” she continued. For example, if one day she had a family, she would have her blogging as a back up career. Hirsch does plan to have a business based off of her blog soon, and believes the following she's gained can leverage a launching pad into a successful business — even if the business isn't exactly within the blog.
I also spoke with Michelle and Marie, the ladies behind the blog Kingdom of Style, about what motivates them to keep blogging as a side project and why keeping a blog is still beneficial even if it's not a career.
I categorize you both as ‘hobby' bloggers since you use your blog as more of a side project even though you have had success. What are your day jobs?
Michelle: Whilst we don't earn a living from our blog, I don't actually consider us just “hobby bloggers.” It is a side project, yes, but we do approach our blog in a very professional way. It certainly wouldn't be any better if we did it full time and, in many instances, we have much more involved content compared to some professional bloggers. I guess I consider the blog more like a second job, albeit an upaid one. In my other paid job, I work for a large digital design agency as a designer.
Marie: I'm in total agreement with Michelle here, I wouldn't really be happy being labelled a “hobby blogger.” We have been blogging professionally since 2006, long before many other ‘career bloggers' were even aware of blogging. Although there is no commercial element to our blog, we are totally committed to producing original and quality content. During the day, I am creative director in small design and marketing company.
How do you find time to work on your blog on a regular basis? How often do you post?
Michelle: We post twice a day. All my spare time is split between the blog and ballet. My weekends are now entirely devoid of a social life now, as all of it is spent on blog stuff – writing, researching, blog maintenance, photographing stuff.
Marie: We don't find the time, we make the time. We post twice a day — every weekday.
Why do you chose to keep blogging as a ‘hobby' rather than a full time career, especially when you have a solid following?
Michelle: Personally, I don't like the uncertainty of blogging as a career. It's great now, but will it always be this great? With social platforms things change all the time. Nothing has longevity. I feel brands will eventually stop paying the kind of money they do to bloggers, and I wouldn't like to be in a possible position where I relied on brands paying me x amount only for them to stop and I'm left having to find the shortfall. It's all too risky for me personally.
But also cluttering the blog with banner advertising just isn't our thing. Not to mention that fact there are 2 of us so any money, once it's split, is probably never going to be enough to sustain a reasonable living anyway.
Marie: I think perhaps age, experience and location have a little something to do with it. Both Michelle and I had established careers and hectic ‘real lifes' before the blog was established. The blog was started as a distraction and for fun, not for commercial gain. If we had been younger and based in London, we may have been less secure in our vision of what we wanted the blog to be and have been more easily persauded to monetize the blog and take a more commercial mainstream approach.
What keeps you motivated?
Michelle: For me, doing something well and being proud of it motivates me. I've never been the kind of person to do the bear minimum to get by, I believe in giving 100% to every venture, even if you don't get paid. I'm really proud of the blog and love what we write about and I think the work that goes into it really shows. Seeing a good end product motivates me I guess.
Marie: We're motivated because we write about what we genuinely love. But there is no denying that it is a challenge and hard work.
Have you ever considered stopping?
Michelle: There are times when I've thought about stopping, of course. We don't always get people interacting now via comments, which sometimes makes it feel a bit pointless, but then I find something I'm excited about and want to share and I realise it's still worth doing. I'll do it while I get pleasure from it. If I found myself in a position where I had to force myself to post each day, then I'd need to question my motifs for continuing.
Marie: When you are tired and down, you do sometimes think – “what's the point of it all?” But then a wonderful email drops into The Kingdom inbox and you are revitalized and ready to rock again.
Do you know of any other hobby bloggers that you enjoy?
Michelle: I actually can't think of any other non-commercial bloggers off hand. All the blogs I read are all now using their blog for revenue or some sort.
Marie: Again, I really don't like to use the tag “hobby” it seems somehow dismissive. People like Louise from Super Duper Things and Joanne from Godammit, I'm Mad! like us, have just been doing their own unique and wonderful thing for years and years without feeling the need to succumb to advertising
Does it ever feel overwhelming?
Michelle: Yes. I'd be lying if I said having a full time job and blogging as much isn't ocassionally overwhelming. We've given ourselves the weekend off from blogging now, which helps free up some time for getting together content. The reality is you can't have a good end result if you don't put in the work. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Marie: Yes, especially when you ‘hit the wall' and can't imagine how on earth you are going to come up with anything original and interesting to say the next day. Sometimes it seems unbelievable that we have been writing for over 6 years. That's a whole lot of posts…
Does it help that there are two of you working on the blog together?
Michelle: It helps diversify the content. But we actually work very separately. We have a schedule we work to, but we rarely actually discuss the blog together.
Marie: It does help ease the strain without doubt. There is a great emotional security that comes from knowing that you are part of a team and have each others back.
What do you think the main difference is between the motivation behind the hobby blogger versus the career blogger?
Michelle: Paying the rent I guess. We are not motivated to blog because our rent depends on it. If my rent relied on me posting every day I think it'd be too stressful. I suppose, for me, the motivation is just to have something I'm really proud of. The bottom line we don't have to blog. Our readers could dwindle away to nothing and it wouldn't make a difference because we are not relying on readers converting to sales for our advertisers.
Marie: The key word again is independence. We are not beholden to anyone. This is our blog. We do and say exactly what we like without fear of offending advertisers. The minute you stop being authentic, you and your blog are in big trouble…
[Image credit: Kingdom of Style]