On April 1st 2016 I left a full time job & began focusing on my blog full-time. That job was working as a detox nurse in a residential unit for Dublin’s homeless community… The blog? It was yet to be a source of any income.
It’s important to note at this point that, while my nursing position was incredibly challenging and downright dangerous at times, I absolutely loved it. I chose to leave for reasons completely unrelated to having a blog… this was simply a happy coincidence which cushioned the blow of my untimely departure.
Due to the unlikely coincidence of said departure coinciding with potential work offers coming through my social platforms, I decided to roll with it & see where I ended up; certainly not the watertight plan of a business savvy individual but, as someone who’s always been open to change & thrived on new challenges I knew it was worth at least trying to make it work.
I sat propped against thin musty pillows on the bed of a dingy Melbourne house share the day I decided on the domain name icomeundone.com, I’d religiously scrolled lookbook.nu in the year leading up to my 2 year backpacking adventure & I suppose the lack of possessing any clothing that weren’t crumpled into the bottom of a well-traveled backpack is what had me searching for the far-fetched glamorous life of a fashion blogger.
My blog was planned as a space to simply share my outfits, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined just how much it would’ve evolved 4 years from that day… having gone without internet access for 2 years I was yet to hear about Instagram, had never heard of a press event and collaborating was something you did with friends when you wingman’ed them on an awkward first date.
For the first year I updated my blog with personal style posts around 3 times a week; these were curated on my days off from nursing shot by a very reluctant Sean in the front garden of the house we lived in on our return to Ireland.
I’d shuffle around feeling like a fish out of water as Sean shot endless pics without any consideration for the time I needed to get from one listless pose to another, I get angry at Sean for not waiting until I was ready, he’d get frustrated at how long I was taking, a scowl would then exasperate my resting bitch face aaaand, the result of our efforts would be something like this-
I came to realise that these posts weren’t really enjoyable to create and, weren’t really offering anything valuable to my readers so, started experimenting with my content; writing about my passions, Dublin culture and, a few advice posts thrown in when the mood struck me. This variation in my content increased blog traffic 10 fold, I became proud of the content I was creating and the positive feedback was a huge motivation.
At that point E-mails from brands & PRs became a lot more frequent with 9/10 expecting dedicated posts on your social sites sharing their brand to the following you’ve worked hard to build through constant content creation. The payment offered? A product from their range and exposure. The E word.
At this point in my blogging journey I understood that working on a barter basis was hugely important for getting your name out there if the brand was sharing the images on their social site but I also rationalised that payment with a product only works if A) You actually like the product enough to accept it instead of cash and B) You actually like the product enough to want to share it with your readers… both of which are pretty rare for me which is why I now turn most giftings down; I would never want to compromise my integrity and, the more time spent sharing gifted products, the less time you have to create more valuable content.
As the months went on, my content improved & with that my following grew, brands became less expectant of free advertising and, people become aware of what you have to offer.
I started working as a food stylist after companies noticed my food photography through the blog and with that I started shooting images for food & drinks brand’s social sites- a regular earner and a really fun way to work. I started working with exciting clothing brands who mostly found me on Instagram as this platform grew to compete with blogs then arguably, surpassed them in terms of reach and value.
I still get daily e-mails from brands expecting endless exposure in return for small gifting but the crux? I always respond, more importantly, I always respond politely to every single e-mail. Why? Because, you’re representing yourself as a brand AND lets face it, Ireland is bloody small so, being mute out of the assumption that this person contacting you has nothing worthwhile to offer can at best lead you to missing out on opportunities and at worst, leave you coming across as rude & looking unprofessional.
I’ve learnt that you never know whats going to come of an opportunity so I still gladly promote brands for free if I genuinely like them or, work for free if the ‘the E word‘ is actually worthwhile but I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts and know my worth. If a brand contact you then want to work with you, they want to access your following so don’t be afraid to insist on the treatment you know you deserve.
‘Blogger’ has become a dirty word in Ireland- people assume that we swan around attending fancy events & expecting free sh*t wherever we go but last I checked bloggers weren’t exempt from paying rent so, until my landlord accepts canapes as payment I’ll have to continue ensuring I keep my head above water with freelance & social media work.
Unlike working full time in a company we have no unions, no paid leave and, when paid jobs do come through we have absolutely no guarantee of getting paid on a certain date. We’re expected to offer our time free of charge every day of the week and, if an issue does arise there are zero policies to protect us.
As it stands blogging is profoundly unregulated which is a scary world to work in at times but thankfully blogger management has become more commonplace in Ireland in the last year meaning we can work with someone who represents us & negotiates for us for a fee… a much needed service.
I’ve seen the Irish blogging industry change hugely in the last 4 years and who’s to know where it’ll go from here but, if you’re reading this as someone who’s considering taking the leap the best advice I can give you is stay true to yourself and, never compromise your integrity… after that you’ll fly it 🙂
If you want it, go for it because, nobody will ever care more about your career than you do… its ok to live a life that others don’t understand.