Happy New Year everyone! I hope this will be a fabulous year for us all, and whether or not you believe in resolutions, I hope it is a year that brings you love, laughter and joy.
Looking back on last year, which is something I don’t always do as I only believe in moving forward, I cannot believe how much I achieved and how much my life changed. Last August marked my first full year as a full time blogger. I have now had my own business, which has branched out to full time PR as well as full time blogging, for 17 months and boy what a ride it has been.
I have learned so much about myself and others this year that I wanted to write it down for anyone in the same position. When I started this blog back in 2012, it was never with the intention of earning a living from it, it was purely a hobby. However, as I found my voice, my readership and my contact list began to grow, something magical happened. People wanted to work with me more, on a professional level.
Not only was I published in a few magazines last year, which was just incredible, but my PR Company landed its first clients. I hit goals and milestones that I could only dream of a few years previous and although those all important Instagram numbers haven’t hit the big 10k (Pah! Follow me HERE) that is by no means any reflection on my achievements and successes.
Believe you me, nothing about last year was easy, you don’t just suddenly hit the jackpot, the hustle is real. Working for yourself and being self employed means you literally only have yourself to blame when things go wrong. If you have deadlines and are sick, you still have to reach them and don’t get me started on working during the school holidays! You only have yourself to pay all the bills – and being a full time blogger is incredibly expensive with all the equipment, materials, meetings, travel, apps, software, laptops, cameras, lenses etc, etc to fork out for as well as paying the tax man the privilege of being your own boss. So for anyone thinking of taking the full-time plunge, a little nest egg will most certainly be needed on those dark days.
I missed social events due to work, I dedicated every, single, moment of my free time when I wasn’t being a mother to working, even at times at the detriment of my relationship. You see, sadly, something always falls behind when you are building your business, and people close to you may not always see your vision or understand that any job in social media is all time consuming.
I learned to heap praise on myself when I achieved great things, such as being interviewed for a magazine, or reaching the Million views milestone on my blog, or achieving over and above what a brand expected from me on a collaboration. So a few bottles of Champagne have been popped a long the way! Its doing these things – and shouting about them – that will keep your passion for your brand alive.
I also discovered that I work ALL THE TIME. My work ethic has always been amazing, I am one of those people that just can’t sit still, but when you work from home and see your laptop staring at you and deadlines looming, it can be really hard to switch off. Add to this the fact that I am also a mother and in charge of the school run, homework, dinner, washing, cleaning, shopping etc and etc, it can sometimes get totally overwhelming. So learning to schedule, plan and organise better became a priority of 2018.
Last year was also the year I finally learned to say no to people and brands. For too long I have been taken for granted as “That blogger that will write a great post for free” I know it, I enabled it….but last year I discovered my worth. I realised that the hours and days of effort and energy that went into testing products (weeks) then photography, editing, filming, more editing and writing, was worth so much more than a “free” sample. I took myself off PR lists (Shock horror!) as I didn’t want to feel obligated to write about brands that didn’t really have any relevance to my readers. Sadly, I also turned down many beautiful treatments, massages, facials, haircuts etc, purley because my schedule wouldn’t allow and I had to focus on work.
I had landed in a space where I had allowed myself to be used and that wasn’t something I liked. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I get paid for every post that lands on my blog, of course not, there are lots of products I buy myself and write about out of pure love, and lots of brands I feature because I know you love them and I believe in their product. But it is the brands that have worked with me for years and years and years…….knowing my readership level and worth…without any mention of a paid partnership that I had to start saying no to, for my sanity. Why miss spending time with my family because I am writing a blog post for a company that doesn’t care about me? The partnership has to work both ways, I think? I have no room for doubting myself on any level, and working like this constantly left me feeling as though I wasn’t good enough.
Being self employed can be so hard and also lonely, especially since I have moved far away from an area I have lived for forty years, and a home I loved for 21 years, but as they say a change is as good as a rest and as a family we made the huge decision to move home. I now have to make sure to schedule in lots more meetings in London in block bookings rather than the odd day here and there to make things work for me, but love figuring out this new timetable of events.
Noticing I was becoming totally overwhelmed towards the end of the year, having also moved home in October (did I mention that!!) I actually took two whole weeks off work at Christmas. I had finished my PR work for other brands and signed my blog off as “out of office” a week before Christmas. I just needed time for me and my family, without worrying about the six Facebook groups I solely run (comprising of almost 10,000 members) my blog, reviewing, testing and featuring beauty products. I have managed to work on my relationships with family and friends and realised that the hard work of last year and laying down the foundations for my future has passed and as long as I keep everything on an even keel and take time out for myself, my husband and children and those I love, everything will be ok. The world will not stop if I take a day off!
Now I am absolutely raring to go! I have an energy and a passion for my brand again! I know where I want to take my blog, working with more brands on a professional level to bring you those all important new beauty and skincare releases for us more mature women, as well as concentrating on my You Tube Channel HERE. Thanks to all of your feedback and constant dedication, you have let me know exactly what you want from me and that has put such fire in my belly. I am also taking on more clients within my PR business and love helping them find their way within social media and advertising. MY brand is growing from strength to strength and I just could not be happier.
I just want to take this moment to thank you, my amazing readers for being so, so supportive. I know years ago I was trolled horridly and obsessively for two years, but now my following is full of wonderful, like minded people who inspire me as much as I hope I inspire them. I just want you all to know that you can go for your dream and with lots of hard work and passion, it can become your reality. I am always happy to lend an ear, offer advice where I can. Also a huge, huge thank you to all those amazing brands that collaborated with me last year. It was incredible and looking back I am so proud of the work I created and all of my achievements.
Here’s to a bigger, better brighter future here at Back To You Beauty! Are you with me?
I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment below xx