Photograph by Kirsty Mattsson from the official shoot for Nova Harley.
I’m often asked what my career is and although I’m a trained, award winning filmmaker and adore directing, the last few years have seen me become a full time blogger, a career that happened organically and is one I LOVE.
Professional blogging is a lucrative career and it has also opened many doors for me from appearing on camera in parenting films for Yahoo to recently modelling worldwide for designer baby bags Nova Harley after they discovered me via my style blog, with even a recent appearance in Vogue below! Crazy but true!
Yes, I’ve also been developing a TV project for a while so my fingers are still in the media pie (see my film website here) but my living is predominantly made via this blog here and my style blog mummysgotstyle.com.
It doesn’t mean I won’t one day return to filmmaking but right now blogging stimulates me, it’s been my choice to pursue it and it works so much better than directing for me, around my little family.
It is so creative too, you are your own editor and my background as a writer, director, editor and teacher have all contributed to this here blog.
I actually read a brilliantly candid post by one of my favourite bloggers Alice over on More than Toast: Blogging as a Business: How I turned my Blog into my Career which prompted me to share my own experience as a professional blogger. And it’s about time too as I’m often asked lots of questions by new bloggers and even friends and family on how I started and what it takes to monetise a blog.
I’m so proud to earn a great living doing what a love, a living that equals what I earned as a freelance TV and promo director but which allows me to see my kids rather than working away or being on set for 15 hour days, most days.
Now, I don’t even have to leave the house if I don’t want to. It is still a full time job though which means I need childcare to make it work (thank goodness for parents, nursery and pre-school) but I’m around a lot, can work on evenings if I need to and being my own boss, means I make it work for me.
How did it all begin?
I started honestmum.com in November 2010 when my first son Oliver was 10 months old- I felt lost going from directing hundreds on set to just baby and I, pretty lonely and in desperate need of rediscovering my voice, but I wasn’t sure how…
My best friend and fellow filmmaker Amancay Tapia would listen to stories of my new parenting life and encouraged me (daily) to start a blog until I finally did. I will always be grateful to Amancay for her brilliant powers of persuasion.
After four weeks of mostly writing about relocating to Leeds from Bristol via London to be close to my Big Fat Greek Family, I was stunned to make it as a finalist at the Brit Mums’ Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Fresh Voice Category…
This accolade helped me to regain my confidence, so much so that I went back on set to direct fashion commercials a month later.
It also helped to raise my blog’s profile and of course gave me so much more, a community who understood what I was going through, a foundation for advice and encouragement and a whole set of new, smart, caring friends online.
I was soon approached by a PR company who wanted to advertise with me and this happened frequently in my first year although I mostly declined being too busy on set… but things quickly took off with my blog so much that by the time my second baby came along I was a registered company reaching new heights daily. I’m not trying to brag, merely to inspire (you too can make it happen for yourself)…
I never set out for my blog to become my career but I’m glad and grateful it has. It helps that the last few years has seen blogging and particularly the parenting community of bloggers become recognised for the influential writers that we are.
In fact I had a meeting last year with a HUGE agency (they rep A list actors, directors, screenwriters etc) regarding my filmmaking work, they spent a lot of the meeting discussing my blogging. Goes to show!
…We are relateable, wise, funny and powerful and better believe it. Our voices matter whether we want to create a business or not.
So along with writing about my passions: my family, food, films and the constant juggle that is freelance life with kids, I also post a lot of self written sponsored content for brands I genuinely love including Evian, Hobbs, Ebay, John Lewis, Waitrose, Very, Zalando, Fairy and many, many more.
I sometimes also pop well written paid guest posts up too if I feel it’s relevant to my readers. Magazines need advertising to publish so I feel this is no different for my blogs and I.
Additionally, I recently took part in a commissioned live Google + hangout for Selfridges with renowned make up artist Charlotte Tilbury and I’m often paid to tweet (always marked with #spon of course). Kim Kardashian must be s***ing herself huh!
Seriously though, I find the world of blogging and social media exciting, I love that I have carved out a brand for my blogs whiles having fun and as a prolific writer anyway, find this an easy way to make a living with a young family in tow.
I charge high fees and having been a film magazine editor and currently a freelance writer, screenwriter and lecturer (even writing for the Guardian whiles studying for my first degree in journalism), I know the rates of freelance writers and frankly and most importantly, I know my worth. I hope you know yours too!
I would advise to start high-ish when negotiating fees then there’s always room for manoeuvre. You can offer a slightly discounted rate for several commissions if you like or guaranteed future work. Start practicing making those deals so you feel comfortable taking money.
I’m lucky that I work with on the whole, PR’s and agencies who hugely value bloggers and appreciate and respect this is our job, paying well and offering suitable clients that are of interest to my followers… but of course like any industry, there are some who will try it on so it’s down to us ALL to set the standard and reject silly offers and blogging for free. Worthy reviews are not the same as blogging for no fee, you are getting something out of it and that’s down to you whether you want to agree.
Additionally certain PR opps might be beneficial to you, press events that help you connect to others for future work or ways you’ll get publicity might be beneficial but be wise and make sure you prioritise the paid gigs.
I do take on review posts myself, products or events, shows etc that add value to mine and my family’s life, big and small but paid work does what it say on the tin, so those will always come first.
So who do PR’s want to work with?
Self hosted blogs to start with and those of a PR Google Ranking of 2 and above although ones of 3 and over will gain the most work and of course PR’s check stats using several sites and online listings to assess your influence and authority.
Don’t worry though as stats and ‘blogging power’ will grow as your content does (content is king remember whether you want to earn from your blog or not and thus drives everything) so work on that first, hone your voice, invest in an online writing course or improve your photography skills if you feel you need to, and soon enough more readers and fellow bloggers will become familiar with your blog, link to you, creating more back links for your site which will in turn affect your popularity and thus google ranking and desirability to advertisers.
Most of your stats will come from search engines though so blogging daily if you can (I sometimes blog several times a day) will help with this and installing an SEO plug in will enable you to check how well each post will do online before you hit publish.
The easiest way to get your blog better known of course is to comment lots and LOTS on other posts and regularly, and of course if you want to monetise, comment on paid posts you see (most are and should be disclosed as such, so look out for ‘sponsored’ and ‘featured/ in association with’ etc marked posts, as that’s a great way of getting the PR’s attention who commissioned the post in the first place.
Commenting also leaves your blog URL links everywhere so make sure you include yours when leaving your thoughts on other’s posts. Leaving interesting, engaging comments will direct traffic to your blog. Also don’t forget to include URLS elsewhere online from your Linkedin profile to your twitter handle and beyond. Links equal clicks.
Partaking and hosting linkies is another useful way to gain greater exposure for you and your blog (international ones too) whiles sharing your passions with others.
Promote and plug away and try to become a lot more American about shouting about your blog (as a freelancer I’ve never found this hard but realise it’s not so easy for everyone, simply start slow and build your confidence gradually!)
Some American bloggers are earning 6 figure salaries so think big and don’t be afraid to market yourself!
Plus, if PR’s aren’t coming to you (it takes time to build your rank and be discovered), seek out clients via twitter and be a bit tenacious. What’s the worst someone can say? No? Oh well, next! Develop a thick skin and learn to deal with rejection, I have years of freelance practice so it doesn’t bother me now…
Remember talent rises to the top, always, so write about what you know and want to read yourself, your voice is individual so never forget that, simply be inspired by those you love and value, life of course and read widely (not just blogs from your own community) whiles continuously raising your game.
Back to paid posts…I always try and post an interesting, non paid post close to posting a paid one to hopefully prevent my readers feeling alienated, but I do also try and ensure paid content is well written and fun to read and illustrated well (if you can’t take high res pics yourself it’s very cheap to purchase stock photos online)…
Competitions are also a great way to bring ‘the stats to the yard’ and Rafflecopter has to be my favourite widget and way of marketing my competitions.
Do add your competition URL’s to other comp sites too as a way of promoting.
BritMums has a great giveaways thread , Prize Finder, Money Saving Expert and Super Lucky Blog are also good ways to bring new people to your site. Request entries like and follow your social media channels for an extra boost for you! You’ll inevitably lose some but many will stay on, hooked by your fab content of course or for the next comp at the very least!
Other tips would be to keep your blogs looking clean, clear, stylish, enticing and as professional as possible (I use a web designer Amee D’Souza for my own sites and of course it helps my husband takes beautiful photographs and is an IT guru to boot!
Please don’t forget to make it easy for potential PR’s to find you too-ensure your email address is clickable and all your social media buttons are clear and near the top of your blog.
Also look at where your traffic is coming from-Pinterest? Instagram? Twitter? I use tweetdeck to schedule tweets so I can be living/working whiles twitter promotes my posts for me. Do consider promoting your archived posts too as well as linking old posts to new linkies, giving new life to pre-written content easily.
Please do use the comments to ask me any questions. I’ve tried to cover as much as possible- I’m constantly learning too with this ever-evolving exciting brave new blogging world but I hope this post might have shed more light on blogging as a career.
Now go earn some money!