You’d be amazed how many times I get asked this on a monthly basis. It’s up there with ‘how can I get 1,000 subscribers overnight’ and ‘how do I become a sponsored Channel Mum vlogger’. Unfortunately, neither of which I’d be very helpful with, I’m afraid!
I started my blog back when I was pregnant with the toddler and it was meant to just be a little hobby. Something to help alleviate the isolation and loneliness of moving to a new area, and not knowing anyone, weeks before our daughter was born. I don’t do well on my own, and like to keep busy, so it was an absolute life saver in those early days.
Anyone who knows me in real life will know I have a bit of a problem with perfectionism (note a rather long period of my life that was slightly consumed by an eating disorder and OCD tendencies). And often when I start a little project, I plough more and more of my efforts and energy into it until it becomes something way bigger than I ever imagined. I’m not very good at failing and get a bit carried away with myself sometimes!
I have been blogging (on and off) for about three years and vlogging for just over two years (I think) and I’ve probably only had a few weeks off doing it, in total, in that time. I also have a full time ‘day job’ (and two kids!!!!) that keeps me busy and so my time for my ‘passion project’ is very limited. I have to work my back side off in the time I do have.
Our blog and YouTube channel have grown beyond what I ever thought they would. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no big fish by any stretch of the imagination. I am a very, very small fish in a huge, big online parenting community but I have been able to start to earn an income from them. Some months it’s great. And other months not much comes through at all. I’m lucky that I have my 9-5 stable income from the day job, and so I don’t have to place a huge emphasis on my earnings from this site and the YouTube channel. But it is nice to be rewarded for your work. And that’s exactly what it is. Work. At the moment I class it as a second full time job, whilst I’m on maternity leave from the other full time job!
I’m not going to lie. There are perks to turning your hobby into something that can earn you an income. But, please, never for a minute think that you get sent all sorts of products for free. ‘Free’ implies nothing is expected in return. And if you are working with brands, big and small, advertisers or independent agencies and people, then believe me, there is approximately a 0.000000001% chance they want nothing in return. You will be expected to produce some form of work or content for them.
‘Free’ isn’t spending hours writing text for a blog post, re-wording it, re-reading, correcting and editing it.
‘Free’ isn’t spending forever and a day teaching yourself how to edit photos, and to spend hours actually doing so.
‘Free’ isn’t trying to answer emails on your phone at any given opportunity – be it in the bath, on the toilet, in the queue at the post office or when your silent reflux baby decides to have an 8 minute nap.
‘Free’ isn’t spending hours upon hours setting up social media posts and replying to comments.
‘Free’ isn’t constantly scoping out new locations for product shots.
‘Free’ isn’t giving up an evening on the sofa with the husband to spend hours editing videos. Making sure you have the right clips shot and the right music, animations and text set up to go with them.
‘Free’ isn’t thinking you are done with the video editing only to remember you now have to create a thumbnail for the video. Often using two different apps, which is the case in my situation sometimes!
And ‘free’ isn’t staying up till 2 or 3 am every single night, because you don’t want to work when the kids are awake, to get all your work done.
Even the amount of work that goes into producing one Instagram photo for a campaign can take hours. I wasn’t aware of things like this until I started blogging and vlogging, and so I completely get it when people immediately say ‘oh you’re so lucky, you get so many free products’. I just thought it might be useful to explain it in a little more detail to help others understand.
It’s also quite hard to balance ‘paid work’/reviews and your own personal content, such as baby updates. I, personally, like having a mix of personal and review content etc, but that can be quite hard to manage and achieve. You have to prioritise the paid work, but then your other posts can suffer. You have to take into account what your readers, viewers and followers will think. I would never want people to think I’m selling out. and so only work with brands I genuinely like the look of and would honestly recommend.
By all means if you want to work with brands and review products then go for it, why not! It’s a great perk to blogging and I feel incredibly blessed and honoured that brands are interested in working with little old me. I still get a ‘pinch myself’ feeling when some opportunities come through. But please, please don’t think that I am swanning about with my ‘free buggies and changing bags’ and not actually doing any work in return for them. I would hate for people to think that. It also takes a lot of time and effort to build up your online presence to a stage where brands will see you as worthwhile to work with. A bit harsh but true unfortunately.
If you do want advice on how to work with brands and review products then my biggest tips would be:
As I write this it’s 12.30am and everyone is in bed…but I always get a little buzz at scheduling a post or video and hope you all continue to enjoy them!
I’ll leave you with this quote – ‘The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it’.
Good night :)