It’s easy to forget when when you’re self employed just how important it is to network. When you’re confined to your bedroom desk or the corner of your local hipster café, it’s simple to become absorbed in your own deadlines and editing and admin and to forget that you’re a part of a much larger industry. Blogging isn’t just made up of bloggers – it’s made up of marketing companies, PR reps, photographers, graphic designers, freelance journalists and every other thread of this tangled web we weave. I used to see bloggers heading into the country’s capital for “meetings” more than I saw my own family, and I could not for the life of me understand what they were meeting about. The irony of that is that I would then head into the office the next morning and straight back out to a meeting with a potential client. Now I find myself heading into London at least once a week, meeting new people and building new relationships every time. Whilst a facet of this is to of course try and stimulate new collaborations, a lot of it is just being an active part of the blogging industry and networking with other’s within it. A good coffee or two a day can’t hurt either, can it?
2. Confidence with money
When I first started to charge for blog posts and social posts, I was useless with negotiations. I was terrified of overcharging and as such, ended up undercharging for a ~ really ~ long time. Now I’m well versed with the typical email exchanges: “Could you do a package for ‘x’ amount?” “I’m sorry, the lowest I could go is ‘x’” “Okay, would you also be able to include ‘x’?” “Yes, I can do this, this and this.” Finally feeling confident enough to not only negotiate fees but to also state that this is what my work is worth and I won’t do anything for less has allowed me focus more on the work I want to do, rather than the work I feel like I have to do. If knowing what to charge is a blogger bugbear that’s bothering you, then the best thing I can recommend is to confide in other bloggers and share together. Being able to discuss it with other people in a similar position to me has always been extremely helpful, but just make sure you are friends first – there’s nothing worse than a stranger asking you about your income!
3. A Mentor
Without really knowing it, my boss has been an incredible mentor to me. She started her own business from her dining room table and has now built the company up to an office and a team of four, all from her own hard-work, gumption and ambition. She’s the kind of person to say yes to anything and is always willing to take a risk and ask for more and go that one step further, all of which inspire me to do the same. Whether your mentor is your Mum, your boss or Julie down the road, it’s always good to be able to pick someone’s brains when it comes to running your own business, even if you’re not in the same industry. Oh, and if you know an accountant, hold on to them dearly because they may just become a resourceful pot of gold.
Positive, right? It may sound morbid, but the fear of failure continues to be a motivator for me. Say I have a good month – well, that’s bloody great, but what happens if that slows down and it doesn’t happen again and oh my god will I be able to pay my phone bill and WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY CARD HAS BEEN DECLINED FOR THIS COFFEE? I never want to go backwards, I only want to progress. The fear of not being financially secure, and actually, the fear of not being fulfilled in my career always spur me on to keep going, to branch out, to push harder. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a lay in and a lazy day, but I never become complacent. It can always be better, so embrace the fear and harness it to make yourself better.
Time has been my greatest teacher (philosophical, huh?). Becoming a better businesswoman is something that naturally comes from time and experience, in the same way that blog and social growth most often come from time and experience too. As the months have gone by I’ve been able to learn what content I love creating the most and what performs the best, along with what actually makes me feel good about my work. On the flip side, I’ve also been able to experience some lows and well as highs. I’ve had exciting projects given to other bloggers at the last minute, quiet periods of no work and times where I’ve felt really unsettled and unfocused with what I’m doing. In an industry where there aren’t many set guidelines or concrete routes for us to take, we’re all inevitably learning as we go along, but if you’re feeling that you aren’t in the place you want to be then do keep going, but also give yourself time. If you work hard, it will come.