One of my most feared questions has to be ‘so, what do you do?’. Whenever people ask me about my work life, I find it really hard to give them a concise answer. The truth is, I do so many different things as a digital creative, its really hard to put that under a simple umbrella term. So usually, I tell them I’m a freelance writer. In truth, this means I create content, both written and visual, for a range of platforms, including my own. Some of you out there might be wondering if this falls under the scope of the ‘influencer’ and ‘lifestyle blogger’. To some extent, yes. But there’s a lot more to it than that. In this post, I’m going to be considering a question I get asked quite often; is lifestyle blogging a viable career?
There’s no short answer to this. It’s undeniable that our increasingly digital world has opened up doors for people, now more than ever before, to forge their own career paths in online media. The rise of the social media influencer over the past few years is unmistakeable, regardless of your opinions on the topic.
But as our lives have been absorbed more frequently into an online culture, where is the boundary between being an influencer, being a lifestyle blogger and being a freelance writer? And more importantly, are these three aspects of digital creation actually viable career paths?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the post. I’m sure there are many of you who this will resonate with, so do let me know what you think.
So, is lifestyle blogging a viable career or just a hobby?
The truth is that nowadays, it can be either or both. I’ve lost count of the many people who’ve told me they’re thinking of starting a blog, only for the novelty to wear off soon afterwards. Often this happens when they reach the inevitable crossroads of ‘am I going to view this as a job, or as a hobby?’.
It’s important to discuss that distinction; many of the more successful lifestyle bloggers have seen rapid growth and recognition because they made that choice early on. Those who treat their blogs as their work rather than a hobby are usually the ones who begin to (eventually) see paid income from them as a result.
That being said, it’s absolutely fine to run a lifestyle blog for hobby purposes! It all depends on what you want to get out of it, ultimately. But, if you’re serious about setting up your own career as a lifestyle blogger, make sure you treat it as work from the get-go. You’ll thank yourself for doing so later down the line.
How is a lifestyle blogger different from an Instagram influencer?
This is something that a lot of people find confusing, but it needn’t be! The main difference here is that for a lifestyle blogger, their blog – e.g. their body of written content, is what constitutes their work. They may also use Instagram as a way to promote themselves and their digital content, but it’s often their written pieces that help them generate a living.
On the other hand, an out and out Instagram influencer generates their workload primarily via their Instagram posts – their catalogue of visual content. Some Instagram influencers don’t have a blog at all, they promote products and services via their photo and video content. Others do have a blog, but it’s often a secondary component to their Instagram work.
The line can get a bit blurred at times, as some Instagram influencers may refer to themselves as being bloggers, even when they don’t actually run a blog. It’s easy to see why some people get confused! But this is another aspect of how digital media is evolving; blogging and social media are becoming increasingly interchangeable, which can open up doors for those who may be better at expressing their creativity visually as opposed to via their writing.
The evolution of a lifestyle blog
As mentioned, what can start out as an idea, or a hobby, can rapidly evolve into a viable career path, once your mindset shifts. Often, a successful lifestyle blog has a moment where it changes gear and transforms into a brand in its own right. When you start to view your blog, social media and all the other strands of creation and promotion you do as a brand; that’s when you can consider your new path as being a career.
For me, the term ‘lifestyle blogging’ in itself isn’t always helpful. It’s such a broad term that often yields connotations around niche topics such as beauty and fashion, for example. But what if your lifestyle revolves around other areas? Perhaps you’re someone who does a lot of charity work and you want to write about that. Perhaps you’ve got a strong interest in video games, politics, art, finances, entrepreneurship.
Does the term ‘lifestyle blogger’ really sit well with the themes of your personal brand? If not, perhaps you can consider another aspect of being a digital creative; the freelance writer.
Is a freelance writer the same as a lifestyle blogger?
Sort of, but also not really. I told you it was confusing! While it’s clear that the rise of lifestyle bloggers and social media influencers has been meteoric, what of those who call themselves freelance writers? My own perception of this is that choosing the path of the freelance writer may enable you to access a wider variety of publications in which to create, share, and promote your work. I believe freelance writers have a little bit more freedom to create for both their own personal brand and for that of others, something that can prove lucrative as your reputation and portfolio grows.
In essence, being a freelance writer is, for me, a way to ensure you don’t end up penned into the niche concept of being a ‘lifestyle blogger’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course if it’s what your personal brand is all about! But personally, my scope of interests is far too broad for me to be happy consistently creating content around the core themes of ‘lifestyle’. It’s helped me to grow beyond the limits of my own blog, as I’ve written and contributed to a number of online publications and collaborated with a range of brands as a result.
Ultimately, what you call yourself doesn’t matter as long as you’re viewing your content creation as a career. Treat it with the same level of effort and respect that you would in a traditional paid employment and you’ll start to see the rewards and experience real growth.
What do I do when I start to see growth as a lifestyle blogger or freelance writer?
First of all, get organised. The most successful digital creatives should all give you the same advice. Organise your finances, organise your workflow. Whether you’re a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer or social influencer, if you’re earning from your content creation then you’re going to need to class yourself as self-employed. In the UK especially, once you’ve earned over £1000, you need to register as being self-employed and start keeping records of all your business transactions.
My advice would be to actually start tracking your finances as soon as you start doing paid work. It’ll get you into the habit of being financially organised but more importantly, it’ll shift you into the mindset of ‘this is a paid job’. Once you make that mental shift, you’ll begin to see greater traction in your work efforts.
You may want to consider getting an accountant or some financial software to help you do this, but it’s definitely one of the best ways to establish a basis for consistent growth as an online creative.
Next, you need to organise your workflow. Timetable your month, plot out your week. On which days will you create content? On which days will you promote it? When will you work on outreach and PR? How will you ensure a steady stream of jobs and opportunities? Plan, plan and plan some more. Then go out into the online world and make it happen!
So, is lifestyle blogging a viable career? Yes, but you’ve got to put the planning and the work in. If you look at the superstardom of online influencers and think to yourself ‘I could do that’, then great – but make sure you recognise the commitment and effort that actually goes on behind the scenes. Social media is not the only component of a blogger or brand’s success (although it certainly helps!) – hard work and organisation are the backbone of that growth. So, treat it like a career and there’s every possibility that in this digital age, it can become one.
What do you think about lifestyle blogging as a career?
I’d love to hear from you on this topic. I’ve only covered it briefly here, but it’d be interesting to know what you all think. I’d especially love to hear from my fellow digital creatives, freelance writers and social media influencers! Leave your comments in the box below and I’ll get back to them as soon as I can.