November 2017 marked my first month being fully self-employed! I’ve survived in this self-employment blogging world for over a year and a half and I’m honestly so so so freaking proud of myself. It’s hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life and for almost 3 years I barely made any money at all but now all that has changed. Just like my weight loss journey hard work and dedication truly do pay off in the end.
Recently, so many of you have been curious about how I transitioned into full-time blogging and I thought it would be a helpful story to share since so many have been wondering how I did it. I took the true Capricorn approach, slow, steady, cautious, realistic and worked my way into becoming fully self-employed. I know several people who jumped right in but for me, at the time it just wasn’t possible because I still had so much to learn before I could successfully jump out on my own!
Truthfully, there really is no “right” time to take the leap but after reading my story I hope it will give you comfort and confidence to know that you will just know when it’s time! I always trust my gut instincts, they never lead me wrong and I hope you do too! Okay grab a snack, a drink, and get comfy because this is a long one!
To really start this story I have to go back to June 2015. I was working for the government in D.C as a full-time contractor doing graphic design. I had my blog and my Instagram but back then I wasn’t monetizing either of them, they were just a fun side project for me. Actually, I didn’t even know at the time I should be trying to monetize them!
Anyways, I walked into my job I legitimately hated for the last time but I didn’t know it. I found out later that day I was being “laid off”. As I cried at my desk packing up all of my stuff I started to freak out because not only was I out of a job but I had a flight scheduled to visit my family in Southern California in just 11 days from the day I was laid off. I made my way back to my apartment and basically cried myself to sleep that night. When I woke up the next day I knew in my gut that I wanted to try to move to California and actually change my career. I had talked about doing this so much already that it felt like the universe was just telling me to hurry up and just do it already. But I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen in just 11 days. My goal was to get on my scheduled flight and basically never come back! And I freaking did it. I found someone to take over my lease, I sold my car, hired movers to move my stuff across the country, had an amazing goodbye party with all my east coast friends and 11 days later I was on a plane to California. Looking back I think this was all part of my life plan and it taught me so much, but it was stressful AF.
Once I got to California, I moved in with my parents for about 6 months to figure out what my next move was going to be. Meanwhile, I kept up with my blog and my Instagram. Posting to my IG daily and on my Snapchat as well, I continued to grow and share my ups and downs.
I knew I didn’t want to go back to a 9-5 graphic design job and I wanted to move into the wellness space and I thought I wanted to become a personal trainer. For those of you that do not know, I had various personal trainers throughout my weight loss journey and they truly helped transform my body and mind. I wanted to be able to do that for other women going through what I went through, a major lifestyle change.
My parents, at the time, belonged to Equinox and I would go with my mom to workout with her and her trainer. One day her trainer suggested I do the Equinox personal training class and that I should start working at the front desk so I could transition into being a trainer at Equinox easier if that’s what I wanted to do. I thought, yes, this seems like the perfect solution. So I was hired basically immediately to work an entry-level front desk position, making minimum wage. I signed up for the PT class and then started driving up to West LA every weekend for about 8 weeks to attend the classes. During the week I would work, workout, and study for my PT exam.
Meanwhile, I was still gramming away and blogging here and there. When the Equinox PT class ended I signed up to take my PT exam and passed! I was so relieved and excited. Now the next step for me was to try to actually get hired as a trainer.
I had several interviews at Equinox but to be completely honest I really wasn’t confident in what I was doing and it showed completely in my interviews. Having to train someone on the spot in an interview was terrifying to me. But I was pushing through the discomfort and unknown to try to help others!
Meanwhile, my youngest sister sends me screenshots of a job description to be an assistant to a celebrity trainer. It got my attention and I decided to apply, minutes later I heard back from her and we met the next week for coffee. A couple of weeks later I decided to go work for her instead of pursuing the PT path. I knew that it would be there eventually for me if I ever wanted to go back.
I was able to move up to LA and I had a very flexible schedule and worked from home. Meaning I could continue doing my IG and blog as much as I wanted as well. While I continued to keep up with my social media presence I was learning a ton about running a business from the amazing woman I was working for. She also introduced me to some amazing people and I felt so lucky to be working with her.
Since I had figured out my LA job, had an LA apartment, now it was time for me to start to make some friends and figure out how to get myself into the event space. For a blogger going to events is amazing for networking and making friends in the industry.
I started using the hashtag #losangeles and #blogger more and slowly started to get more invites to events. I went to almost all of these events knowing absolutely no one and learned very quickly to make friends. Thankfully so many of the other bloggers and influencers I did meet at the beginning are still my friends today. It’s definitely not easy to do but I knew it would make me so much happier to create friendships with others in my industry.
Once I started making friends, my next step was to figure out how I could really start working with brands and create meaningful partnerships and collaborations.
When I moved to LA, I also began taking my yoga practice more seriously which led me to one of my very first ever long-term exclusive partnerships. However, because I was clueless when it came to reading contracts or even knowing what I was worth I made one of the biggest mistakes ever by signing an exclusive contract for $0.00. At the time, I was THRILLED that I secured a long-term partnership I had no clue that others doing the same thing as I was were getting paid over $1500 a month! BUT the silver lining out of this mistake was the introduction to a blogger that helped me tremendously! She was also an ambassador for the same brand as I was and we met up to take photos one day and take a yoga class. I was SO nervous to meet her in real life, I had been following her forever and she was the girl I looked up to and wanted to be like!
One day we met up to hang out and chat (I asked her SO many questions and she was so open and honest with me) and she told me straight up what I needed to start doing. As soon as I left her apartment, I went home and got to work! I was finally ready to take becoming a full-time blogger as seriously as I possibly could.
I created a media kit and started pitching myself constantly to any brand that I felt aligned with my message and my brand. I made a list of any brand I loved that I knew were working with others like me. And slowly but surely it started to pay off. Brands started saying yes to my ideas or at least saying when they had a budget they would reach back out to me, etc. Two years ago brands still were also trying to figure this whole thing out so it was a lot easier to pitch them now it’s a little harder but it still is super important because it makes them aware of who you are and that you want to work with them so when they have a campaign they will consider you!
***Like I said earlier my boss at the time actually played a big role in helping me in my blogging career by buying me my first ever pair of Beyond Yoga leggings as a gift! I fell in love immediately and decided to head to the beach with my sister to shoot some photos in the new leggings. Those photos ended up getting reposted by the brand and then I ended up getting paid to model for the brand’s social media page! Getting out there and wearing brands you love, tagging them, and calling them out in your captions can really do so much for you when you’re first starting out. Brands look at who is tagging them and you never know who is looking at your photos or feed!***
Meanwhile, I began learning a major lesson in defining my worth. I had to put a price on what I was doing and creating which is honestly the hardest thing ever to do. And there is no rule book, there wasn’t back then and there still isn’t now. Once I settled on numbers and defining my worth, I had to also learn how to stand my ground and not take work on for free or for trade. It was really hard at first and I got a lot of NO’s or “not at this time” or “we just ran out of budget” etc. But I kept persisting and things started to align.
I know what I’m about to say next is going to sound CHEESY and SO LA but I truly believed it helped immensely. I MANIFESTED the shit out of my life. I had lists everywhere of what I wanted, who I wanted to work with, and I told anyone who would listen. I know it sounds crazy but DREAM BIG, because you truly never know what is possible and if you believe it enough you can and will make your dreams come true!
As I continued to grow on Instagram and I hit 100k, it was suddenly the magic number for me. It was as if I didn’t even need to pitch myself and the offers came pouring into my inbox (okay, okay, okay, maybe not pouring but they were flowing) instead of me having to pitch! It was glorious! I learned so much about how to negotiate and was so prepared from the constant pitching that when people came to me I was ready to rock and roll!
I had two months back to back where I was making enough money through my blog and IG page to pay my rent + still enjoy my life that I finally decided to take the leap. I told my boss that I was finally ready to go out on my own and off I went! I was scared shitless at first, I was constantly worried I wouldn’t get enough work to survive but I think as soon as I truly put 100% of my effort into blogging more opportunities flowed in and thankfully they haven’t stopped!
Over the last year and a half, I’ve learned SO much about running a business, I’ve made huge mistakes, I’ve had huge wins, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve grown so much as a woman and I’ve been grateful for all the amazing opportunities I’ve had and brands I’ve been able to work with and create relationships with. Being a full-time blogger is a 24/7 365-day job, no one can take over for you when you are sick, you never fully get a vacation unless you decide to do a digital detox and you become your brand but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
I hope this helps anyone looking to make the transition! It has been one of the best decisions of my entire life and I don't regret a thing! Be ready to work your butt off and watch your dreams come true!