I get tons of emails from readers about how I came to be able to run my blog full-time successfully, still do things that creatively inspire me, and pay the bills at the same time. For me, it really was something that just happened without a plan (although I am much more organized with my work now!), and it all started with taking a chance. And yes, that chance didn’t come with a happy number in my bank account in the beginning. The struggle of balancing finances and creative fulfillment was real ever since I landed my first job after college. And as much as we try hard not to think about those bills piling up and the fact that we are always “just getting by”, these things will always be there. Paying for things is a part of the real adult world, and it by far isn’t a breeze.
When I first moved to NYC from Philly for a new job, the idea of paying more than $500 in rent was horrifying (and I still had a roommate). I had a stable position at a quick growing, on-the-radar start up company, but a stable job doesn’t mean living that NYC life was going to be glorious. I held myself back from doing a lot of things because of my mediocre paycheck (shopping, getting that extra drink with my new co-workers, skipping the movie) to save as much as I could. Add long ass hours on top of that . . . and let’s just say life was pretty crazy and exhausting. But a lot has changed since then, and paying NYC prices for rent isn’t as much as a challenge as it was before, but who knows when that may change again (hopefully not!!!). Maybe if I decided to be a doctor life would be much easier for me still right now (boring but easier), but easy was never really an option in my book.
I quit my full-time job in NYC with a good amount of savings in the bank (thank goodness rent was cheap as heck in Philly, or this would not be the case) and a few freelance gigs on the horizon. But just enough to cover the rent and food. I went to a gym that cost $10 a month, not $80. I’d still take the late night subway home at 3am in the morning because an Uber was totally out of the question. Sometimes I’d eat ramen noodles for dinner (but I actually really liked the stuff. lol). Deciding to pursue the blog full-time was more of a way to find myself and figure out the next steps of my career. And let me tell you, the pursuit wasn’t easy in the beginning. I worked as many small paying gigs as I could that weren’t even blog related at all . . . assisting on shoots, copywriting for brands, etc. I was trying the best to keep myself busy with opportunities that I thought would help me in the long run, and that I could actually learn from. Life definitely wasn’t as fun or glamorous as Instagram can show it to be. But through all the experiences, every little job and every big job, I allowed myself to expand creatively. And my curiosity and love of storytelling drove me to focus much more on creating great content for my readers that I myself felt closely connected to. You know you love something when you do it for free. And when you have the opportunity to create a job for yourself doing the things you love, you can’t just let it pass.
Collaborating with my sister, friends and other who made me feel happy to be doing what I am doing was the most critical part of me working for myself and actually getting by. And from there, a few months down the road, the paychecks and the struggles finally found a balancing point. I feel like the more confident I felt in myself and my work, the more people respected me for it and viewed this little blog as a legit creative and social outlet. The success and work came more steadily, but I am thankful that it crept up on me not too unexpectedly nor too expectedly at all. It came naturally. It just felt good to be sought out for work as much as I myself sought work out. And all the ramen noodles and late night subway rides were all worth it in the end. I might not be living the perfect dream life still, but I feel like if I ever even got to that high point, the magic would be lost. There wouldn’t be more to work for.
I always say giving yourself the opportunity to pursue what you love (no matter what the paycheck) is worth the shot. Life is lesson after lesson of trial and error. Hard work, drive and hope will get you into your groove. Everything is always worth the chance in my book. Because you never really know until you try.