I remember my last day at my previous employment (even though at that point I didn't know it would be) it was just like any other. I waddled in at 8am and got on with my work, chatted to the 40 or so people in the department and at 2.30pm said my goodbyes and went home for the weekend. Little did I know that my pregnancy wasn't going to allow me to return to work for the remaining ten days and I ended up on an early maternity leave...
In the last week of November 2015, Mummy in a Tutu went live. The first week of January 2016 I got my first paid post. The last week of January I told my work that I would not be returning and on April 16th I became unemployed. On April 17th I registered as self-employed and here we find ourselves almost in September and I am still going strong and haven't found myself desperate and on the bread line... we're living, my daughter has everything she needs and this is because I can afford to support us by being a blogger.
However, some people think I am mad and some people think that I don't work I am merely "playing" so you must forgive me if from this point on this post takes a rather ranty turn. When I went self-employed, I also applied for Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits, which I wasn't ashamed to do considering that I have been working and paying tax since I was 13 years old. So, I checked all the facts online completed the forms and sent them in and a text followed a few days later to say my claim would be complete in 3 weeks.
Almost 3 weeks later I received a letter asking me for invoices, receipts, correspondence etc. with my clients for the previous month to show how I was working. I phoned to check a few things and when asked what I did I told them I was a freelance blogger. Three times I repeated what I did to which I got the response "what's that?!" So, I thought I'd make it easier and say I'm a writer to which the response was "but how do you make money doing that... we're not here to fund your start-up business you know!!" I "calmly" pointed out that I was already earning thank you and did not need funding only the tax credits I was entitled to. In the end I spent an entire day (which in this game i could ill afford) printing over 100 pages of proof of work; highlighting, annotating and grouping to make it as easy to understand as possible and sent it special delivery to arrive the next day.
Two weeks later I got a phone call. "I'm sorry madam but we simply can't see that you're doing any or enough work to qualify but thanks for your enquiry." I don't work. I don't work enough. Excuse me?? Let me tell you about my working day...
6am-7am I work before my daughter wakes up
7am-11.30am with my daughter doing mummy things which often involves trialling products and taking photos for social media
11 30am -12.30pm I work while she naps
12.30pm -7pm with my daughter doing mummy things which often involves trialling products and taking photos for social media as well as house work and meals.
7pm-12am/1am I work while my daughter sleeps
1am - 6am I sleep whilst also getting up in the night when my daughter needs me.
(bare in mind this is a guide as my daughter can choose to change the schedule whenever she likes of course!!)
This is generally repeated 7 days a week and you have the audacity to tell me from your Monday - Friday 9-5 job where you have the power to seriously affect people's lives that I don't work enough??! Yes, it is my choice to work this hard because I am a single parent who chose to stay at home to work to be with my daughter and am doing everything within my power to make this work and thankfully it is. But what more do you want from me and every other freelance blogger out there??! Blood???
However, it is not only this ignorant man that seems to think I don't work as it seems to be the general consensus of every person who doesn't really understand what a blogger is. Some of the best one liners I've had include... "So you just get all this stuff for free? For doing nothing?!" Or "You're just messing around on the Internet aren't you?!" Now the odd comment I don't mind but by the tenth one I do feel like having a word - just because I work from home does not mean I have a life of luxury and do nothing.
Yes, there are a few perks to being a Freelance Blogging WAHM, such as being able to work in my pj's and full access to the fridge ( not so great for my waistline) but I just want to make it clear that us bloggers do work and we work bloody hard! Those items you see that you think I got for free, actually they had to be photographed, in packaging and out and from every angle in the right light. These have to be edited and put on social media with the correct tags and scheduled. Then a blog post has to be written with links and images added as well as making sure that the correct disclaimers are added. If a giveaway is being added too this needs to be created and the html code added.
This blog post then needs to be scheduled as well as sent to the PR or brand I am working with and also added to linkies and other promotional sites in order that it achieves maximum exposure and the brand are happy to have worked with you and will do again. Invoices need to be created, sent and often followed up. We also have to interact with our readers and followers as well as reading other blogs and commenting which is all part of the linkies as well as putting out our own posts to avoid our blogs turning into just one big piece of mass marketing that no one wants to read.... and breathe. We get some amazing items and to do some amazing things but do you really think that's all for free??
Of course some companies and brands don't think we're worth anything and should work for free. The number of times in my 10 months of blogging I've heard the phrase "we have no budget available " is ridiculous! We're providing a service, a service that takes time, effort, energy and money (purchase blogs and schedulers aren't free you know!!) and yet despite this we are in fact often expected to do our jobs for nothing. What I don't understand is, if a brand will pay for a Facebook or Twitter ad why wouldn't they pay for us?
Also, don't forget that by putting ourselves out there we are also inviting in trolls and Internet bullies or simply people who don't agree with what I'm saying, or as a parent blogger, how I'm raising my child. We have to push past all this and carry on... we have no line managers to report it all too.
So in conclusion, if you happen to meet someone new and you ask them what they do and they're response is "I'm a blogger!" Why not ask them what that involves or if you're reading this you already know so how about saying " Oh wow!" or "That's interesting!" Whatever you do DO NOT tell them it's not a "real" job or they're just playing.... don't be THAT guy from HMRC who even now, still thinks I don't do enough!! At least I know I do....
This blog first appeared on Mummyinatutu.co.uk