I think we need to talk about money more.
When I was a guest on Julia’s podcast, Easy Numbers, we briefly discussed the impact that blogging has on spending. Blogging and money will forever be intertwined, for many reasons. It’s a complicated issue, and after thinking about it for a while, it’s something that has undoubtedly had an impact on my life. I don’t think we can deny that bloggers who are in a position to spend more money are more likely to be successful.
There is a lot of “keeping up with the Joneses” in the blogosphere, and more often than not you will see the same people doing the same things becoming more and more well known. It’s biased, but so is life. At the same time, blogging does give other people a platform. It’s – for the most part – accessible. You can set up a free blog and get writing in a matter of clicks. It’s a great thing, really.
Having been present in the “fashion, beauty and lifestyle” sphere of bloggers for over eight years now, I think we also have to address the fact that it is encouraging spending. We’re always hyping new releases, new experiences, the latest sales or the hottest restaurants to visit. Some people do this with dubious intentions, some don’t. It can be hard to discern the difference sometimes.
Hand on heart, I personally won’t promote anything that I wouldn’t be happy buying myself. I only really bother myself to talk about the things I love or that I think are worth sharing. Yes, sometimes I have the added benefit of an affiliate link, but I always prioritise the things I personally think are worth shouting about.
I was hugely sucked into the idea of having to be constantly buying to be a better blogger. A few years ago, I had some real problems with spending, and I was channelling this into my blog. I was using it as an excuse to throw away money on things I thought I loved, but soon discarded when the “next big thing” appeared on the market.
I spent a lot of money this way. More than I care to admit, and I’m kind of ashamed of it now. I could have done so much more with that money, but instead, I wasted it on lipsticks I wore for a month then never picked up again. I’m better with it all now, but I do sometimes still feel like I could be a “better” blogger if I had a wardrobe that was constantly updated and spent hundreds on new beauty ranges each week.
Instead, I’ve learned to focus my money on the investments that will really help me grow. Sure, I still shop, but nowhere near as much and I definitely make better decisions now compared to four years ago.
Making money and talking shop
And then there’s the fact that blogging is how I make a chunk of my money. By a chunk, I mean around 25%, but this varies. I still think it’s absolutely incredible that it’s possible to make money by sharing my thoughts online, but that’s not forgetting the work that goes into it. I may downplay it as “oversharing on the internet”, but there is a lot more that goes into it behind the scenes.
Recently, an influencer I admire shared the staggering amount they made through their online presence in the last year. I thought it was an admirable move, and went a long way in promoting the fact that it is possible to make money online. Someone else I admire online felt that it was demoralising, and it made me think.
I will happily talk about money in the right situation. If I don’t know you, and you start trying to pry into my personal life and expect me to share my full accounts with you for the sake of sheer nosiness, then that’s not going to happen. If you’re asking me for an opinion on pricing your work, and you’ve made the effort to actually be nice about the way you ask? More than likely, yes.
In the past, I have shared my experiences with money in quite vague terms. Earlier this year I tweeted about the differences between my income now that I run my business and my income in comparison to working in retail before. When I worked in retail, I worked very few hours a week for minimum wage, so obviously, there was going to be some sort of increase. Honestly? I was probably being pretty irresponsible in the way I spoke about my income. Yes, it might be a lot more than I was making in retail, but I was making a pittance there.
My flippant tweet disregarded the years of work I’d put in to be in a position to be self-employed and having a regular income from this. It is not easy money, I work harder than I ever had before to keep my head above the water, but I’m doing work I enjoy which is what makes it worthwhile for me.
However, a huge upside of the internet providing me with this platform to educate myself and make money is the fact that it’s forced me to take control of my finances. I do my own accounts, and I’m the one responsible for making sure money ends up in my bank account. I have to make sure that I have enough work to pay my bills each month, and I can no longer take the stance of “ignorance is bliss” when it comes to my bookkeeping.
Being in this position has empowered me to be in better control of my money. It’s made me a bit more sensible in my spending (I said a bit) and it’s made me think more about where my money is going. At the end of the day, I think open communication, where appropriate, is so important.
Discussing money in a non-bragging way is hugely essential if we’re going to start tackling pay equality. It’s not going to solve the problem, but it’s a step forward if we can understand what our peers are earning in similar situations. Social media has created this amazing platform for sharing information and I think, for the most part, money should come into that equation too.
Photos by Claire White