It’s a whole new world- blogging full time. When you decide to make a living with blogging (or really, any kind of work from home career) you not only have to change the entire way you approach your work, but you become incessantly aware of your own habits, rituals and productivity.
When it’s just you and your work, you start to notice everything- whether it’s the dust on your bookshelf you “must” attend to before you really get into the juice of a productive day, or the oddity of being hyper aware of your own self-manifested distractions. Never before have you looked forward to the daily mail this much.
So what can you expect when you go pro?
[highlight]1. You Will Feel Lost & Listless Before You Form Habits & Rituals.[/highlight]
Not having an 8 a.m. check-in is as liberating as it is startling. Don’t rely on willpower alone, form habits to replace the normal rituals that used to take place during a work day. You will love not having a morning commute or pointless meetings- but anchor your day with rituals that add rhythm and keep you in check. Extra bonus if you replace the commute with a morning walk or your normal donut with a smoothie.
Even when the day doesn’t go as planned- the post you just wrote sounds like total crap or you are waiting to hear back from an advertiser to finalize arrangements, you can combat the feeling of helplessness that comes with this kind of work where projects can drag on beyond our control. Knowing that you accomplished something- even if that something was only taking your daily run or knocking off your personal to-do list will help you feel in control as you adjust.
[highlight]2. Set Up Blocks Of Time For Work & Time For Avoidance.[/highlight]
Again, when you are designing your own workday, realize you can’t fight with willpower alone. Apps like FocusBooster will help you set aside dedicated time when the muse strikes and site blockers will be your nanny when you feel the need to check obsessively check your inbox for those big leads you know are coming.
If you’re suffering from writer’s block or the anxiety is building since you can’t seem to just get moving on a project you will waste an entire day stressing about it. Sidestep the guilt and anxiety by embracing your inner slacker- once in awhile allow yourself to take the day off and surf 9gag if you wish but only after you sit down and write for just one half hour. Often, you’ll find that if you just force yourself to sit down and write for a half hour, you’ll be inspired to go beyond and your writer’s block suddenly comes unclogged & online shopping loses it’s pull to distract you.
[highlight]2. You Own Your Own Time Or It Owns You.[/highlight]
We quit our “real” jobs with the idea that we’ll have more time for the things we love and the people we care about. Every new startup, blog or freelancing business will take an unreasonable amount of effort and time to get off the ground- but eventually you will need to force yourself to take a break. If you’re serious about getting your blog or business off the ground, you need to get serious about scheduling in personal time, otherwise it won’t happen.
Know you’re going to have to write til your eyes bleed and occasionally spend an inordinate amount of time messing with simple CSS adjustments that annoyingly eludes you- but if you don’t schedule in that time to be with family and stir your soul anticipate premature burnout. If you do creative work like blogging or social networking, do not expect to conduct your work like a robot and create anything worth reading.
You will find that there’s no thing as “work-life balance,” but even if one aspect of this ratio gets more weight than the other for the time, you still must make it a point to include the other regularly.
[highlight]3. Invest In What You Actually Need. Not What You Think You Need.[/highlight]
If you struggle to replace the habits that came along with a normal work day in a “real” job, you’re going to also struggle to fight the assumptions of what a “real” office should be like. I’ve seen plenty of newbies go out and by everything they can to replicate the look & feel of their cubicles to make their work feel more real with the idea that having all the fixins will help them get taken seriously. You do not need to rent an office space, post-its in every color and a $500 organization system. Do not use the excuse “I need a sexy desk to do my best work and feel like a real boss,” because you feel insecure about flying solo. The work itself will help you feel legit and be taken seriously- so get to it.
Skip the expensive office crap and the pointless promotional crap until you’re absolutely sure it’s necessary, not because you are insecure of want to shop. Just because you work from home and don’t rent an office space please don’t overcompensate to prove yourself materially- prove with you kick ass products & posts. You will not be needing 2500 business cards and pens to hand out with your logo. You do not have the overhead of your old company to be sure, but don’t make up for the difference by opening up a credit card at Office Depot & maxing it out.
It took me a year before I finally upgraded my computer & bought some fancy equipment- but my setup is still relatively simple. MacBook Pro + Extra Screen + Wrist Support. Only spend money on what will make your work easier or more efficient- a chair that doesn’t hurt your back, editing software that makes your sh*t look less bootlegged and maybe some healthy snacks.
[highlight]5. You Will Never Regain The Life You Had- Even If You Fail.[/highlight]
Even if your venture fails, you will have succeeded. You will never go back to mindlessly clocking in, even if you fear you’l have to crawl back to corporate life. Even the most painful of failures provides insight most people are asleep to. Working for yourself changes everything- you question the way you spend your time, the purpose of life and you think about your legacy.
Personally, when I started problogging I finally took my health seriously. I didn’t have the energy I needed to get through a day without a nap, so I changed my diet and drinking tea when I needed a boost. The friends who agreed with your previous complacency seem to suddenly fade away and you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about your choices: how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and the purpose of it all. It’s been an amazing experience, but sometimes it can be a lonely place when you realize you don’t want to be herded with the sheeple.