Lets take a second and talk about bloggers and blogging as a viable career option.
Can it really be something that brings in decent money? I mean, all we bloggers really do is take pictures of our selfie-led lives and overshare at our keyboards right?!
Well to find out, I’ve been chatting with Harriet, or H as she’s affectionately known to her friends. We’ve chatted before over here on the blog but this time we are getting personal because what I really want to know is the gory details about her career as a blogger, what the average day looks like, what the perks of the job are and of course, what she’s actually earning from all those hours at a keyboard.
In case you didn’t know, Harriet is the blogger and Instagram influencer behind Toby&Roo, a parenting and lifestyle blog that shares the wins and woes of parenting. Having been on the blogging scene for three years, this last 12 months have seen her blog rise from the relative unknown to one of the top parenting bloggers in the UK.
What we really want to know is just how much her way with words is actually bringing in though. Witty banter, Insta-glory and lioness mama status are all part of the package over at chez Toby&Roo but now Harriet is here to set the record straight about earning potential, perks of the job and just exactly what her life as one of the top UK parenting bloggers is like.
What was your job before you became a blogger?
I worked at Mothercare as a retail assistant!
Why did you decide to start a blog?
I remember discovering a blog called Babyccino kids. I adored the way they shared all their favourite niche brands, crafts and recipes. Occasionally their experiences. I started to think about all of the knowledge that I had built up, not just as a mum but as a retail assistant- what people were looking for, how to fit car seats etc. I set up the blog with the intention of sharing my cool finds and then eventually it grew and became about my life, my family and just… us really!
At what point did you decide to give up your job for a career as a blogger?
When I found out I was pregnant with Edith I decided that I wanted to make blogging a career and not return to Mothercare after my maternity leave. There were a lot of changes happening and I found myself working until 12am to try and sort out content, then up at 5am with the kids and going to a pretty thankless minimum wage job. I wanted to be with my kids on my schedule, I hated that I had to go and ask someone if I could take a day off for a sick child or to watch their sports day. I wanted to be the master of my own universe and that’s what I decided to do.
Can you describe a typical day in your life as a blogger?
Ha, typical? What is this typical of which you speak? All joking apart, I get up around 5am to feed Edith, dose with her until 6am ish and then I start checking and catching up with my socials. I have a rather large US following on the blog and IG so they have usually interacted in some way over the course of the night! Then it’s a case of getting the kids ready for school, school run, home around 9am and at the desk, where I will work on anything from video content to emails, editing, content creation, quoting… until 3pm when I will dash out of the door to get the kids, come home, cook (unless someone else has done it or I’ve bunged something into the slow cooker!) and then I try to answer the emails that rolled in over my school run. Then the bed time madness starts and I take to Instagram. I will usually spend from 6.30pm when I’m putting Edith down to 9-10pm on Instagram. I post around 8pm so I try to really engage as much as possible around that time. If I can give myself a kick up the bum I will then try and answer some emails while I chill out and watch something with Adam on the TV. We’re currently watch Ozark and the fact that I haven’t got a clue what is happening and we’re on episode 7 is a damning indictment of how little “chill time” I am actually taking.
At the moment I’m also finding that I’m in London once or twice a week for events which I’m either paid to attend or paid to host.
What is the biggest challenge you face when relying on blogging as a career?
CASH FLOW. Seriously, cash flow is a killer. You really have to learn to manage your money efficiently so you aren’t reliant on the payment that *should* come in… because it won’t come in on time. I also find managing my schedule really hard. I have so much going on, sometimes 2-3 events in one day that I just can’t keep track of everything. It’s almost always something at home that gets forgotten and then the guilt is insane.
Who is your biggest blogging influence and why?
Hmm. Good question. I had always felt very inspired by Anna from Mother Pukka, I adore her honesty and candid approach to life, she is a genuinely lovely person too. I don’t think I really started to develop a true idea of where I wanted to be with my brand, even though I had already been blogging for a couple of years without much direction, when I first came across Anna and I just remember thinking YES! This is how I want to touch people (in a non-creepy way. Obvs). I also love The Unmumsy Mum’s work, Lisa from MummyPiggles, Richellexo on Instagram and every other honest, real mother who I meet. I’m genuinely inspired by honest motherhood in general.
What is the best thing you have gained from choosing to blog for a living?
Hmm, best part hands down is being able to say “nope, busy then” and go to sports day or hold my kids when they are sick and work from my phone. I hate answering to people, so to be my own boss is great. I have also received some mind blowing opportunities. We recently went to Efteling in Holland to review their new ride Symbolica. Not only did my kids get a mini break but they also went back to school telling the teacher various phrases in Dutch and knowing that they were some of the first people in the world to ride a major theme park ride. Inconsequential but still really cool to them.
What are the best and worst parts of your job now?
The best parts are being my own master, the worst parts are being my own master. I’ve discovered that I’m awful to work for – ha! I’m very hard on myself and I think I push myself to breaking point frequently, but then it really feels worth it to know that I can pick my kids up from school every day, be there when they need me and not made to feel guilty. There is also the financial insecurity that can be a bit of a downside – I usually get to the 6th of the month and start worrying I’m going to have a “bad month” even if I’ve had a good month already!
Do you have a plan for the future to expand your blog?
I’m being asked this all the time at the moment and I really ought to come up with a better idea than just “I’m riding the wave”. I am loving what I’m doing. I want to get more into vlogging but I really do love doing what I’m doing and I’m just hoping it keeps growing and growing. I really don’t think there is a limit.
Top tip you would give a new blogger on starting out.
I always had in the back of my mind a random saying my mum taught me:
“Early to bed, early to rise, work really hard and advertise.” Sounds daft and I ignore point one, but the rest is pretty sound advice for a new blogger or someone whose been going a while. Work HARD. You will not succeed by chucking out average content sporadically. You really have to want to be on top and work your hardest to get there. Advertise yourself. I’ve often joked that I don’t like the term organic – that is a vegetable, not a blogger. The term itself just means not paid but it’s often misinterpreted as not promoted at all, which is just wrong. No one is going to create a career for you. You have to get out there and advertise/promote yourself. Big, BIG fan of self promotion.
It is no doubt in part thanks to this work ethic that Harriet managed to leave her previous job and now earns between £100-110k a year blogging, Instagramming and working flexibly around her family.
For more from Harriet you can find Toby&Roo the blog here and all social links below:
This forms the first part of a series where I am going to be chatting to various different bloggers and finding out just how much they are making and what it takes to run a blog for a living. If you have any other questions for Harriet or anyone else then drop them in the comments box below.