How I quit my day job and became a full time blogger
A few weeks ago, I did a poll asking my Instagram community a few questions. One of the questions I asked was, “If you could do anything and live anywhere, what would you do and where would you live?” I was so happy to see that so many responses had to do with being independent and traveling while doing what you loved. Basically, the dream, right?! It really made me want to write this post even more. I get so many questions about how I got into blogging and how I turned it into my full-time job. How am I able to travel so often and work remotely? I thought maybe sharing my story would help give some insight and maybe inspire you to also follow your dreams no matter what people say or how hard it is to get there. It’s so hard to break it down into a few solid steps. There is a lot involved in how I got here and so many moving parts. For me, it took a lot of work, a lot of sleepless nights wondering if I was crazy and many years of self-doubt. Oh also, let’s not forget I was broke for a long time. While I know there is so much room for me to grow and there is still a lot ahead of me, I think I can finally say that I am so happy I kept at it throughout all these years. The juice was well worth the squeeze.
The best way to simplify this is to just list out everything I did from when the blog started until now. While Frank Vinyl started years ago (eight to be exact) It didn’t actually gain momentum until I finally decided to believe in myself and plan out how I would tackle this beast (basically halfway into it). So here is where my journey began:
I remember the exact day of where I was, what the room looked like and how I came across my first fashion blog. I was lying on the floor of my room at my parents’ house. My old MacBook opened, music blasting, shutters barely open letting just enough light into my dark room. Moody young adult AF. I was browsing the site of my favorite store of the time LF (remember LF?!). They had a section with their favorite blogs, I clicked on one and my mind was immediately blown. Francesca was never the same Francesca again. Yes, I did in fact just speak in the third person. I became enamored with these online personas and infatuated with their photography, clothing, and lives. I loved that they expressed themselves through clothing and people were not only listening but also joining in on the conversation. They had built online communities! I was basically Jack in ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ singing “WHATS THIS?!” only I was clicking through from blog to blog staring at my screen, eyes darting. It was all so fascinating to me. So within a few months, I decided it would be super fun to have a blog of my own and immediately got my own domain name and started blogging.
This is me trying to “blog”, not knowing much about photography and just messing around. It makes me cringe to look at these, but I’m also thinking… “Good thing I had the courage to start even though I had no clue what I was doing because I was able to learn and improve!” You’ve got to start somewhere right?
My dream was to always work in the fashion industry as a fashion designer. I envisioned myself working in NY at my own design house, showcasing at NYFW. I even had sketchbooks of rookie illustrations from when I was young. As soon as I graduated high school, I enrolled at FIDM for two years. I studied Apparel Manufacture Management (basically a mix of fashion design + business focused on fashion merchandising and manufacturing). I learned how to sew, make patterns, illustrate, brand my business and other awesome fashion-world related skills. I interned for a while in the field, even went to Mexico City for a short period to work alongside a well-known Mexican designer. I learned so much in just a short amount of time, but realized that this was not for me. I always wanted a job where I could travel the world and still have enough time to be at home with my family and people I loved. Fashion design was intense, fast-paced and you really need to love it 210% more than anything else to succeed in it. I just didn’t have the drive and passion for it in the end. I just really wasn’t cut out for it!
I immediately changed schools/majors and decided to try Graphic Design. The truth of the matter was that I was just trying to graduate from SOMETHING. I had no idea what I really wanted to do. I graduated from Graphic Design because I knew I had to graduate college in “something” and nothing else interested me. I knew that I loved photography, I wanted to learn photoshop, how to code, logo-making and thought these were great skills to have for just about anything. I started interning for other graphic design companies and focused on growing my portfolio. At around the same time, I started to really experiment new skills through my blog. It got super random sometimes and I would edit it extremely strange (looking back). I reminisce now and think, WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING?! My photos were crazy and outfits were honestly horrible. My friends made fun of me, my family thought I was weird and my boyfriend probably thought I was super full of myself, but I did not give a damn. I loved my blog, I loved testing the waters and kept doing what fueled my soul. If it wasn’t for this stage of exploring I don’t think I would have ever found my true self as a content creator.
This (above) is what I mean when I say the photos got extremely strange. Like.. what is this even??
At this point, my blog was more of a hobby and I had no idea that girls would be turning their blogs into full-on careers. I really wish I could have noticed that and realized I was on to something. The little blogs that were out there had such a mysterious element to them you almost didn’t even know they were making any money doing what they were doing. I wanted to always blog and create content, but I didn’t even know it was possible to make something bigger out of it. Still, I was extremely passionate and loved it so always kept doing it. I also loved that my blog could also be used as a portfolio of my work of graphic design and styling.
It was almost overnight that suddenly Blonde Salad blew up and girls like Amy Song and Sincerely Jules were gracing the covers of well-known magazines. This was now starting to be a huge thing and suddenly my friends (that were once so confused by what I was doing) were calling me saying “omg did you see what Sincerely Jules or Rumi Neely wore? I can’t believe this fashion blogger thing is becoming a household name! I noticed brands started to reach out to me and gift me things in exchange of me shouting out the product or taking a fun picture with it. Suddenly I didn’t feel so embarrassed by my hobby and even my parents (after reading some article about the Blonde Salad in a magazine) started to understand what I was doing with my time. I had graduated from College and was trying to make something of myself in the graphic design field (if anything to make the parents proud), but realized I was still not happy. I decided maybe I needed to follow what I really believe in for once and would try to make this blogging thing happen even if maybe people thought I was crazy. I stopped wasting my time trying to make someone else’s dream happen and started to plot what I would do to make my dream a reality.
One day I was contacted by a local well-known photographer who checked out my Instagram and loved how I dressed. He asked me to style a shoot for him. It was my first styling gig and it was amazing! I started to do a couple styling gigs here and there where I learned how to pull clothes for shoots. I eventually made friends with a lot of local boutique store owners and realized I could just borrow clothes to shoot for my blog! This was a game changer as I still was not getting paid and didn’t want to spend money I didn’t have just to create content.
Working with this photographer and others helped me learn so much. Just by asking annoyingly too many questions and really watching what they were doing. I noticed my photography started to get pretty darn good after years of experimenting with my shooting style and editing. I wanted to get good enough to actually be paid to take photos of other people just like the photographers I styled with. I figured this way I could make side money doing something I loved while also practicing my craft. I started to do photography sessions for couples, families and even interned with another photographer to start learning the back end of editing, organization and running a photography business. The money was great and any money I made in photography I would immediately use towards the blog.
I also started a waitressing job that was flexible with schedule in case I got any side gigs styling, or shooting photos. Any money I made waitressing went towards my bills, saving for new and better camera lenses or paying photographers to help me create content for Frank Vinyl. I would also do a few freelance graphic design gigs and any extra time I had I would be shooting and creating content for the blog.
Photos above are from when John and I started to really understand different lenses, travel photography and working with the environment for a photo. We had fun experimenting and testing out different situations.
As I write this I realize it seems like a mess. It’s only because there were a lot of moving parts but they were all planned from the moment I decided to make my blog happen.
I knew there were 3 factors at play:
- I needed to get a job where the hours were flexible enough for me to work on growing Frank Vinyl. Waitressing paid well and was very flexible! The great steady income was money I could always count on to pay for necessities nd hours I could always move around to fit my needs.
- I needed to make enough money to pay photographers and get better equipment. The photography gigs paid well and I was able to save up for nicer equipment and use the money towards Frank Vinyl.
- I needed an exit strategy so I could eventually focus on my blog. I knew as the photography and Frank Vinyl got bigger I would eventually be able to take the leap and drop the waitressing job. I waited until I felt it was the right time and when it was, it was a very smooth transition.
Yes, I was exhausted, Yes, it was challenging, and most of the time I asked myself if I was crazy, but honestly, all that hard work of working about 3 jobs at once (which was a span of probably about 2 years) paid off in the end because now I can do what I absolutely love. The funny thing is that as soon as I had a plan in motion, it seemed that everything just fell into place.
Fast forward a year and a half and I am now signed on to a management team that helps me organize my campaigns, projects and negotiate contracts. It’s a huge, huge deal and I am so proud after all the work I put into my (now) business! I really do believe if you have a dream, a smart plan, stick to it and believe in it, you can make it happen. I must say it has been a long journey for me. So now, here I am exactly where I have always wanted to be and can’t wait to see what’s ahead! We’re all starting from different places and will encounter unique obstacles along the way. There is no right or wrong way to do this, only that you begin. All I can do is share my journey to show how I quit my day job to become a full-time blogger.
A quick shoutout to Courtney of Pretty Little Fawn for inspiring this post! Loved reading her post on how she got to where she is and thought it would be fun to share my story as well! Hope you guys enjoyed reading.