At NMX 2014, we were lucky to have Cora Harrington from The Lingerie Addict present a session about building your blog community. Cora sat down with me to discuss how she made that leap into blogging full time and what advice she has to new bloggers thinking about making this leap. Check out what she had to say about becoming a full-time blogger:
Allison: Thanks for the interview, Cora! How did you first become a blogger and what made you decide to start blogging about lingerie?
Cora: I started blogging about lingerie because I was dating this guy, and I wanted to buy some nice lingerie, but I had no idea how to shop for the stuff. I was also becoming more and more interested in lingerie just on my own, but my friends really didn’t want to hear about this cool new pair of stockings I found online.
While there were a few lingerie blogs around at the time I started, they mostly focused on sharing press releases and lookbooks, not on giving reviews or shopping advice. So I started just by posting reviews of things I bought and photos of items I was interested in buying. I never really expected anyone to read what I wrote; it was just a fun stress-reliever, especially since my day job was fairly intense (I used to work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, physical assault, and family members of homicide victims).
Very, very slowly and over a long period of time, I built an organic readership based mostly on word of mouth. I’ve been blogging full-time for 2 years now and my blog is 5 years old. Unlike what a lot of people assume, I don’t actually come from a fashion, PR, marketing, or even writing background. And I don’t live in New York, the fashion capital of America. I went to school in sociology and I live in Seattle, and I definitely think of it as a privilege to be able to do something I love that’s so much fun everyday.
How did you decided to make the leap to become a full time blogger?
Honestly, there were several major developments that happened at once, both personally and professionally. A big one is that I started a serious relationship with my now-husband, and that meant I didn’t have much free time as before to spend on my blog. It’s one thing to work all night and everyday and on the weekends with your blog when you’re single and don’t have any dependents, but when I found myself in a relationship, some of my time needed to go into that as well.
My traffic and the visibility of my blog was also starting to increase dramatically. After 2 and a half years of almost no one reading me, I was abruptly getting thousands of readers per day (I’m sure it happened much more gradually than that, but looking back, it feels like no one read my blog and then all of a sudden, a LOT of people were reading my blog). That traffic increase also meant my blog took more time and energy; in short, it was becoming a very demanding hobby.
Finally, my blog started to make money. Once the revenue from my blog began to equal the take home pay from my day job (and we’re not talking an astronomical amount here, but it was enough to pay bills with), I began to seriously think about making the switch to blogging full-time.
Once you started blogging full time, did you do anything differently on your blog?
One of the biggest changes I noticed was that I started to treat my blog professionally, and I’m not necessarily talking about what I posted or how often I posted. Once I began blogging full-time, I registered as an LLC, filed for my business license, obtained my trademark, and purchased business insurance all within a few months. I also hired a team of writers, and began working with a virtual assistant. These were things that definitely could have and should have happened sooner, but it was hard to the find the time to do the legwork when my day job was taking up all of my daytime business hours. I also had more time to spend on writing content, promoting the site, and traveling to industry events (like Lingerie Market, for example, which happens in NYC twice per year).
What’s your best piece of advice for people who are considering quitting their jobs to blog full time?
I could say a lot here, but I think the most important thing is to make sure you’re surrounded with as much support from family and friends as possible. Self-employment has a lot of perks, but a definite downside is that it can be incredibly isolating. And that’s even more true when you’re self-employed as a full-time blogger. Not only is there the usual stuff like public criticism and personal insults, but a lot of people also won’t understand what you do or even think of what you do as a “real” job. And there will be times when things feel really lean and really tough, and when you’re genuinely not sure if you made the right decision or are heading in the right direction.
That’s when having a good support network is crucial. Having folks who believe in you and who believe in your ability to do this is so important, especially during those times of self-doubt. And those people also need to be honest with you when you’re heading in the wrong direction or perhaps need to come up with another solution. I’m very fortunate in that husband and my parents and my close circle of friends, even though none of them are quite sure of what goes into running The Lingerie Addict, are very supportive of it and of me. Be deliberate about surrounding yourself with people who are invested in and hopeful for your success.
Thanks, Cora, for an awesome interview and for speaking at NMX 2014. Check out our virtual ticket if you want to get a recording of Cora’s session about building a blog community.