I’m often asked what working at home entails as a lifestyle blogger. I think the perception is that bloggers sit around all day sipping artisanal coffee, Instagramming said coffee, enjoying a day of leisure while fielding emails from brands that want to drop free products on them. I think people picture me rolling out of bed, strolling through the garden, making a meal and then photographing and blogging about it.
These are the same people who usually say things like, “Damn, I should be a blogger! I’d love to make money taking pictures of my home/food/life!”
But truth is, working at home as a blogger isn’t all that different from my previous life of working at home as a designer. My schedule is fairly fluid since I’m self-employed, but I still log around eight hours a day in front of a screen. It’s just that those eight hours a day don’t fit into the typical 9-to-5 schedule, and I’m usually online much more if you also count the time I spend on my phone and iPad.
What I’ve found most interesting, since transitioning from designer to blogger a few years ago, is that my creative mojo happens earlier in the day.
I am, have been, and always will be a night owl. When I worked in graphic design and web development, I thrived during those long, late nights when I was undisturbed by calls and emails. I was most creative at night, and could power through a project till the wee hours without a shot of caffeine.
But now that I’m a blogger, my work is much more textual than visual. I find myself needing to write during the day, when my mind is freshest and the words flow easiest. That said, I still save the visual part — editing photos — for the evening. So my day is actually split into two “work days,” leaving a good chunk in the middle for free time.
Lest you think the life of a blogger is all fun and frolic (and I admit it is that, a lot of times), I thought I’d record a typical day for me working at home.
10:00 am to 11:00 am (ish) – Wake up. But not get up.
A lot of people laugh when they find out I’m such a late riser. I think I’m the last gardener in the world to wake up, and I’d probably make a piss-poor farmer. (Definitely no goat-milking at dawn for me!) My morning never starts before 10 unless I have an appointment, and even after I wake up, I spend at least an hour “working” in bed. This includes organizing my calendars, sorting through the day’s emails, checking my social media feeds, and replying to reader comments. Simultaneously, I get some stretching in while I’m lying in bed with my iPad.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm (ish) – Finally, get out of bed and officially start the day.
My morning (or is it midday?) routine begins with coffee or tea, and a light breakfast of pastries, parfait, or fruit. I banter with Will, play with the pugs, or scroll through my news feeds while I eat. I might take a walk through the garden or go over my to-do list for the day. I don’t bother changing or brushing my hair, and I spend the rest of the day looking like I’d just rolled out of bed (unless I have to leave the house). I know fellow work-at-home folks who like to get dressed to get motivated, but I’m most motivated when I’m comfortable — whether it’s pajama pants and a tank top, or shorts and a sweatshirt.
House-wise, Will always takes the early morning shift and has already cleaned the kitchen, fed the pugs, and fed the chickens by the time I emerge from the bedroom. He’s usually relaxing and listening to his political podcasts (I know, oxymoron, right?) or working on his own projects while I’m making coffee. We both work at home, but in separate spaces — he takes the home office (what I jokingly call “the cave”) where he stares at two humongous screens in a dark room to edit photos, and I like to move around with my laptop, rotating through the sunroom, the living room, and the covered porch, depending on where the sun or sea breeze is. Living on the coast means I live for the sunny, sea breezy days!
12:15 pm – Sit down to work.
This is my most productive time of day. I’m either writing a blog post, researching a blog post, shooting a blog post, or all of the above. Depending on what I need to stage, I often bounce back and forth between the garden and the house. I prefer to work in silence, though it’s not necessarily silent because I tend to talk to myself when I’m writing.
A fun tidbit: most blog posts take me a full day, if not two days, to finish. While you might think they’re nothing more than stream-of-conscious musings, they are truly a labor of love!
3:15 pm – Make lunch and reconnect with Will.
My stomach is grumbling by this point, so I make a big lunch for Will and me. It usually comes from the garden, and I take a quick minute to weed while I harvest. We sit down to eat together and talk about our day so far.
4:00 pm – Digest and do random tasks.
I usually run errands in the late afternoon, if I have any, or I take calls with clients while mindlessly picking up around the house. These calls consist of going over writing assignments for other sites, dreaming up collaborations with brands, or doing interviews with the media. I open my mail, pay some bills, visit the chickens, or gather produce from the garden for that night’s dinner. The UPS man usually shows up around this time, and because I’m addicted to Amazon Prime, it feels like Christmas every week.
If nothing else needs my attention, this is my “me” time. Paint my nails, plan a trip, read reviews for things I want to buy. Catch up on the phone with a friend. Ferment a batch of something new. Occasionally, Will and I take this time to go for a walk on the beach.
6:30 pm – Part two of my work day begins.
Back on the blog, I’m writing, proofreading, or publishing. I schedule my blog posts, schedule my social media posts, answer more emails, download photos from my cameras. I snack on fruits I’d just picked from the garden, sometimes a salad or a quick kitchen-pantry concoction. This in-between meal is almost always eaten while I’m working.
9:00 pm – Edit photos.
By this point, my brain is mush and I can’t write anymore, so I spend the evening editing, tagging, and flagging photos for future blog posts. I do all of this in Lightroom, and since it’s not something I need to fully concentrate on, I usually sprawl on the couch and cuddle a pug at the same time. This is often accompanied with beer or wine as I start to unwind.
10:00 pm – Feed ourselves and feed the pugs.
Wait, what? Dinner this late? It’s very Spanish of us, isn’t it… Will and I both come from families that have always eaten dinner late, and we’ve carried that longstanding tradition into our adult lives. It’s a good thing we often cook at home, because we sometimes miss the last sitting at restaurants by the time we realize we’re hungry! We take turns making dinner, and if it isn’t my turn that night, I continue editing photos, develop new content for the blog, do another round of social media, or revisit my to-do list for the week.
We always eat dinner in front of the TV… it sounds terrible, but we love it. It’s the only time we have for TV, and we use it to catch up on our favorite shows (of which we have many!).
12:00 am – Family time.
After dinner, Will clears the plates and we spend some time together. There is no shortage of conversation between us… even though we both work at home, we give each other space during the day so it feels like I haven’t seen him alllll day (despite passing him in the kitchen or tag-teaming dog duty) and there’s so much to talk about! Having two creatives in the house means we’re constantly feeding off the other person’s energy, and that keeps us inspired without the social interaction other creatives get in a traditional work environment. Because of this mutual support, we would never trade our freelance careers for an office cubicle.
1:00 am – Take a shower, head to bed, but not fall asleep yet.
I always hear about the blue light from your gadgets keeping you awake at night, but honestly, I haven’t found that to be true. I like to end the day on my iPad, scrolling through my Newsify (in night mode) and catching up on the dozens of blogs I’ve saved. I also spend a few minutes checking my ad networks and Google analytics. Within the hour, my eyelids feel like they have kettlebells on them and the sound of pugs snoring does me in for the night. (Will, on the other hand, passes out right away.)
2:00 am to 3:00 am – Crash. Hard.
After my requisite seven to eight hours of sleep, I start a brand-new day feeling so thankful I get to do what I do. I love waking up every day and thinking of all the work ahead of me. Is it the day I try a new recipe? Transplant seedlings in the garden? Outline a project that gets my juices flowing? There’s a rhythm to most of my days but the routine is ever-changing, and I think that’s what makes the work so fulfilling.
This is just a general breakdown of my day, and there’s a great deal of variation depending on what I have going on that week. Some days, I only work an hour or two and spend the rest of the time hiking, biking, surfing, or goofing off. Other days, if I have major projects and looming deadlines, I work from morning to night with barely a break in between.
Such is the life of a blogger, or at least a glimpse into mine. I try to balance my work life and personal life but as many freelancers can tell you, the lines are blurred when you work at home. It’s hard to turn off the phone or put away the laptop when it’s right there, and I’m guilty of taking the phone into the bathroom sometimes when I’m behind on emails.
But compared to my previous career, when I routinely worked 10- to 12-hour days, blogging is a blessing — especially when gardening, cooking, and traveling are all a part of it.