My lifelong dream has been to work from home. As a child, that meant becoming an author. I loved to write and was praised often for my ability. But things change and interests fade; as I got older (and social media blew up), I began to prefer the straightforwardness of the “blog” style, which also allows for a wide breadth of topics to be discussed in a single medium. Also, there’s an instant gratification to social media that is absent from traditional publishing. Beyond this, I truly don’t know if I have an original work of fiction in me! I read a lot, and the amount of detail in most of the fiction I read must require exhaustive research! When it comes to research, I prefer hands-on experience (such as trying and failing at replicating recipes or making pieces of art), to the academic type of research which requires databases and journal articles.
Basically, blogging is my dream job. There are just a few problems with turning an obscure hobby into a real job.
- Successful blogs marry stunning visuals with substantive content. Well-designed websites are my kryptonite. As a millennial, I evaluate a company or individual’s worth by its visual presentation. When a company takes time to hire out artists and graphic designers, or a savvy blogger learns Photoshop and InDesign herself, it is an indication that her product or persona is important to her and worth the extra investment of time or money. Good web design makes the content of the blog or website more accessible (and therefore more useful) to the reader, contributing to the success of the site.
- It takes time, money, or both to create a site worthy of traffic. Confession: I don’t even own a camera. I desperately want one, as photography is a huge interest of mine, but committing to a purchase of upwards of $500 is terrifying to a student. I would spend $500 on new tires for my car because that contributes to my overall safety and well-being. But to spend big money on something I want rather than need is daunting. The cost of maintaining a website is reasonable (I’m already doing that), but the investment of time comes at a price. Not only does one have to learn (or hire out) great web design and provide engaging visuals, but one has to have the time to create the sites content. DIYs take time. Writing essays takes time. Researching topics of interest in order to successfully do those things takes time. Hell, even outfit photos take time! There’s the photography, photo editing, image uploading, posting of affiliate links, etc. It takes a full-time job to afford to create content, but it takes a whole lot of free time to actually create it.
- Sometimes you have to fail a few times in order to succeed. Nobody is perfect; even though the lives of bloggers may seem perfect, they are real people with real flaws. That food blogger might have ruined 3 casseroles before she found the perfect bake time and temperature. For the layperson who dreams of entry into the blogosphere, the idea of failing, and potentially wasting time and money as discussed above, is scary! Most of us don’t have the resources to accept failure. It takes a very determined person to persevere through that, and not all of us are programmed with such self-confidence.
- Committing to a life off the beaten path requires an enormous leap of faith. If you, like me, have a family that would never understand why you quit your job to run a blog full-time, then you understand the stranglehold that traditional values have upon most of us. I can only speak as an American (specifically a New Englander), but you’re supposed to perform well in high school, go on to a competitive college, make Dean’s List, graduate with mountains of debt, somehow immediately proceed into a lucrative career, get married, buy a house, and procreate. Almost no one actually does this, yet your individual failure to do so is met with disapproval at every turn. Personal example: I was encouraged to go into nursing when I was in high school. I hate being around sickness, I’m disgusted by blood, and I excelled in humanities rather than the sciences. I would be the world’s worst nurse. I would be absolutely miserable every day of my life. But nursing is practical, noble, reliable work, so despite the fact that I would basically want to kill myself every day, my family did their best to encourage this path. I was raised with the understanding that work is an unpleasant means to an end. You need to earn enough money to lead a normative life that wouldn’t be judged by other successful people. That…sucks. Faced with such opposition, you have to believe in yourself or your product to your core in order to shirk tradition and make your own rules.
It’s not all terrifying, though. The freedom to wear whatever I want every day is almost enough motivation for me to make the jump! Working from home, blogging, or other non-traditional jobs aren’t for the lazy: you have to hustle and work your ass off to make a living, but in truth, there’s no one I’d work harder for than myself and the little family I’m making.
So, how do I do it? I’ve scoured the internet for advice that all seems impossible and daunting. I’m barely managing a job, school, and a home as it is. But that desperate hope to make my dreams come true never leaves the back of my mind. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I either lie or say nothing. How do you put into a simple sentence everything that I’ve said here? I guess the only way to put it is: “I want to work for myself.” I want to create my own future and establish my own standards. I want to succeed on my own terms. I have no desire to be rich. I’ve honestly even given up on dreams of world travel. I just want to go to bed every night knowing that I followed my heart.
I think that’s the new American dream.