In Monday's post I mentioned that I'd be taking a short blogging break - I promise it won't be permanent, and when I say short I mean perhaps only 10-14 days or so. However I thought I'd explain why I need to take a bit of time off, and why it's important that all bloggers (who post a few times a week religiously) take a break now and then.
Many of you very kindly passed on your best wishes - thank you, I really appreciated them! - and hoped (assumed?) that it was for some r&r. I really wish it was...
Unfortunately, the reason is not as nice as simply needing a break. As a freelancer/full time professional blogger (which I've been for the past three years) it's always been a little bit of a struggle to ensure where my next "pay cheque" is going to come from. However, I've always kept my head above water and have been very lucky to have had a steady stream of paid blogging jobs come in. Plus I have [had...] a good back up of savings (mostly from from my redundancy money from my full time job).
I HAVE ACTUALLY REACHED CRISIS POINT, TO THE EXTENT THAT I AM OWED SO MUCH MONEY - SO MUCH MONEY - THAT I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW IF I'LL BE ABLE TO PAY THE MORTGAGE AND THE BILLS AT THE END OF THIS MONTH.
The problem is payment. I have actually reached crisis point, to the extent that I am owed so much money - so much money - that all our savings have gone and I honestly don't know if I'll be able to pay the mortgage and the bills at the end of this month.
Unfortunately I'm owed money from all over the place, and to give you some idea the total I'm owed from everyone, everywhere is just shy of a five-figure sum (£ Sterling). It made me sick to the stomach when I added it all up last week. It's for all sorts of reasons, none of which I'm going to go into detail about, but it's fair to say that I reckon I should see (fingers crossed) about one third of the money, one third I'm going to have to fight for, and one third I'll almost certainly never see.
THE REASON FOR ME TAKING A BREAK IS TO BE ABLE TO CONCENTRATE ON SORTING OUT THIS FINANCIAL MESS, AND TO TAKE FURTHER ACTION WHERE I CAN.
So this is the side of full time blogging no one ever writes about - companies that just don't pay. As an example, a national newspaper for whom I wrote an article has been chased for payment since the spring but they've just ignored all correspondence. What can you do? It'd cost far, far more than what I'm owed to take legal action against them, and it's impossible to find out who to talk to about it at such a massive organisation. [There are far more complicated details about this one example than I'm going to divulge here, but it's safe to say there isn't much I can do about this one.]
Therefore the reason for me taking a break is to be able to concentrate on sorting out this financial mess, and to take further action where I can. I've had lots of advice from friends and family which I'm really grateful for - so please don't feel you need to offer advice here in the comments (that sounds ungrateful - I don't mean it to be! I just mean that you'd need to know a lot of the back story and much more detail than I'm offering here).
I got myself into a major pickle emotionally last week, to the point where my parents had to drive over and get me to take me away from my computer and my home office to have a restful day drinking tea and chatting. It did me a lot of good, and by the end of the day I'd at least made the decision to take this break from writing posts for a short time so I could just concentrate on the money side.
I never, ever thought I'd be in the same financial mess I was in when I was a young 20-something idiot living in London, and totally beyond my means. That was different - that was all my own doing. What's annoyed me is that I have effectively made a success of full-time blogging - the campaigns and offers of work have never stopped coming in - but it's the actions of others that have caused it all to go (almost) tits up for me.
I've worked for this money - and I've worked hard for it. It's the bad financial decisions or dishonest actions of others, not mine, that have put me in this position.
I'm not one to give up without a fight, and after a bad experience a year or so ago where I was left high and dry (I've now accepted I'm never going to see that money), it seems I have to get through this stage and almost start from scratch yet again.
Living a more frugal lifeWe're cutting back. No more trips to the cinema or restaurants. No more fancy presents at Christmas for each other. My husband will take on all the overtime hours at work he can get his hands on. I've just started to list things on eBay - we're having a major clear out at home and will sell anything and everything.
IT'D BE ONE THING TO GIVE UP BLOGGING FULL TIME BECAUSE I JUST COULDN'T GET ANY PAID WORK, BUT IT'S ANOTHER THING ALTOGETHER TO GIVE IT UP BECAUSE NO ONE WILL PAY THEIR BILLS.
At my lowest ebb last week I honestly thought it spelled the end of the blog, that I'd have to start looking for full-time employment. I've been so happy working from home, going to London to work on campaigns and networking at events and conferences.
I love my job as a blogger, and always knew that as long as some money came in each month to pay the bills I'd be happy. It'd be one thing to give up blogging full time because I just couldn't get any paid work, but it's another thing altogether to give it up because no one will pay their bills.
So I'll keep you updated once I return in a week or two. The Monday #iwillwearwhatilike link up posts will still continue, and I'm hoping for normal service to resume by the latter half of September.
This girl doesn't give up easily, and now I'm over the mean reds from last week I'm in full-on fighting mode. Woe betide anyone who owes me money, I've been taken for a ride for too long...
... It ends right here.
Why all bloggers should take a break now and then
It's really important to take a break from something that you just "can't" take a break from. In five years of blogging I've been on holiday three times, and every one of those times I've scheduled posts to continue throughout my time away. And even then I've kept on top of my emails and social media messages - I ensured our hotel I chose for our holiday in Santorini last year had good WiFi: It's a blogger's prerequisite.
But in most jobs you get a certain number of annual leave days per year, and many of those you can take and spend pottering about at home, doing the garden or the decorating, or going out for day trips. Not so with blogging (or, indeed, most types of self-employment): If you don't work, you don't get paid. (Or in my case, you do work, and you don't get paid. But I've covered that already ;)
But as a blogger it's very hard to convince yourself that the world won't end if you go a couple of weeks without posting, you just have to explain why you're doing it and when you'll be back - as I've done here. Yes, my page views may drop and that'll be detrimental to the stats that I have to provide to brands when they ask to see my media kit, but I'm fairly confident that I have a loyal readership (YOU!) and that it'll pick back up in time.
The world won't end. Your readers won't desert you. The blog will still be there when you get back. So take a proper break, knowing you can just pick up where you left off.
It'll do you the world of good, as I hope it'll do me.
HAVE YOU SUFFERED ANY MAJOR FINANCIAL CRISES THAT YOU'VE HAD TO SORT OUT - OR HAVE YOU HAD TO TAKE A BLOGGING BREAK FOR ANY REASON? COMMENT BELOW, OR TAKE IT TO TWITTER @NOTLAMB...
P.S. A warning about Passionfruit Ads...
If you're a blogger with a Passionfruit Ads checkout on your blog, remove it NOW. You may or may not have heard that it's shutting up shop at the end of the year - I only found out inadvertently via a newsletter - and it seems bloggers are fighting to get the money owed to them. I'm owed several hundred dollars from them for banner ads I've sold, so that just added to my total. Likewise do NOT buy a banner ad from anyone with a Passionfruit checkout - they may well not see the money, and if it's rejected by them you may have to fight to get your PayPal payment refunded...!
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