Life Studio

From Hobby to Career: My Blogging Story

April 14, 2016

alicia fashionista, how to make money blogging, how to blog full time, how to start a blog

Photo by Shari and Mike

I realize that a lot of people don’t know/understand what I do for work.  And really, I can’t blame them.  Up until January of this year, I had 4 jobs (which, is actually an understatement, but more on that later). Now, with some much needed focus and drive, I can say with confidence that I am a full time blogger.  And I’m pretty sure people STILL don’t know/understand what I do for work – but, that’s okay.  Over the next little while, I want to explain, share my story with you and hopefully inspire some of you to finally start your own blogging journey.

What has sparked all of this?  Well, it just so happens that I started EIGHT years ago today!  Can you even believe that?!  I’ve taken what was initially a creative outlet/way to pass the time and built a personal brand that is actually making me enough money to live on.  Holy smokes, this is actually real life!

Let’s start in 2008.  One of my favourite years in music and when I hit publish for the first time on this blog.  It was called ‘Back On The Block’ in those days, some silly song lyrics from a Coconut Records tune I liked.  I was working almost full time at a local clothing company as their Junior Stylist and in school part time for Fashion Marketing.  When I dove into blogging, I had the same problem that most people do when they’re starting out.  I felt like I had nothing to talk about.  I’d sort of write when the mood struck me, but I lacked any sort of direction or purpose.  Then, I tried out Kendi’s 30×30 Challenge and it was the push I needed to be okay with posting outfit photos.  I branded myself as ‘Alicia Fashionista’ and started trying to grow my presence on Chictopia, Twitter, and even YouTube.

I ended up pausing my studies to take on a full time position at the clothing company and began working on their marketing team as well.  I set them up with Facebook and Twitter, contributed to their blog and sat in on meetings about their e-newsletters.  It was such a valuable 6 years of learning experience.  Being with a small/medium sized local company and working in their head office, I saw how every single department ran.  I was able to do the work of 7 or 8 people would at a large corporation and acquired far more skills than I would have ever dreamed of.  All this time, my blog readership and Twitter following kept growing and growing.  I started getting invitations to fashion events and was even given some really cool opportunities/collaborations.  Back then, I wasn’t confident in my professional skills though, and with the exception of a few gigs, accepted payment in clothing.  Which I don’t regret at all.  I think I needed to experience those humble beginnings in order to appreciate everything that followed.

Eventually, I started feeling trapped in my 9-5.  There was nothing wrong with the job at all, but I’d simply outgrown that path.  No longer feeling creatively or even professionally inspired, I did something I’d NEVER done before; I quit my job.  It certainly wasn’t my most graceful meeting.  My voice cracked out of nervousness and I managed to spit out a complete lie that I was going back to school for graphic design? (lol)  Knowing that it was time to pivot in order to move forward was a really tough moment in my life.  I felt like I was breaking up with my first boyfriend all over again.  I recently found my notebook from that time and it’s full of words of encouragement and mantras like “You can do this” and “You’re stronger than you think”.  Repeating these positive affirmations were what got me through such a big change!

alicia fashionista, how to make money blogging, how to blog full time, how to start a blog

While my blog was at one of its highest points, instead of leaving my office job to blog full time, I didn’t understand how you could make money blogging.  That seemed like a pipe dream.  Instead, I decided to utilize my social media skills and started my own company.  I worked closely with some AMAZING brands and managed their online presence, which ranged from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, product shots, content calendars, social media strategies, video components, etc.  It was such a blast and there was no better way to tap into my entrepreneurial skills than just going for it.  It took courage and for many years, pushed me to learn and grow professionally.

All the time, I was still keeping things going on, but having so many jobs (I was also teaching a social media course at a local college and teaching dance classes on the weekends) meant that I inevitably burned out.  Last year, I experienced what it’s like to push yourself past your limits.  I was no longer doing work I was proud of for anyone because I lacked focus.  After a ton of soul searching in November and December, and some contracts that had ended, I knew it was time to finally do the “impossible”.  I stopped all other work and decided to try my hand at blogging full time.  It’s almost too overwhelming to think about, but my big, unattainable career dream actually came true!  And apparently, I was the only thing standing in my way.  Feeling stale in your work and life really blinds you from what’s potentially out there for you.

I have big plans for this exciting next chapter in my career.  I feel so passionate about travel and sharing my recommendations for you.  I want to help spark that fire in you to also pursue your big professional dreams.  I’m expanding my health/wellness content as I try to get stronger mentally and physically.  I want to write more, improve my photography, and create more videos.  And of course, I will always be sharing my outfits and beauty recommendations.  I am ‘Alicia Fashionista’ after all!

If you’re considering starting a blog, I will say to you what I say to everyone who asks: GO FOR IT!  Even if it just starts out as a hobby (as many successful blogs do) you never know what could happen.  The amount of opportunity and organic networking that happens within blogging is beautiful.  Human connection, even if it’s online, is something we all need and benefit from.  I’m thinking about doing a blogging series as well, so if you have any specific questions, let me know.  I’d love to pass on my knowledge about starting a blog, building a social media presence, personal branding, etc.

And of course, I have to say it every April 13th, but my goodness…THANK YOU!   You’ve all helped shape this strange and wonderful career path and for that, I am forever grateful.  Even though it has been 8 years, this feels like the beginning of the next level and I look forward to many more happy years together! xoxo

EDIT: For those of you asking, the dress was a very inexpensive purchase from SheInside.  I’m wearing a size Large (but their sizing is tough to trust…)

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  • Julieanne April 14, 2016 at 2:30 am

    ahh you are so cute! I really enjoyed reading this! Thank you for sharing, I went to school for fashion marketing, and started my own blog a little while ago. It sometimes gets frustrating because like you said I sometimes feel like I don’t have anything important to say. I hope my hobby blog can turn into a career, just like yours! Thank you for this, and thank you for sticking through your 8 years so it can affect people like myself 🙂 xx

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Thank you so much for reading/following/supporting, Julieanne! I love your style so much and think you’re doing a great job. Will definitely get some posts up about taking blogging to the next level 🙂 xoxo

  • Amanda April 14, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Congrats Alicia! Always a pleasure to read your posts 🙂

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Woot! Thank you so much, Amanda!!! Your support means everything xoxo

  • Iris April 14, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Happy blog birthday! Here’s to many more!

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Thank you for always reading, Iris! You’re the best 🙂

  • jenaly April 14, 2016 at 4:04 am

    It would be a dream to be able to do blogging full time. I am so un happy with my jobs but don’t know what else to do. I am running out of ideas and don’t have the confidence to change my direction, I feel stuck!!! But I am staying positive.

    I am happy for you and think that is amazing.

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      Don’t give up hope, Jenaly! You’ve got a great site and killer style. You’ve inspired me to gather my thoughts and do a post with tips ASAP! Let me know if you ever have any questions xo

  • Amy April 14, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Alicia I love following your style, travel adventures, and general life stories on your blog and I’m so happy to hear you’re officially jumping into it full time! Congrats on 8 years of building what I think is a beautiful site and brand, and good luck on all the years to come. You’re going to rock it!

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      Amy, you’re AMAZING! Thank you so much for reading and following along, the support is what keeps me going! Always wishing you the best as well and thank you again XOXO

  • Kate April 14, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Congratulations on 8 years of blogging — and thank you for sharing your story. It’s so inspiring to newbie bloggers like me!

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      YAY! Glad I can help in any way! Thank you so much, Kate 🙂 xo

  • Riley Nowlan April 14, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I absolutely love this post! Thank you so much for sharing, as someone just starting out on blogging it was so helpful to read!



    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Thank YOU, Riley! Hope to be posting more like this very soon 🙂

  • kim April 17, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Congrats Alicia! I recently left from corporate retail to working with a set of local boutiques doing more of what I love (photography), with the hopes of still growing my blog’s readership to where I can eventually blog full time. I’ve been sent great products for review over the last 2 years or so and periodically get monetary compensation as well, but what I would like to know (if you do your series) is how do you begin those conversations with brands so that you can receive both? That is what I can’t seem to find any real tips on. I know that the specifics will vary based on the blogger/brand, but just the general dialogue to use to get the conversation started is what I would like to know about

    • Alicia April 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      Hi Kim! Thank you so much and a big congratulations to you as well! That’s a great question and I will definitely do my best to answer that in an upcoming post 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment, the dialogue is always open if any more questions come up! xo

  • Tess April 26, 2016 at 2:01 am

    I’m forever grateful to your blog for providing me an opportunity to send you unsolicited emails. Bonus: you’re pretty fun to hang out with.

    • Alicia April 27, 2016 at 1:49 am

      HAHAHA I love you. Thank you for pushing me to take care of myself this year. And for just being the best!