For over twelve years I’ve maintained lifestyle blogging as both a fun hobby and professional pastime. I originally started a blog when I first moved to the UK in 2010. Like many travellers and expats, I thought it would be a great way to document my experiences for my own enjoyment and to share with friends and family back home in Australia.
Little did I know how far the enjoyment I got out of lifestyle blogging would take me in my career. The experience I gained from building and maintaining a blog actually scored me work that I would not have been qualified for had I not had this independent pastime.
As a leader in communications and marketing, when I am hiring, I now expect to see evidence that an applicant has a presence online. If you’re telling me that you aspire to work in a communications, editorial or digital content role, and I can’t see consistent evidence of this passion anywhere (a blog, digital portfolio, Instagram, YouTube TikTok), then I will question why you’re in this game.
So, why bother with a lifestyle blogging side hustle? Seven great reasons to follow 👇🏻
Career benefits you’ll gain by blogging on the side:
1. Learn adaptable skills
Building your own site and content library is a fantastic way to develop a wide array of skills that can score you work down the line.
I’ll give you an example. I continued to build my blog from 2010 – just for fun. It started out as me writing regular posts about our exploration of England and Europe during 2010-2012. I was publishing on a free site, but after a while, saw the need to shift to something more professional.
That’s when I turned to a travel blogging training hub, where I learnt about hosting, setting up WordPress as a content management system (CMS) and promoting my work. As I navigated this brand new world, I taught myself all the ins-and-outs (usually by learning the hard way when things wouldn’t work!) of managing a CMS, widgets, themes, and creating a digital content calendar. My interest led to enrolling in more training and conferences about blogging, digital content and developing websites from scratch.
Lifestyle blogging skills pay off:
Each month I would learn and grow my skills and could see with my own eyes how it all came to life. It was exciting! Until then, I’d worked in traditional publishing and PR. This work gave me hands on experience in digital content development, management and marketing, as well as direct experience managing a CMS.
I went on to then build and maintain WordPress sites for my own clients who were struggling to find the time to create their own sites. So, I began to earn money using the skills I’d taught myself!
Taking your skills around the world:
My partner and I actually returned to Australia in 2012, but there was always a part of us that wanted to move back to the UK, and we did in 2014. When I arrived back to the UK, I discovered that digital content skills were in demand. Thanks to my consistent lifestyle blogging habit, I scored two amazing roles. The first was a job at my dream company, a travel television production company called Pilot. I’d been a fan of Pilot Guides and Globe Trekker for YEARS, and all of a sudden, I scored a role managing their travel content – all because I’d developed some beautiful travel content and great digital experience of my own.
Sadly, that role was only part time, and in London you need a little more than that to pay the rent! As fate would have it, I was approached on LinkedIn (and yes, it absolutely pays you to keep this space up to date) about a terrific role at a membership organisation in the healthcare sector. I got that job, and adored where I worked. I was promoted through to various roles there. But I got my foot in the door because of the skills I had through my own lifestyle blogging side hustle – not because of the study I’d done at University or the full time work experience gained during the early years of my career in media.
2. Discover new technology (and impress your peers)!
As you progress through your creative content side hustle, you’ll inevitably have a need to implement new technology or apps to your work.
Your discoveries may come about through your desire to showcase a piece of content in a unique way. You may, for example, want to create an embeddable timeline on your site to share how a story has evolved through history. The need to do this means you’ll investigate tools on offer, and might come across something like Timeline.
Or, there’s been many times where I’ve seen something cool on another website and I’ve done a little digging to find out what app or widget will allow me to do the same thing on mine.
Top tip: attend conferences
By far the very best source of inspiration for me, has always been attendance at conferences. Each year my partner, Cooper, and I used to go to the TBEX Future of Travel Media conference – here’s hoping we get there again one day soon! I’d take myself off to all the sessions on SEO, digital storytelling, audio and podcast training, social media strategy and content creation and would always, without fail, learn something new. Usually I’d take away just one gold nugget about a site or service that could up my content game.
But here’s where it gets even more exciting. I would take these learnings – from a conference focussed on the travel industry – back to my workplace in healthcare, and adapt. Many times this learning helped me standout and also supported my colleagues in comms to solve a problem we didn’t know how to approach.
It helped me stand out in the crowd and progress. You can do the same!
3. Lifestyle blogging is a great way to practice writing and to find your voice
It doesn’t matter what genre you’re blogging in – travel, wellbeing, music, food – practice makes perfect.
A daily or weekly blogging habit helps you to hone these critical skills that your workplace will also love:
- Writing succinctly
- Crafting a call to action
- Planning ahead (developing a content calendar)
- Developing clear, concise content for an online audience
- Establishing your voice as a writer.
To the last point, it’s important to understand what your voice is, because you can apply it as appropriate in the workplace. It also allows you the awareness to play with a different tone of voice every now and then. This can be required if you’re writing corporate comms or drafting messages for senior leaders.
So, keep writing and revisit your work to self-assess where you can improve. This will be a wonderful trait to apply to any role.
4. You can test marketing and engagement strategies for promoting lifestyle blogs
Advancing through my digital journey, I took on the entire ‘business’ of lifestyle blogging. Ultimately, this meant I went just beyond my own site to:
- Learn about layout, use of white space and how to create a piece of content that was easy to read (scannable)
- I implemented calls to action to leave comments, share and follow on social media
- I developed social media marketing strategies and learnt about scheduling programs like Buffer or Hootsuite so my content was distributed to my social networks without extra effort on my side
- And I developed a mailing list and email marketing using MailChimp to keep my regular readers up to date with what was happening in my niche.
It’s basically an entire communication and marketing cycle, and while you can of course specialise in any of these areas, it’s great to have a working knowledge of each in the workplace. You’ll find you can confidently participate in conversations about campaigns and strategies, and throw in ideas based on what you’ve personally seen work.
5. Real world experience with different content types
The beautiful thing about creating your own content is that you can experiment with different tools and types of content.
You might start your lifestyle blog off in the written form, but expand into video and vlogging content later on. Podcasts are huge now too, and you might decide to try your hand at audio to complement the content you’ve created.
There’s so many tools available at our fingertips now, like Canva or iMovie. Experiment with different pieces of content that bring your work to life. An infographic might help you tell a story in an interesting way – and will also be completely shareable on Pinterest! Or, play around in Canva to create social media graphics that will effectively promote your blog on Instagram.
You can take ALL of this experience with you – to a new dream job, or to attract dream clients.
6. Build your profile and reputation through lifestyle blogging
As mentioned above, if you’re creating content and marketing it, it all leads to enhancing your own reputation as a skilled content producer and communications or marketing pro. If you aspire to move into a particular area of comms (e.g. social media, web content development, news and media, e-marketing, internal communication), take this opportunity to publish and showcase content as you might in your ideal role. Or if you want to work in a certain industry, like fashion, health & wellbeing, travel or food, start developing your repertoire of content now.
Make it your own.
Build your name as an expert.
(and if you feel you’re not at that level yet: just get started and fake it ’til you make it!).
7. Meeting contacts who can accelerate your career
This one isn’t so much about ‘doing’ the work (the ‘creating’) but about complementing all your hard work by getting yourself out there.
Some awesome places to be seen:
- Niche or industry specific conferences – to meet industry influencers, people you can learn from and people who can provide you with opportunities
- Local business networking – to talk about what you do and find clients who may want to hire you to do it
- Online conferences – offer to speak and share your story
- Local meetups with fellow bloggers – make friends and help each other.
A few terrific tips on how to make the most of your networking opportunities are here.
Hopefully this insight will help to inspire you to get your blogging game on. I promise you, it can lead to amazing things! Networking and consistently creating content as my side hustle has opened the doors to free travel (even international), great job offers and exciting collaborations.
Find your passion for a lifestyle blog and get started today – it’s never been easier!