ALL ABOUT WORK // NEW OFFICE + ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS

Hello, from my new home office! One of the major draws about this house was a large game room type space on the second floor. While I don’t have any use for a game room at this time in my life, this space was the ideal location for a home office! At my last house, Liza and I were practically working on top of each other – it was very cramped in my old office. In addition to being very spacious with plenty of room for two desks and a larger communal table in the center of the room, it also features a wet bar and a huge storage closet behind said bar. Liza and I have plenty of room up here, and the closet has been a Godsend for hiding all of my photography, lighting, tech equipment and more!

All we have in here right now is our two desks, my file cabinet and a mirror, so I’ll be starting from almost scratch in here design wise. I’m not in a big hurry to finish this space though – definitely more eager to complete the living area downstairs first! I also still need to get a small fridge for the wet bar, but we’ve got a microwave and Keurig machine set up. Below is a photo of where our desks are. My desk is to the left of the window and Liza is on the right – they are set up so our backs are to each other! I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated once I start buying more items for this space. In the meantime, scroll down for a Q&A answering questions you guys submitted on Instagram about my work, blogging, etc!

ALL ABOUT WORK // NEW OFFICE + ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS

PRODUCTIVITY/SCHEDULE QUESTIONS

QUESTION // Do you ever feel mentally checked out? I’ve been working from home since March and some days are just harder.

ANSWER // Absolutely! I’ve worked from home for years, but COVID has made me feel like a total recluse. Last year I would spend weeks at home working all day on the computer, but then would get to travel for a couple of weeks and work elsewhere! It was way more balanced. This year, I’ve been home almost 100% of the time with so much less social interaction and not much travel. It feels like all work and no play, which feels exhausting at times. As a Type-A gal, I’m not very good at relaxing/resting. If I’m home, I’ll just keep on working!

QUESTION // How do you stay motivated/focused throughout the day? I get so distracted while working from home!

ANSWER // I think the key to working from home is to have a dedicated space for it. Don’t work from the couch in front of the TV! I know it’s tempting, but it’s not good for your neck to be hunched over on the couch, and you are going to be way less productive with the TV on. Choose a spot with the least amount of distractions. When I lived in a space without an office, I set up shop at the dining room table!

If you’re someone who gets distracted by sounds and other people, don’t work in the same space as your roommate/spouse. If I’m writing, reading or doing something that requires my undivided attention, I cannot have any noise – no podcasts or music playing in the background. I also know I’m more focused first thing in the morning and get more ADD as the day goes on, so I tackle the most important/pressing items first. With that said, my schedule has changed quite a bit since getting Reeses! Identify your weaknesses and switch things up to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success!

QUESTION // How do you set your schedule for the day/week? It would be cool to see a typical day for you!

ANSWER // I’m a creature of habit and thrive on a schedule! Below is a pretty typical look at my Monday-Friday schedule – I also work on Sunday most weeks, but am more relaxed with the set routine on the weekend:

6:00am – Get up, make coffee and feed Reeses

6:30am – Walk Reeses

7:30am – Workout (details on that here – if I don’t work out in the morning it won’t happen!)

8:30am – Shower and get ready for the day

9:30am-12:30pm – Computer work: usually includes writing, making collages, finding new pieces for Liza to use in TSSEdited collages, etc.

12:30pm – I usually make lunch around this time and always eat at my desk! If Reeses isn’t at daycare, I’ll take her for a 20-30 minute walk.

1:00pm-5:00pm – Continue working, usually to include more computer work, taking outfit photos, editing said photos, etc.

5:00pm – Liza usually leaves at 5, and if things aren’t crazy busy I stop working when she leaves. Now that we’re into the holiday season though, I’m working until 6 or later most nights!

6:30pm – Make dinner and relax!

QUESTION // What do you listen to during the day? Podcasts, playlists, etc?

ANSWER // I can’t listen to anything if I’m reading or writing! But I definitely listen to podcasts and music if I’m creating collages, looking for new products, or editing photos. Some of my favorite weekly podcasts include Armchair Expert, Be There in Five, Absolutely Not with Heather McMahan, Even The Rich, Smartless, My Favorite Murder, Girls Gotta Eat, Conan O’brien Needs a Friend, Second Life, RomComPods, Small Town Dicks, and Bad on Paper. As far as Spotify playlists go, I love Kygo, Today’s Top Hits, Pumped Pop, Mood Booster, Daily Lift and Chill Hits.

QUESTION // What are the best ways to keep timelines when it’s your own business?

ANSWER // I personally have an editorial calendar in Excel where I plot out when I’m posting certain content throughout each month, and I usually also set up a reminder on my iCal for important campaigns/deadlines!

BEHIND-THE-SCENES QUESTIONS

QUESTION // How do you handle healthcare?

ANSWER // I have an individual HMO, which is very pricey! Liza is young enough so that I don’t yet have to pay for her health care. Assuming she stays on for awhile, I’ll eventually have to figure that out!

QUESTION // When did you hire an accountant?

ANSWER // Once I started working full-time for myself, that’s when I hired an accountant! They do all the heavy lifting for taxes and have been helpful with hiring employees, payroll, etc.

QUESTION // Are you able to project income? Or how do you budget and plan for the future financially?

ANSWER // I can’t project income with any certainty like someone with a normal salary could… but I’ve been doing this long enough that I know to expect the seasonal changes in the retail cycle, and because I am consistent with my work, my earnings stay pretty consistent month to month. I have always been a good saver, but I’m not the person to ask about budgeting! As far as financial planning, I have an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) that I add to every year, which is basically the self-employed person’s 401K.

QUESTION // How do you set realistic goals and some stretch goals?

ANSWER // For the first several years of blogging, and even the first couple years of working for myself full time, I was very big about setting goals and reaching them. At one point those goals were things like reaching a certain number of Instagram followers, but once I hit my stride and really started making a significant income, my goals shifted. I’m not so concerned about the outward numbers like follower counts, and much more focused on reaching revenue goals I’ve set for myself! As a blogger, the more content I produce and share, the more opportunities there are to earn… which is why I’m constantly adding new verticals and content offerings like my Capsule Wardrobes and the @TSSEdited Instagram account.

QUESTION // Would you ever work from a WeWork/shared work space?

ANSWER // I wouldn’t! I get so distracted by other people. I also don’t work well in coffee shops or open concept offices. Having a dedicated, quiet home office has made all the difference in my productivity!

BLOGGING QUESTIONS

QUESTION // Where would you recommend starting? A website/blog first or Instagram?

ANSWER // I think it depends on what kind of content you’re planning to create! If you don’t love to write or don’t see yourself posting often on a website, having a blog might be unnecessary. Instagram didn’t exist when I started my blog, but these days content creators have a choice on what mediums they want to dedicate their time to. I know plenty of successful influencers who make the majority of their income from Instagram and LIKEtoKNOW.it, but there are also a lot of influencers (like myself) who make most of their income from their blog and newsletter content. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, but my personal opinion is to start with a blog/website you can control. Instagram is an amazing tool for growing a business (and can even become one for many!), but they have complete control over all of the content you share on their app. If all you have is an Instagram and they decide to stop allowing affiliate links or LIKEtoKNOW.it on their platform, you’re f*cked.

QUESTION // How do you get a blog up and running? What steps do you take?

ANSWER // A few years back I created this Blogging Tips series featuring several in-depth blog posts on how to start a blog, how to grow your readership, how to monetize, etc! So definitely check all of those out! These were created in 2016, so while a lot has changed in the industry, most of the content still rings true. Click here to read a step-by-step list of what you need to do!

PS: The answer to this question can be found with the quickest Google. There are SO many articles with great info on every single step to starting a blog, along with details on every possible platform, domain hosting site, etc! Do your research and choose what’s right for you!

QUESTION // Did your blog start as a side hustle? How long did you wait to go full time?

ANSWER // I started my blog back in January 2011 (coming up on ten years!) as a hobby. While blogging was a thing by then, monetizing blogs was not! I did it purely for fun with no expectation or thought that I would make money doing it, so I definitely wouldn’t call it a side hustle! I left my job to pursue the blog full-time in December 2014, at which point I had made over $20,000 more through my blog that year than I’d made at my salaried full-time job. My income has grown significantly every single year since, with the exception of this year! Like everybody else, the pandemic/economy this year has definitely had an impact on my business, but I am so fortunate and grateful to have a job and actually love what I do. Counting my blessings this year and hoping we can all bounce back in 2021!

QUESTION // Where does most of your income come from? What’s the breakdown between sponsorships, affiliate commissions, etc?

ANSWER // The answer will be totally different depending on who you ask, and there’s no *best* way to do it! Some bloggers/influencers survive entirely on sponsored content, while others do really well with affiliates. The majority of my income is affiliate commission – both on the blog (rewardStyle + Amazon Associates) and on Instagram (LIKEtoKNOW.it). To give you a breakdown, let’s look at last year which was my biggest year yet! 75% of my income was affiliate commissions, while only 22.5% was thanks to sponsored content/flat fees. The leftover percentage is from A Detailed Destination sales. There are pros and cons to this split! On the pro side, I don’t have to rely on getting sponsorships to make money, which a lot of bloggers/influencers do. I’m so so lucky to have such a loyal readership who consistently shops my content, so THANK YOU! Because of this, I can be super choosy about who I partner with and don’t need to do collaborations as often.

On the con side, flat fee partnerships are a great way to know exactly what you’re going to make with a clear cut number! Even though I am super consistent with my content and generally know what I am going to make each month (at least a range!), there are always order returns, plus outside factors that can effect the numbers. The first of the year and summertime are usually on the slower side with sales, while big sale times like Shopbop’s sales, the #NSALE and holiday sales are HUGE earning periods.

Especially in a year like this year where people are generally shopping less/spending less money, it would be nice to have some additional sponsored content to make up for the drop in commission! Unfortunately sponsorships have also gone down this year (at least for me). The year isn’t over, but if we capped the year now, I’ve made about half what I made on sponsorships this year than I did last year! Fingers crossed things pick back up during the holidays!

QUESTION // How many hours a week do you spend creating content?

ANSWER // Before I had a full-time employee, I’d say I probably worked 65 or 70+ hours a week on content. Now that I have Liza coming in five days a week, I’d guesstimate I work about 50 hours a week. While I have set hours at my desk on weekdays, I often bring my laptop down and work from the couch on the weekends and some weeknights if things are really busy! And if you don’t believe me, just ask my mom. Even she was shocked when she stayed with me once in Dallas and I worked into the night after we got back from dinner! Obviously it ebbs and flows with some weeks being more chill and others more on the busy side, but creating content can be very time consuming.

QUESTION // How far out do you create content/schedule posts?

ANSWER // Totally depends! I spent all of last week working on the next Capsule Wardrobe, so now I’m a little behind on everyday blog content. Today’s post was written yesterday! Most of the time I try to be at least one week ahead of schedule, but with Reeses, my grandmother passing, house stuff and travel the last couple of months I’ve just been trying to stay on top of everything.

QUESTION // When brands randomly send you free product, do you feel obligated to post about it?

ANSWER // Definitely not. I am pretty selective these days about who I accept gifted product from, mostly because it gets so wasteful and I hate clutter. I used to get beauty press packages featuring makeup in every skin shade – who needs that?! If a brand reaches out about sending me gifted product that I am interested in, I always let them know that I don’t accept gifted product in exchange for dedicated promotion. If it happens to fit in with what I’m already sharing or it’s something I’m really excited about, I’ll post about it, but gifting does not guarantee exposure.

QUESTION // How do you stay creatively inspired and has that changed as a result of COVID restrictions?

ANSWER // Ooof! It’s hard to stay inspired when you’re holed up at home by yourself all the time! I’m so used to traveling regularly, meeting new people and generally just being out and about having all kinds of experiences. This year has definitely put my creativity and imagination to the test! But when it comes down to fashion blog content, all I need to fire up my creativity is good product. There was a point there in the middle of summer when zero new product was coming out at my favorite stores, which made creating good content tricky! But things seem to have picked back up and each week I’m finding new pieces I love and can link to.

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