Alexis Grant left her job as a U.S. News & World Report writer in August, seeking something “a little more creative.”
She had already started developing a side career mixing in blogging, social media consulting, e-books and freelance editing and wanted to work on it full-time. She got all that, with writing and blogging at the core of her new career.
“I don’t think you really make a living as a blogger. You use blogging to help yourself make a living whatever way you can,” said Grant, who lives and works in Rosslyn. Her blog, the Traveling Writer, serves as her gateway for selling e-books and consulting services on social media to small businesses.
Many people around the Beltway these days are spending part of their working lives as bloggers, whether their subject is politics, fashion, future trends or technology tips. Some combine their online writing or photography posting with careers in advertising, public relations, media and real estate. Some run businesses in Web site design or optimization or even funny T-shirts. Most are part-time bloggers and part-time something else. Among them is Janice Wallace, who balances blogging with running an online fashion magazine.
Wallace six years ago started blogging about modern weddings on a site called The Bridal Wishlist, while working full-time on Capitol Hill. She started Capital Fashionistas a couple of years later, and now runs two more. She strives to update each a couple of times a week, either by creating a bunch of short posts on Sunday night or by rising early before she gets her son off to school.
With a degree in journalism and a background in design and computer databases, Wallace says she sees her blogs as a “creative outlet” and hopes her new online magazine Fachon, focused on emerging fashion designers, eventually will provide a living.
“I’m obsessed with fashion, obviously,” she said.
“I have a lot more balls in the air than I had before,” said Grant, the former U.S. News writer who also serves as managing editor for the Brazen Careerist blog. She has four social media clients on monthly retainer, offers blog coaching and is trying to create new products to sell via her blog. She teaches a course called “use social media to make your own luck” and has written e-books on creating a part-time social media business and taking a break from your career to travel.
Grant has hired three part-time independent contractors who assist with social media campaigns, do research for her e-books and also handle a little writing. “She can write in my voice,” Grant said of one contractor.
Because she works from home, she labors from the minute she rolls out of bed until late at night. “Some days, I’ll sit around all night and work,” she said. Yet she takes vacations, and recently spent three weeks in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The combination of writing and blogging and social media and other things is paying off; Grant says she makes as much as she did at U.S. News and her side gigs, which were scaled down versions of social media consulting and blogging.
There are dozens of so-called mommy-bloggers around the Beltway, and around 300 people belong to the Capital Area Fashion & Beauty Bloggers organization, using such names as District of Chic and Pearls on a String, which covers travel, etiquette and “style in real life.” Most of them are part-time endeavors at best, its organizers say.
Some, though, are finding ways to bring in a partial income from blogging. Meg Biram has started using Google Adwords at the bottom of her Mimi+Meg fashion/art/interior design blog. “I turn a lot of ads down. I prefer to do a few sponsored posts that are more something that I have an experience with,” she said. Those posts may be for local retailers or an online merchant, and may cost a few hundred dollars and up, depending on the amount of work they require.
“I don’t want to publish my rates,” she said, noting they are changing as her audience is growing. Even there, though, she wants to be selective so her quality standards and aesthetic remain high. “My readers don’t want to see shabby chic,” she said.
Wallace also is starting to explore sponsored blog posts, and is pushing for more advertising for her emerging fashion magazine and blog, too. Managing everything from photo shoots to design work and eight to 10 blog posts a week can be “a little intense,” she said, but she has a clear goal: Build a national following for Fachon and a good living for herself.
The spring issue may be out this week, and by winter, she said, she hopes she’ll have made an impact and enough money to pay herself — and others — to write or edit blog posts and articles.