Freelance Friday: Baby Blog + Time Log

What my blog used to look like when I was just starting out!

Freelance Friday is a new regular feature where I’ll be answering your questions about my life as a freelance journalist, blogger, copywriter, and all-around sexy scribe. If you have questions for this feature, feel free to leave ’em in the comments, or email me!

Q. I want to hear about the very beginning! The baby blog! Mistakes you made, what you wish you knew. What you surprised yourself with.

A. When I started Girly Juice, I was depressed, bored, and scared. It was March 2012 and I was six months into a gap year between high school and university. I had recently decided to return to school to study journalism, but was terrified I’d hate it or wouldn’t be good at it. In the meantime, the months stretched ahead of me, blank and unyielding. Most of my friends were away at school in other provinces, so I spent most of my time alone or with my then-boyfriend. Aside from a few hours of part-time work each week coaching high school improv and doing customer service for a catering company, there was nothing to do. So I started a sex blog.

I made the mistake, initially, of assuming I had to be someone else to be successful. I tried on the voices and styles of other writers I admired in the sex niche: Epiphora‘s sardonic sass, Sinclair Sexsmith‘s erotic esoterica, Lilly‘s no-nonsense guidance. I think artists of all types have to learn through imitation, but that can’t be all that you do. I think it took me about four years of blogging here twice weekly to really find (or create) my voice. It’s hard to say what I am as a writer, exactly, but I know I’m not any of those people I longed to be like when I began.

In the early days, I blogged according to my whims, not according to a schedule – but frequently, nonetheless. I wrote three or four or five posts a week. Blogging was all I could think about. I had so many thoughts and ideas and feelings about sex. It was like that stage of a new relationship when all you want to do is tell them everything about yourself and learn everything about them. I wrote posts, promoted them on Reddit, wrote posts, promoted them on Twitter, wrote posts, told friends about them, wrote posts, tested sex toys, wrote posts, daydreamed about what my blog could become one day, wrote posts, wrote posts, kept writing posts. I loved it to death, and still do. There has never been a time when I’ve considered quitting. I can’t say that about anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

What I wish I knew when I started, and what I would like all beginning bloggers to know: your voice is valid, important, and worth spending time developing. Helpful content does better than personal content, but if you build an audience who love you, they will love your personal content too. You are not obliged to give out any more information than you want to; sharing part of your deepest heart doesn’t mean you owe the world all of it. Make friends with other bloggers as soon as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask them things, run your ideas by them, and collaborate. Brainstorm content based on what you think your ideal reader would like to read, not what your chosen topic supposedly dictates you have to stick to. Keep transforming, growing, challenging yourself. And make at least some of your choices based on what will make for the better story.

Q. How many hours go into daily blog work? Do you count sexcapades as part of your work, or are they just fun and you write about some of them?

A. I once went to a job interview for a copywriter position at a hip young advertising startup. The stern dude interviewing me scanned my résumé and asked, “How much time do you spend working on your blog?”

I ran a quick mental calculation, knowing at the same time that he wasn’t really curious about numbers – he wanted to know where my focus would be, if he hired me. Whether I would be hunched over a slick Mac in his exposed-brick office building on a Wednesday afternoon, writing copy for a cooking blog client while secretly pondering dildos and floggers. “I spend about 10 hours a week on my blog, but obviously, if you hired me, I would only do that on my own time,” I told him. I thought it was a ridiculous question. You wouldn’t ask a weekend golfer if his games would cut into his office hours. You wouldn’t ask a foodie if she’d be playing hookie for restaurant openings. Smart, responsible professionals know how to compartmentalize.

That ad agency didn’t hire me, and I wonder if they thought 10 hours a week spent on blogging was 10 hours too many. I’m not sorry, either, since that’s about when my blog started to take off and make me decent money.

These days, I’d guess I spend closer to 15 hours per week on this here blog. There’s writing, researching, editing, formatting, scheduling, marketing, corresponding with retailers and sponsors, testing toys, taking photographs, managing my website’s backend, updating pages and old reviews, making affiliate links, keeping track of my earnings, and maintaining my social media presence. Not all of these things feel like work, but they are, nonetheless (which is why I laugh when well-meaning strangers find out about my job and ask, “So you just, like, get paid to masturbate?!”).

I don’t consider sexcapades part of my work because I don’t pursue them for work reasons. I can think of few things more depressing and artificial than seeking out sexual partners purely for blog fodder (though I applaud bloggers who are able to do this happily and well, I am not one of them). If I was sleuthing out sexual experiences to write posts about, I would look for difficult or strange experiences – but instead, I mostly just try to find good ones. If an experience inspires me to write something, that’s cool, but it’s never my main goal – except for that time I sat on a cake.

Got questions about the #FreelanceLyfe or what it’s like being a sex blogger? Ask ’em in the comments, or send me an email!