Be a Better Blogger, Vol. 1: Find Balance

Today’s post is in response to the question I asked you about freelancing and blogging full-time, posted two weeks ago. I intended to share it with you last week, but well, shit happens. Sorry guys;  sometimes you have to prioritize – especially if you’re a one-woman-show running your own biz-nass (with another job ramping up).

coffee mug and jewelry

… These “things” I’m referring to are taxes, and I always wait until the last minute to do them. Lesson one: Don’t be like me. Do your f–king taxes!


So, as I was looking back through your questions, a common theme emerged: We’re all just trying to figure it out as we go. How, exactly, do we get to the next level from where we are? What does progress even look like?

home office ideas inspiration

Your questions began to bucket themselves into themes — social media, finances, working strategies, and so on — and a result, I’m going to break them up into two posts. For today, it’s about the foundational stuff: What freelancing and blogging “full-time” entails. Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on your questions regarding social media, pitching and how to approach brands.

Before we get started, a little reminder: I am no expert, and my path has been far from linear (as you know). It’s definitely been a course of emotions, failures, freak-outs and learning experiences, but hey, I’m here.

At the end of the day, it’s just work. Just a job. And in my case, it’s just a blog.

Don’t take yourself too seriously and stop feeling so much pressure to have it all figured out. I’m 29-years-old, guys, and I just embarked on a totally new, unique career path. My mantra is and has always been: Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

And hey, spoiler alert: You’ll figure it out. Shit happens. Life is messy. Nothing’s coincidence. Just go with it!



  • At what point did you feel “comfortable” enough to make this your full-time job? When did you feel that push? – Taylor, Lights Camera Catwalk

Well, it definitely wasn’t overnight — as detailed in this post. I’ve spent more than four years creating content, slowing growing my social media and developing genuine relationships with people, which has helped me find work consistently (paid partnerships, writing gigs, freelance consulting, etc).

Every single weekend and weeknight that I came home from my desk job, I would work on my blog.

Time goes by, and if you’re consistent, you grow. Readers, brands and people start to demand more from you – more content, more opportunities, more partnerships. Eventually, you get sick of saying “sorry, I can’t — I have to work.” For me, it came to a point where my hobby was overtaking my job, so I started to be more mindful about saving up my money. I knew the best and only way to fully capitalize on all of the opportunity I was being approached with was to stand on my own and devote all of my energy into growing the blog/business.

As they say, leap and the net will appear.

hp sprout review

  • How do you get motivation to work from home and not slack off? – Gretchen, Gretchen Runs

I work remotely a lot, but when I am at home, I have a separate nook. I actually use a desktop (the HP Sprout computer), which helps me keep a dedicated working area.

The Sprout has been a really useful tool to have on-hand. I use it as a scanner (to scan my receipts while doing taxes), but it’s also great for editing mood boards and the like. One of the coolest features is that you can also create your own “handwriting”, save it as a JPEG and upload it to your blog. It’s kinda like Photoshop, but a more intuitive, simplified version. (You can read more about the Sprout here.)

In addition, I stay focused by listening to music – and by NOT multi-tasking. I set aside specific times in the day for social media and g-chat and I strive to complete a daily “10 before 10,” answering 10 important e-mails before 10 a.m. There are some more suggestions in this post.

how to use hp sprout

  • I’m sure that no two days are the same for you, but I would love to know what your schedule sort of looks like. – Lauren, @LaurGood

You’re right, they’re not! I spent awhile trying to figure out what my new normal looked like, but finally came to terms with the fact that normal just doesn’t exist. It now depends on when I’m teaching, but the key is to create consistency in your day where possible. I try to get up at the same time every morning, and I don’t look at my computer or phone for at least 30 minutes. I typically do a few sun salutations (yoga poses), pick up around the apartment and make coffee. Then, when I sit down I feel like I’ve actually “arrived” at work.

Yesterday, for example: I woke up, went to a yoga class and came home intending to answer e-mails. I ended up last-minute subbing at SoulCycle, so I was back out the door as soon as I walked in. Now, I’m at home writing and eating. Always eating.

Disciplined prioritization is a hard skill to learn (I swear I have ADD), but I’m making progress.

blogger home office



  • How do you make money? – Anonymous

Ah, yes – question of the hour. The short answer is: In a variety of ways.

Most of my income comes from collaborating with like-minded brands, who I partner with to share their stories on my blog and across social media. I also utilize affiliate links through rewardStyle and Amazon (if you scroll down and read yesterday’s post regarding Shopbop’s sale). In addition, I’m a freelance writer/I’ll produce content for other sites, too (like Glam, where I contribute monthly).

Over time, you’ll learn how to monetize your blog and develop strategies for when it’s appropriate to bring sponsored content into the mix. Ultimately, it’s important to have a variety of income streams – just in case one disappears/so that you’re not dependent.

My budget covers all the necessities, and beyond rent, my expenses are actually pretty low.

I take the subway and/or walk almost everywhere, I don’t make random food purchases and — believe it or not — I really don’t shop. (Sales like this one are an exception — if I can afford something and I know I’ll wear it constantly, I don’t feel bad about making the investment.) You’ve seen me wearing a lot of my favorite items on repeat: The chunky sweater, my favorite boyfriend jeans, those blush Loeffler Randall pumps, right? Case-in-point.

  • I’m scared about income. How do I know if I’m ready? – Anonymous

I’d suggest being well-off enough that you can cover three to six months of your cost of living (rent, expenses, food, etc) as a starting point. Trust, when you’re a contractor or consultant, no one pays you on time — and remember that most payment terms are net-30 or net-60 days.

Before you leave your full-time job, you can probably approximate how much guaranteed income you’ll be generating on a monthly basis. You should have an idea of how much money you need each month to cover your expenses and taxes, as well as pay yourself (if you’re doing that). A lot of bloggers give themselves a “salary,” but I’m fairly lax about this — something to consider, though.

  • You said most of your freelance work comes from word of mouth. Has that changed? – Jess, 26 and Not Counting

Yep, that’s still the same — and it’s much more enjoyable as a result. For that reason and many others, I’d encourage you to take care of your in-person relationships first-and-foremost. Nothing is coincidence and everyone is in your life for a reason. Be kind, thankful and willing to connect people – karma comes back around full-circle.



  • Apart from planners and iPhone reminders, how do you keep track of everything going on? – Cristal

I keep everything in one place: Google Calendar. Everything from work to my Soul classes I’m teaching to personal shit. Due dates, workouts, waxing appointments — if it’s not on my calendar, I will not remember it.

  • How DO you balance travel/vacation with blogging? Any tips or secrets? – Gretchen, Gretchen Runs

You don’t, really (as pictured below). But that’s one of the sacrifices you make in being your own boss — you have a 24/7 so that you don’t have to have a nine-to-five. Sometimes I wish for regular paychecks or to shut my computer down on Friday night, but then I pinch myself and remember how lucky I am that my choices have brought me to where I am.

It’s all about figuring out how to be online without actually being online, which we’ll touch on when we discuss social media next week. In the meantime, here are some of my tips for working smarter, not harder.


  • Do you believe in “just blogging for fun”? Or do you think it will hinder me if I have a so-so blog with not a lot of followers? Is it better to not blog at all? – Joyce, rejoyce today

Girl, I’m still blogging because it’s fun — everything else is just an added benefit. If it makes you happy, yes! Do what’s worth your time, not your money.

  • One thing I’m interested to know is how do you separate yourself from your blog? Is the Hallie we see here exactly who you are in person/how much do you filter yourself?  – Amy, Girl for Granted

For me they’re very similar, yes. I don’t filter much of myself — which you know if you follow me on snapchat (username is coralsncognacs). corals + cognacs has evolved into more of a lifestyle blog, I think, because I have so many stories to share that you can relate to.

While I will always have an open line of communication with my readers (and I love them to do the same), where I do draw the line is on things that are personal and heavy — until I’m ready to address them. At the end of the day, I strive to be as positive as possible, because I never want to impose negative energy on my readers. Plus, what’s the point in not being that way? You’re as happy and fulfilled as you decide to be. Think about it.

hp sprout computer review

  • On that note – did you actively try to build a brand, or did that just happen organically? Any tips for doing that? – Amy, Girl for Granted

It just happened organically, to be honest. I started blogging in my mid-twenties and always regarded it as a hobby. I never thought it was something that could become an actual income-generating profession.

My focus has always been on community and storytelling, not making money. Even if the latter is your objective, it should never be your focal point. You will never gain anyone’s trust — and honestly, if you’re in it for the five-minute Internet fame or for lots of money, this probably isn’t the job for you. People can sniff that shit out REAL fast. Can’t we, girls?

  • I’m trying my best to post regular content but it’s not always easy. It’s also hard to stay encouraged when there are no reader comments. Is this is a normal experience? – Sarah

Yeah, that is hard, but don’t get discouraged. Sometimes you just have to step into the role of what it is you’re looking for. If you don’t already, take 10 minutes of our morning to read and comment on five blog posts. People will return the favor! As humans, we’re wired to seek approval and feedback from others — but try not to do that.

In the end, your numbers don’t lie and they’re a fool-proof way to measure your success. Study your monthly analytics and set performance goals based on the milestones you want to reach. But set yourself up for success: Be patient and consistent in how often you post, which will set people’s expectations.

  • How did you stay motivated to continuously keep posting in the beginning, which has obviously led you to where you are you now? – Lauren, Oliver’s Twist

Real talk? Most of the motivation that I have comes from guys… Like, seriously.

I am so grateful to everyone that contributes to this awesome community by reading, sharing and socializing it. Your comments, tweets and words of encouragement are a huge part of the reason I am still blogging. Regardless of whether it’s one person or 10,000, knowing that I’m able to create conversation, joy and laughter — or even that I’m just impacting someone who may be experiencing the same thing as me — that makes it all worth it.

sprout by hp

So, in sum (until next week), here are my top five tips for taking your blog (or business) to the next level from where you’re at:

  1. People matter. Build genuine relationships.
  2. Do not rely on one or two sole sources of income.
  3. Align yourself only with like-minded people, brands and companies.
  4. If you’re serious about earning significant income as a blogger or writer, you have to be comfortable marketing yourself — a lot.
  5. Know your weaknesses. While I’m a great relationship-builder, I am awful at maintaining records, receipts and the like. Anyone want to do this for me? (Kidding — I’m working on overcoming this.)


Oh, and one more piece of advice:

Surround yourself only with people who lift you up. Your best friends, mentors, champions and colleagues will be people who realize that when the tide rises, we all float.

Stay away from people who shit on your dream — your path isn’t for the to approve or disapprove of. This is going to happen to you — and it’s a really hard pill to swallow — but it’s your life. Remember: If you love something so much, just trust yourself and go all in.

For more posts about blogging, balance and business, click below:

  1. Mastering Social Media
  2. Why I Left My Full-Time Job
  3. How to Make Your Blog a Business
  4. How to Take Better Instagram Photos
  5. Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder


freelance style writers

Let’s connect on…
Instagram | Twitter | PinterestFacebook | snapchat (@coralsncognacs)


Lydia Hudgens Photography

Join the Convo:

  • Yay!!! Thank you so much Hallie. I literally have been stalking your blog all day today. Just hitting refresh and revisiting the Outfit Outtakes while I waited on a new post.

  • Sometimes that last piece of advice is tough because it comes so unexpectedly! Did you find that happened to you, either in blogging or Soul pursuits?

    You’re killing it girl. It was so great to see you yesterday. How did you like Y7?


  • Bri

    “Stray away from people who shit on your dream” love this, girl!

  • This is my favorite of all of your posts so far. Congratulations on all of your success! You deserve it. See you at Soul soon!

  • Oh I just love this post! This is a lot of what I struggle with – but the most important reminder is to blog because we all love it. Sometimes just remembering that, and having the right motivations for sharing things out on this interspace, helps push through the plateaus and slow parts. 🙂 Thanks for the Thursday boost!

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but you have the BEST voice in your writing. Literally felt like I was chatting with you over coffee (or wine!) while reading this. I feel like you’ve truly found your niche with blogging and teaching and I couldn’t be more inspired by you and happy FOR you! Can’t wait to ride with you again in a few weeks!

    • Thanks Kristine. : ) Looking forward to SoulCycle’ing with you — and then having coffee AND wine. x

  • So inspiring and always in awe of your knowledge yet rawness. Xo!

  • Great words of advice! I loved reading this post and it is another driving for me to keep blogging and keep moving forward with my true passion! 🙂 If I could give you a high-5, i would! Great job with everything you’ve accomplished! You go girl!

  • It’s so clear through the way you write and the way you talk about blogging that you really love and are passionate about what you do. Even when it’s tough stuff, you have such a can-do attitude that reading is always uplifting! Keep kicking butt!

  • Amazing advice! I love the bit about doing it because you love it, definitely where I am right now 🙂

  • So proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished! Such a great blog post, girl! <3

  • I needed to read that! Thanks for the advice! I’ve got goals to set for my blog now!

  • Hallie, wow, this is wonderful! Thank you again for your honesty, charm, and willingness to answer all of these questions! They are immensely helpful 🙂

    PS: Love, LOVE your desk setup!!

  • Pingback: 5 Things I Loved This Week | Elana Lyn()

  • Thank you so much for this post! I’m balancing a 40 hour/week job and spend my nights and weekends blogging and wedding planning. I feel like I never have down time, but I honestly enjoy the work that I do. Glad I’m not alone 🙂 these were really helpful tips!


  • Charlotte

    Yeah girl!!!!! I loved reading this post so much and it’s been a treat to see you so genuinely excited and enthusiastic about life lately. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s inspiring to see people making big changes, being true to themselves and enjoying the outcome. Keep it up! Can’t wait to read part 2 next week xoxo

  • Thanks so much for answering my question, as well as the others! Your responses are so interesting and inspirational! I’m reminded that the main drive behind blogging is to do it because you like it 🙂


  • Thanks for this insightful post! Having a desktop computer is great advice. Sometimes, it can be difficult to separate my work area from my resting space. I definitely want to reclaim my bedroom as a place solely for winding down.

    Happy Friday!

  • Amy

    Thank you so much for including and answering my questions Hallie – your answers are pretty much what I thought they’d be and spot on! xx

  • Pingback: Weekend Browsing - Annie Reeves()

  • This post is an inspiration to all bloggers! I’m still writing for fun and not entirely sure how to make a profit (nor if I want to) but slowly trying to get my little place on the grid and make friends in the blog community. Learning so much everyday! Thanks and take care x


  • I LOVED reading this post! As always, thank you for your transparency – it’s so refreshing to read that you have grown your brand out of passion & enjoyment. Can’t wait for next week!

  • Pingback: Friday Things | the a.m. grind()

  • Ola

    you look great!:)

  • Pingback: TGIF! | Cedar & Rush()

  • kristy h.

    love your advice! my husband and I have been going through career changes and career disappointment… therefore we are both taking a scary leap into self employment… me, with real estate…something I have had a passion for for many years. reading your advice and thoughts is a lovely encouragement. my favorite line… “As they say, leap and the net will appear.”
    Thank you!

    • My best friend not-so recently left her job to go into real estate. She is SO much happier with the flexibility, the ability to work with people everyday, etc — and because it’s her passion, she is super successful. Congrats to you (and your hubs)!

      • kristy

        thank you!

  • This is THE most encouraging post. Thank you for writing it!

  • This was an awesome post Hallie! Your whole story is truly motivating and inspirational. I’m doing something now that I’m not 100% about and you’ve really shown that you can change your career and make your own dreams come true if you just work at it, so thank you!

  • I love and appreciate this so much. So many of us have questions surrounding what we’re even doing in this blog world and this pulls it into focus.


  • This is such a great post! Thank you for sharing, and congrats on your new job with Soul Cycle!


  • Pingback: This Weekend | Sincerely Jennie()

  • This has been so helpful! I am trying to turn my blog into a business and I can use all the advice I can get! I’m looking forward to Part 2!

  • Pingback: Link Love | @halliekwilson()

  • I did not focus this article because of your photos in the article 🙂

  • Hallie- this is so inspiring and informative! I often find myself thinking about what I’m truly passionate about & taking my blog full time. I’m not quite ready to take the leap but love this advice and I hope that one day (soon!) I’ll be ready. I have a corporate job but also am a cycling instructor (at Equinox) and blogger and dream about doing the fitness/blog biz full time. I’m also 29 and it’s nice to hear that at this point in your life you’re making this huge change. It makes me feel like with dedication and drive I can one day do the same. Thanks again & I’m going to come take your class one day!

  • I really love the honesty of your blog.

  • You are seriously so awesome. This was informative and to the point and basically, ideal. Thanks for sharing everything!

  • Love these tips Hallie! As someone who balances a small business as well as a full time job, I find that it can be exhausting at times and hard to find inspiration.How do you deal with burnout or a lack of inspiration for your blog?


  • Pingback: weekly roundup | WIT & whimsy()

  • Pingback: Friday Faves {Volume 12}()

  • Hallie, this totally rocks. I found you from a Friday link roundup, but I’ll definitely be back for more. Thanks for your honesty and the fantastic tips!

  • Love this! I can definitely relate to the motivation part- I’ve been blogging for a year and a half and feel like I’ve hit a lull in things to write about, the desire to keep pushing and building a brand, etc. Helpful to know that these are shared experiences!

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! This was all so helpful to me, and I’m going to bookmark it so I can read it again and again 🙂 thanks girl!

  • this post was honestly so inspiring to me!! I totally compare myself to the people who have already “made it” and I get impatient with myself!! I have a question 🙂 I feel like social media is SO important to be active on, like instagram for instance. What are you top tips to grow a following on things like Instagram? I don’t expect to be “insta famous” I really would just love to grow and have my blog reach more people! I just get so lost at where to even start with growing a genuine following.

    Lovely Little Rants

  • This is so helpful, real and thought out! Thanks so much for all of the tips and inspiring words of wisdom. You have no idea how much impact you’ve had on my blog and you know that you’d been an instrumental part to keep me going and blogging. Cheers, my friend

  • You really put it all out there. Thank you for this generous post. I will forward it to everyone who asks me the same…you just saved me soooo much work.

  • Great post lady! You always give the best advice and are so helpful. Love your blog and posts like these 🙂

  • I love this post! I wish I had stuck with blogging when I started it in college, that’s the only thing I think I wouldn’t mind changing, and I wish I started making friends with other bloggers. Thanks for sharing all your info it really put somethings in perspective for me!!!
    I love your blog and can’t wait to see where you grow to next!!!



  • Pingback: Weekend Reading Vol. 33 | Elana Lyn()

  • Really appreciated this post! It’s always nice as a beginner to hear from the pro’s 😉


  • Jen

    I loved reading this post! I’ve been blogging for three years and definitely don’t put enough effort into growth. Your suggestions are great! Have a fabulous weekend!

  • Julia

    Thank you for posting this. A lot of blogging can feel very “picture-perfect” but I love that you bring real life to your blog (while still being absolutely fab). I have been contemplating on whether to start a blog or not because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and it won’t be “perfect”– but hearing advice from bloggers like you that you should really only blog because you love it is encouraging.

  • Thanks for this awesome post, Hallie! I look forward to Part 2! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

  • Awesome post! How long after you started blogging did it take for you to make a living out of it??

    Danika Maia

  • What a great post! Just what I needed to read. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Her Heartland Soul

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much Hallie! Your advice was so helpful and I’m looking forward to part 2!

  • All these tips are great. I just started my blog and I think that what has really kept me going is the support from my family and friends. And also the passion I feel for it. I think it can be hard to not see any results at the beginning, but you just need to do it for yourself.
    xx Daniela / Fashion Shower Blog

  • Hi Hallie! I love this post, and I love your workspace. I have a Sprout as well, and because I just moved out of my city apartment, I haven’t set it back up again in a new work area — I need to do that. You’ve motivated me. Loving the blog tips! Be yourself! And that’s awesome you’re teaching at SoulCycle now. I’m also a blogger/writer/group fitness instructor. Great mix, if you ask me! 🙂

  • Thank you for your words of wisdom. Sometimes it’s hard to just keep writing for the love of it when there are so many bloggers (and companies) who emphasize on the monetary gain in blogging. I just like writing for crying out loud, and I wanna keep this as my first love. Thanks again! sorry to ramble haha.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this! I really needed all this advice. xo Lacey

  • Taylor

    Don’t forget The Vest re: investment pieces you wear over and over!

  • Pingback: Jetset Stripes | @halliekwilson()

  • Pingback: Inspiring Women | The Kissing Booth Blog()

  • I love this post, AND I have a question:

    Before you were blogging fulltime and were still managing a “day” job with your blog, how did you build up your social media presence and keep that part afloat for your blog audience? It’s hard to be present online when your “real job” is something else all day…

  • Pingback: on my radar. - Pretty & Fun()

  • Pingback: Outfit Outtakes, Vol. 6 - corals + cognacs()

  • Pingback: Ginger & the Fizz:High Five for Friday, vol. 3 - Ginger & the Fizz()

  • Pingback: Starlet Sunday Reading 4/19/2015 | Everyday Starlet()

  • You are one smart woman; this a great advice for anyone trying to gather whether or not entrepreneurship is the right move for them. You knew your dream, planned for it and then did it! I am so happy you went for it! You go girl! 🙂

  • Pingback: Mastering Social Media (Make Your Blog a Biz, Part 2) - corals + cognacs()

  • Pingback: There is no such thing as work / life balance, we just get moments. | A Seasonal Salon for Bright Ideas in Chicago: Forth Chicago()

  • Pingback: Achieving Work-Life Balance - Fit for a Bride()

  • Pingback: Work/Life Balance – Blog Linkup ~ It's Droolworthy!()

  • Pingback: Work/Life Balance()

  • Pingback: Work-Life Balance | with love from ellie()

  • Pingback: The Coveted B Word - 26 and Not Counting()

  • Pingback: Balance - A Little Leopard()

  • Pingback: Achieving Work/Life Balance | White Oak Creative()

  • Pingback: MY ATTEMPT AT WORK/LIFE BALANCE - Meg Biram()

  • Pingback: Balanced Bombshell // Blog Linkup -()

  • Pingback: Blog Linkup: How do you achieve work/life balance? | White Cabana()

  • Pingback: The Best Way to Achieve Work-Life Balance | The Yuppie Files()

  • Pingback: APRIL POST LINKUP // Work/Life Balance - The Well: The B Bar Blog()

  • Pingback: Achieving Work Life Balance | PreppyPanache()

  • Pingback: My Tips for Work Life Integration | Elana Lyn()

  • Pingback: My Recipe for Work/Life Balance()

  • These are all really great tips! I love this!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls

  • Pingback: How to make an acai bowl | @halliekwilson()

  • This post is amazing! this is EXACTLY what I needed right now! I am considering making the jump to blogging/freelancing full time and you are really giving me the confidence to make that happen!


  • Thank you for writing this amazing post!

  • this was so informative, thank you for this!

  • Pingback: Achieving Work Life Balance()

  • Pingback: How to Work from Home | @halliekwilson()

  • This post has given me so much more confidence, thank you!! I write for a living but have just started blogging as a way to write about what I really love and your words are so encouraging for those starting out! x

  • this is a really great article. thank you for taking time to answer your reader’s questions and share your blogging-as-business insight with us. oh, and good luck with your up-coming move!

  • Pingback: Friday Things | the a.m. grind()

  • Pingback: What I'm Into Volume 36 - A Pop of Pink()

  • Pingback: Blogger Chat: Hallie from Corals + Cognacs | blggrcollective()

  • Pingback: Work & Life Balance | carly blogscarly blogs()

  • Pingback: Creating Work/Life Balance - Feathers and Stripes()

  • Pingback: 7 tips for turning your blog into a business | Prague City Magazine / Beat Blog | human views on the ins and outs of prague, czech republic()

  • Pingback: 7 tips for turning your blog into a business | Wisdom Parliament()

  • Pingback: 7 tips for turning your blog into a business | Digital Gadget dan Selular()

  • Pingback: Turn your blog into a business()

  • Pingback: Four Habits for a Healthier You - corals + cognacs()

  • Pingback: Four Habits for a Healthier You - corals + cognacs()

  • Hallie, what an awesome post! Thanx so much for sharing all of your wisdom. I found so many awesome tips over here.

Back to Top