“So … what exactly do you do all day?”
If you’re a blogger, you’re no stranger to hearing and answering this question. And, if you’re a blog reader, you’re likely guilty of wondering it, maybe even asking it … and, honestly, you shouldn’t ever feel ashamed for either. I totally understand where the curiosity stems from. The digital marketing industry is very new and, while we showcase the ‘highlight reel’ of our job on social media, it leaves a huge question mark about what the back-end of it all looks like.
From receiving ten packages on our doorstep almost daily to traveling on a whim, us bloggers do a really good job of making it seem like we have an easy job. It’s no surprise that you are confused about what our job really entails. I think we forget how ambiguous it seemed to us at first, too, and how surprised we were when we started piecing together how it all worked through the experience of watching our blog grow.
That’s why I thought it would be fun to have y’all “follow me for a day” in today’s post in order to give you a little more insight into what my work day looks like, because what I CAN say about blogging is it’s busy! There is a lot to get done and, being that there is no limit to where this job can take us on a daily basis, I’m excited to partner with Olay to also share the importance of incorporating a product with SPF into your daily skin routine to protect you against incidental sun exposure. I’ll be sharing the one I’m currently using that I love, love, love and highly recommend!
Now, before we get started, I will say, every blogger runs their blog differently and at different capacities so, my reality and ‘behind-the-scenes’ is probably much different than almost every other blogger. But regardless, this is a job I am thankful to have, a job I love doing, and I’m so happy to help you understand what I do even just a little better!
I won’t lie. I am a sloowww mover in the morning. It typically takes me about 30 minutes to get up and get going [my new mattress topper isn’t helping the situation], so I like to set my alarm for 6:30 to give myself that extra time to wake up and hit snooze a couple of times before rolling over and saying good morning to Fish! After our morning snuggle sesh, it’s rise & shine! I feed him first thing and, after making sure he has plenty of water, I grab the remote to turn the morning news on. I can honestly say that having Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and the rest of the TODAY show gang on the TV while I’m getting my day started is one of my favorite morning guilty pleasures. The other thing I try to do, especially if I have a SUPER busy day ahead, is make my bed first thing. For whatever reason, it makes me feel super motivated about all that is to come!
After I’m up and Fish is taken care of, I head in to the bathroom to brush my teeth, take a quick shower and perform my morning skin routine, which y’all read all about a couple weeks ago. At the end of that post, I mentioned that my morning skin routine was missing something VERY important, which was a moisturizer with SPF to give my skin that much-needed armor against the high chance of incidental sun exposure that I’ll experience throughout my day.
Growing up in Florida, I’ve seen what it looks like later on in life when you don’t protect your skin. We all need to be wearing SPF every day, no matter what you’re doing and no matter what the weather forecast looks like. Pay close attention to the photo’s within this post and you’ll notice just how often we experience it (most of the time, without any of us realizing it) and, therefore how important it is to protect yourself. With all that said, when it came down to the options I was trying, there was really only one that I was impressed with and that is Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream with Broad Spectrum SPF 30. What drew me to it was the fact that I needed a morning skin moisturizer that wouldn’t make my skin even more oily throughout the day, and this one is lightweight moisturizer AND has SPF in it so it was just what I was looking for. Aside from that, it smells absolutely amazing for a product that has SPF in it. I was shocked. I highly recommend it!
I typically do my morning ‘get clean’ routine in under 15 minutes and, once it’s complete, I call Fish out into the living room to get him excited about going outside for his morning walk. It really doesn’t take much. He’s a little sun dog. He loves being outside in the sun. Isn’t his harness the cutest little thing? Ha! I love the colors!
Being that Fish gravitates toward the sun, I always have to be sure to bring sunglasses with me and, yes, I do go outside in long sleeve shirts and pants in the mornings – when that’s what I wear to bed! It’s typically not TOO hot that early in the morning, and it’s never a bad thing to protect your skin from sun exposure, as I’ve already mentioned!
I know when Fish is done with his business when he does one of two things: dilly-dally’s outside, sniffing everything endlessly OR stands firm in one spot. Either way, I end up carrying him inside. Dachshund’s are a funny breed, I tell ya!
I have a meeting scheduled with my assistant, Justine, at 9:00am at one of our local coffee shops so, now it’s time to get ready!
BACK END INFO: My assistant and I meet twice a week, on Monday’s & Friday’s. However, last week, we met on Thursday because she was going out of town for a wedding and it just happened to be the day we were shooting the photo’s for this post. On Monday’s, we meet at my apartment. On Friday’s, or in this case Thursday, we meet at a coffee shop to switch things up a bit!
I do my morning skin routine first thing, before I take Fish outside, as to give those morning skin routine products time to soak in to my skin and so it’s ready for makeup by the time I get back inside. There’s a method to the madness! For sake of time, I won’t go through my makeup routine but, if that’s something you’d like to see from me, let me know in the comments below so I can gauge whether to add to my list of post ideas! After my makeup is complete, I do my hair, which typically doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes depending on how dirty my hair is. The dirtier the hair, the easier it is to style and curl. More on that in THIS post.
Next, I head in to the living room to get my work bag packed up. I tend to work from my living room when I’m at home, especially at the bar area, so my work items are typically stacked on the counter. In terms of what work bag I use, it tends to be a toss up between my tried and true beige Longchamp or the newly added Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM. I try to make myself use the Neverfull so that the handles break in more but … some days I just grab the Longchamp out of comfort, especially if I’m juggling a lot of items, like I will be today.
Once that is packed up and ready to go, I get packages ready to hand over to my assistant to take to the post office.
BACK END INFO >> I’m constantly trying out new brands that I’ve never heard of before in hopes of discovering a great one to share with you all but, often that means purchasing multiple sizes in the same garment to see how the fit is. So, for accounting purposes, it’s really important that I stay on top of orders, trying things on and returning items that don’t work as quickly as possible so that my books aren’t all out of whack and hard to figure out at the end of the month. Plus … who likes clutter? I live in a small apartment so I surely can NOT deal with boxes everywhere for long.
Typically, this is a task that I do on Sunday nights so that the boxes are packed up and ready for Justine to take home from our Monday morning meeting [which is always at my apartment] but, again, last week was a little different. I had to ship an item back to an online retailer I recently partnered with by a certain date that would pass if we waited until Monday.
Packing up an online order return to a major retailer due to items not fitting or working for whatever reason requires a little extra time and concentration. The easiest way for me, being that I’m a very visual person, is to keep a CLOTHING file for every month of the year in my office’s filing cabinets. In each of those are the receipts from all the orders I place online, and these receipts must include the images of the items I purchase. There’s always at least ONE item that I return from every order so, when I’m ready to pack the return, I pull the order from the JUNE file [or whatever month it was ordered] and go through the receipt one product at a time, marking the ones I’m returning on the receipt and making sure each one of those is accounted for in the box. Once that is done and the return form is filled out, I tape it up and apply the return label! When I get a confirmation receipt of the return, I print those and place those in a smaller manilla envelope within that month folder so I have record of all return receipts … again, for accounting purposes.
*There could be a MUCH easier way to do this. I would NOT be surprised if there is but for some reason … this way makes me feel like I’m on top of things and I have a good paper trail if I need it. Although it does end up taking up quite a bit of space. Any experienced business owners, I’m willing to hear your suggestions, hah!*
Now, I’m ready to head over to my meeting so I put my shoes on, remind Fish to protect the house while I’m gone and head out! This morning was a balancing act getting to the car but, after years of packing up my car for photo shoots, it was nothing!
As a business owner, every expense needs to be accounted for and there needs to be proof of it in case we’re audited so, before heading to my meeting, I account for the mileage I’m starting at so I know how much gas to write off later on.
As you can probably tell from these photos, our summer mornings in Florida tend to be super bright, so this is just one of the many instances throughout the day where I’m thankful to have found the Olay Regenerist Cream with SPF I mentioned earlier!
During the first few minutes upon arriving to our meeting venue, I go inside to order some breakfast and a cold brew. I don’t like to waste any time so, while I’m waiting in line, I log in to Facebook and Twitter to put together my blog post promotions for those two social media outlets, as well as ensure that my blog post was generated into my blog’s Bloglovin’ page.
Justine and I’s meetings are becoming shorter and shorter, especially on Friday’s, because we have passed the point of establishing & creating the necessary processes within the business that she will be responsible for. She is fully aware of what I expect from her and every time we meet, we go through the different projects she’s working on and she gives me an update. She saves any and all questions for our meeting, unless absolutely necessary, as to minimize my distractions during the week. She’s a go-getter, super organized, a problem solver, not afraid to share ideas and extremely efficient in getting things done. She has completely taken over my @ShopAlysonHaley Instagram, and created an organized inventory of everything that is available for sale as well as an accounting record of it all. She is responsible for organizing any travel venture I go on and handles all the communication involved in getting it planned. She has created, and sends out, a weekly newsletter for you all to subscribe to in case you’d like a weekly wrap-up of the week’s posts as well as the top weekend sale’s you need to know about! Anytime there is a huge campaign in the pipeline … she is the one that figures out logistics, planning out a schedule and coordinating things between my photographers so that I can focus on researching & buying for the campaign and figuring out the best creative way to share it with you all!
As time goes on, and as she gets even swifter at the tasks she is getting used to doing for me, I’ll likely add more responsibilities for her to help me with. It is my hope that, over time, this will allow us both to take S&T to a whole new level! Her and I are working on something really big right now and it’ll definitely mean that she’ll be taking on some new things that will be so helpful!
* I gave y’all a lot of insight into her so y’all have an idea as to what an assistant would help a blogger with [the possibilities are, really, endless and up to the blogger’s strengths and weaknesses, what they’d prefer to delegate, etc.] and for any blogger who may be reading who is looking to add a person to their team. Hiring someone with these types of personality traits for an assistant position is SO important. I can’t stress it enough! *
Before my assistant and I part ways, I ask her to take an Instagram photo for me so I have it later to edit & post! You might remember THIS photo from last week? Check out the photo of that photo being taken below to see what it looks like if you just happened to be walking by. Ha, pretty odd, huh? Meh. If I stood any other way, you wouldn’t be able to see how cute the sleeves on this top are 😉
BACK END INFO >> You might remember me mentioning that every day is different, and so is every week, really. Most weeks, Justine and I will schedule a time slot for us to shoot Instagram content for the week ahead because I learned, over time, that, as much as I’d like for photo’s to be taken and shared in real time, it’s just not always possible. Some days, I’ll wear something I love and wanted to share but the lighting is really bad when I have an opportunity to take a photo or it’s straight up pouring down rain. Other times, I notice something I bought recently went on sale or is starting to sell out of sizes but I don’t have any good photo’s to let you guys know about it. So, in order to give you all the best view of the items I have recently purchased, as well as notify you appropriately with quality content about sale or restock alerts, Justine and I will take them ahead of time. It’s kind of like The Tonight Show. It would be nice if they did it live, but you just never know what the guest is going to say on a live show! So, in order for the producers to capture the best show and showcase the guests in their best light, it’s taped during the day and edited before it goes live at night. That’s the only analogy I can think of and hopefully it makes sense!
Last week was crazy, though, between doctor’s appointments and shooting almost every day so we decided to just let that go until this week or next.
After we finish up with our Instagram photo, I decided to head back in to the coffee shop to work there for a few hours before heading back home for lunch. Being that I mostly work from home, Justine takes care of 95% off my errands and I’m an introverted homebody … I could easily isolate myself if I didn’t make it a point to put myself in situations where I’m around people. This is my way of doing that. I can still be quiet and productive but I also have LIFE going on around me.
During this time, I don’t necessarily follow a particular structure but I tend to start by mind dumping and putting a to-do list down on paper, then prioritizing what needs to happen first, second, third, etc. I remember last week, when we shot this, I was really behind on emails because of how much time I had spent at doctor’s appointments [no regrets! they needed to happen!], shooting for collaborations and on writing my blog posts, organizing the photos and optimizing the post for SEO. So, I know that during this two-hour time block, I dedicated most of it to getting my email inbox pretty again. For years, my email inbox was a scary place and it still can be sometimes, but now that I let my email manager completely reorganize it … it’s absolutely beautiful and I am obsessed with trying really hard to keep it that way. So, I will file each email that either needs my attention or falls under a certain file, into its appropriate folder and respond to the most important ones first, which usually involves reviewing / signing contracts, negotiating the terms of a partnership, discussing changes in a legal contract or researching companies that reach out in regard to collaborating to assess whether it’d be a good fit, etc.
The other thing I spent time doing was buying product. With a 4th of July trip up to Charleston on the horizon, I knew I was going to need some festive Americana attire to pack for the weekend as well as items to share with you all beforehand to get you ready for the weekend, as well! So, I perused my favorite online retailers for the cutest garb. Some of it has already been featured here on the blog as well as on Instagram, but there are quite a few other things that I am anxious to wear and share throughout the holiday weekend!
After I wrap up a productive couple of hours, I’m ready to head home, eat some lunch then keep the work day going!
It almost never fails that I come home to packages on my doorstep. My UPS lady is my adult version of Santa Claus. Since I order online every other day or so, I typically never know what I’m going to discover when I open up the package. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important that I stay on top of my packages, however, whether or not I unpack them right away just depends on what is going on, if other things take priority and also how many boxes there are and how many items are in each. Even though I don’t like packages to go 24 hours without being opened, unpacked, organized and broken down … it can be an incredible time suck during the day to try on multiple garments from an order so I typically leave this task for later in the evening, after I’ve planned out my social media.
Lately, I’ve been working through lunches to catch up from traveling a bunch but, I do think it’s important to slow yourself down and give yourself a mental break. Last week, I definitely needed to keep myself in check because I was started to get burned out. Opting for a chapter or two in a good book, instead, is always the better alternative, even if it means not getting AS much stuff done. I hate that I sometimes have to relearn this but, when I do, I’m always a little more motivated and my mind a little more clear because it got to take a break from the to-do list!
The next couple of hours involve a variety of work tasks: phone conference with a brand, being distracted by how cute Fish is, relocating to the couch to continue assessing how social media posts are doing, answering questions asked on Instagram and in blog comments, making note of important dates to remember, reviewing contracts of recent collaborations to ensure all requirements were fulfilled, filing receipts handed over to me by my assistant, accounting for those purchases in my accounting spreadsheet and, hopefully, starting to put together the next day’s blog post!
I want to point out here how working next to a window, as I often do throughout my day, is another example of incidental sun exposure. Just because you are indoors does not mean you’re not getting sun, so the application of SPF every morning is so important!
I have to wrap up administration work now to start planning and prepping the outfits that I’ll be shooting today with Miguel. Up until recently, I would plan and prep these looks then pack up all associated jewelry and makeup items, shoes and handbags, lug them all down to my car and head over to where Miguel lives to shoot them all. This is the reality for a lot of bloggers who don’t have their husband or a family member shoot for them and, I mean … you gotta do what you gotta do but it really is SO exhausting and time-consuming. I’m an overpacker, too, so Lord knows that didn’t help but, after talking about it with Miguel one day a few months ago, he graciously agreed to give me a break and drive over to my side of town from now on. It has been SO helpful and he said he actually really enjoys the drive.
So, now … the process includes hanging any garments that are new and have yet to be styled for the blog or Instagram on a clothing rack then, I decide what looks are priority to shoot based on current or upcoming sales, holidays, collaboration campaign dates, what I think / know girls would want to see styled, etc. Once I’ve made those decisions, I check stock on every item that will be included in a look across multiple online retailers to ensure there are plenty of inventory available online.
From there, I pull the jewelry and shoes that will go with each garment, check the stock of those items then, finally, make sure that the garments are ready to be photographed. If they are wrinkled, I pull out my trusty steamer to get the looking fresh and beautiful, then prioritize which outfits need to be shot when. Finally, I change into my first outfit and freshen up my makeup just before he arrives.
Miguel and I shot three out of five days last week. I had so many collaborations that got pushed to the end of the month and, due to late product shipment, our shoots weren’t able to be shot in bulk on one day as we had originally hoped.
On this day, we shot three looks. They’re not all featured here for sake of time and space but I definitely think it’s super fun to give y’all a behind-the-scenes look at our shoot! Miguel does his very best to shoot me in indirect sunlight but this is another time my morning SPF application comes in handy!
While Miguel is figuring out where he wants me for the shoot … it’s typical for me to take an outfit selfie to add to my Instagram photo queue in the meantime. For anyone who has ever wondered how I take those photos and whether a selfie stick is involved or not … the above photo answers that question for ya! It’s pretty simple but, I’ve also been doing it for years so with practice comes expertise!
Miguel and I have worked together since S&T’s very first shoot. He’s always super collaborative and ready to try something different or new to get a variety of shots and, of course, we have developed a system that works best for us when it comes to shooting. Because we’ve shot together for so long, our shoots are typically pretty quick and comfortable.
** BOTH of these outfits will be on the blog next week **
We are typically able to shoot 5 or so looks into a 2-hour time slot, but Miguel also acts as a photography mentor to me so, we filled up the rest of our time together on this day going over different things that he noticed about my travel photo’s, how I can improve when I am behind the camera, etc. I find it to be a sweet little luxury to have such talented photographers on my team but, one of my goals is learning how to be a good resource for myself in capturing great shots when I don’t have them with me [i.e. travel].
When I shoot a lot of looks and especially when I don’t allot myself enough time to prep for them, my apartment is a disaster area when we’re done. Handbags, sunglasses, shoes and clothes are strewn everywhere! One of the first things I do when I get done with late afternoon shoots is feed Fish so I can put things away while he is eating his dinner. Once I’m done tidying up, which I try to do in overdrive because I despise clutter, Fish is typically ready to go outside.
**I also typically take him out when I get home from my meeting but, again, due to space and time in this post, I cut certain things! Don’t worry! He does get enough outside time!**
I’m always dodging those sun rays, hah … Fish, sunglasses and SPF are seriously my best friends on a daily basis. Can you tell? All of them, together, provide me with all the love and support I need to get through the day 😉
Next up is one of my favorite times of day … changing into comfortable clothes, getting dinner started, pouring my long awaited glass of white wine, and Skyping with Ben before he goes to bed over in London! [Not pictured! Sorry! Ha!] This isn’t necessarily our ideal time to Skype, especially his, being that it’s 11:30-midnight there, but we both have to make sacrifices to make our long-distance romance work and those sacrifices look different for both of us. On some days, later Skype sessions is one of his sacrifices but, we both agree that it’s worth it. 🙂
For dinner tonight, I have a Sicilian pizza on the menu! My roommate usually makes it home by 7:00 but, on this night last week, one of our friends had an extreme allergic reaction to peanut butter, which she had never been sensitive to before so she was with her at the hospital making sure she was okay. That’s the kind of friend we all need in our lives, am I right? Thankful for that one!
I spend the next hour eating dinner, doing any dishes that need to be done, putting clean ones away, editing Instagram photos, planning my posts, taking off my makeup and performing my nightly skin routine. It’s a busy hour to say the least but it actually feels a little less hectic than the rest of the day has. It’s one of the hours that I feel like I’m ‘unwinding’ from work.
I spend the rest of the evening catching up with my roommate, putting out the trash and any broken down boxes to be picked up, watching recorded shows that we are behind on, posting to Instagram and starting laundry, if needed. This is also when I would try on any clothes from any large orders I received that day.
I usually turn the bed back and crawl in around 11:00. This is when I typically really settle in to working on upcoming posts because there are the fewest amount of distractions. I’ve always worked a little bit better at night but, I will say … over the past year, it has been harder and harder for me to stay up as late as I used to.
And, that’s my day, y’all! I end up turning out the light and snuggling up with Fish in the comfiest bed on the planet around 12:30-1:00, and that has been the perfect end to all the busy day’s I’ve had since turning my blog into a full-time business venture!
What you can’t see or feel in this post is the pressure of deadlines and collaboration requirements but, what job doesn’t have that in some capacity or another? That’s actually my hope for this post … not that you’ll feel those stressful feelings but that you’ll be able to see that blogging is actually a job, just like your job … it’s just a little different in what it involves. Sure, we have the flexibility to make our own hours and travel on a whim, but there are many days where we are juggling so many hats and tasks [i.e.: buyer, stylist, editorial calendar planner, marketing professional, accountant, social media manager, writer, model /mannequin, publicist, intern, product tester, etc.], just like you, hustling through that long to do list. And, at the end of the day, I’m just thankful that my job involves me sharing my life, style and authentic self with you all while also helping brands that I personally love achieve their marketing goals when those organic opprotunities present themselves.
Another hope of mine is that, through this post, you’ll realize or be reminded of how strong the likelihood of incidental sun exposure is in our daily lives and the importance of protecting our skin from the sun. Again, I highly, highly encourage you to incorporate SPF into your DAILY morning skin routine. Again, I’ve been using Olay Regenerist Cream with SPF and find it to be a great product!
Be sure to leave any comments or questions about what blogging looks like on a daily basis or how you can better protect your skin from the sun below and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible! I hope y’all are getting excited for a long holiday weekend! I know I am! I am clocking out of the office at 12:00 tomorrow! Can’t wait! Have a great day, y’all! Appreciate you stopping by so, so much!! xo.
Also … if you live in Jacksonville, my flowers are from Liz Stewart Floral Design at the beach! I always LOVE their selection!