Mattie James turned her side project into a six-figure-earning business.
“You can absolutely become a full-time blogger and make what you made at your 9-to-5,” James, 34, said.
The Atlanta native began her style blog in 2010 as a hobby, before major companies started pouring millions into people who are popular online — or what we call influencers today.
When she decided to work on her website full time in 2015, her business earned its first six figures. The blogging industry was transforming at the time. That year, roughly 500 million ad dollars were spent on influencer marketing, according to Media Kix, an agency.
Her brand was evolving, too. The mother of two, both younger than 5 years old, has been covering topics ranging from beauty to motherhood.
She is one of the more than 30 million bloggers who are projected to work in the U.S., according to Statistica. While the job provides flexible hours and has become more profitable, it can mean more than eight-hour days for moms who blog like James.
A day in her life can mean an impromptu snapshot with her 4-year-old daughter in front of the Fox Theatre or posting a picture of herself posing in a leopard-printed jumpsuit captioned with the hashtag “#slayyourday”.
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Mattie James is an Atlanta-based full-time blogger and mother of two. (Photo courtesy of Mattie James)
“It’s really awesome because essentially I blog about my lifestyle,” James said. “And so my life balance was being a mother, being a wife … being somebody who’s really into style and beauty.”
Next year, worldwide, the online influencer market, which includes bloggers, is set to be worth $5 billion to $10 billion, Media Kix projects.
“I think that [the blogging] industry is in this really amazing place where it … technically is saturated, but there’s still so many opportunities for everyone. And I think that it’s really amazing especially in Atlanta,” she said.
For moms who blog full time, their days consist of more than taking a picturesque #photooftheday for Instagram or writing a relatable blog post.
“It’s very demanding. It’s a lot of … early mornings and late nights. But again, I think when you get clear on your values, decision-making becomes so much easier,” James said. “A core value of mine is my family. A core value of mine is being creative. A core value of mine is being independent.”
Hobby To Hustle
Originally, James went online to show off her sense of style. Her self-titled brand is now bigger than a lifestyle blog.
“I just started a blog because I did not know what it could become,” she said. “I just knew that it could become something bigger than me and something that I can monetize and be in control of.”
MattieJames.com has grown to include online educational courses and company-sponsored content. She started offering “Masterclasses, Modules & More” courses as a way to answer the questions of aspiring bloggers who wanted to break into the lucrative industry.
She credits the classes she created — which teach about blogging, from pitching to writing — to why she raked in six figures in 2015. She said people were rapidly signing up within the first few weeks.
“I think a lot of people jump on Instagram and think like, ‘OK, I can just start Instagram and … I’ll become a successful blogger,’” she said. “But there’s still so much work that goes on.”
Over the years, Mireille Beckwith said she’s had to adapt her content to blogging-industry trends since she started her blog City Peach in 2014.
“I’ll be on Instagram … because I’m riding the wave, and that’s just the nature of it,” Beckwith, 35, said. “So that’s why I say we kind of evolve with this business and just how it works.”
Mireille Beckwith, full-time blogger at City-Peach.com, poses with a peach on the Jackson Street Bridge. (Photo courtesy of Mireille Beckwith)
About two years ago, the Atlanta native decided to take the leap into working full time on her blog only if it could cover child care for her daughter Elston, 3, and son Jackson, 5.
I’ve never been passionate about anything this much. It encouraged me to never give up. That is what drove me to be working at 3:00 in the morning when like everyone in the world was sleeping.
Mireille Beckwith, City-Peach.com
Online, she shares her life from playing with her kids in color-coordinated outfits to getting blond highlights at a local salon.
Behind the scenes, she’s building her business: pitching to brands, growing an audience and securing company sponsorships.
The mother of two said she now earns more than she’s ever made, including her corporate job working for Anthropologie, a clothing and furniture retail company, in New York City.
“The blog has surpassed any single salary I’ve ever made in my entire life,” Beckwith said. “One hundred percent, and I never thought it would ever do that. This was my first year; 2018 was my first year of doing that.”
Mom Life Balance
James keeps herself on a schedule to manage her blog and motherhood. She wakes up at 5 a.m. because that’s her time to decompress.
Then, she’s dropping her kids off at school, researching style references, storyboarding videos and being photographed during a content creation day.
She’s home by 3:30 p.m. to pick up the girls at 4 p.m. Dinner’s on the table by 6:30 p.m. because her husband gets home at 6 p.m. She ends her workday by pushing send on lingering emails.
This is definitely harder than any 9-to-5 job I’ve ever had in my adult life. But … it really does give you flexibility, if you build your business accordingly. And I’ve built it to where my kids and my family are my priority.
Mattie James, MattieJames.com
She said she protects her kids’ information online by only sharing 30 to 40 percent of their lives.
“We want to share all of the fun things that we do with our family whether it’s a vacation or the funny things they do at home,” she said. “But again like, I think, sometimes we forget that children are people.”
Beckwith has decided to never post her kids in videos or photos while she is still in that location where it was shot as a safety precaution.
“I save it and I post later,” she said. “Just never live because I know safety-wise that I wouldn’t want to be in a public place and have that documented to where someone could immediately come there, and I’m with my kids.”
Blogging In The City
For Beckwith, being a blogger in Atlanta means getting out in the city to create her content, from showing off a flowy pink skirt on a rooftop in downtown to promoting a wellness conference by posing with a peach on the Jackson Street Bridge.
She describes the city as being prime for those who work in the blogging industry.
“Well, I would say the really cool thing about Atlanta is that it’s a huge hub for things that are going on in general [and] not just the fashion community,” she said. “And I think the audience here is extremely receptive to bloggers.”
James advises those who want to get into blogging in Atlanta to go for it because brands are willing to pay local bloggers.
“I definitely encourage anybody here who’s trying to take it seriously or take it to the next level to do it,” James said. “Because Atlanta’s definitely on people’s maps.”