Lucy Feagins launched The Design Files, a daily blog in 2008, transforming her hobby into a business with 180,000 visitors every month. Lucy speaks about the challenges of managing a daily online presence and working from home full-time. She also provides great insight into the demands of running your own business and offers some great tips on how to manage your time more efficiently.
Interview by Nina Pether
What is the most stressful aspect of working in the blogosphere?
The single most stressful part of my job is e-mail! Having a daily online presence means people often expect you to be accessible at all times. I spend a lot of my week out and about sourcing and shooting stories, and inevitably, when I get back to my desk at the end of the day I have 200 or more emails waiting for me. It is impossible to keep on top of my inbox.
You run a daily blog and juggle a full-time job as a stylist and set dresser. How do you balance these varied creative projects?
In all honesty, it is so difficult balancing full-time work with any kind of demanding side project. You really have to be disciplined. My one rule when first embarking on this blog was to never miss a post. Once I committed to posting new content on a daily basis, I found my rhythm. It just becomes a part of your daily routine and then you cannot remember a time when you did not have to do it! I guess “The Design Files” is like a baby – it needs feeding and changing all the time!
When I was working full-time, I would come home every night and have about half an hour of getting my things in order, and then from about 7.30pm to after midnight spend time doing blog stuff; catch up on emails, photoshop images, create content, and upload the following day’s post. I would eat dinner whilst staring at the screen, stay up late to get it all done,and then get up in the morning and go to work! Luckily my boyfriend is a saint and I love takeaway food.
You produce a lot of online content on a daily basis. Do you find it challenging to meet this demand on your own? How do you structure your time and the various facets of your business to be efficient?
To be honest, these days, generating content is the least of my concerns… after all, that is the fun bit! There is no shortage of great stuff to write about, and I receive a lot of submissions and tip-offs which are really helpful. What I find more difficult is making time for the business side – bookkeeping, negotiating with advertisers, keeping on top of cash flow and all of that boring stuff.
I have decided to try and make 2011 the year for more delegation. I am such a control freak usually, but I am learning to get help more often, and especially in areas that are not my strengths – for instance, I got a bookkeeper this year. One other simple but super helpful thing that I have done this year is to try and lock in entire days to be at the computer screen, and entire days to be out and about. Monday is usually a computer day when I try not to schedule meetings or shoots. I find that once I leave my desk to go and photograph something or meet someone, the entire day is a write-off! It is much better to spend a whole day out photographing, and then a whole day at the computer screen.
Do you ever find your workload exhausting or overwhelming? If so, how do you keep yourself inspired when you are working on your own and to multiple deadlines?
YES! I am often overwhelmed by the workload, mainly because most of the work comes down to me and me alone. I try to organise things in advance but inevitably I still need to be connected to TDF every day.
Whilst the workload can be quite overwhelming at times, I generally do not have any trouble staying motivated or inspired. My number one motivation is all the wonderful readers.
Having said all that, it is my goal for 2012 to make the site slightly less dependent on just me alone. I would love more assistance for the administration, advertising and technical parts of the job.
Would you ultimately like to focus on “The Design Files” full-time?
This was my long term goal last year and I am there already! So my next goal is to retrospectively make a proper plan and some actual ‘systems’ for this business. In order to grow I really need an office, I need to get better at delegating and I need to hire some more regular in-house assistance. I am also excited to start taking TDF off the screen and into the real world a little more often – we have a super exciting pop-up event planned in Melbourne for early December – stay tuned!
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