Alex Stedman is the face of (and brains behind) the extremely popular blog, The Frugality. Starting off as a side project while she worked as Style Editor at Red magazine, Alex eventually took the career leap, quitting her 9-5 job to focus wholly on her blog.
At our Office Gossip event at The Hoxton, Holborn, on Thursday 12th October, Alex – alongside Erica Davies and Freddie Harrel – shared what it’s really like to wave goodbye to office life and face the big wide world on your own. In-case you didn’t get the chance to attend the event, we caught up with her beforehand to discuss the highs and lows of flying solo.
What inspired you to start The Frugality?
I wanted to be a real, accessible voice in the fashion industry. I don’t have new clothes everyday, I have to save up for luxuries and as soon as I started I found loads of like minded women felt the same, and so it began!
What do you think is the secret to your success?
I really care, and think about the reader behind every single thing I do, content-wise. When travelling, I think about what content the reader would find the most interesting rather than what I want to get out of the trip, so I do frugal city guides, helping others with finding affordable gems across the world. I think relatability is definitely key.
You were Style Editor at Red magazine when you started your blog. Was it difficult balancing your day job at Red with blogging?
It wasn’t at first, as I loved both jobs so was excited to do my blog at the weekends, but as time passed and my site became more popular and my full-time job more demanding, it did become hard to do both at 100% and I decided I wasn’t the type of person to do things half-heartedly.
How did you make the transition from Red magazine to full-time blogging?
I gave in my notice on a whim really, I hadn’t actually given much thought to my ‘career’, I just knew that I was very dedicated and had faith in myself – I didn’t for once think it wouldn’t work! A bit naive really, but thankfully it did work out and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when setting up your new career as a freelancer/blogger?
I found it hard to adjust to working from home, and to my own schedule at first but generally, I found the transition quite easy! I never think of my job as ‘working’, I just have things to do and I get them done.
What are your top tips to anyone thinking of blogging full-time?
Have a niche, don’t just start a ‘style’ or ‘lifestyle’ blog – try and give it its own personality. And as much as you’ve heard success stories from bloggers, it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been working on mine for 5 years now, every single day.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What does a typical work day look like for you?
I check my emails with a cup of coffee! Every day is different for me, I could be styling a shoot (I still work as a freelance fashion stylist), at meetings, working from my new office, I’m generally always answering emails and typing up copy and uploading blog posts…I try to work from my office more and more as it gets a bit relentless running from meeting to meeting and charging my phone in coffee shops.
What motivates you most to get out of bed in the morning?
I love what I do, and I have loads to do, so that’s it really!
Do you have a strict work schedule you like to stick to? How do you manage your diary?
I try and come into town only 2 days a week now – I used to come in everyday on the whim of everyone else and realised I was so worn out, I felt I owed everyone a meeting and now I’m a bit more selfish. I have to think long and hard about whether it’s worth me coming into central London, taking 3 hours out of my day (and more importantly – is it worth the oyster card!).
What are the pros and cons of being a freelance blogger?
Positives: Its a lot more social than you think, I’ve made some great friends. I love working to my own schedule and deadline and just putting up whatever content I feel is relevant, whether that’s a new bag I’ve bought or thoughts behind renovation work – everyday is different.
Negatives: There’s lots of invisible hours that go into running a blog. Especially when there’s only one of you. Most people see my glamorous life on Instagram but don’t see me working until midnight on all my work and business admin.
Is there anything you miss about office life?
I miss having an IT department and a stationery cupboard! But apart from that, not really! I still work with a lot of my old colleagues on a freelance basis so it has worked out well for me.
Is this your dream job?
I always wanted to be a fashion editor, but funnily enough, when I finally got there, I gave it up to do this.
How integral do you think social media is to your blog’s success?
I think of a blog even as social media, so it’s 100% my job! It’s great for pushing out content, reminding people what you’re up to. And it’s so social – I’ve made a lot of friends through readers!
How is it possible to make money as a blogger?
As someone who works in magazines, I approach it very similarly to the publishing industry. I run a website which has thousands of readers and am an authority on my subject, so you can start working with brands on an advertising level – through sponsored content, website ads or ambassador roles. As it’s such a new medium, it’s actually exciting to come up with ideas on collaborations.
Who do you turn to for work advice?
What’s your home office set up like?
It’s spacious, which is important, I wanted room to sit down and plan out ideas. There’s a rail, inspiring prints etc – I love feeling that it’s ‘The Frugality HQ’ rather than just a drab office.
Do you think it’s important to have a dedicated working area at home if you are a freelance blogger?
I think so, even if it’s just a corner of a room where you can sit – I often work from my sofa but it’s a bad habit – as I then never switch off.
What are your must-haves when working from home?
Laptop, lip balm and notebook (I’m still a pen and paper person at heart)!
What are your favourite interiors trend of the moment?
I love anything green – plants, velvet sofas, tiles! I am an interiors trend dream customer – whatever is trending, i’m in!
And lastly, how do you relax when you’re not busy working?
I watch a lot of tv!
Have Alex’s words of wisdom left you feeling ready and raring to quit your day job and pursue a freelance career?
Follow Alex on Instagram @thefrugality.
All images are sourced from Instagram @thefrugality.
Shop Alex’s top office picks below…