When I tell people that I make my living writing about my life on the internet, they’re usually skeptical. Or envious. It’s fun seeing people’s reaction – especially when most assume I spend all day in my pajamas playing on social media, which is only partially true.
Creating content online is a real job, albeit one that leads to some uncomfortable and awkward questions. I’m here to shine some light behind the curtain and show you what happens behind the scenes, on a day-to-day basis.
Basically, this is a typical day in my life:
7:15AM – Wake up
Even though I work for myself, I still keep a schedule.
Working from home means I don’t have to commute to and stay at an office day, though, so on days when I wake up feeling sick, I will roll over and go back to sleep.
Ever since we moved to the countryside (and I got out of the office), that only happens once or twice a month, luckily.
7:30AM – Coffee, Breakfast, and Social Media
By this time, I’ve rolled out of bed and am on my first cup of coffee, scrolling through Social Media.
I check Twitter, Facebook, my blog stats, blog comments, my Etsy shop, comments on Tapastic (I recently joined), and YouTube comments, replying, liking, retweeting, and responding to people. I love interacting with people online; even though I don’t have coworkers, it feels like I have a community.
My husband is usually awake before me; he gets up anywhere between 5:00AM and 6:30AM (he’s weird). By the time I wake up, he has usually made breakfast and started a load of laundry.
When we moved out of Tokyo, we realized that I enjoyed working more than housework and he enjoyed housework more than working. Ryosuke freelances part-time, helps out with the YouTube channel, and takes care of most of the housework now, which has freed up time for me to spend on my blog, making videos, and drawing comics. We do laundry nearly every day, cook every meal from scratch, exercise together, and get plenty of “couple time.”
Our situation seems odd to people who don’t know us, but we’re happy. What we have works.
8:20AM – Email
Email… sucks (usually). Most the email I receive these days is from companies cold-calling and about 95% of those don’t pan out. A lot of it is something like:
I read through your site and am very impressed by the writing you do. I was wondering if you would [give me ad space on your blog at a severely discounted rate OR write something for my magazine/blog/website – for “exposure” OR let me put a guest post on your blog full of affiliate links back to my product OR be an unpaid extra on my reality TV show OR let me send you a box of things and have you write about it on your blog OR promote my book/product/podcast/blog/website/seminar on social media].
-***Person who has obviously not read my blog”
Those are fairly easy to weed out. I get about 10 – 15 of them a day, from a number of companies. General rule of thumb if the email doesn’t have my name in it, it’s not worth reading. My name is prominent on the “About me” section, not using it is careless and lazy.
The rest is fan mail (which I LOVE) and offers from companies that require further action because they might actually pan out (but rarely do).
Between my company email, my personal email (which I used before I got a company email), and inboxes on social media, I get about 30 – 40 emails a day. It’s overwhelming and stressful and the longest I can check email without going crazy is about 20 minutes. If I have anything left after my 20 minutes, I tackle it later in the day.
8:45AM – 12:30PM Work (45 min on, 15 min off)
Before officially starting my “work-day,” I will change into comfortable, yet still semi-professional clothes like a nice shirt and jeans.
My work changes every day.
Sometimes I write for my blog. Or research/brainstorm new posts. Or draw comics. Or make videos. Or write for one of my freelance projects.
I don’t freelance as much now as I did two years ago. I have an established income from blog, YouTube, and book sales now, and don’t need to write as much for outside sources in order to pay the bills. I kept some of my favorite clients (mostly magazines) and gradually stopped writing for everyone else, while still leaving on good enough terms that I could come back if my income from writing about my life on the internet suddenly tanks.
I split my “work time” between writing, drawing comics, and making videos for YouTube. I have a new book coming out in February and I’ve thrown myself into drawing more comics for it.
My trick for motivation is simple: I do 45 minutes of work and take a 15 minute break.
During my breaks I nap in front of the window while listening to music, or read a book in the hammock, or go on a short walk around the block, or chat with my husband. The trick is to pick a “break” that you really enjoy and look forward to, so that you’re motivated during your work. I use the timer on my phone for breaks.
12:30PM – Make lunch
Ryosuke is in charge of breakfast and dinner; I do lunch. Right now I’m working my way through a cookbook I got from my dad (I can’t do about 60% of the recipes because our lack of oven, time constraints, and the inability to be able to find non-Japanese ingredients at the local grocery store).
On particularly crappy or particularly slow days, I spend 30 – 60 minutes cooking up a storm. It relaxes me.
One of my go-to “I hate my life” meals is breakfast tacos, fish tacos, and Thai peanut sauce over chicken.
If I’m busy or not in the mood to cook, I will throw something together in 5-10 minutes.
Popular meals are cooked fish & rice, raw sashimi fish over rice, yakisoba, yakiudon, dipping soba, ramen, pasta, fried rice, stir fry over rice, PB&J, ginger pork sandwiches, or a tuna sandwiches. Most days my husband is also at home and therefore I have to put a bit of extra effort into whatever I’m making. On days when he happens to be working outside the house, I get really lazy with the cooking.
1:30PM – 4:00PM – Work
Same deal, 45 min on and 15 min off.
4:00PM – 5:00PM – Exercise
My current exercise of choice is brisk walking (laugh all you want, it’s great exercise!). There are a few nice biking/walking paths near my house that I take advantage of. I try to time my walks to when the sun sets, since it’s winter, that’s around 4:30PM. In the summer, of course, it’s much later.
Sunsets are one of my favorite of nature’s miracles and, unless I am buried in work, I make time to witness it every day. Some days are pretty. Other days are lame. It’s a coin toss.
5:00PM – 7:00PM – Work
Since it’s later in the day, my concentration is shot and I switch to 40 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
7:00 – 7:45PM – Dinner
My husband is an excellent cook.
7:45PM – 8:45PM – Work things I hate
Most of the time, I like my job… but there are some things I hate.
Recording receipts for self-employment taxes, writing up contracts, chasing down websites that have ripped pictures of me from my blog and using them without permission/credit and filing DMCA takedown notices, replying to business emails, etc. I save everything I hate doing for the end of the day.
8:45PM – 10:30PM Work or leisure time
If I’ve been productive all day, I will reward myself with drawing comics while watching TV. If it’s a heavy work day or I have deadlines coming up, I will keep working well into the evening.
And, on the rare days I’ve finished everything, I will play card games or watch a movie with my husband, or each of us reads books on the couch.
As you can tell, we don’t get out much. We meet up with friends most weekends, visit my husband’s parents or siblings at least once a month, and “cowork” with other freelancers/self-employed people a couple of times a month… but the majority of our working life is spent in this room, working side-by-side. In the beginning, I was worried working together might destroy our marriage but, while it certainly does add complications, we can both say with full confidence that we love working together.
And there it is! Hopefully this has given you a better window into what my daily life looks like.