After a career in financial technology, Sylvia Esmundo decided to pursue her passion. That meant turning her lifestyle blog into a full-time business. She leaned heavily on social media to help make the switch to a full-time lifestyle entrepreneur. And the lessons she learned may be helpful to business owners everywhere. Here’s our conversation.

1. Get inspired. 

Sylvie created a product she felt was missing. She also didn’t force it when it didn’t feel right. Genuine blog posts can come across differently than those you do “just because.”

Q: What inspired you to launch your lifestyle site, Sylvia in the Sky?
A: I started blogging a long time ago, back in 2006, as a living journal of everything that inspired me — music, fashion, books, art, travel — and chronicles of my twentysomething life. I paused for almost two years between getting married and having our son, Theo. And once I became a mother, I felt reinvigorated to start a new chapter of storytelling. There are a lot of mom bloggers and lifestyle bloggers out there, but not many that I truly related to, and very few Asian — let alone Filipino — ones. I wanted to be able to share my stories and hopefully be a source of inspiration and guidance for others like me.

2. Make time.

Consistency is key when building a business, and this applies to social media, too. 

Q: How much time do you devote weekly to running your blog?
A: Not as much time as I’d like! I’ve been focusing on Instagram first, since it’s a smaller time commitment. It’s my version of microblogging: one photo and a small caption take no more than an hour to write, post, and interact with comments. I can usually keep this part to less than 10 hours a week. On weekends I’ll plan my content for the next few weeks so my Instagram feed looks balanced from an aesthetic point of view, and I’m scheduling my brand campaigns according to their due date. The planning takes another hour. And finally, I’m always exploring the city and shooting and editing new photos and videos.

I spend another 5-10 hours corresponding with brands for upcoming collaborations, attending events, etc. 

3. Think like a CEO.

There’s a tendency to discount creative businesses or even “newer” business models. Applying business-school terminology to the work you do may help others understand your vision.

Q: For those that don’t believe that blogging is a “real job,” can you tell us about the skills it takes to be a successful digital influencer?
A: I view blogging as running my own digital publication, and I’m the editor-in-chief, head of marketing, head of sales, head of PR, financial analyst, and stylist/model/graphic designer/photographer, all in one. I need to understand who my audience is and what they’re looking for every week/month/season. I write stories and create visual imagery that will inform, guide, and inspire. I need to create and consistently evolve my site experience to be easy to navigate on any digital platform, especially mobile. I analyze my site performance to understand what content is performing best and worst to refine and maximize these areas of interest and opportunity. And finally I’m pitching myself to brands and negotiating campaign deals and contracts, while tracking my incoming revenue and expenses to make sure those are in line come tax-filing time. Now with all that said, who’s going to tell me that blogging isn’t a real job?

4. Create multiple revenue streams.

It can be hard to monetize content, social media included. Brainstorm multiple ways to make money to increase your chances of hitting on something that works sustainably.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about how it generates income for you?
A: The smartest bloggers will create multiple revenue streams because it’s never wise to rely on one sole channel. For me, obtaining brand sponsorships from companies for native content campaigns on my blog and social channels are my biggest revenue channel. I also offer consulting services for content, digital marketing, and e-commerce strategy for influencers and brands of all sizes. Finally, affiliate marketing (marketing products from other affiliate businesses) is a growing area for me in which I recommend products that I love to my audience, and they purchase them.

Like with any business, a company grounded in social media will benefit from strategic thinking early on. After my conversation with Sylvia, I recommend you:

  • Determine the goal that will drive your business decisions. Get clear on your values and what’s really important to you. Start with your tangible goal and ask “why?” as a follow-up several times to peel back the layers and ensure your real goal will surface. You have to be intentional with your business decisions to ensure that you are creating a company that supports that goal.
  • Document the inspiration for your product or service. Getting inspired is one thing. But staying inspired can be harder. Take notes on what you find compelling to help you find your way back during creative lulls. Are you inspired by other people’s visions and goals for themselves? Or are you more motivated by impacting your community?
  • Stay grounded in reality. Every business is only as successful as its ability to solve a problem or address a yearning for its clients. Interact with your followers, readers, and customers. Ask them for feedback and be willing to make adjustments. Like any business, it takes time and effort to build a lifestyle-based company.

Learn more about Danetha Doe. Our guest interviewer works with entrepreneurs on their finances and was named a next-generation accountant by QuickBooks.