Annie Bean is the founder of Tales of Annie Bean, a fitness and lifestyle blog that has seen her working with top brands such as Adidas and travelling abroad with Vogue. She has been a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for the last three years running and was named a top 50 Global Health & Fitness Influencer.
She juggles her blog with studying a personal training qualification with ICS Learn, completing triathlons, and working full-time as a distribution and social media executive.
When did your love of fitness start?
My love of fitness started when I was 16 and attended a circuits class at my old school with my Mum. I caught the bug and then went on to take part in fitness classes and from there it grew into loving a bit of everything fitness-related. Now I do all kinds of activities but my main focus right now is a triathlon.
Tell us about your blog
I started my blog after I’d been living in France doing a ski season. I came back and hadn’t a clue what to do, so started a blog to keep me occupied… now it is a major part of my life. I went full-time with my blog last year after I fell out of love with the job I was doing – it was great to have the opportunity to give it the proper focus and attention to get it where I wanted it to be.
The opportunities off the back of my blog have been crazy when I sit back and look at it. The biggest collaboration was with Adidas when I did my first marathon with them in Berlin. With only seven weeks’ notice…and being a short distance runner…calling it a challenge was an understatement! But to visit Adidas HQ, indulge in the staff shop, run with some amazing fellow bloggers, it was a priceless experience. Just to show how hectic things got, I completed the marathon in Berlin then flew straight to Milan for the launch of the new Huawei watch, and to celebrate Vogue China’s 10th anniversary party. I still can’t quite believe that even happened… My feet and legs on the other hand really felt it!
However, recently a job opportunity came up which I was really interested in so I decided to go back into full-time employment and work on the blog in my spare time.
How did you go about making your blog into your career during that time?
It was a tough decision as I basically quit a well-paid job and ventured into the unknown, something I have never done before. I started networking as much as possible, and doing whatever I could to increase the reach of my blog and build followers. I took the time to find out about brands and their online presence – did they fit my brand? Were they suitable for my readers? If it was a yes I would always be bold and email direct.
I am a firm believer that if you don’t ask you don’t get, so I set out to build long lasting relationships with brands.
I also spent a lot of time reading other blogs and exploring how others had managed to build their followings. I didn’t necessarily want the same but it gave me a good guide. I then always said to myself that whatever I broadcasted across social media had to be interesting – would I find this engaging? That is something I ask myself before I share. Plus I love chatting to readers and viewers. One of my videos about my epilepsy has reached so many across the world – I get emails every week saying how helpful it was and I always try to engage with them.
What was a typical day like for you as a blogger?
When I was freelance, I would get up at 5-6am go for a run or do a workout, shower, make husband and me a coffee, then I was set to work. Sometimes I would be filming a video so I would spend a lot of time sorting lighting and set. Or often, instead of just writing blog posts, I would research how to better myself. What else could I learn to be a better blogger? Then I would fill my time trying to create awesome content! It was great to be free to do what I liked but I had to be strict in getting my work done.
What advice do you have other women thinking of making this kind of move?
I jumped straight in. A very, very bold move. Lots of bloggers think going full time is a breeze but to be honest it isn’t. Having a fall back is a massive thing to consider, especially if you have rent and bills to pay. If I had children I possibly wouldn’t have done it… instead I did it just as we booked our wedding! Not my wisest move, but nonetheless it has taught me so much. If I ever go back to it, I know what I will do differently.
That is ultimately why I want to be a personal trainer – because I could potentially blog again, as a business on the side of it.
My issue before was that I didn’t have a fall back and that’s why I struggled. If people want to go full time I would suggest getting a budget together, and working out where a stable source of income will come from. You need at least that so you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table.
Also make sure you are unique; the blogging world is very busy and to a brand it can be hard to find the niche ones. Make sure you offer something new and exciting that will really catch a brand’s eye, that way work will gradually start to come to you.
What challenges did you face?
Believe it or not my fitness actually suffered from self-employment. I had a weird routine where I was travelling some days then doing some freelance work, then my own work. It gradually became unstructured and scatty as I took on anything to pay the bills. Often I was so exhausted I didn’t find the time to exercise – not ideal if you specialise significantly in fitness and travel writing! Luckily, I am now back on form after joining a triathlon club and back to a happy balance across the board.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to sink my teeth further into fitness and utilise my Personal Training course. I’m so passionate about fitness that it doesn’t make sense not be involved with it on a daily basis.
For years I have wanted to become a personal trainer but it always took a back seat to my job. That changed when I found the personal training course with ICS Learn – everything you need to learn is online, and I can do the practical side at my local gym. The fact I can do this in the evening, on weekends and during my lunch break is absolutely amazing. I can basically fit it in around me and still get the same level of teaching and help as I would in a normal class.
How do you find a work/life balance when you’re working, blogging and studying?
Time management – I have to be really strict. Luckily I’m an early bird so I do a lot of my blogging first thing, then when I come home from work I do some studying before my husband comes home from his job. I alter my timetable on a weekly basis, purely because one week is the never the same in my household. The course is really flexible, so if I need to take a break from studying I can just pick back up where I left off.
What are your top fitness tips for time-poor women?
Make it as easy as possible for you to do it. For example, I set up some gym equipment in my carport to try and eliminate those situations I couldn’t get to the gym, or when I could quite easily hit the sofa instead of the weights. If it’s less of an obstacle to get to I’m more likely to do it. If you struggle with time then you don’t lose any having to travel somewhere as it is easy to exercise in your own home.
I’d also try to be prepared for any activities that I have planned into my schedule. If you can organise yourself then that helps save time, so for example, something as simple as leaving out your running gear before you go to work makes it easier to get into – and out running – when you get back home from a hard day at the office!
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I love the blogging community and being inspired daily by others. It was blogging that made me realise how much I adored anything fitness related, and it was the reason I decided to do my personal training qualification with ICS Learn. Blogging motivates me – getting the chance to share my experience and see what other bloggers are doing is very inspiring, and it is something I don’t get from anything else.