"Unless your job involves sex, or death, I wouldn't worry about it."

I have no idea where I heard that, or even if that's the correct saying (it definitely isn't), but it's usually the first thing I think of when I open my inbox. Or when I wake up in the morning and I look at my to-do list. Or when someone says "We're sort of like Nirvana, crossed with the Beatles, straddling Radiohead whilst giving a blowjob to Kings of Leon - please check out the 55 MP3s we've attached to this email." Really?

You see, for the past five and a half years I've been running this site, and despite it taking over my life in every way imaginable, it only takes a brief glance at Twitter on a Monday morning to remind myself of just how privileged I am to be doing what I do. No commute, no awful co-workers, no boss and occasionally no pants if I'm feeling particularly adventurous. Sounds great doesn't it? Well it is, and it isn't.

In the interest of fairness, let's take a look at a few of the things beginning with 'no' that describe my job:

No security, no future prospects, no benefits (we don't provide discounted gym memberships...), no chance of being able to stick to normal hours and no chance of ever escaping the sort of email found in my opening paragraph. You could also throw in 'no chance of having a stable relationship' but in all honesty, it's probably more a case of finding someone that will put up with you being a massively selfish asshole (I recently got engaged by the way). In fact, that's an important thing to remember: time. As I type this I'm thinking, 'jeez, this is taking way longer than I expected... when the hell am I going to be able to fit [insert any part of my to-do list] in?

I work at least 12 hours a day during the week, and I'm writing this on a Saturday afternoon, but if I wanted to I could just close the lid on this computer and go live my life. Again, this is one of the many benefits of running your own business, but also the biggest curse. How can you possibly do anything else when you've put so many hours into a project? How can you concentrate on watching a film when your to-do list requires a scrollbar?

This time next year I'll be married and only a few months away from turning 30, and despite neither of those things being particularly apocalyptic, it does bring about a whole new set of issues: will I have to move on from the site? Will I have to look for funding? If I'm not running the site, what the hell am I going to do? I mention this because these are things I'm pondering after five-and-a-half years of struggling, not a lost year of reckless abandon that I can chalk down to 'youth' when I look back in my old age. Half a decade people. Half a decade.

Now, as I read this back, I feel it's important to remind you that I'm not a writer, nor did I go to university to learn how to be an editor (if that's even a thing). The majority of people that write for the site are more qualified than me at all of this, and I'm pretty sure the only thing I really bring to the table is my work ethic (and rugged good looks, duh). This should comfort you. If it wasn't for me, the site would probably be a lot bigger than it is. No, this isn't self-deprecation. It's the truth. My problem is that I've always struggled with the minor details, which often leads to being embarrassed in one way or another (hi Mike Diver!), but I've tried to learn from my mistakes, even if it doesn't look like it. My point? It helps if you can write, because that's what you'll be doing a lot of.

Holy crap, this has suddenly evolved into something I didn't want it to be (and oh look, another five things on my to-do list that I won't have time to do now), so I'll make it simple.

  • - You'll need time, and the support system to allow you to do what you do.
  • - You'll probably need a second job. I had one for four years.
  • - You'll probably never make a proper living from it - unless you're very lucky (I barely make a living). In fact, it will probably cost you money.
  • - You'll need a back-up-plan.
  • - You'll need to learn that no matter how hard your work, or how many times you feature a new band before everyone else, a larger site will always get the premiere.
  • - Your parents won't understand what it is you do.
  • - Your friends will get boring jobs that will pay more than you, but they'll be able to afford to buy nice things and go on holiday.
  • - You'll need to learn how to ask for help. And if you do get help be prepared to feel guilty for the fact that you won't be able to pay them.
  • - You'll need to understand that you can't compare your site to anyone else's. Competition is great, but we're all in this together (something which took me a while to grasp).
  • - Your inbox will never be the same.

So there you have it. Those are things I feel are important to remember when starting a music site. Your life with be a struggle (in the traditional sense), but fuck you'll have fun.

And yes, the title should've been 'What to expect if you're thinking of starting a music site', not 'How to start a music site', but more people search for the latter on Google. That's an SEO tip for you.

Update: Following the reactions to this piece, I thought I would clarify a few things.

Running a music website, or blog for that matter, doesn't have to be about money. I know plenty of people that run successful (however you define that) music blogs/sites as a hobby. My main point is that whether you get lucky or not, the process is still difficult, and will require a lot of work/dedication. Don't let anything I've said put you off, that's for damn sure.