The rise of the blogging industry over the last few years has been truly monumental and the industry is becoming more and more saturated with empowered women (and men!) who hope to ‘make it’ as full time bloggers. I think that is ace. I’ve spoken at length about how truly wonderful I think blogging is; as a hobby it allows a creative space to share your thoughts or your talents with the world, and as a career it allows freedom and flexibility. As a largely female dominated industry I find it particularly inspiring that so many talented women are able to run killer businesses from home around busy lifestyles, families and all manner of commitments. But, it isn’t easy.
I saw a tweet recently that was a little concerned that more and more children are aspiring to be Youtubers or bloggers when they grow up. There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t, but it’s very easy to look at the industry from the outside and assume it’s all press events, freebies and scrolling on Instagram. If I mention that I’m working from home or that I’ve given myself a lie in I often get a lot of responses telling me how lucky I am. Recently in a face to face conversation, someone said to me “I wish I’d thought to set up a blog, must be such an easy way to live”. Uhmmmmmm…
Yes, to an extent I am lucky; I am lucky because I get to wake up every day and do the thing that I love doing. I don’t often get that Sunday night dread, and I always meet my rent. From that perspective, I feel totally privileged and the opportunities I’m afford bring me so much joy and gratitude. But I work bloody hard. It’s not luck that I started a blog and it’s not luck that people want to read it.
There are a thousand wonderful things I could write about this industry and this post is absolutely in no way intended to put anyone off, but it isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and Gucci Belts –
Here are some of the realities of being a full time blogger:
It’s a bit like being at work all the time
As a full-time blogger, it is incredibly difficult to ever switch off. Whilst for most a scroll through social media first thing in the morning, on the train, or whilst watching Netflix in the evening is a past time, for us it is work. That can be really daunting and is part of the reason I try not to keep my phone next to my bed at night.
Everything is a content opportunity and whilst yes, that is a choice, it becomes almost impossible not to want to get a quick snap for the gram. When I’m out and about I literally see photo opportunities and I can’t help mentally drafting blog posts and captions and at times that is totally exhausting.
And people forget that you are actually working
If you’re at an event, you’re working. If you’re meeting a PR for lunch, you’re working. If you’re on a press trip, you’re working. Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally far rather be doing all those things than following a 9-5 but sometimes it is really frustrating that people just assume you’re off on a jolly. Luxurious events are wonderful, but there are normally always content requirements; a pressure to share and to provide the publicity that fundamentally you have been invited for.
You constantly have to justify your career choice
Even though I am self-employed, running my own business and paying my own bills, people still ask me what I am going to do with my degree. I’ve been asked how long I’m going to ‘keep up this blogging lark‘ multiple times, and whilst I’m lucky that my Mum is incredibly supportive, I know a lot of people have really had to convince their parents that they are not wasting their education or pursuing a whim.
And the job security is incredibly low
The media industry is ever changing: a few years ago I don’t think anyone really predicted that blogging would be what it is today, or that Glamour Magazine would give up the ghost and move online because sales are so low. Platforms that we rely so heavily on – such as Instagram – have the ability to send our businesses plummeting to the ground. I’m not whinging about the algorithm, but rather questioning the longevity of the app. Just look at Facebook; a few years ago it was thriving but now it’s a dumping ground for cat videos and Sandra from Huddersfield who wants to sell her wardrobe. One tweet from Kylie Jenner and Snapchat’s shares plummet.
You do not get to sit in a cute cafe and write all day
Maybe 20% of my time is actually spent writing. The other eighty is dedicated to endless emails (many of which are either a load of rubbish, a waste of time because they never reply anyway or newsletters I never even signed up to), brainstorming and planning, meetings, reading contracts, amending silly contracts, issuing invoices, chasing invoices, doing accounts and 50000 other items of very mundane but very necessary admin.
You are always held accountable for the things you do (and don’t) say
Followers have very high expectations. That’s totally okay and I always do my best to bare them in mind, but sometimes we get it a little wrong, or we say something off hand and oh my goodness do the hawks descend. Mention politics or a major event and you’ve got an agenda, don’t mention it and you’re ignorant.
Fleur de Force got actual abuse from people for not revealing her baby’s name immediately. WHAT.
Sometimes people forget you’re a real person
Thankfully I’ve never been a victim of trolling or abuse but I know many who sadly have and it’s so unacceptable.
By putting your life online you also open it up to scrutiny and criticism. Even well-meaning followers can grow tiresome when they message to tell you that they preferred your hair before you dyed it.
There are no industry guidelines on pay
Money is such a taboo and it is truly ridiculous. There are no guidelines so you spend a lot of time stabbing in the dark at your rates, only to find that so-and-so is undercutting you, and so-and-so thinks you’re undercharging.
And guess what? Brands and PRs haven’t the foggiest either.
You’re always being asked to work for free
On a daily basis there are a flood of emails expecting free coverage. Only about 20% of my content is sponsored, so I am certainly not expecting to be paid for everything I do and the majority of what I write and post is out of a sheer love for the job, but when it feels like you’re doing a brand a favour then something is wrong.
Requests for ‘free trial runs’ (can you IMAGINE asking a hairdresser to cut your hair for free first, so that you can check she’s good enough) and offers of £30 tops in exchange for content packages you’d usually charge £500 for are a daily occurrence and sometimes it takes every ounce of my professionalism and self-control not to point out that my landlady does not accept clothing as currency.
And you never really know what you’ve got to live on each month
Some months are brilliant, others are sparse and you have to remember that each invoice is going to take another month to actually materialise in your bank account, and that’s if they bother to pay on time. Basically, you need to be really good at budgeting or you are going to struggle. I have to view my income holistically and I tend to add up what I’ve made in a quarter and then average it out.
And when you do do Ads and they don’t perform well, it’s a bit crushing
So taking all that into account, when we do do ads and they flop because followers would fundamentally rather everything was un-sponsored, it can be really disheartening.
It’s a common complaint that statistically ads never do as well as other posts and whilst it might seem a bit pathetic to get upset about likes – or a lack of -, it’s worth remembering that this is someones income and engagement is a direct measure of worth.
It’s made especially tough by people who will advertise anything
As in any industry, there are people who are good at the jobs and those who are…well, less so.
Bloggers tend to get lumped together in a category when actually, we are all individual people running individual businesses. Unfortunately there are people who are essentially walking billboards for whitening toothpaste and cereal but there are also lots of truly dedicated bloggers who would never even dream of promoting anything that they don’t think is genuinely worth your while.
It can be really lonely
Working from home really isn’t for everyone. Some weeks are full of lovely events and meetings and others I honestly do not wear anything that isn’t made of jersey. Honestly, I relish alone time. As weird as that may sounds I am really comfortable in my own company and so it suits me, but equally a lot of people struggle with the lack of contact and the constant need to be your own motivator.
And lots of people just don’t understand
I bloody love my friends and some of them are super, super supportive of my blog. Others pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s fine, because I’m not about to comment on every aspect of their career either but it can feel a little strange when ‘real life’ pals don’t even like your Instagram posts.
Romantically, I imagine it can be really hard work going out with someone who wants to turn every date into a photo opportunity, who often has one eye on the TV and another in their DMs and who works weird and ever-changing hours. If you can find someone who supports and respects your blogging career as a career then that is worth its weight in gold.
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