I think there comes a point in every bloggers life when they feel the need to write about the concept of ‘freebies’ as well as the work we do behind the scenes. Non-bloggers throw around the terms ‘free’ and ‘freebies’ without thought, not realising how much it infuriates and sometimes upsets the blogging community.
Why Blogging is a REAL Job (and NOTHING is ever free!)
When I started blogging about 5 years ago, it was just a means to put my thoughts out there, a bit like an online diary. Just over 2 and a half years ago I turned this into Kelly Allen Writer, a place where I planned to take blogging a little more seriously, combining my life and my novel in one place. Fast forward a year and suddenly blogging was a way of life for me.
I began working on theatre reviews, going to shows I’d paid for and writing about them so I could then pitch to theatres to work with them…
Then I moved into the world of paid work. The buzz when I received my first ever payment was out of this world. I think I had to pinch myself because I’d achieved it, by myself with the support of fellow bloggers. I felt a part of something and suddenly I’d become self-employed.
There’s so much to blogging, you might already know… But if you don’t, here are a few things I do…
Have you ever pitched to anyone for anything?! It’s quite daunting, even on the tenth or hundredth time! You have to sell yourself. You have to give the person on the other end of an email a reason (or 5) to choose you. You have to be prepared for rejection. You have to pick yourself up after the rejection and try again.
I think pitching is one of the hardest parts of blogging. Sometimes my tummy flips at the thought, other times I just go for it and deal with the, ‘Thanks, but no thanks!’ – and this is on a monthly/weekly basis, depending on how much an individual blogger pitches.
This one is so hard, especially on Facebook. Bloggers need to offer their readers something, they need to draw people in. On one hand we are advertising space, on the other we’re a reader’s best friend. And, at least where I’m coming from (and my blogging circle) we really are there for you.
However, being ‘seen’ on social media is growing increasingly hard because of algorithms and the vast amount of bloggers in the world. It’s a competitive place to be, yet we still trudge on because we love it so.
We learn when it’s best to post, who our readers are (mine are mostly women aged 24-45) and what they want from us. We love you guys, and we hope you love us!
When I first started I thought all I needed to do was write and people would read. Simple. But not really…
I imagine some bloggers have had this magic happen for them, but for me (and most I know) it was all about the steep learning curve of blogging. I had to learn a whole new language and a whole set of new skills.
I have had to learn about…
- Domain Authority
- Social media sharing
- ASA guidelines
- Writing and editing
- Analytics and statistics
- Self hosted sites
- Photography and editing
- F0llow/No follow links
and so much more!
You see, when I go to an event or I’m approached about a paid post, I don’t just quickly type something out and press publish and that’s that. Even if I did, that’s still work, but alas that’s not what truly happens…
For an event, holiday and sometimes a product it kinda goes like this:
- Use social media to talk about said ‘product’, so tweets and IG stories or posts and Facebook posts. Within these posts I need to remember to tag the brand and disclose it’s an advert/review. This isn’t just at the start of the review period, it’s all the way through. Plus, some brands have specific requirements, such as 3 IG stories, 2 grid photos and 1 Facebook post etc.
- Taking photos. Warren bought me a fancy camera for my birthday a couple of years ago and it creates some beautiful images. I take so many photos of the same thing, just in case, just to get the perfect shot. I then edit the ones I want to use before publishing my full review.
- Writing the review. When I first started blogging I was always very polite and erred on the side of caution, afraid to offend anybody. But then I realised this wasn’t the right way to do it. It wasn’t fair on my readers to skirt around the negatives of a product or experience. And this is probably the most essential part of any review: telling the truth. As hard as it is, readers don’t want to just hear the positives, because that’s not really our job. Our job is to be 100% honest and transparent.
- Exposure. Learning about how to schedule posts, use Pinterest and making sure each post is seen as much as possible has been a huge learning curve for me personally. You don’t just press send and you’re done, you need to show that baby off! And it takes time, hours and energy to make sure every resource is used to its fullest.
- Reporting back the brand/PR. This can either be with full statistics on the post, such as views or social media interaction, or it could be their thoughts on the post. I’ve made mistakes now and again that I’ve had to correct, or I’ve worried about a post not receiving enough interaction (What if they never work with me again?!). It’s definitely a lot of pressure!
Yup, I have to do a yearly tax return. I am self-employed. I am proud of this and it’s no different to working for someone. In fact, I think self-employment is one of the hardest types of jobs to have.
You have to:
- Motivate yourself every single day! There’s no one there telling you what to do or guiding you. You are your own boss, now get on with it! 😉
- Find the work. Pitching, searching and hoping to be picked for campaigns is both exciting and heartbreaking at times. One month you might make £1000 the next £30, you have to keep pushing forward and some months it’s a pretty scary ride.
- Be professional. This isn’t a joke, it’s a job. And it’s about time non-bloggers saw bloggers in a professional light. We have to attend events, sell ourselves and network as well as behave professionally via email, telephone and (occasionally for me) Skype.
- Be organised. With a home educated lifestyle, I have to make sure I have time to fit in the work. I tend to work on Warren’s days off and most evenings, and I have to make sure work is complete within the given deadlines. Theatre reviews have to be up the very next day and there are set dates for other work. Being organised is so important!
Nothing is Free
I literally eye roll when someone suggest we get ‘free stuff’ or ‘freebies’. Yes, we’re given ‘complimentary’ tickets for shows and events. Yes, we’re sent bundles of products to test out and review. BUT they are NOT free.
We have to work (as you’ve already seen above!) our butts off for these things. We have to promote and edit and do all the things mentioned and more. We don’t go to the theatre or on a holiday and relax, go home and forget about it. We have to work before, during and after the event. We have to advertise it to you, whether we like it or not. We have to risk our relationships with contacts if we don’t like the ‘product’ and we have to hope we do enough to get seen…
When it comes to paid work, we are asked sometimes asked to edit it. Sometimes we don’t get paid in time. Sometimes we get the links wrong or we make a mistake and have to correct it.
So you see, there’s a lot more to blogging than you might have realised. There are things I haven’t even mentioned, so much more to say about what we do. It’s hard work, it’s fun work, it’s daunting and exciting and ever-changing. But one things for sure, it’s WORK and NOTHING is free.