All bloggers have heard it. It’s often from a well-meaning friend, or colleague, or your Mum, who has a scroll through your Instagram feed of cocktails and avocado toast. “My God, your life. You’re so lucky!” Sometimes, this is followed with a, “I’m going to start a blog so I can get all this stuff for free too!”
It’s at that point that you grit your teeth and laugh it off, because you’ve already explained 400 times that it actually isn’t quite as simple that.
None of these people mean anything by their comments, and they are often people who are actually your biggest cheerleaders, who just don’t really get what it is you actually do. So let’s break it down, into why bloggers aren’t actually just blessed with ludicrous good luck and a sea of free poached eggs.
My blog costs me money to run. In order to have a url that doesn’t end in something like blogspot.com or wordpress.com, I have to pay money. I own my own domain name so I can have a url that looks slick and professional. I have to renew this yearly or someone else can buy it. Because I chose not to use a free blogging platform like Blogger (perfect when you start out, not so great when you start to want to get creative with your blog design), I also pay for hosting, every month. If I don’t, the website disappears.
writing the post
The real work starts after that glamorous looking event. We’ve taken millions of photos, so our first job is sorting through that lot and figuring out what’s worth saving. You whittle down the photos to a select few, and then you have to edit them. I don’t actually do much editing on my pictures, but I do go in and tweak the light balance a little to correct for that god-awful orange light that bars seem to love so much and make things appear as they actually do in real life. It can take a few hours to do all this.
We are our own copywriters, editors and proofreaders. Writing a post can also take a couple of hours, by the time you’ve written it, double checked all your notes and the brand website to make sure all the ingredients, prices and details you’ve mentioned are correct. Then, you have to proofread, edit all the bits that make no sense, proofread again, and rinse and repeat until it’s perfect. Then you publish it, and your work is done, right? Nope!
Once you’ve written the post, if you want anyone to read it, you have to promote it. Cue several hours drafting and scheduling tweets and facebook posts, putting posts on Instagram and Instagram stories and wherever else you have a platform. You also spend some time finding the brands correct social links. As well as that sharing, you’re always plugged in, keeping your social platforms busy and interesting, to keep your followers engaged and interested. Across three platforms, I currently have a combined social following of a little over 8300. This is actually pretty small fry in the world of bloggers. I know people with thousands more. This, by the way, is our value to brands. It’s not free. They want to reach those 8000 people, and inviting me to do something is the best way of doing that.
Email is the bane of my life. I get hundreds of emails every week, and only a handful are ones I want. My inbox is a awash with emails asking me to please do hours of work for the chance of being retweeted by a shop with less followers than me, or for the ‘exposure’, or a selection of brands newsletters the have signed me up for without my permission by scraping my email address off my blog. When I can find the actual decent emails, more time is spent emailing back and forth, negotiating prices, confirming dates and generally agreeing on collaboration.
And the rest
Bloggers have to learn all sorts of skills. Photography, social media marketing, proofing, editing…
Lots of us teach ourselves how to code our own websites, or at the least, how to work different website CMS. We learn about SEO, about Google’s algorithms, about social platform algorithms. We keep up to date with guidelines and rules on advertising, on any trends in our niche so we’re always posting up-to-date content. We spend hours gently sobbing while trying to sort out our tax returns and whatever mad spreadsheets we have devised to track our finances, blog traffic and whatever else we can think of. We’re always networking; with brands, with PRs, with each other.
Keep in mind most bloggers also have full time jobs. We’re spending all these hours working on our blogs, while also doing our day job, trying to have a social life, keep the house tidy and the fridge full, spend time with our families and have time to watch Game of Thrones before somebody spoils it for us.
Lucky? Maybe…but luck with a very heavy helping of bloody hard work.