A good friend of mine recently quit her corporate job to 'chase the creative dream'. She's spending the next couple of months living off her savings while she takes a huge plunge into the creative abyss as a blogger (you should check her blog out here - it's real rad) about just that - trying to make it as a creative.
This got me thinking.
There are so, SO many things I could go into regarding the difficulty for a 20-something to actually be successful as a creative. By successful I mean: the ability to sustain one's existence while doing the thing(s) you love. But that is for another post.
In this post, I'm going to talk about the daily struggle that is to be a blogger. Also, please note that this is written from New Zealand, where as far as I am aware, there are no bloggers getting 12 million sponsorship deals here.
SOME NEGATIVE ASPECTS TO BLOGGING
- The struggle is very real.
Some brands treat you like shit. Once you're well enough established as a blogger, brands will start to blow up your inbox. At first, this can be exciting and overwhelming, and you can resist the offers of free stuff. BEWARE! There are so many online clothing and apparel sites that I can guarantee saying no once in a while is Ok. I have had dozens of online clothing shops contact me, from all around the world, looking to send me 'free products' in exchange for a plug or two. However, always read the fine print. One awful online shop to deal with is ROMWE. They signed me up to a blogger's program, and asked me to post ads. For every ad I would post on my facebook page, Instagram and blog, I would get "ROMWE dollars" that would build up over time which I could redeem for anything on the website. When I finally got enough to buy a garment, they simply never sent it. When I complained, they tried to barter what they owed me and then eventually just ignored me. Because they are based in China and I'm in New Zealand, there was literally nothing I could do. All that effort I had put into trying to build an affiliate relationship with them and - all of the plugs I had done for them - was for nothing. Another time I had another China based company want to send me free jewellery if I put their banner on my page for a month. Sounds alright in theory. The only problem was that the jewellery was so cheaply made (and looking) it rivalled stuff out of a dollar store. They wanted me to essentially advertise their awful website for a whole month for the equivalency of gold coin. This is such a terrible trap for new bloggers to fall into because it not only has absolutely no monetary value, it cheapens your whole blog by association.
Some PR agencies treat you like shit. I have a bit of a background in P.R, so I can honestly say that some PR companies are AWESOME and doing awesome stuff and totally supportive. Some others, however - not so much. It's great to get on as many PR mailing lists as possible, at the very least, you get to stay in the know of what all their brands are up to which can save some serious research time. A downside to dealing with PR companies (and again this is only some) is that they can look down their noses at you. You can get treated as someone who just wants free stuff. I imagine the reason some agencies have this view about bloggers is because there are obviously some people out there who are all about the free-stuff and not about creating awesome content. Those said people, will try and pass as a blogger.
Also, blogging is pretty new to the game, and the average person really has no idea who or what you do. The average PR agency, especially if there aren't too many 'young' people working there, have no idea how to interact with a blogger. They don't really know what they should do with you, just that they should have a few bloggers on their mailing lists. ANOTHER huge problem are some agencies look at some big name bloggers overseas (who have millions of followers and charge something in the range of $30,000 for a sponsored post) and think that if you can't pull that sort of influence you're no good to them. NOT TRUE. Just because the average blogger doesn't have millions of girls dying their hair the same colour like they're Kylie Jenner; doesn’t mean they're not influential. I guarantee they Kylie was looking at pictures of Tumblr bloggers when she was thinking about going pastel. Even though you might not notice the particular blogger, we are the ones setting trends. I guarantee all your favourite trends right now have been started and solidified by indie bloggers. If you send your product out to 20 bloggers and every blogger plugs said product, takes pictures with it etc, that’s basically A FREE ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN. So PR agencies, go a little easier of bloggers, it’s a tough gig.
It’s actually LOTS of work. People a only now just keying on to the concept that blogging is A LOT of work. Most bloggers have a jack-of-all-trades thing happening, so by the time you’ve styled yourself (or garments, or whatever it is your photographing) taken the photos, edited the photos, written your blog post and then edited your blog post – hours up on hours – even days- can have gone by. Then there is the web design you must constantly be doing, the daily marketing and self-promotion so you actually have readers; interacting with your blogger community so you stay current and the list could go on.
There is always something that can be said for doing something you love as a job, but have no doubt that it is not a 9-5. It’s a 9am- 10pm or beyond. Yes, you’ll get lots of fun coffee dates and going to do cool stuff/ see cool stuff/wear cool stuff but it can very much be non-stop. Especially if you’re trying to ‘make it’ as a blogger. There is always something you could be doing.
People don’t take you seriously. In the UK and US it’s fairly common for professional bloggers to have agents, and the top bloggers are pulling in big bucks. However, when you say that you're a blogger, or that you have a blog, some eye-rolling can happen. That's because it's not viewed as a legitimate job yet. If you are a blogger, you will know that to get any sort of traction happening, you will need to be putting in at least a 40 hour work week.
You get haters on the internet. It's pretty common knowledge that some people are the WORST and then say the WORST things on the internet. There is an epidemic when it comes to cyber bullying, that we are only now getting a grasp of. Having a strong presence online means you're basically 'putting yourself out there' when it comes to negative comments. The bigger you get, the more haters you get. I follow quite a few international bloggers on Instagram, and just the other day I read a pretty awful comment. This was the account of Swedish blogger, Fanny Lyckman, who by all means is absolutely gorgeous, has nearly 500k followers and seems to have a pretty ideal existence. Someone commented, completely unrelated to the picture, how stupid and embarrassing it was to have the name "Fanny". Aside for the fact that that's a pretty common old English name, that is something that no one would ever say in real life. I once posted a picture of myself in a Boy London sweatshirt and someone angrily commented that I was wearing the Nazi eagle. I can see how they look similar, but come-on, who wears a nazi sweatshirt with the word boy under it, sitting in a park with their dog?! You will learn fast that people on the internet are crazy.
You have no idea what you're doing half the time. When we started Sans Pareil in 2010, we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. And I don't think anyone really does when they start out. Each post, each time you network or are inspired can take you in completely different directions you thought you'd be going in. As soon as you start writing, I can almost guarantee it will morph into something different than you originally intended. And that's Ok. The great thing about blogs are that they are constantly changing - that fluidity is what keeps readers coming back.
Some Positive Aspects To Blogging -
Swag. Lets not beat around the bush, getting sent free stuff because people think you're cool and want you to rep that stuff - is fucking awesome. The other day, I was having a clean out of my wardrobe -and came to the realisation that a good quarter of it was sent to me by companies who wanted me to wear their product. It's fun and exciting, your heart beats a little faster when the mailman arrives. However, most bloggers don't get paid well or at all, so it's actually only fair that we get to keep the products that we are so generously showing to all of our readers. If you work a hard 40 hour week for your paycheque and don't consider that money a lucky gift; then have the same thought for bloggers and their 'free swag' - it's never really free.
You kinda become good at everything, which makes you uber valuable. Again, as I mentioned above, unless you're Blake Lively, a millionaire, and can hire the best people for every little job - you need to be able to do everything. The up-side of this, is that you can now put on your CV that you have experience in Marketing, PR, are a Social Media expert, Photoshop, Fashion Guru - you can tailor your experience to fit your industry! Blogging is almost like a hobby, where you are practicing communication skills every time you do it- which will put you heads and shoulders above those who only 9-5.
The sky's the limit. I think this is possibly the reason why so many people persevere with blogging, even though for the first little while at least, it mainly just drains your time and money. You can go absolutely anywhere you want with your blog, make it about ANYTHING, and watch it grow into something you're truly proud of. It can be that vessel you were looking for to channel your voice, creativity or skills - or all three!
Now that you know a little more behind the scenes of blogging, the last piece of advice I have for you is that if you enjoy doing it or have a dream you're working towards - STAY WITH IT. There will 100% be days that you will want to pack it in. Just remember that you started this for a reason, so keep going.