Even though I already know the answer, I will still ask all fellow bloggers out there. What do you get when you tell people “I am a blogger“? Let’s not use the word “influencer” here, because this word gets people smirking. Which is one reaction you may get either way. Or another one, much more common: “you must get so much free stuff“. To me, this sentence in all its glory perfectly sums up the ugly side of blogging. Let me explain.
The word “free” implies that you get gifts all the time just for being a blogger. However, it forgets that nothing is ever free – but your mum’s love – and that those “gifts” actually are compensation for your creativity and work. Overall, it basically says that since you do not get paid for it, how could it ever be an actual real full-time job? And why would you deserve money to do it in the first place. Second, it also implies that is super easy.
You get free stuff, how cool, I want in too.
Influencer marketing is a fairly new branch of marketing. Full-time blogging or influencing thus also are fairly new careers. People know of what the media tell them about influencers and what they see on social media. The media has a rather negative view of influencers and Instagram mostly shows the bright side of things. Thus, the reality of blogging is a bit blurry in a lot of minds. To the majority, blogging is like living a dream, receiving gifts and freebies, attending fashion week and other glamorous events, making a lot of money on Instagram with a few pictures, etc. This is a very narrow and stereotyped portrait of blogging but you know what I am getting at.
People do not know. And like anything they are ignorant of, it does affect their perception of the job itself, the industry and people who are doing it full-time. “Really, so you are a full-time blogger? Will you be a looking for a real job?” And that is what I mean when I talk about the ugly side of blogging. The jealousy, the envy, the bitching, the manipulating and hurting other’s reputation is something that happen in any industry. As it is not particular to blogging and it is well shared amongst all industries, I will not expand on any of that.
However, I will expand on the ugly side of blogging no one talks about. That ugly side that sometimes makes you want to quit it all together, scream at your computer screen, shake brands and give them a reality check and all the others annoying things bloggers must endure in order to pursue their blogging career. Because if people knew of this ugly side of blogging and what blogging actually entails behind the pretty photos and breakfast at Instagrammable cafés, they may become a bit more empathetic and understanding.
This blog post is also here to make aspiring bloggers understand that it is not the easy career everybody thinks it is and that you may want to think twice before getting into it. Whether you get into blogging as a hobby or as a potential career, know that nothing happens overnight.
The Ugly Side Of Blogging No One Talks About
1. Late invoices
Influencers and most likely anyone who has freelanced at any point in their life will have that in common. Late invoices is the ugliest side of blogging. Whether it be brands, PR or agencies, you may clearly state on your invoice that it must be paid within 30 days, it is very common that the invoice is paid late. I can’t tell how many horror stories of invoices still unpaid after months I have heard! As a matter of fact, there is much more to it than “just a late invoice.”
This is one ugly side of blogging we could all do without. Not being paid on time is an enormous source of stress. Bloggers have bills to pay: the rent, their transport card, their groceries, their blog hosting, etc. If invoices are paid late, it is the risk bloggers are not able to pay for all those expenses… and have to pay late payment penalties, or worst… not all landlords are understanding of the freelance lifestyle.
Can you imagine? You work full-time, it is the end of the month and your employer tells you that you will be paid later because “it has not been processed by accounting yet”. How would you feel? You’d be horrified, upset, pissed off. Plus all the stress that worrying about money induces. If you as a full-time employee at a company would never accept late payment of your wages, how could you ever think it is acceptable to pay freelancer late? Pay people on time, it makes life less stressful.
2. Free work
Getting back to that one are we. Yes we are. One ugly side of blogging that makes it sound that blogging is the easiest thing in the world. When influencer marketing started to be a thing, brands understood that regular people may hold more advertising power over their followers than billboards or superstars. Thus, they decided to use that to increase awareness and revenue. Good for them. It does work amazingly well.
However, when it all started, nobody knew anything about it and nobody had really made it a career. Most collaborations were on a gifting basis. It is probably because back in the days, nobody was paid for collaborations that everybody thought everything you got was for free. Sometimes, however rarely, you may receive products without any expectations from the brand. Yet, most times, when a brand sends a product, they want a social share. They do not ask explicitly, but they still expect it.
Brands will use the product as payment in kind. Sure, a $20 mascara is absolutely worth hours of brainstorming, taking photos, writing a blog post, optimizing for SEO and promoting across channels. Sure, sure. A lot of brands, and other people, expect influencers to work for free. Because back when it started, that’s “how it worked”. And that most brands still to this day do not have budget for influencer marketing.
This is such an ugly side of blogging. Why would people work for free though? You, as a full-time employee in a company, would never accept to work every month for free. And no, coconut water will not make it better. So why would you expect bloggers and other freelancers to work for free? Sure, it is at an influencer’s discretion to accept gifting collaboration, especially if they feel that the gift in question has a value that equals the work they will put in, i.e. staying at a nice hotel. Yet, all work must pay, and bloggers should not need to argue and negotiate hours and hours to get a fair compensation for their work.
3. Influencer bashing
Let’s move onto something just as joyful, shall we. Influencers get a bad rap. Of course, some influencers, by their actions and behaviors, do contribute to spreading that stereotype. I am not gonna talk about Love Island and the likes. They are beyond being influencers at this point. They are public figures like an actor, football player or singer would be. Furthermore, they also rarely do face repercussions for not disclosing ads clearly. However, on the other hand, micro-influencers, vloggers and bloggers do get punished for anything.
The media love to bash influencers. They have become their prime target. First, it shows you how lame the media are, by attacking people who can’t really defend themselves. Second, the mere existence of influencers and social media is a constant reminders to journalists and traditional media that they are an endangered species. So instead of embracing change, let’s hit those who are bringing it in the eyes of the public. Third, it also highlights the fact that they are becoming more and more irrelevant and have nothing else to talk about.
However, influencer bashing by the media damages the industry’s reputation. Bloggers changing on the street, bloggers being loud, bloggers ruining the quietness of neighborhood, bloggers sitting on stairs, bloggers annoying the hell out of everyone, etc. Bloggers are the perfect scape goats for anything so of course, let’s blame influencers for all the misery in the world.
The problem is, this shameful smear campaign works. It portrays a bad image of influencers as a whole, putting everybody in the same basket, making it sound that all influencers are parasites. Beyond damaging the reputation of influencer marketing, it also makes it even harder for bloggers to justify their work and career. Influencer bashing makes it hard of anyone outside the industry to consider blogging a legitimate career prospect. It is also one reason why people are so dismissive of it. Fighting, arguing for and justifying your choice of career every day is exhausting.
4. Long hours
Blogging is all about getting freebies and talking pictures at Instagrammable cafés, am I right? At the risk of repeating myself, there is so much more to blogging than meets the eye. I admit that it may be difficult to grasp what happens behind the scenes if you never see it. If you only see the finished results, you can’t really know what went behind it. It is not like with architecture for instance. It is very obvious that before a building, there was a sketch, then planning, then constructing for months and then finally, the building.
One ugly side of blogging is that people do not know what blogging actually entails. There is much more to an Instagram photo than the photo itself: organizing a photoshoot, finding a photographer, searching locations, getting brand collaborations, styling outfits together, discussing with the photographer, packing the day before, getting ready, getting to the location, taking the photos. Once the photoshoot is over, getting home, editing the photos, writing the caption, researching hashtags. Once the photo is up, sharing it on story, answering all comments, engaging with other bloggers.
The same goes for blogging. One blog post requires hours of work. Once you got your topic, you need to research keywords, to find a killer title, to write a first draft, to take pictures, to rewrite the article, to optimize for SEO, to share across socials, etc. Blogging requires very long hours, especially to create high quality content. There is so much research that goes in each single blog post. Writing a blog post is like completing any project: research, brainstorming, creation, execution, analysis. And sometimes, most of the time, people ignore or forget that.
Being a blogger and treating your blog as your very own business makes you wear many hats: copywriter, SEO specialist, social media manager, community manager, photographer, email marketer, graphic designer, etc. Furthermore, a lot of bloggers started without any knowledge of digital marketing prior and will learn a lot on the job. Thus, they will educate themselves on SEO, social media, hashtags, photography, etc, and research tutorials or articles to help, find resources to help them improve their blog, which again, takes time.
5. Blogging cost
Last but not least, of all the behind the scenes of blogging is the cost of blogging itself. What? Did you think freebies was all it was about? We’ve already established that was not the case. Blogging as a hobby or a career has a cost. It does not matter how savvy you may be, what you are doing, there will always a be a time when you need to invest in your blog. That is how business works. If you want to grow, you must invest. Time, money, creative juice, energy. Always an investment.
Blogging is not free. It can sometimes represent a rather big cost. I can’t really call it an ugly side of blogging. However, the cost of blogging may become heavy for some, especially if you can’t break even. Let’s make a little list of all those expenses you may come across as a blogger: hosting company, blog theme, social media management tools, editing softwares, a camera and/or a photographer, e-books and e-courses to help you improve, props and other accessories, etc. I am going to be transparent and list below the cost of blogging per year for me:
- Hosting company: £75
- Domain renewal: £22
- Tailwind: £120
- New theme: £59
- Photographer: £100/month
- Adobe Suite: £12/month
- Planoly: £9/month
- TubeBuddy for Youtube: £40
- Various plugins: £50
- Various e-courses: £75
Total per year: £1893
Of course those expenses are conscious choices I am making for my blog. I have no obligations to pay for a photographer nor do I need to change my blog theme. I do not regret those expenses and they are investments I make into my blog. Some expenses are rounded up or estimates as of course, I do not change blog theme every year nor will I buy plugins all the time. They are occasional expenses that add up. This is an indicative list of what blogging costs me per year to show that blogging still has a cost. I can afford it as I blog full-time but should my revenue suddenly decrease, I would have to review those expenses. Some are also expenses that I will not make again.
Then, you must add indirect expenses. As much as I avoid to buy coffee mid-photoshoot, well sometimes I do not have a choice. I need to change, Starbucks do not let non-customers use their bathroom, I buy a coffee. Furthermore, I am an avid reader. Even though I do not count books towards my blog expenses, they still are an indirect expense since I do vlog about them a lot. And sometimes buy books for the sole purposes of a video.
In conclusion, again, my personal blogging expenses are all a conscious choice. Some I could do without and some I could not. But, they are mostly there to show you that blogging still requires an investment, especially if you want to take it to the next level. Most brands and agencies will want to work with self-hosted blogs for high DAs and link juice… which you cannot do without a hosting company and your own domain… which cost money.
Blogging remains a mystery for a lot of people who do not know all the behind the scenes and what the job actually entails. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for bloggers to justify their career choice. Educate people on the ugly side of blogging, on what happens behind the scenes, on the creative process and work that goes behind each piece of content is how people will become more accepting of it as a full-time job and valid career prospect.
What about you? What are some behind the scenes of blogging you wish people knew more about? Do you find yourself struggling to justify your career choice? Or try to explain that influencer marketing goes way beyond what we see on Instagram?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
See you soon,