Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Truth About Being A Blogger

Over the last year, I'd say the blogosphere has officially blown up. Every man and his cat seems to have a blog these days and whilst it is obviously a brilliant thing that more and more people are channeling their inner creativity and writing about what they love, growing the amazing blogging community, there are certain things that people don't realise and as my blog grows older, I'm learning more and more about it too. 

Anyway, lemme talk a little bit about this super cool outfit before I go on. This is one of my outfits from my recent trip to Funchal in Madeira (posts on that coming soon!) and I am obsessed with this slogan bodysuit. It's from Pull and Bear at ASOS and can you believe it costs less than £10?! I've been finding so many bargains recently and it just proves you don't have to spend a fortune to have a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes. I've had an obsession with bodysuits for a while now and it's not going anywhere - is it possible to have too many? 

One of the things I see a lot of non-bloggers saying is that blogging and YouTube is an easy career, not a "real job", for "talentless" people and whilst it may not be the same as performing heart surgery or standing up in court defending clients, it is difficult in a different way. It takes an unbelievable amount of time and energy and it's so much more than sitting down and knocking out a few paragraphs on an evening. What you don't see is the energy that goes into thinking of the posts, taking the photos, editing the photos, writing the post, scheduling social media content, getting on top of admin, sorting out taxes and earnings and running your own business. I think a lot of people expect to start their blog and become the next Zoella and get disheartened when they don't wake up with over 100k Instagram followers and an inbox full of collaboration emails but sadly, that's not how it works. I think wanting to become a big blogger or a YouTuber has become the new version of wanting to be a professional footballer or an actress. It is certainly possible but for the select few and whilst many can become full-time bloggers and YouTubers, it's not how people imagine it to be.

Also, I come home from work and I work then I go back to work and on my days from work, I work. This is the reality of blogging and working at the same time and I can't actually remember when I last had a full day off. I rarely get days off from my full time work as it is (I honestly work up to three weeks in a row without a single day off) and when I do, that time is taken up doing blog work. You do that and tell me that it's easy. 

You know those "free things" you see bloggers and YouTubers getting? Well, they're not actually free. They're payment in exchange for exposure and advertising on their social or on their websites and let me tell you they can be stressful. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely appreciate every gifted or PR sample and there's not a day goes by that I don't think about how lucky I am but it's easy to let them get on top of you and the pile of "to blog" and "to photograph" things gets ever bigger, especially when you're working full time alongside it, like me and so many others. If you even let yourself get the slightest bit disorganised, you suddenly don't know what was next on your to do list and you look around surrounded by a mass of Royal Mail packets thinking "how the FLIP will I be able to get on top of things ever again!?" Okay, so maybe it's not that drastic but hell, you gotta work your bum off for those "freebies"!!!

No matter which social media site I log on to, I see criticism and outright name calling directed at bloggers and it's mostly aimed at bloggers who have a lot of followers. Zoella doesn't seem to be able to do anything without being criticised, no matter how innocent it is. Hell, she couldn't even bring out a homeware range without somebody, somewhere giving her shit about it. It's the same for smaller bloggers too who we forget are just normal people, either working or having a hobby. They share their political views or say something about a social issue and *bam* suddenly, they're the devil incarnate because they used their voice or they're being unprofessional or, if they don't speak out and don't use their voice, they're wrong for not using their platform to speak out. You simply cannot win on social media, even if you only have a small number of followers. There's a difference between legitimate criticism and being downright rude that many people, both bloggers and non-bloggers, fail to realise. Bloggers are also heavily criticised for sponsored content and I get bloody sick of it to be honest. Some people want bloggers and YouTubers to bring them content for free, without having to pay for subscriptions etc. but also don't want the bloggers and YouTubers to accept payment because apparently this makes them "untrustworthy" or "sellouts". It's totally unfair and whilst I have no doubt that a small minority will make things sound better if they've been paid, 99% of bloggers and YouTubers are completely honest with their readers and viewers and will only accept sponsorship from brands they genuinely love. How else are we gon' pay the bills?

As companies and brands realise the reach of bloggers and YouTubers these days, more and more sponsored opportunities crop up and don't get me wrong it is bloody brilliant that we can make a living from doing the things that we love. However, whilst a lot of companies understand that bloggers and YouTubers have bills to pay and that by advertising for them and featuring them, they are working for them and doing a service, many still don't. I get emails on a daily basis trying to get me to do work for free (one even asked me to do an Instagram promo in exchange for "good karma". Yes, really.) and last time I checked my landlord wouldn't accept "exposure" in exchange for my rent. Huge brands who have the funds to advertise on prime time TV and billboards suddenly don't have a budget for bloggers and some are downright rude, asking you for a blog post with 6 follow links, five Instagram posts, twitter posts and your soul for £30. I think that brands are becoming more and more aware that bloggers and YouTubers won't work for free but it can still be a fight to get any payment at all. 

This is one of the things that nearly all non-bloggers I would say and even a lot of bloggers themselves don't understand. If you earn even £5 from a post, you must register as self-employed and declare that income by filling in a self-assessment form at the end of the tax year. You must comply with ASA standards when you're paid for a post. Google has their own guidelines you should follow all about no-follow/follow links, paid posts, declarations and everything else that you must get clued up on. There's so much going on surrounding the legal and technical side of blogging and it can even be difficult for blogging veterans to misunderstand (I think we've all been ignorant or confused at some point!). It's just such an important part of blogging that can get overlooked by newbies and non-bloggers! 

Do you relate to any of these points?

Amy x
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