Friday, 21 July 2017

Isn't It Time Blogging Was Taken Seriously as a Profession? #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Isn't It Time Blogging Was Taken Seriously as a Profession?

So what I've been pondering this week that I thought I'd share with you... As our house insurance runs out next month I had to get some new quotes this week (yep, my life is THAT exciting!), and it struck me that YET AGAIN I couldn't accurately describe my profession for the purposes of the quote.

The options I was given, that could possibly be sort-of-similar to what I do, were writer and journalist. In the industry of communications or media. Hmmm.

None of those really describe what I do in the field that I do it in. Yet there are thousands of bloggers (and when I say bloggers I mean all digital influencers) all over the country having the same problem: The profession of blogging is just not officially recognised, and until it is it probably won't be taken 100% seriously, either.

It doesn't help that the HMRC (the tax office) doesn't see it as proper work, either. Last year a blogger was rejected for tax credit because she couldn't prove how many hours she worked. Apparently it's the same for actors and other creatives - when you don't work a 9-5 it's almost as if you give the impression that you're not reeeeally working, are you? Aren't you just tapping away on a laptop now and then in between watching Jeremy Kyle and stalking ex boyfriends on Facebook whilst wearing a onesie?

UNLIKE FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNERS OR JEWELLERY MAKERS OR INTERIOR DESIGNERS YOU CAN'T DO TOO MANY PAID JOBS, YOU HAVE TO PRODUCE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF UNPAID CONTENT IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN INTEGRITY. IT'S A DELICATE JUGGLING ACT. 

Believe me, if I had the time to do any of those things I'd know I was doing something wrong. Professional blogging takes up an INORDINATE amount of time. Hobby blogging is no less demanding, but when blogging is your only source of income and you take on as many worthy paid jobs as you can whilst still maintaining your integrity, then there's the added pressure of delivering quality content, and on time.

Any freelancer will know this scenario all too well. However, unlike freelance graphic designers or jewellery makers or interior designers you can't do too many paid jobs, you have to produce a certain amount of unpaid content in order to maintain integrity. It's a delicate juggling act.

I currently start my working day at about 8am and often finish around midnight or 1am, breaking only to walk the dog and eat (sometimes I forget lunch and realise that OH MY GOD it's now time for dinner). Not all weeks are this busy, but the last few weeks have definitely been crazy for me.

If I were applying for tax credit and was told no because I couldn't prove my hours, I'd be pretty cheesed off.

What bloggers really get up to

I've added it up and I reckon I work an 80 hour week, give or take.

Some of the things I do that I consider work (I wouldn't do them if I didn't blog, or at least not at times when I didn't feel like it) are as follows:

  • Sit on Instagram for an hour because I haven't touched it in ages and my engagement will go down otherwise
  • Paint my nails and toenails for e.g. jewellery and shoes close ups
  • Put on makeup, do my hair and go out to do a photo shoot
  • Organise outfits, accessories and shoes in advance because we'll be shooting on location and I can't just "grab and go" before we leave
  • Clear my kitchen table to arrange a flatlay on it (and not be able to eat at it in case the pictures aren't right and I have to reshoot)
  • Write down ideas for blog posts whenever the idea comes into my head, often at inopportune moments (like in the middle of the night, while I'm showering or during dinner at my parents' house)

In other words, you just never really switch off when you're a blogger. There are some bloggers who are some of the hardest working people I know.

Yet apparently there are STILL some readers who begrudge the fact that bloggers earn affiliate income (or any income at all). I've heard that on some threads (like the HEINOUS site that is Mumsnet) they warn each other not to click on bloggers' links to retailers and buy because, you know, we don't want bloggers earning commission, do we? The fact that the blogger has spent the best part of several hours researching things for them to buy for what may well be no money at all (affiliate income isn't always guaranteed, and some sales earn you just pennies) doesn't seem to occur to them. It's not even as if the affiliate commission earned affects them in any way, least of all the price they pay.

There are also some who object to sponsored posts and bloggers collaborating with brands. I get that there are some unscrupulous bloggers who take every paid job going, but good bloggers don't do that. You can easily tell when a post is ragingly "sponsored" (often undisclosed) or has been pre-written by a third party - it's easy to deal with those blogs. You simply unfollow.

But bloggers with a high level of integrity (like myself) turn down a huge amount of sponsored opportunities. If I were to take on every paid job that was offered to me, my output would probably be 95% sponsored and I wouldn't need to work anywhere near as hard... Half of it would be pre-written for me. And I'd be earning a TON more than I am right now.

But that's not how I want to run my blog because I've always written what I'd want to read myself. And that's the best rule to live by in blogging.

Attitudes towards professional bloggers

There seems to still be this notion that the only "proper" bloggers are those that do it for free. Well guess what I want to tell those people - I produce a hell of a lot of free content. Only a small percentage of my output is sponsored or earning me affiliate commission.

I've never worked so hard in all my life - never in all my years of doing my A-levels, studying for a degree, working as a teacher or holding down a job as a Sales & Marketing Manager for 11 years did I work THIS hard, or have days as long. It's the deal you make with the devil yourself when you set up a small business.

Blogs are small businesses. No different to plumbers, web designers, consultants, dog walkers or anyone else who is self-employed.

So isn't it time that blogging was taken seriously as a profession? Come on insurance companies, get "digital influencer" as an option on your application forms. Seeing as the term "weblog" was coined in 1997, I think 20 years is long enough to recognise us as professionals, don't you?

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW BLOGGING IS PERCEIVED, AND DO YOU THINK IT'S TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS A PROFESSION? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @NOTLAMB!

P.S. It's my birthday AND six-year blogiversary on Sunday - do stop by for a read of my annual blogiversary post!

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Isn't It Time Blogging Was Taken Seriously as a Profession?


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Catherine


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26 comments

  1. It's so much work that nobody understands!! Ha! Congrats and have a great birthday.
    Jaymie
    www.jaymieashcraft.com

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  2. I agree with you. Blogging takes up so much time. Even when I think right that is it, I spend too much time blogging I am going to step away from it for a while, Then I see something I want to photograph and find myself reaching for the phone and thinking up stories. !! grr.. thanks for hosting.

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  3. And now it's even more work for me! Adapting the links😜😜😜

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  4. It's women like you who will finally get these things changed Catherine!! We need the women with big voices (in a good way) to keep at it. Because it is amazing how much work goes into this blogging!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  5. First off, I just want to say thanks for writing this, Catherine. And thanks for writing all those posts about blogging which have helped me enormously, and improved my blog to no end. Your blog is always professional, and extremely well done... both in its look and in the content. And its the content that sets yours apart in my view. Always immaculate, professional, and well written. Sometimes I wish I were still teaching English... I'd love to show my writing students your blog and say..."There. Be a Catherine." :)

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    Replies
    1. An-nd of course the former English teacher made a typo in her comment! Should read "And it's the content that sets yours apart..." Ha.

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  6. Love reading your blogs, so informative - thanks Catherine. x Jacqui
    mummabstylish

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  7. Blogger/digital influencer definitely should be recognised as a profession. I still work on a freelance basis in my TV job as well as volunteering, but blogging takes up far more of my time and I earn hardly anything from it. My husband hates the amount of time I devote to it but I keep telling him it's a small business that will grow if I put in the time and effort. I've turned down quite a few offers of sponsored work - just this week I was asked to post pre-written content and not disclose it. I sent the link to the ASA guidelines to make sure they were aware of how unscrupulous this is - their response? "Thanks for your time anyway but my client doesn't want it disclosed". Well I'm not going to mislead my readers and risk all my hard work for one sponsored post. The trouble is someone will, but if we all stood our ground it would benefit all bloggers in the long run.

    Emma xxx
    www.style-splash.com

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  8. Great post...I so agree. I spend soooo much time researching, learning and writing and so many people have no idea what it entails. Happy Birthday to you!!!!

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  9. YES! It's been great reading your post this morning. I'm so fed up with people (family mainly!) saying things like, 'Why don't you get a little job, darling?' I work tremendously hard as a blogger and, yes, I'm yet to earn any money from it. However, I am still working. Blogging is a way to be at home with my four dogs. I wish it had more status. Onwards and upwards, I say!

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  10. You are right, it should be recognized as a profession. I think a lot of people simply don't realise how much work actually goes into a well done blog post. And yes, I often paint my nails only for shoots, even tho I do like the toe nails colored because of my karate practice. Still I don't mind a little chip there, but for pics? Too much of a perfectionist I guess,

    Have a great weekend & Happy Birthday!

    Alex - Funky Jungle

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  11. Fabulous post Catherine! You work way too hard! That sounds like such a long day. I don't know how you do it.

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  12. I couldn't agree more, Catherine!
    Suzy xx
    www.suzyturner.com & www.yogadocious.com

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  13. It's takes so much time and effort to blog well ... whew .... and still so many brands offer us little or nothing. I've started saying no more and more and it's empowering!

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  14. Here here woman I couldn't agree more with every point you make! I think things are changing but oh boy is it slow going when you're the one on the inside. I don't hear those negative comments about "real" bloggers doing it for free or just gifts. I was very clear with my intentions when I started so I don't even consider myself in that same category plus I have no time for people putting me down. I simply blank them. It has been just over two years but I have to report that finally, at a party a couple of weeks ago people asked me how work is going. Yes referring to my little business as a blogger & yes taking what I do seriously. Hoorah! There's much more to accomplish yet, as you rightly say Catherine but as I think of those naysayers I say to myself "You just wait buddy, you just wait" xx

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  15. Always hitting the nail on the head.
    Great post
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  16. Crikey, is Mumsnet that mean a bunch? I've no idea given I'm not a mum myself, but they don't sound very supportive.

    It really is a job do do a blog in my opinion, and to do it well (and why wouldn't you do it to the best of your ability?). So I really don't get the gripe that bloggers do a handful of sponsored posts to pay the bills.

    Have a fantastic birthday and I hope you get some good weather to celebrate :) xx.

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  17. Excellent post! Thanks so much for articulating that!

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  18. You are very right that keeping your blog's integrety and with this the future of your blog, you cannot take on any old sponsored jobs offered to you. Applause to you for turning many down. And I agree, as a reader you can smell a dishonest opinion just for the money from miles. And it hurts. You trust the blogger and you feel betrayed when they are bullshxtting you. So again: thank you very much for not being one of them.
    As you know, I only blog as a hobby. Beause frankly, my daytime job is far easier and earns me more money than full time blogging (and earning with it) would do. It is a choice I made. Like you made your choice to go for it. I do not begrudge you anything. As I know how hard you work for it. I haven't got the stomach for that haha. And frankly, I don't think I would succeed either.
    Greetje

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  19. Happy Birthday, hope the weather is better where you are! It's my birthday too, and it's the usual rainfall for me (I actually like summer rain, and the fact that I don't have to water the garden is an added bonus).
    I for one do not think earning a living from blogging and keeping your integrity are mutually exclusive. The bloggers I follow accept work from brands that fit in with their philosophy and style, and I for one consciously click on the link, knowing and positively accepting that it may create a tiny bit of income for the blogger who has given me inspiration. If freelance bloggers can't make a living from what they do, they would not be able to carry on producing content that inspires me, and I would be the poorer for it.
    I cannot understand why people don't want bloggers to earn a living, not unless it's because they are envious of others.
    As far as having a profession that isn't recognised I can sympathise - although I may be able to choose healthcare professional as an occupation, this is not always the case. As a radiographer I do try and educate about my profession. We do get called nurses, and this annoys us, not because we have anything against that profession, but because we are proud of what we do. Even within the hospital setting, other professionals are unaware of how technical and demanding our work is. 'Isn't it boring doing this all day?' is a question most radiographers have heard from non radiographic collegues.

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  20. I really don't understand when people advice others not to click on affiliate links and are proud to find the product another way and not give the blogger the click. If I find something useful on a blog, of course I want the blogger to benefit. And why do they read the blog in the first place? I think there are so many people these days who have a blog and realize how hard it is, but instead of acknowledging that, their frustration turns to envy. And I think all those people with hobby blogs also sometimes make it harder for professional bloggers to be acknowledged. It seems so easy to start a blog at first, and many can start a blog that looks quite professional, but being a digital influencer is completely different.

    Your blog is a joy to read and the hard work you put into it shows.

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    1. Andrea, I totally agree with you. 100 %. Totally. The spite is sometimes hard to live with. What is wrong with some people? The other argument I totally "love": Oh, I am just a hobby blogger and love sharing my lovely posts with you guys, and then ticking one marketing rule after the next on their blog e.g. hashtags, best ager model, whatever.

      Those are the most competitive ones.

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  21. Happy birthday and happy blogiversary beautiful! Blogging absolutely needs to be viewed as a serious profession; because it is. I do it as a "hobby" and in truth it has become a second part-time job!
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.com

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  22. Happy bloganniversary Catherine! You totally deserve it and have worked hard for it, I am sure. Appreciate all your blogging tipps. Having always worked in communications blogging has come organically some how....Thanks for hosting. Sabina

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