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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