The blogging journey has not been an easy one, however, I will be sharing some tips from my own experience for those who want to become a blogger. This article is mainly for those who are interested to start a blog and find out what it is like to run a blog. This article focuses on things to consider internally before starting the blogging journey, a little insight into the social aspects of blogging, and tips on how to deal with people who know the industry and those that don’t.
Become a blogger
Why do you want to be a blogger?
The answer to this question is the foundation of your journey. There are many reasons as to why people decide to start a blog, whether in hopes of becoming rich and famous or to make a difference, or for self-expression, or any other of the countless reasons. This question shouldn’t be taken lightly. Running a blog is highly time-consuming and will require you to learn skills you may not have thought of learning before, as well as facing the public. So, make sure the reason as to why you want to do this is solid and will carry more importance than anything else that may come your way.
Before I began my blog, I was one of the many people who scrolled through my social media platforms wondering what on earth are all these people doing and why on earth do they even get paid. Yes, I am guilty of having a negative perception of something I didn’t understand. So, I totally do understand how people from the other side look at all of this. I always wanted to have a space that was open for all. The only thing that didn’t click in my mind back then was that blogging was just that. And now, here I am, a blogger, writing a blog post about becoming a blogger.
I would not suggest starting blogging if your main objective is to be accepted and liked by others. That is the only target you will never reach in any profession, especially being a blogger. Besides, if everyone had the same taste and opinions and there was a universal formula to win the crowds over, blogging would most certainly not exist. Being a blogger means sharing content that interests you and will be viewed by those looking for that content. The only way blogs can exist is because everyone has their own unique way of looking at life, their own taste, and opinions. Through your blog, you share content and connect with those who have similar interests, enjoy your work, and share your interests. So, in a way, it is a good thing that we don’t all think alike.
It is very important to know exactly why you want to become a blogger because the answer to that question will be the foundation of your journey. Your response will be your goal, it will be the driving force powering you to keep going when things will be far from what you expected, and it will be your compass not to get sidetracked.
In business terms being a blogger means you are self-employed or a freelancer. This work gives you the first and last say, together with decision making. It also carries along with the burden of dealing with problems and being your own critic. It is all and entirely up to you. If things aren’t moving forward, you need to find ways to make things happen. If people aren’t answering you, you need to follow up or change your plans. You also decide on what your blog will focus on and how it will look. You need to make sure to be ready to approach and confront people, as you are the brand, and getting things moving along depends on you.
Looking at the work of bloggers today, one may think it’s not something for everyone. However, I think it all depends on the individual. A blog primarily is a reflection of someone. Some like a fast-speed lifestyle and their blog will reflect that others may prefer something slow-paced and their blog will reflect that too. Everyone is different and for every blog, there is an audience out there.
The focus and intent of your blog
Once you have a concrete reason as to why you want to be a blogger, you need to look at focus areas of the content you want to be working with. For some people, it’s pretty straightforward. For instance, a makeup artist who wants to become a blogger and cover topics only related to makeup and beauty would naturally have a beauty blog. This is important because depending on your focus area, you will then be able to look into groups, people, brands, pages, and communities with which you can present your work and even work with.
You have the right to choose the bottom line of what your blog is about, how open you are, and what it all means. I would not suggest going into blogging if you plan to have a mask on. The public is already overloaded with copies and masks, so being just another person hiding behind a mask, might not get you too far. The public wants to see something different. They want to see you. It is very hard to pinpoint and say that there is a formula to being a blogger, however, there are basic principles, but the actual building blocks are dependent solely on you. It is all about being yourself, because every individual is different, and viewers want to see that variety. The essence of blogging is about reflecting who you are, how you see things, and what your passions are.
A lot of time, effort, and soul goes into creating content, and the scariest and most exciting moment is hitting that publish button. The intent of your blog is also an important factor to consider from the beginning and to also revisit this topic as you begin your journey. The intent may change as you may realize that the initial intent you had in mind either doesn’t interest you anymore or you have discovered a new intent you would like to try out.
One kind of blog that has direct intent is the reviewer type. Bloggers whose main intent is to review products. You can find a variety of blogs as well as vlogs that have bloggers and vloggers who post content of their experience and rating on products. In my opinion, this is one of the most, if not the most useful type of content for brands. These people focus their time and work on giving their opinions towards products, which viewers may not only find informative but also the content can introduce viewers to new brands and products. There will always be the question on how reliable the reviews are, in terms of whether they are saying things because they are being paid, or whether their review is based on their individual experience rather than the product itself, however, followers of reviewers usually pick a blogger or vlogger whose reviews match up to their experience and therefore they trust.
There are also those reviewers that are not vloggers or bloggers. They use their social media platforms to post reviews. These would fall under micro-influencer reviewers and not vloggers or bloggers. They may limit themselves to one or two social media platforms or even have an account with a separate application that is created purely for product reviews, such as Influenster. This application allows users to scan, post photos and review all and any type of product and even services. It also gives brands the opportunity to create campaigns and send products to specific users for review. Once again, it all depends on what you want to focus your time, resources, and content on. Think well about what your passions are and build your blog to reflect those passions.
Working with people within the industry
Collaborations are a fantastic way to create a project which is compiled of ideas and work done by several individuals, coming together and using their skill sets towards 1 goal, the collaborative project.
The terms of collaboration are discussed amongst everyone to make sure everyone gets a fair share of the pie respective to the work that they will be doing. There may be some payment involved or some sort of barter system of payment in product or service but one definite condition of any collaboration is exposure. If 5 people are involved in a collaboration, each one will share that project with their audience, giving accreditation to everyone who was involved.
Collaborations can’t be successful if one member only gets both exposure and payment. The terms between all collaborators must be equal. If only 1 person ends up getting that much more then that person is not a participant, but rather a hired person. If someone is hired to do a certain part, then they would be instructed as to what is needed from their end. Unlike in a collaboration where everyone involved gets an equal say as well as an equal share from the outcome.
Brands and Companies
When it comes to working with brands or companies, each business and even project needs to be tackled individually, however, there are some things to watch out for regardless of the business you are working with. The main one being whether they jump towards your social media numbers, rather than your blog content and readership. I have had my fair share of companies that never went on my website, never read or looked at my content, let alone ask about readership, however proudly ask for social media numbers (in such cases, mentally I already have one foot out the door). This is something to definitely watch out for because if you face this situation, clearly the brand either does not know what a blogger does or even worse, doesn’t have much of a marketing concept for their brand or business. If they don’t know what your work entails and are unfamiliar with your content, then clearly there will be difficulty in them understanding what you actually bring to the table. It is basically a situation as though each of you is speaking in a foreign language and none of you understand one another.
This leads to an even worse issue that it may very well be that they don’t have much of a marketing strategy, to begin with. This, of course, is not an issue for you, however, it is an alarming one for any business. A business that has conducted proper marketing research and has set a strategy for itself, would have set certain key points through which to make the strategy turn into reality. As a blogger, you would act on one of such key points. A business that has done this would have gone through all your virtual footprints, studied your website, most importantly the nature of the topics you cover, the style of writing you use, and even the way visual content is presented. Only after seeing if your work would fit their brand, would they see you as someone that could play a role in making their marketing strategy take shape.
Every project is different, so instead of taking a ‘traditional’ approach of giving my set work framework to the company, I look forward to adjusting my methods of content creation to fit the brand’s branding framework. Therefore, every project is dealt with individually and even my writing style is adjusted according to what would fit best. However, I also keep in mind to remain within my own framework, such as not breaking own fundamental rules I set out for my work; the main one being, choosing which brands primarily, is a good fit for me.
Brands and companies know that customers don’t want an image of perfection to be sold to them. They want real-life experience. Each client wants something or someone they can relate to and this is why the industry for bloggers has been growing every day. Each blogger has a certain niche market, so for brands, it makes sense to invest their resources, not only towards the traditional famous people on billboards approach but also make investments into several bloggers, each having their own market of viewers and readers who follow their work and trust their opinions.
Same as with collaborations, the terms to work with brands and companies have no solid structure. It is fluid and depends on all parties involved. When it comes to competing brands, bloggers can work with competing brands, unless they have some sort of agreement or a long-term plan mapped out with a brand. It all comes down to proper timing and content distribution, not to have 2 competing products following each other.
Some brands tend to give importance to social media platforms, especially Instagram and that is quite a lazy approach. Personally, I begin to question whether a brand is a right fit for me when they know that I’m a blogger and seem to have more interest in social media than my website’s analytics. I understand that judging someone’s reach by simply looking at a number on a social media platform is easy, but there are a lot of holes in that assessment. As we have seen, the platform’s system has a lot of flaws which I’m not sure if brands are aware of or they simply choose that platform out of convenience and trend, even though there are other platforms that are more transparent and reliable. Bloggers should always give a combined audience reach to brands and if need be, highlight your blog audience from the mix. Social media is just an advertising channel to lead people to your blog. For micro-influencers, their Instagram account answers and decides their entire audience, however for bloggers it is just one of many tools. I always give brands my overall following throughout all my social media channels and my blog statistics, as I post content across all the platforms and I don’t think the others should be ignored or disregarded just because one specific platform seems to be trendy today.
As seen previously, the authenticity of Instagram is questionable, so brands should also do a little more leg work and look at a blogger’s total following rather than just Instagram. In countries where this occupation is highly progressed, brands and companies have a thick line that divides micro-influencers and bloggers. A lot of the time, applications are also different as they understand that blogger rates, as well as the time placed into their content creation, are usually three times as much as that of a micro-influencer. The output that brands and companies expect from bloggers is also different. Bloggers are seen somewhere in between freelance writers, influencers, and content creators. Many large brands require a blog post or a vlog for a specific project which only bloggers or vloggers can produce. Even though in some places this industry is relatively new, audiences and brands don’t know the difference between a traditional influencer, micro-influencer, and a blogger, in places where the industry is highly developed, the differentiation of the three is very much recognized and there are broad lines which split them apart.
There are many websites that provide a safe space for bloggers and brands to connect:
- FOHR: A website that has created entire profiles for bloggers. Companies that sign up with them can perform narrow searches for specific bloggers and influencers to fit what they are looking for and connect with them to work on a project.
- The Blogger Programme: A database website where bloggers, influencers, and brands create profiles. Brands then post-campaign opportunities that the signed bloggers and influencers can search for. These campaigns have certain requirements from the brands which only profiles that meet those requirements can apply to be considered for the campaign.
- AspireIQ: Another website like The Blogger Programme, which is a database of bloggers, influencers, and brands. Companies post their campaigns and the system shows you the campaigns which your profile can apply for taking into consideration your location and the campaign requirements. Once you apply for a campaign, the brand will contact you directly on the platform and let you know how to proceed.
Inner world vs outer world
Personal security can be an issue for bloggers. This is especially so if you place personal information including telephone and address for all to find. It is best to do your best in separating your personal life from the blogger you are. Images that can easily identify your personal environment can also become an identifier of your personal space, however, it is up to every individual whether or not to share that much of their lives with the outside world.
As a blogger, apart from personal security, like any business that deals with placing your opinion that can be judged by anyone, stress and anxiety can get to you. Stress and anxiety are overlooked nowadays, however, both are quite serious as they are a build up that once overflows the limit, are very hard to handle. To avoid stress and anxiety, regardless of your profession, it is best to separate your inner world from your outer one and find mechanisms to help you deal with the judgement of those in that outer world. The inner world needs to be kept safeguarded as it is that part of yourself that will help you remain grounded.
Criticism is something you will face from the moment you tell people that you are considering going into blogging. From my experience, most people don’t understand what the work entails, so something which to you may seem like criticism from their end is simply a lack of knowledge of the industry. On the bright side, this is a perfect opportunity for you to explain why this interests you and what the work involves. Throughout your journey, you will find criticism, mainly from those who have no idea what it is that you do. If you want to take the time to explain the work to them, go ahead. However, I would suggest picking and choose whom to share the details with, as some people cast judgement but want to know, while others criticize just for the sake of speaking and have no intention to listen or hear what you have to say.
A lot of time goes into content creation and brands and companies know what it is they are paying for. So just because someone doesn’t understand what you do and isn’t interested in understanding, that person’s opinion does not automatically become the price tag of your work. You are your own boss and the price of your work is what you set it to be.
Another thing that some people do is repost a negative comment or message on their stories. Whenever I come across these stories I can’t help but think how the person is literally showing their entire following that public opinion means more to them than their own self-appreciation. Why else would someone repost a negative comment if not to shame the person who made the negative comment and getting people rallying up on their side and continuing spreading hate. That’s not supporting. Whenever someone sends a negative remark, it is up to each of us to make a call on how we will react. We need to take responsibility for the action we decide to take. And most importantly, it is best to question why such a remark would bother us in the first place. Understanding what bothers us about this remark will help not only cope with such criticism and hate but also give us a reality check as to what actually matters to us individually as well as professionally.
Negative comments will always be passed, especially when you end up reaching a larger audience. Before reacting, take a moment to understand your own reaction and keep in mind that whatever you decide to do, will be spread amongst other people. We are not responsible for other people’s actions, just our own reaction, however being a blogger, our reaction is a message which will spread to groups of people. Take a minute to think of the message you spread about your work and yourself.
Should you still decide to go ahead and build a blog, embarking on the blogging journey, I can certainly say it is unpredictable. Some bloggers create content like clockwork, others are filled with creative projects while others stick to a system and make projects fit into those systems perfectly. There is no right way of running your blog. You are in total control of what gets worked on and how it all looks. Regardless of what type of blogger you become, always keep in mind that your blog is an extension of you and it will change and develop with you.