Last night I was catching up with my boyfriend on the phone. It was the general chat of what we’d been doing at work, and I reeled off a list of “well first I did all of my emails then I shot some photos for Instagram then I edited some blog photos and then I did some writing and then I chased some invoices and then I updated my finances and filed my receipts…” People seem to think that blogging is all glamorous, with lunches and brunches, cocktails and canapés, and free handbags thrown in for good measure. And in fairness, it certainly can be. But there’s so much hard work that goes on behind the scenes that we rarely get credit for – and much of it is stuff we’ve spent hours teaching ourselves through trawling the internet, playing games of trial and error, or talking to our blogging friends about it all. Of course, at the end of the day when all everyone sees is a perfectly shot Instagram snap, what else would you think? So I’m here, for a little bit of a laugh, to do a run through of all of the jobs that’s involved with being a blogger.
And before I offend anyone by coming across as though bloggers do all of the following roles to the calibre of a full-time basis, I just want to clarify that’s in no means what I’m doing! What we do is just a small percentage of that role, that when balled together with all of the other slivers of jobs, makes up what it is to be a (semi-professional) blogger these days. The phrase Jack of all trades comes to mind…
I’ll start with the number one role of blogging: writing. I mean, it’s debatable if this is number one considering so many people go on blogs just for the imagery these days, but that’s a whole different post. But creating ideas, concepts, and getting it written down is fundamental part of blogging – without it, well, it’s just Instagram. And you have to stay relevant, make it interesting and entertaining, and create your own voice. Writers block can be a bitch. I’ve studied journalism at both BA and MA level so I find I’ll always have something to say, and I wrote a post on being a better writer here if you’re after upping your content game.
I rarely hit publish on a post without going away from it, then coming back to reread and make final changes – even if it’s just going for a quick cup of tea. Playing the role of the editor means you come back with a fresh, more objective mind to rearrange pieces of work or images to create a better narrative or weed out any typos (which still, in fairness is inevitable half of the time). Neatly factor in creating a rough editorial calendar and you’re basically the Anna Wintour of your own online life.
Granted, many bloggers use professionals or their Instagram boyfriends/ husbands to do their blog snaps (erm, hello have you seen this amazing page that shows men doing just this for their girlfriends?) However, some aren’t that lucky to have a loved one on hand whenever they do something cute to recreate on cam. Sometimes you have to DIY to get the shot – and that means self timer, tripod, and the commitment to get up early and find a quiet street. Charlotte from Lurch Hound Loves did a little post about it that’s well worth a read. And if you want to up your photography game, I’ll be posting about how to teach your mum/dad/brother/boyfriend to take your blog photos for you in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that!
Like above, it requires precision with the self timer. Whether you’re shooting fashion products, beauty, or flat lays, still life and product photography requires a certain skill and eye (one, admittedly, I haven’t quite got nailed just yet).
I use this term very very lightly, in the sense that we are definitely not models. Call a blogger a model and they’re most likely to get defensive (unless they are actually models too) and that’s simply because of the assumption that comes with blogging is that we only blog photos of ourselves because we’ve failed at becoming actual bonafide models. Which isn’t the case. But, essentially, in our own digital worlds that people come and read and view, we place ourselves at the centre of the photos and become the model.
You know in ANTM when they make the models do photoshoots in the freezing cold to push them to their limits and see who’s got what it takes to be on top? Well, let me tell you that shooting Christmas party wear – aka, flimsy dresses and not coats and scarves, outside, in December, probably comes a close second.
Because sometimes your hair falls in your face in an incredible shot and you just need to get rid of it through photoshop. Or sometimes you have a giant spot on your chin that you feel isn’t really a reflection of who you are as a person rn. Or there’s a bright blue dustbin in the background that needs greyscaling so it’s not so offensive and distracting. So sometimes, it’s gotta be retouched. Not to mention, photoshop can really bring out the best in your imagery with a few smart edits. But I’ve written separately at why I draw the photoshop line at digitally making myself look slimmer in photos.
We are social media marketing WIZARDS (on a small, personal scale). We know our important hashtags, we know how to make a campaign buzz. Is there any surprise that so many blogging babes I know also work roles in social media marketing? Hell no. You know exactly when the best time to post across all of your channels for optimised engagement and you know that the algorithm favours photos taken on and iPhone – say what?
This is when you sell yourself to brands. You spin doctor yourself. It’s basically like writing your CV on steroids and actually makes me think of the first episode of The Apprentice when all of the contestants come out with their sound-bite manifestos that make the whole country cringe and reach for their phones to tweet about it.
Negotiating deals becomes something you learn in blogging quickly. At the end of the day, you’re looking to be paid the highest price for your work, whilst the company your dealing with is looking to pay the least so that they can fit more influencers into whatever budget has been decided their end. It can take a lot to not back down on your prices, but I’ve always found that it’s worth it. If you’re not charging brands yet, read my post on when to know when to start charging. And if you’re still unsure on how to ask brands to pay you, I’ve written about that too!
Contracts contracts contracts. I actually love a contract, and a brief, when working with brands. It means that both parties are safe and we know our legal obligations – less chances of chasing payments for years or coming to blows on deliverables. The more contracts you get, the quicker you learn the role you’re playing in the industry.
Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing payments, even if it leads nowhere? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself here. But sometimes you take on the role of credit controller, tracking down payments with companies who are late on your invoice note. It’s a real pain, but you may have to resort back to your Legal Adviser knowledge in crafting a strongly-worded email to get them to pay. Difficulty lies when you have an awesome relationship with the people in PR but you’re hassling them constantly to get paid. You don’t want to get nasty because it can jeopardise your chance of working with them again, but at the same time you don’t want to be taken for a mug.
Pro tip for bloggers: I’ve been told by other freelancers that you’re legally obligated to apply an 8.5% statutory late fee onto payments made after the agreed terms of your invoice, so make sure that’s included in your payment terms so that you can include that when chasing it up.
Some bloggers have accountants, some don’t. But keeping track of finances in spreadsheets, as well as your outgoings, becomes a long and arduous but sometimes strangely fulfilling task. When your blog is your sole source of income, it’s treated the same as any business and certain things can be expensed and offset against tax, so you’ll find yourself keeping your receipts. Apart from the weekly updates of my Google spreadsheets with the invoices I’ve received (or mostly, not received yet), I have a day at the end of each month where I go through all of my receipts and file them properly so that when the Tax Man calls next year, I’m not left in a panic.
Sorry that was super boring but hey, that’s accountancy on a small scale for ya.
A lot of the links to clothing I post on here are affiliate links, which in short to those not in the know, means that I make a small percentage of commission if you click through and buy something from that website. Kristabel explains it really well in her blog post on the truth about affiliates links. We get a nice sheet on our profile page to see what links people have clicked on and bought things through which is great because it can show how popular items you post are. Sure, I don’t use these trade analytics to predict what will make a popular sell to you guys in the future and therefore dictate what I buy because Fashion Slave is about personal style, but it definitely provides some nifty information on buying habits.
So there you have it! If any of you bloggers can think of anything else then do post below! And this is before even starting to go onto all the little jobs behind doing a YouTube channel!
Speaking of which, here’s a shameless plug for my latest haul video. Have a watch and make sure you are subscribed to my channel!