Common Misconceptions about Blogging

10 Jul 2017

1,924 days, that's how long I have been writing Tattooed Tealady, a blog I started out on April 3rd 2012, nothing serious, just somewhere for me to share my love for beauty products and share a few rambles. Who knew that over 5 years later, I would still be here, writing more than just beauty reviews, candidly sharing my life with the world to read. In that time I have seen the good, the bad and the downright wonderful that comes with blogging, and I've also realised that the majority of people still don't really understand it.

A post about Common Misconceptions about Blogging

When I opened up my blog, I never expected to keep it going for so long. I've always been pretty awful with 'habits' and keeping at things, finding I get bored of my latest interest within a few weeks or months, but this blog, which started out as a hobby and a way to waste my time when living in a quiet picturesque village with, quite frankly, nothing else to do, has been a habit I have kept. For over 5 years I have kept writing new content and sharing my views, and life, with the online world - even when much of that world was adamantly against me, and I've been lucky enough to turn that hobby into a job, something I never expected when I first signed up to Blogger.

Over the years, blogging has found itself forced into the spotlight and attacked from all angles. Print publications often write features on blogging and even target specific bloggers, often in an extremely negative way, with bloggers being viewed in an unfavourable way, but are we really all set on getting something for free? Do we really put out a fake online persona, exaggerate our lives and give the impression that our lives are Pinterest perfect? I certainly don't; neither do 99.9% of bloggers I have come across. So why are there so many misconceptions about blogging?

I can totally understand if blogging is a new concept to you and a world you have yet to dip your toes into, that blogging can look easy. All you have to do is open up a blog and start writing, right? Wrong. A post doesn't just magic itself within minutes, content takes time to produce and although simple written-features can be quicker to create than more complex posts, if you take into account photography, editing, drafts, checking over your posts, ensuring SEO (search engine optimisation) is in place, publishing, promoting and then engaging with your readers who enjoy those features, it can take more than few hours to get a basic feature out there. The 'behind the scenes' work takes far longer than you'd expect and it's something every blogger I know spends a lot of time and dedication doing, often giving up free time and opportunities to do other things, to keep their blog updated regularly with fresh new content.

"I don't think non-bloggers realise how much behind the scenes strategising goes on... It is a proper job, and I wish my friends would see my 'blogging' time as the same as they see their 'work' time." - Holly, Little Pickle's Mom.

" All we do is write a few lines and take a picture - we have to spend time on our writing and our photography can take hours. I can lose days to blogging sometimes!" - Tilly, She & Life.

Personally, I find writing content itself quite quick - but it's getting the time, and the motivation, to take photos I struggle with. I'm a 'work at home' mama, who works full time whilst having my 17-month-old toddler at home with me, not forgetting all the usual stuff that comes along with running a house and keeping everything going. Sometimes, I am simply too tired to set up my photography lighting and spend hours taking photos and I have to talk myself into it, but I do it, because blogging gives me back just as much as I put in, and that's something I have struggled to find with any other 'hobby' I've had throughout my life. It's the taking photos, editing them, scheduling your feature to go live, scheduling social promotion, running several social media accounts all whilst ensuring you engage with your audience, that's what takes time, and that's what very few people even consider, especially if they don't blog themselves.

Then there's this idea that bloggers are only in it for the freebies, that it's as simple as opening up a blog and brands will magically send you hundreds of thousands of PR samples all for free! It sounds appealing, right? Yet as we learned above, nothing is ever that easy, and as well as all the behind-the-scenes work that comes with blogging, you have to work yourself into a position where working with PR's is a feasible and realistic option. If you opened up a blog today and instantly emailed PR's requesting (or for a lot of people, demanding) X, Y and Z for free, your email will probably end up deleted and marked as spam. There's so much work to be put into your content and website before you should even be considering brand collaborations, and that's something a lot of people don't take into account. You have to build up an audience, show that audience is engaged, track stats - everything from page views to unique visits and traffic sources, demographics and prove you can provide a ROI (return on investment) -, all whilst still doing that long list of to-do's that comes along with every single feature you write.

"It's an easy way to make quick cash with the benefits of getting free stuff and all you have to do is put a picture on Facebook for it!" - Jessica, Beauties and the Bibs.

"I think people confuse simple blogging, with established professional blogging. Anyone can start an online diary, it takes time, skill and hark work for it to gain readers and then be popular with advertisers. There are a lot of extras no one knows about, like design, code, photography, skills etc." - Naomi, Tattooed Mummy's Randoms.

"That often, blogging is just writing a blog - the photography, promotion and social media aspects are often forgotten about." - Kate, Counting to Ten.

I've often had conversations, both with friends and people online, who believe blogging is an easy way to get freebies, but that's simply not the case. Brands need to know that their sample, which they, funnily enough, don't have an unlimited supply of, will be used to promote their brand and product and make more people aware of them, let alone increase sales. The same with earning money from blogging, do you really believe a brand is going to invest hard cash if they didn't see the collaboration being mutually beneficial? Blogs are used as a way of advertising, the same as social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are being utilised, but that doesn't mean that there are endless cash pots for brands to pay bloggers and often, you're going up against your friends in the blogging world for the same opportunities. Not forgetting you often won't be paid the same as another blogger; payments from brands for collaborations are based on your own stats and engagement, opposed to one set fee for all and often, you have to spend more time chasing up late payments, too.

Then there's the cost you personally have to put behind your blog. Custom URL's, storage space, those who use other blogging platforms have to pay for hosting, the products, meals out and adventures you go on that are paid for solely by yourself (and let's not forget, many, many hundreds of thousands of bloggers do not feature PR samples or paid content, so they literally pay for every aspect of the content they produce), then there's buying your theme/template, building your brand, buying equipment like cameras, lighting, backdrops and props. It costs money to run a blog and that money can quickly build up.

"We make a fortune - it's so easy to see glamarous pictures, high-value products and the bits we choose to share online. What you don't see is the constant chasing for fees, the very low pay to time ratio and the fact that a lot of what we post is PR samples, often products we can't afford ourselves but are passionate about and want to share with our readers" - Kirsty, Life with Boys.

"You get free stuff to write about? That's so easy! I'm going to take up blogging." - Nicole, The Littlest Darlings. 

"We all blog for 'freebies' and get lots of them for doing next to nothing!" - Deborah, Country Heart and Home.

There are bloggers and YouTubers who have become world-famous from sharing their lives online and their lives sure do look lovely, but not everyone wants to be famous. I can't imagine a day where I will ever want to stop blogging, but my passion in life still remains to be Psychology and when my daughter, and any future children, are all in school - it is Psychology I will return to, alongside writing Tattooed Tealady. Yes, it's absolutely wonderful that I have managed to turn a hobby into a job, even though being self-employed and doing my own accounts can be both scary and extremely confusing at times, but I don't want a celebrity lifestyle (nor believe I would ever even achieve one) or to be a 'top blogger'; I just want to share the things I love, honestly and openly. With that comes along a respect for my readers, which span all over the world, and without a shadow of a doubt, the incredible brands and lovely PR's I have the absolute pleasure of working with - but sometimes, we don't get the same respect back.

I have shared personal content before, really in-depth posts about my life, my mental health, my views on subjects many people choose not to put on their platforms, and sometimes, they can be received really badly - thankfully, the positivity that comes out of these posts always outweigh the bad, but you'll always find someone ready to get a dig in if they have a difference of opinion or think you don't deserve your space online. I have had countless people tell me I write personal content 'for the views' or that they don't understand why brands work with me, but it doesn't stop me sharing my life and it doesn't erase all the hard work I put into this blog, which appeals to brands of all niches. There's this belief, in any instance of online life whether you write a blog or use social media, that once you put something out there, you can't complain if you get abuse. Sounds a bit like excusing nasty behaviour to me, don't you think? I've often had to push through the negativity to keep myself writing, but I do it because I refuse to let other people's issues affect my life, which I rather quite like, thanks very much.

"That you have no feelings. When you write a post, people can often presume you're fair game to rip to shreds if they disagree and/or make horrible remarks about you/your family. I've read some awful things that bloggers have had to endure, just for writing a blog." - Beth, Twinderelmo.

"It's easy. It's a scam to get free stuff. You will get famous quickly. You're self-obsessed and opinionated." -  Terri, The Strawberry Fountain

I don't think print publications will ever stop viewing bloggers in a negative way, after all, many print publications shut down every year and it's not hard to see that some of that loss of readership is down to blogs, who provide free, instant content - all without cutting down trees, too! I don't doubt there will always be someone ready and waiting to spread negativity, although I'll always wonder why that energy isn't put towards making their life more positive, and for those who don't understand blogging, blogs will probably continue to be seen as an easy way to get free products and get paid for nothing.

What I can guarantee? There will always be bloggers, sharing honest reviews, working really bloody hard, putting a hell of a lot of dedication, time and passion into their work. There will always be blogs there, to provide readers with free content, often content which speaks to them more than any other form of media, and there will always be bloggers who literally change the world with their content, from changing perspectives to spreading awareness.

I'm proud to be a blogger, I'm proud of the space I have created online and I am proud of the person this blog has shaped me into.