Why I Blog and that Dirty ‘Influencer’ Word
I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this for a while now. Why I blog and what it means to me. But before I get to that I think I should start at the beginning. The beginning of my career at least.
My Career Before Blogging
My career began with I was in my early 20s, I was full of boundless ambition and determined to reach the top. I worked in marketing, then digital marketing and loved it. I specialising in retail and the fashion sector. I love to write, always have, some I added on training in copywriting and became experienced in online communication particularly around email campaigns and social media. I have had the pleasure to work with some great brands well known high street brands both agency and brand side. I wanted to reach the top and didn’t think anything would stop me. I worked hard, I played hard and life was a ball.
Then I fell pregnant. I didn’t expect this to stop me or to change me in the way that it did. But as soon as my son was born, something fundamentally changed inside of me. I didn’t want to work full time anymore, I had created this amazing human being and I wanted to spend more time with him than just snatches before and after work and at the weekends. Not that I am criticising anyone that makes that choice, it’s just that choice was not one for me.
Working part time, I soon discovered that the working world of business is fundamentally not set up for working Mums. I was constantly torn between my career and my child, juggling sick days with work commitments, feeling sick at having to excuse myself from over running meetings in order to get back in time for collecting my son from the childminder. Having to still tackle emails and conference calls on my days off while also entertaining a toddler. That’s before I even got started on the work included in running a house. Whenever my husband travelled with work (which was often), it became even more of a fine balance that added in dog walkers and planning everything within an inch of my life. I felt like I was doing nothing right and my child was falling to the bottom of the pile.
When I fell pregnant with my second child it was time for a change and decided to take a short career break. I took a year out, settled into life as a Mum of two while I decided on my next step. I knew I needed to do something as my maternity pay was running out and I needed to make at least that a month to balance the budgets.
The World of Blogging
I had blogged for a few years before children, mainly as a book blogger, dabbling my toe in the waters of personal blogging a little but nothing serious. When my daughter, my second child was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, I began blogging on this blog in earnest. It became a way to maintain my sanity around parenting two children at home and a way for me to cope with a baby who cried a lot and demanded me day and night. I needed something just for me and so I wrote.
A few months in to this, companies began to email me. It wasn’t something I really expected, although having blogged as a book reviewer I did know that companies sent items out to review. So I graciously accepted the items sent to me and took them as an added bonus to my growing hobby.
Within a year of that paid work started to come. Alongside this, I started working as a Cambridge Consultant as a way to make income from home around my children. By September 2016, it became evident that something had to give. The paid blog work had grown to a level I never could have expected and the blog was demanding more and more of my time. In reality, I was managing two from home businesses – my blog and the Cambridge weight loss business and I couldn’t manage both. My blog really was my passion and also where my professional expertise lay and I decided to go for it as my main source of income.
How I Make Money Through my Blog
That was two and a half years ago and I don’t regret my decision. How do I make money through my blog you might wonder, well here are the main ways that work for me:
- Sponsored post where brands ask me to write about a product or service they offer
- Sponsored reviews. The same but for reviews. Not all reviews are paid for, usually it depends on the value of the item.
- Sponsored social media posts
- Sponsored styled instagram images and stories
- Writing blog posts and features for brand’s websites
- I also do social media management for a couple of small businesses on their behalf
The ethics of blogging is something that is important to me. I don’t endorse products that I wouldn’t recommend. You will never see anything related to smoking, payday loans or gambling on my blog. I have been offered good money to write about all of them and I have turned them all down. As well as a rather persistent person who wanted me to promote their essay writing service… as if I was ever going to promote a way that encourages children to cheat at their education.
Even if I am paid to review an item, it will always be honest. With good as well as bad sides. It wouldn’t sit comfortably with me if someone went on to buy something because I recommended it and I hadn’t shared the full picture.
The Rise of the ‘Influencer’
But as my little blogging world has grown, the press has also began to document the rise of the ‘influencer’. I feel like it’s become a dirty word, one people sneer at behind their hands or roll their eyes at. We’ve seen people slated in the press and I have even seen Twitter accounts set up to mock people.
It’s funny but I don’t see myself as an ‘influencer’ in fact I rather hate the word. I see myself as a writer and a blogger. Someone who writes content, that hopefully people enjoy to read. Who shares my life and along with it is fortunate enough to work with great brands.
I do not sit amongst the likes of the Kardashians or even the big bloggers who have risen to fame in the UK. I am what is classed as a ‘micro influencer’ happily tapping away during my baby’s nap time trying to earn an income so I can be there for him too. I don’t earn a lot of money, but what I do earn has meant that I haven’t had to go back to work since having my second child. It’s given me freedom to be there for my children too. To do the school runs, to see the plays and join in the workshops. To help them with their reading, not panic when they’re sick and enjoy the school holidays with them.
The money I earn pays for swimming lessons, baby sensory classes, school shoes and is filtered into the need to replace the awful dining room carpet fund. This is the reality of my blogging life.
The Dark Side of Blogging
What makes me really frustrated is a blogger is that while influencers continue to get bad press, very little is said about the brand’s role in working with them.
I have been very lucky to work with some fab brands, some of them multiple times. Most of them are great, friendly and I do think of it is as a privilege to work with them.
But, blogging does have its dark sides too. Despite updated rulings from the ASA and CAP about how bloggers should disclose posts that are paid for. I still have brands contacting me asking to write about them, but not say I am paid. I worked with a brand who just last week refused to pay me after I had put a disclosure at the top of a post. After a furious email exchange they agreed to pay me a kill fee (a fee to take down the post, but not the full agreed amount), essentially to make me shut up and go away with my ethics. The very same day I was contacted my a large holiday firm asking me to do the same thing, at least I hadn’t completed the work that time.
Late payments are a massive problem, as are 60 days payment terms. Never in the world of normal employment would you have to way 60 days for your pay and yet many brands believe it’s acceptable to pay small companies that late. Often over due too. The longest I have had to wait is 6 months, it’s immensely difficult if you are relying on that money for something. Can you imagine telling your children’s swimming school you would pay them two months after the classes had been taught?
That Awkward Moment When and Why your Support Matters
It’s odd but despite being proud and loving my blog so much, when people ask me what I do a falter, mumble a bit and end up saying something like freelance writer or similar. The dirty word of ‘influencer’ floating there like unwanted bout of flu. I’m not sure what reception I will get.
I also worry that at some point my children may come to resent what I am doing, that I have shared too much of them online. I hope the benefits and opportunities that have come their way which would not have happened if not for the blog, will outweigh the benefits.
Being a blogger, you’re out there on your own doing your own thing. There is always someone doing something better than you, more creative, has more followers or achieved bigger contracts. There are also always people that have opinions or take into onto themselves and be ‘keyboard warriors’ and say unkind things about a person they have never met.
And yet, it is something that has brought my much happiness and much joy and things I will forever be grateful for. It’s not even just the experiences I have been able to give my family, it’s also being invited to be part of government discussions on equality and actually feeling like my writing may be making a difference. It’s given me a love of photography I am not sure I would have discovered without my blog. If you find it odd what I do, feel free to ask away and find out more. I always find it so disingenuous that people will happily buy products and perfumes endorsed or created by their favourite celebrities, and yet baulk and something their friend is doing.
I’m not trying to con you into anything, I am just a Mum trying to make an income around her children and I’m lucky that is combined with something I love doing. I’m not a millionaire, I’m not even ‘insta-famous’, I’m just me. Don’t be fooled by the influencer hype. Every like, every comment, every follow means so much. It won’t even cost you a penny.
As always, thank you for reading and thank you for following.