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Blogging: the dream life?

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.55.44Negin Mirsalehi, 2.7 million followers on Instagram. A lot of her trips and outfits are sponsored by brands.  

Being a fulltime blogger seems like the dream job. Following the success of their favourite online idols, more teenage girls are beginning a blog in the hope of earning a fulltime income from it and living the Instagram life. A survey amongst bloggers by the Dutch PR/marketing company Cherry Picker found that more than half of the 206 respondents want to live from their blogs. When you read the blogs of those who made it in the blogging sphere, this doesn’t sound surprising.

Women in their twenties with their own four-bedroom house, wearing designer bags and going on shopping sprees every week. Not that they need to go shopping, because they receive sponsored stuff every week. Their Instagram feeds are filled with lunch dates, selfies with famous people, tropical islands and entire make-up collections, sent to them by brands.

All the free stuff, an above average living standard and working whenever and wherever you want, in trade for spending a few hours a week writing articles. What many people don’t seem to realize is that blogging is also writing emails, moderating comments, taking and editing pictures, networking, building relationships with brands, administration and so much more. And I’ve realized that bloggers are becoming fed up with all the people who do not take their work seriously.

Bloggers and brands
You may ask yourself why all these brands are so eager to work with bloggers. Bloggers are in a unique position: they fulfil journalistic tasks on one hand, but are also becoming more like celebrities. They are attracting for advertisers and PPR because they have a clear target audience and are able to build relationships with them. They may feel more like a “friend” to their audience, as bloggers show more personal things and emotions. Bloggers are also replacing the role of traditional celebrities: a survey by DEFY Media found that young adults are more likely to buy a product promoted by a Youtuber compared to something promoted on TV. And admit it: you trust your friends more than a journalist you’ve never heard of before.

No wonder that brands are dying to work with bloggers. However, this does not mean that every brand takes bloggers seriously. In the various Facebook groups for bloggers I’m part of, I regularly encounter issues with companies who don’t really get it.

Big companies they claim they don’t have a budget for advertorials, asking if bloggers can promote their product for free. Brands who invite 50 bloggers for a competition, and the writer who writes the best blogs (= free exposure) about that company wins a giftcard. And the classical “you don’t have to mention that it is sponsored”, even though Dutch law obligates you to do so. Natasha from the travel blog Watzijzegt.com, who regularly works with brands and travel agencies, listed a number of things bloggers never want to hear again. In this post, she also mentioned a number of weird requests. This awakened a lot of recognition but also frustration from their colleagues.

The worst thing about this is that many beginning bloggers see this as a chance. They want to become just like their idols and make money from their blog, and fast. This is why PR companies can continue with these practices. But this is not the only difficulty for bloggers.

 

Blogging is dead
These days, bloggers are no longer just bloggers. Now that video and bite sized social media updates are slowly taking over the traditional written blog, a great amount of time needs to be invested in social media and video. At the Social Media Week this year, Jolique Möller (25), owner of the start-ups Ilovefashionbloggers and Influentials claimed that blogging was dead. This doesn’t mean that the careers of bloggers are over, instead, they are now online influencers, who tweet, Instagram, vlog and snapchat all day long.

To stay relevant and get noticed, simply running a blog is not enough. Followers are hungry for sneak peeks into the lives of their favourite bloggers. They want to follow people who are interesting to them, and if you don’t use social media often enough, you’re not very relevant. And this means that advertisers are not coming to you, because social media reach is becoming increasingly important.

Always having to be on
Social media doesn’t only take time: being in the picture constantly also means that you always have to be “on”. Everything needs to be filmed or captured, also the dates with your boyfriend.

This means that you always have to look good and always have to be nice, because being in the spotlight also means that some people feel they automatically have the right to criticize everything bloggers do.

In October this year, the Australian 18-year old internet famous Essena O’neill announced that she was quitting social media because she couldn’t handle the fakeness of it any longer. She made a living by posting pictures with sponsored clothes that she didn’t even like that much, and spent hours applying make-up and finding the right angle for her selfie. She was constantly worrying about her weight and her looks. This makes blogging sound very superficial, but that is not the point. Even though the problem lies with what she did with social media and not Instagram itself, it isn’t surprising that being in the picture constantly made her very insecure.

Working hard
In an Interview with AD, Jolique mentioned that blogging is very hard work. There is only a small amount of bloggers who made it, and they have to constantly improve and adapt to stay relevant. She claims that it takes “you need to be willing to invest a lot, financially as well as mentally.” And yes, with all the side commitments to blogging, actually writing articles is only a small part of the job.

However, this doesn’t mean that their social environment understand that bloggers are working hard. In her article, Natasha also included a number of comments that capture the negative reactions of the people around her. People ask if she is going on a trip again. And well, she receives free stuff and free trips, so maybe they should start a blog too.

Conclusion
Even though blogging has its downsides, most bloggers and influences claim that it is their dream job and that they wouldn’t want it any other way. Every career has its downsides, but the freedom and fun of being a blogger outweighs a lot of the negative aspects. And even though blogging seems superficial at the surface, maybe you should think twice before you say that bloggers live the lazy dream life.

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