After writing about the things people say about working from home a couple of weeks ago, I realised there are a few more myths in need of debunking. In keeping with the “write what you know” theme, I’m starting off with the subject I know best: blogging. Then I’ll either move onto some other myths, or I’ll completely forget I started this and never mention it again: only time will tell!
A couple of quick disclaimers, before we get started, because you all know how much I enjoy a good disclaimer:
a) None of these points are things people have said about me personally – they’re just my responses to things I’ve heard/read people say about bloggers in general. (Not saying no one has ever thought them about me, obviously, but if they have, they’ve been kind enough not to say them to my face!)
b) As with my ‘working from home’ post, there will definitely be some bloggers these are true of, so as you read this post, please take it as read that I’m speaking purely for myself (as always)!
Here are some things people say about bloggers – and why I think they’re wrong…
Bloggers are vain and self-absorbed
It’s not hard to see where the idea that bloggers (especially fashion bloggers) are vain comes from: why else would someone post endless selfies, or photos of their outfits, if they didn’t believe they were God’s gift to the internet, after all?
I have no way of knowing this for sure, obviously, but I actually suspect it’s more likely to be insecurity that drives the desire to document things online, as opposed to the belief that everything you post is worthy of being documented. I realise this will probably seem disingenuous coming from someone who illustrated this post with a photo of herself (It’s supposed to be ironic, honest!), but I have never been particularly happy with my personal appearance: I don’t mention it often, and try not to dwell on my faults too much, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of them – very much the opposite, in fact.
So, why bother posting photos at all then, I hear you ask, disbelievingly? Well, in my case, I started taking outfit photos because I became obsessed with personal style blogs. I’ve always loved clothes, but as I’ve mentioned before, there aren’t many people I know in “real life” who share that love: sure, I have some friends who like fashion, or shopping, but not many who would really “get” my excitement at finding the perfect dress, or finally tracking down those fabulous shoes I’ve been looking for.
Online, though, I discovered a community of women who did get it, and who were using their blogs to share their latest purchases, and discuss their outfits. I got totally sucked into that community, and wanted to be part of it, so I started to do what they did – which was to take photos of their outfits. These women weren’t doing it because they thought they were the bees knees, or anything like that – they just liked talking about clothes, sharing their latest finds, discussing their daily outfits (which it’s obviously easier to show than to simply describe…)…and so do I.
I don’t take daily photos (perish the thought!), but I do enjoy doing them, even although I’d be the first to admit that my style is nothing out of the ordinary. I actually feel like I blog in spite of my appearance rather than because of it, and I suspect that more bloggers are in that position than you might think. One of the best things about fashion blogging (or personal style blogging, rather), is that it allows people to express themselves through their outfits, and share their love of clothes, even if they don’t look like models. Before blogging came along, I think there was an unspoken idea that you had to look a certain way in order to be “into” fashion: I’m not claiming that blogging has exploded that myth entirely, but I do think it has, to some extent, made it “OK” to enjoy fashion, and to be part of that community, without feeling that you have to be physically perfect in every way. And that’s got to be a good thing.
Bloggers will do anything for a freebie
I’m not going to lie to you: getting free things is definitely one of the perks of blogging – especially when the freebies in question are things you love. The idea that bloggers will do anything for a free lipstick, however, really gets me down, because I honestly don’t know any bloggers who are like this.
Sure, the first time a freebie lands on your desk, it’s super exciting – I remember when brands started sending me things (mostly beauty products at that point): I just couldn’t believe my luck. I’d be all, “OMG, Terry, lookit! A FREE shampoo! That I didn’t have to pay for! Can you EVEN?”
The thing is, though, you very quickly start to realise that none of these items are actually “free” in the true sense of that word. The brands who send them expect you to write about them: and that takes time and effort on your part. You only have to write a couple of blog posts in return for a bottle of shampoo, or a lipstick, or whatever, to realise that you’re getting the rough end of the deal, and are doing a lot of work in return for something you could easily buy for yourself. Before too long, you come to the realisation that you’d actually rather buy those things yourself than have to spend hours testing them, photographing them, and writing about them – and that’s when you stop accepting every freebie that comes your way.
In my case, I do still accept some gifted items (the top I’m wearing in the photo, for instance, was a gift from Boden), but I’m much more picky about it than I used to be, and I turn down far, far more than I accept, because I’ve realised that, in many cases, it’s just not worth it.
Bloggers only work for an hour or so each day
On the subject of the time and effort that goes into creating blog posts, there’s a myth that blogging is quick and easy, and that most blog posts take just a few minutes to pull together, after which the blogger is free to do whatever they want – probably to take selfies and post them on Instagram, or something equally vapid.
Some blog posts are fairly quick to write, true. Most, however, take far more than just a few minutes: in fact, some posts can take hours worth of work, and even if they did just take an hour, that wouldn’t mean you’re done working for the day. If blogging is your job, there’s always something else you need to do: I talked about one of those things in last week’s blog tips post, but there’s also a lot of admin to deal with, plus all of the background maintenance that comes with running a website/a business.
Quite apart from all of that, I don’t know any full-time bloggers who publish their posts the day they write them, and live a lifestyle where they get up in the morning, snap a quick photo of their outfit, then string together a few sentences and call it a day. I’m sure they exist, but most of us write the majority of our content in advance, and will have multiple different posts we’re working on at any given time – so it’s not a case of quickly typing up a few sentences and then kicking back for the rest of the day.
Bloggers don’t have any friends, and are awkward in real life
OK, I have to put my hands up here and admit that the second part of this one is true: I DO have friends, but I AM pretty awkward, and can be very shy, which I suspect is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much – I can be much more “myself” online than I can be in “real” life.
That may be the case for me, however, but it’s definitely not true of ALL bloggers. There was a time, back when blogging was still a fairly new thing, when it was considered a bit nerdy (And I don’t mean that in hipster sense of, “OMG, I’m SUCH a nerd!”, either…), and when it may well have appealed more to those who are a little on the awkward side. Times have changed, however, and as blogging has become more mainstream, it’s continued to attract all kinds of people.
There are plenty of people nowadays who get into blogging as a career move, or to start a business, and you only have to look at all of the blogger events and meetups that are arranged to see that many bloggers are extremely sociable, and not in the least bit awkward. And, of course, some of us are, and that’s OK too: just like any other group of people who share a common interest, bloggers are not all the same.
Bloggers don’t actually make any money: it’s not a real job, after all
There are a LOT of misconceptions out there about how much money bloggers make, ranging from wild claims of people earning over $1 million a year, to the more common, “She can’t POSSIBLY be earning much money from THAT, can she?” The latter belief is the one I see most often: a lot of people look at blogs and see a bunch of (mostly) women taking photos of their lipstick or their breakfast, and assume they can only be making “pocket money” and that someone with a “real job” (Because blogging is not considered to be a “real” job…) is paying the bills.
It’s certainly not EASY to make money from blogging, I’ll give you that. I’d also say that the vast majority of blogs probably aren’t making a huge amount of money. I’m always confused when I hear people say the “big” bloggers can’t possibly be making money, though, because you only have to look at the numbers to know that doesn’t make sense. I’ve said this before, but if you have something that’s popular enough – whether it be a website, a shop, a print publication or whatever – it will be possible to make money from it.
This blog, for instance, is tiny compared to many, but it has roughly the same amount of readers as the newspaper I used to write for: why is it easy for people to believe I made money as a journalist, but not that I would make money as a blogger, when the same amount of people read my work? Why is one of those occupations considered to be a “real” job, while the other isn’t? Both involve writing content for people to read: the main difference (apart from the obvious fact that my blog is published online, and the newspaper was printed) is that I own the blog, and get to keep all of the profits from it, whereas I was paid a set salary by the newspaper. (Oh, and as a blogger I don’t just write the content: I do everything else, too…) Both blog and newspaper are businesses, though: blogging may not be a conventional kind of business, but that doesn’t mean it’s not “real”.
I don’t make a fortune from my blog, of course, but some of the most popular bloggers get millions of visitors per month: their readership is significantly higher than many print publications. You can trust me when I tell you that yes, they will be making a decent amount of money from that: maybe not millions, but nothing to sneer at, either.