Wanna Be A Blogger?
Why wouldn’t you? I can tell you now it’s one of the best things I have ever done and I highly recommend it but you will have to ask yourself if you really have got what it takes as it’s not easy…
So you want to be a blogger but don’t know where or how to start? Well, I might just be able to give you a few tips as I’ve been writing my successful professional blog for 8 years and with the offshoot of my business Rocknroller Baby Ltd taking off only because I began writing, I can also give you a bit of a view from both sides of the media fence – an insider’s picture from two roles: As an Influencer I edit my own personal family and lifestyle blog as well as populating and growing my social following on platforms like Instagram but I also work as a social media manager, influencer outreach negotiator and campaign organiser with a bit of public relations as another string on my ever growing media bow. Perhaps the benefit of my wisdom can be more beneficial in light of the fact I wear multiple hats under one umbrella so if you’re looking to really make something with an on line presence please do read on.
Now… Where to begin?
It can be baffling – other people are doing it, the world and his wife are trying, but where did they start and how?!
The start up of a blog can be very simple depending on your goals. If you just want to pick up a digital pen and put it to the screen in order to release your creative energy then why not do just that without much thought?! You’ve absolutely nothing to lose in that circumstance but if you have bigger designs for your blog and really want to take it places, to start earning money from it in the long run and bag yourself some freebies (I’ll come onto freebies) in the short, then think carefully about how you present yourself from the off. First impressions count for a lot on line just as they do in real life and if you wanted to make people notice you at a first meeting then a brush of the hair, slick of make up and some thought out fashion choices would set you in a far better position than turning up in your jim jams.
You of course can take up a WordPress account free of charge but having your own URL sets you in a different league from the start and it isn’t tricky once you look into things. I would absolutely recommend finding a good host who can set your platform up for you with graphics that you choose and an address which suits you – buying your domain name (and all derivatives: dot com, dot co.uk etc) is the starting point and do this with a rolling contract. At this point I would also look into securing social media platforms in the same name as your website. Rocknrollerbaby.co.uk is my URL and I am @Rocknrollerbaby on Instagram for example. Often having one person design your site, another implementing the coding and a separate host is the way we influencers work in order to get our sites looking exactly as we want them to. One stop shops are great if you don’t have ambitious design but if you’re thinking about the long game then this immediate forethought and planning is essential. Though it might all sound fairly complicated it’s not particularly and I say that coming from a position of knowing (still to this day) absolutely nothing technical about running and maintaining my blog. I pay around £200 a year for my hosting and the care of my site and many moons ago when I needed graphics I paid a freelance designer around £50. If you are more techy minded then absolutely go for it alone as you’ll save yourself a packet but I like to know I’ve paid for a professional and I’ve never had any issues – if I have had a glitch it’s rectified by someone who knows what they’re doing immediately which is invaluable when your living depends on the site being in action.
Send me a DM on Insta or through the contact information on my blog if you need any recommendations of who and how – I’m always happy to help an aspiring newbie blogger.
What do I want from my blog and how do I get it?!
You can take your blog anywhere you want it to go if you have the skills. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but if you know that you’re a good writer and you have the determination to succeed then believe it and make it happen!
While I think there are probably still some people launching blogs who are simply in it for the creativity I think it would be fair to say that at this point in the influencing game everyone is aware of what can be achieved and frankly who wouldn’t want a slice of the action when you can see all the freebies (from nappies and buggies down to holidays) that are in the offing? Not to mention payment…
Bonafide hard cash is always going to be an incentive for anything in life and I’d be lying if I said that I blog now for any other reason. There are plus points to my job that I do get to write what I want when I want (like this post) and get to release my creative energy but primarily I am in it for the business. I am my own boss but in no different ways to that if I ran a different type of business so of course money is my objective. I have forged this career for myself and worked hard at it so that I could achieve a lifestyle that worked for my family – it did not happen overnight however and took graft and effort to get to the point where my business is a registered Limited company and I am working with global brands on a daily basis.
I have also reached a point where I have a team who work with me on elements of my contracts – I now don’t have time to reply to every single email myself for example and I definitely don’t have the skills to file my own tax returns for another!
I’ve earned a fair decent salary from my blog and subsequently when I’ve been employed to write for other people as a content creator and consultant or organsing media outreach but every element of my business, no matter what hat I’m wearing, has come as a direct result of writing this here blog which I have poured my heart and soul into for the best part of a decade.
So, I am proof that there is business to be had in this genre but… This is not a job you can simply walk into and have all the good stuff handed to you on a plate. One thing to remember in blogging (as well as life) is that there is no such thing a free lunch. While ‘freebies’ might sound free they of course come with a different sort of price tag. And why wouldn’t they?!
Be prepared to work hard for everything in life if you want it to be meaningful and successful. Blogging included.
Freebies – really?!
No. Never really.
If I am providing public relations for a client and send you as an influencer a product then I will expect a return for my outlay. I want decent content in the bag from you and you will have to work. End of. It’s not free, it’s quid pro quo.
I want well written content and decent imagery. If you provide me with a picture of a product in its packaging that you haven’t used then I will know. All PR’s will. The first thing that springs to my mind when a blogger does this is that she or he is going to sell the product and hasn’t used it. That is not the sort of review I am after and actually, neither is anyone who reads your write up. If you’re not writing comprehensively about a product then people won’t come back to you either as a reader OR a PR – neither of which is going to be good for your business.
You can get your freebie but it will only be once!
Essentially, don’t treat ‘freebies’ as freebies. You are providing your client with something valuable in return for them providing you with something that you want, be that product, cash or both. Remember this and be professional or you will blacken your name and people talk. Candidly. A LOT!
What about payment?!
Will people pay me to blog? How? Why? When?!
Of course there are ways to get paid as a blogger. How? Well… I’m asked this a lot by people not in the business so I explain that there are a few different avenues to look at when it comes to using your influence to make money. Affiliate links – this is not a route I have ever gone down myself but if you collaborate with a brand then often negotiated can be a link referral scheme so if you link to them through your site, every time it is clicked and someone buys using your link, you can earn a percentage of the sale. This is not a method I am interested in particularly myself but I know bloggers and influencers who use it and find that it works well for them.
The way that I make money directly through my blog and social platforms is that I charge for writing articles and providing content. If I am invited to an event I charge an attendance fee which may or may not include follow on work with a write up. I charge for writing reviews, advertorials and articles and I charge for simply inserting links into posts I write on subjects of my own choosing. I publish both content that I create myself on behalf of a client and also clients often send me work they have written and I publish that on my blog too.
Why do they want me? My site has a good Domain Authority letting them know a good readership will be had. They can also see that I write a lot of different content which is often unpaid and simply to bring content to my readers. This is important to clients as no one reads a blog that’s wall to wall adverts – think about it, that’s just boring! Adverts and promotions are great IF they are segued into quality content but no one will even get that far if they aren’t writing real life issues with no agenda for their staple product!
The same principle should be applied to social media.
Typical fees that I charge are around £250 for attendance fees or blog or Instagram posts and £50 per Instagram story, tweet or Facebook post. It’s hard to pinpoint an actual figure for each as the fees I charge are fluid depending on what a client asks for and each quote I make is bespoke.
A this point it helps that I have someone who helps manage my time and assists with negotiating a fee on my behalf. In the beginning this is a dedication I had to commit myself to alone and it’s tiring. Writing a successful professional blog is a full time job and if you are starting from scratch you need to give it all your time.
Now I may be trying to teach you to run before you can walk but expecting payment as a novice blogger is unrealistic so I want to show you how much you will have to put in before you will be able to afford to pay your agent and accountant to take a load off. I wasn’t paid a bean for the first two years of working. I now turnover around 20000 a year – it’s not amazing but it’s growing steadily and I consider myself successful which is all that counts!
Running my own business doing something I love is the dream as far as I’m concerned! Put the graft in, prove your worth and then you can expect to see monetary gain from influencing.
Running before you can walk?!
Having realistic expectations is key – if you believe that you are writing something interesting then probably others will too. If you know that what you’ve just churned out is pure tripe then don’t put your name to it just because you want to get to the end game. Don’t run, be the tortoise, learn your craft and get there with integrity!
The downfall of a newbie blogger is seeing the attraction of a carrot dangling. It LOOKS so easy but it isn’t!
Earning your stripes to show potential clients a decently sized portfolio of steadily growing work is why they want to work with you. Your content is key. Create it. You want to be a blogger so blog! Blog about what you love, what you know, what you think people will be interested in and back it up with lots of juicy social media content.
Can’t I JUST do socials?!
It works for the Kardashians right?!
To sit back and upload a bit of pap is the easy route but nothing worth having comes easy. It would be just lovely to kick off an Instagram platform and have everyone jump on it (I’d say those cases can be real but are few and far between) and Instagram is great, it absolutely can be a stand alone career, but… For the exception. Not the rule!
If you want to earn money through Instagram I would recommend starting that blog we’ve been talking about so that Insta is a side dish you might take an option on turning into a main course another day. For now use your blog to show yourself off to your full potential. Remember as a PR I want link generation and a smallish Instagram account won’t drive traffic to where I want my product or experience seen. Having a decent back link on a building website with a good Domain Authority will!
Your full potential!
There’s no point in working for nothing. It may not be money in the beginning but it sure as hell has to be for something!
Writing stuff down and sending it out into the ether is great but if no one reads it then no one will know who you are. Invest time (and money) in learning how site engine optimisation works, in how key words can get you noticed and share your work everywhere you can. If it’s appropriate content tag the life out of it with who it concerns; the newspapers or absolutely anyone who may give you a boost – knock on doors, they won’t open if you don’t! Send links to Facebook profiles, tag your key people on Twitter and Instagram and shout as loud as you can about yourself because what have you got to lose? This is a business for confidence and the beauty is that can begin to grow from behind a computer screen. Chat to everyone and get noticed!
No one ever noticed the wallflower – only in movies does the girl carrying a watermelon get the hottie at the end of it…
Being in the right place at the right time is always a bonus and if you chat to everyone and are genuinely interested in investing time and effort then you will find yourself at the party everyone wants to be at. It’s a skill to be able to write well but engaging face to face is just as important and actually I think is something which gets entirely overlooked by lots of budding influencers. Be bright, be bold, be friendly, make friends – some of the people I now count as best pals are PR people and other bloggers I’ve worked with. Some are now my partners in both work crime and party!
Sharing is caring and if you’re friends with other influencers you can help each other. FACT. There’s a bit of a misconception that you will need to hold all your cards to your chest when blogging and yes, this can be prudent at times for certain, some people need to be kept closer as an enemy which is just another reason why you need to chat to everyone – I’ve been burned in the past and I’m sure that I will be again but it doesn’t happen often these days. Make informed decisions about the people you work with because weeding out is as important as when you find kindred spirits for a shared knowledge wealth that can be of great benefit!
Also be prepared to share what you know – it’s a two way street but be careful… Don’t give too much of yourself away until you’re really sure about someone!
Sharing the love to make contacts!
Having a full diary comes in time and it comes from making links, introductions, word of mouth! You have to be prepared to give and receive!
Knowing people in the industry already will help – it may be a new fangled business this influencing malarkey but just as it would with any old fashioned old boy’s network it really is about who you know. And if you don’t have the connections? You need to make them – not just sat behind the screen but face to face this time. Follow the right people, talk to those in the know, ingratiate yourself amongst the cliques you want to be in. This may sound rather calculated and for a big part it is but also we surround ourselves naturally with people we like and it’s no different on line.
If you want to be part of a gang – you go get yourself in it and pitch for allegiance just as you would work!
How do I pitch for work?!
Isn’t that rude?! No! Absolutely not. Knocking on doors is a valid business option and I’d be nowhere if I hadn’t done so!
As a blogger I will say be polite. Don’t underestimate (or over) your worth and be brave. You don’t NEED to know a PR contact to say you’d like to work with XYZ. Google the company you’re wanting to work with and proactively find out their press contact details. Phone them, email them, message them on Twitter.
As a PR I will say don’t over egg yourself or lie. If you say you’ve got a DA of 25 make sure that you damn well have. If you say that you have 12000 readers a month then check your Google Analytics are up to date. We can check all of that AND more at the touch of a button!
Another massively off putting element to working with bloggers is when a direct question is asked and ignored. If I say I want your URL, Twitter follower number, domain authority and Tots score then it means I quickly want to know a tiny bit of data. I don’t want to, and won’t, read your ‘media pack’. A media pack is lovely but it’s a bit like being a pregnant woman giving birth and handing the midwife a 5 page birthing plan. Unless you’re at the Portland and important enough for her to read it then that doc is getting put on the side never to be looked at again. The birth plan needed to be one line of what’s really important just like the PR’s 4 stats needed answering honestly.
I understand if you don’t have good looking stats you will be worried this will put off your potential client but I assure you, the dismissal of what’s been asked of you in favour of some fluff and bumf you think makes you look ‘better’ is no mask. If anything it says ‘liar who’s no good’ and will immediately go into the reject pile.
WHEN I have got to know that I want you, because I have discovered that you are honest, I like your style and I’m impressed with the quality of your work, I might ask for a media pack but until that point just hold right onto it – it makes you look a bit 2012!
You do you!
Imitation is the best form of flattery – for the person who’s being imitated. If you’re the copy cat you just look the fool!
The main key is generating the content that people want to read and though you don’t have to be the best writer or photographer, brushing up on these skills won’t do you any harm. Neither will it owning your own identity. Trying to be someone you’re not, someone else you admire or even trying to rein yourself in isn’t what draws any crowds. Readers (and professionals within the industry) will see through a veil like that immediately so just be yourself.
Sing everything from your own hymn sheet and be proud of being who you are. A few years ago the advice would have been to remain vanilla voiced but it’s not so now and while I absolutely would stay away from libellous content or anything non politically correct (I mean, don’t be a douche) if you wanna say fuck, bugger, bollocks then DO IT!
Be honest! Be real!
We all like someone we can relate to – real people are that!
Choose your genre – ALL areas from parenting to gaming are saturating the internet but there is room for you if you can bring something different to the table and that difference is just you being you. because there’s only one you!
Not everyone is going to have a successful, professional, working blog. But not everyone is going to be a Doctor or a teacher, or a vicar – if YOU want to blog then YOU can do it…
At the end of the day, if you’re prepared to put the work in and graft your way to the top then there’s no reason why you can’t expect a return in the distance for your emotional, financial and time consuming output.
My blog has brought me so many things for myself and for my family that I’d never have imagined but which has enriched us all – I’ve spoken as a panelist for a global company where staff were flown in from around the globe to hear what I have to say, I’ve run nation wide campaigns for household names, I’ve modelled (as have my children) for brands I love, been sent on holidays many times to places like Greece, France, Wales and the isle of Wight, I’ve been a brand ambassador for companies I feel passionately about, received items I may never have found the cash to purchase, driven cars on loan, attended private gigs, seen opening nights of west end shows, eaten in restaurants as a guest and many, many more exciting things.
I’m not at the very top of my game just yet but I intend to be and all it takes is ambition, integrity, talent and honesty – there are wonderful perks to being a successful blogger aside from the money and it’s there for the taking if you’ve got it and are prepared to flaunt it.
Just don’t expect it all happen all at once.