I’m back with another opinion piece, since the last one about the bloggers vs journalists was so popular. If that is what my readers want, I’ll be more than happy to give it to you. Your wish is my command! Don’t worry, this is not one of those posts where I’m going to whine about how tough the life of a blogger is. I really hate that when I see popular bloggers complain about this and that. Damn it, you can go to the greatest shows, meet the most fabulous designers, get stuff for free, travel the world, … and more importantly; get to do what you love every single day and make money out of it. Sounds more like heaven to me.
So no, I’m not going to complain, I’m more of a positive gal. I love blogging. I’ve been doing it for about a year now and I wouldn’t want to imagine life without it anymore. It has become a part of who I am and I’m going to continue doing it as long as I’m able to.
No, the reason I’m writing this post is I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t understand what blogging really is, or how much time us bloggers spend on it every single day. They only see the glamourous side in which we attend chic parties, drink and eat at heart’s content, receive goodiebags afterwards or goodies in our mailbox. I agree, blogging is one hell of a ride, a really fun ride! But what most people don’t realize is that the glamorous side is only a little part of the story.
Maybe that is partially our own fault, because we don’t share those things. You don’t see us posting pics of ourselves, still awake at 2:32 am (the time I’m writing this post) writing posts for the next day. Because nobody cares about that. But this doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Nor do we mention how much money some invest in it. A domain name, hosting costs, business cards, gasoline, the site design, equipment (camera, laptop) etc.. are all things you have to add to the equation when you’re thinking about starting a blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discourage people to start one. Quite on the contrary, I’m trying to give some advice to prospective bloggers as well as bloggers who just started out. Advice I didn’t get when I first started out. To me, starting a blog is kind of like getting a dog. It takes some preparation. You need to make a list of all the benefits and disadvantages you might experience in the future and then see if you’re still the right person to take care of it. A dog takes a lot of time and effort; you need to feed it, train it, take it for a walk, clean up his mess, etc and invest in it (food, pillow, leash, vet, ..). A blog is exactly like that. You need to update it on a regular basis, try to improve it by asking for feedback from your readers or friends, be on the constant lookout for things you think are interesting to write about and invest money in it as you grow.
Blogs and dogs
My advice here is to treat your blog like a dog. Raise it like it was a puppy. Before you get one, take some time to think of a good and catchy name for it, think about what you want to write about and what audience you want to write for. Also, you can’t have it all at once, so don’t go asking pr companies and brands for free products a month after you started out. Give it some time and let your writing skills unfold and see if blogging really is your thing. As you learn how to manage a blog that is both personal and well-written, you will start to get more readers as well. And that is when you can start contacting pr agencies/brands, if they haven’t contacted you first by that time. The number of readers is what interests them, so when you’ll able to offer them a reasonable amount, they’ll be more than happy to add you to their press lists. For example, I started in May and I did all of the research on brands etc on my own. By the time I got my first invite for an event in October, I had already reached about 5,000 readers a month. After that more press agencies started to contact me and vice versa and here I am today, rushing to one event after another and occasionally even helping some of my blogger friends (who I think have great blogs) get in. Secretly, I’m a blogger smuggler, but don’t tell anyone!
Talents and comments
Want to get noticed? Dare to differentiate, be different than the rest. What makes you, your style or knowledge about the subject so special? Got any talents? Don’t be afraid to use them! For example; good in drawing? Post fashion illustrations! Good in writing? Try to interview relevant people. Good in talking? Create vlogs. Do you know all the best addresses to shop/eat/go out? Share them! Good in cooking? Recipes please! Are you an expert in vintage? Share your secrets on how to spot the perfect vintage garments! As you can see, there are so many possibilities to add your talents to the game. And seriously, what’s wrong about sharing something you’re good at?
Also, I’m pretty everyone has an opinion, so don’t be afraid to share it! This can be in opinion posts like these or in the products you review. Your readers need to feel they can rely on you, so tell the truth if you’re not fond about a particular product (even if you’ve got it for free). And when you’re sharing that opinion of yours on other blogs, don’t hide behind the “anonymous” status. This status is mostly used by haters to leave mean and often ridiculous comments. It’s unfair and disrespectful towards the blogger. (Negative) critique is perfectly fine, as long as it’s polite and that it’s substantiated with good arguments, so that the blogger knows what to do to improve his/her blog. Commenting on other blogs is always a do! That way, you can leave your link for other readers to discover and expand your readership. I don’t visit as much blogs as often anymore because of lack of time, which is really a shame. I should follow my own advice more! :p
Freebies and relationships
Another thing I definitely have to add is: Don’t waste your time on blogging if you’re just in for the goodies. It ruins the industry and what we, bloggers, stand for. In fact, it really pisses me off. We are very sensitive about that and will sniff those blogs out like rats. We’re a very close community that are very open to newcomers who share our passion, but we won’t let anyone mess with our good name. The last thing we want is a situation like the one that’s now going on in the Dutch beauty blogosphere, where some of the biggest Dutch bloggers formed a union of bloggers where you have to go through a selection and pay a fee if you want companies to even just consider contacting you. I think it’s ridiculous, but I do get where they’re coming from. I’ve had the chance to speak to some pr-people from Holland and they did say that the Dutch blogosphere is booming (more like overdose) and that they get tons of emails from (small) blogs asking (or practically begging) for products. As I’ve indicated before, that’s a total no-can-do! It’s better to build a long-term relationship with the brand; discover what they and their brands really stand for, how they manage their business (each agency/brand is different), what you can contribute etc. You always have to look for a win-win situation. That way, you’ll both be happy and you can be sure the collaboration will be continued in the future.
Passion and patience
Blogging is something you have to do out of passion. That can be about practically anything, as long as there’s an audience for it. But I’d say passion is the main key to start blogging, and more importantly, continuing to do so. Most blogs only last a couple of months, because those ‘bloggers’ notice the goodies aren’t going to come their way for nothing, that they lack the essential passion or patience to keep it up and that it’s just hard work. No passion = no fun = quitting; which is actually a shame for the time you’ve already invested in it. (Btw, it’s already 4: 20 am now, just saying..)
Next to doing research, taking pictures and the actual writing, I’d say one of the biggest tasks in blogging is networking. It’s extremely important and therefore a worthy reason to attend events. You can get to know the people behind the agency/brand personally, learn from other journalists and meet fellow bloggers! Getting to meet people with the same passion is one of my favorite parts of blogging. You might’ve just met that person, but because of the common interest you have, you can talk about it for hours. It’s like you’re instantly connecting. I like how the bloggers I know are so open and welcoming, even when I first started out. Those contacts usually started superficially on Twitter or via commenting on blogs, but I’m happy to say that those relationships have evolved to something more personal, to friends even? They’re all just so much fun to hang out with and I’d be more than happy to make the bloggers meet a tradition in the future. And yes, there’s still room for more talented and dedicated bloggers. I would never want to turn out like some of those ‘more experienced’ bloggers who think their blogs are the best and that there’s no room for new talent. Fashion doesn’t work that way either. It’s a continuously evolving process and that is what it makes so interesting. Blogging is no different.
So if you still think blogging is totally your thing after reading this post, I’d say what are you waiting for and get it out there! I’ll be more than happy to meet you at the next event!