These days, everyone’s a blogger.
It’s a title that you can bestow upon yourself and with just a few clicks, bing bang boom – you’ve got yourself a WordPress account. Or maybe a Squarespace or a Wix site. Yep, signing up for a blog is super easy. But growing a blog and creating a loyal following online? That’s a different story.
Sure, from the outside it’s all glamour and brunch pics and latte photos and sunglass-wearing style shots against a white brick wall (we’re all guilty of this). But once you have your blog set up, there’s a helluva lot of stuff you’ve gotta know to make it thrive, stuff that no one really tells you about being a blogger. And as the role of the ‘influencer’ becomes more relevant to brands and a small portion of bloggers have shown that it can actually be quite a lucrative career, more and more people are looking at blogging as a way to make a quick buck.
Welp…. good luck with that.
Because the reality is, being a blogger is hard work. You don’t have a team of editors behind you or a web developer at your disposal 24/7. You don’t have the funds of a publishing house backing you or an accounts manager to handle all of your finances along the way. When you launch your blog, it’s just you, your laptop and your ideas and you’re up against a million other people looking to do the same thing.
So whether you’re just starting out or are well into your first year on a domain, here are 10 things that no one tells you about being a blogger.
1 It’s friggin’ hard.
I said it before and I’ll say it again – building a successful blog is damn hard work. When I developed This Renegade Love, I worked with a designer for three months to narrow down the branding, aesthetic and functionalities for the site. I took the time to create an identity for my blog, researching and soul-searching for what I wanted to put out into the world. It was hard work before I launched and it’s been harder work since. It’s no longer okay to just put something up online and hope that someone sees it – you need to be analytical and savvy when it comes to your content, dreaming up fresh ideas every week.
2 It takes up a lot of time.
There’s no such thing as a weekend or night off when you’re a blogger. If you’re planning to post two or three times a week, think of everything that goes into that – researching, styling, shooting and editing photos, then writing a draft post and editing that, plus sharing it across all of your social channels. Of course there’s also all of the brand and networking events you’ll get invited to and the meetings you’ll arrange with other bloggers. Before you know it, your calendar is fully booked and you have litte time for anything else. And that’s not even talking about students or bloggers with full-time jobs…
3 People will expect you to work for free.
Once you start getting a bit of a following, brands will begin to reach out to you to collaborate and partner with them. And that’s great! It’s awesome to build relationships and work on some cool campaigns that are a natural fit for your content. But you’ll also run into the issue of brands and PR agencies expecting you to work for free. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to weave a brand that I love into content on my site if it’s an organic fit. But when that brand is getting specific with the ask, telling you the necessary hashtags to use and how to style the product in the photo, then saying that they’ll give you a $200 gift card as reimbursement? Bish, please. A gift card does not pay the bills nor does it value your 10 years experience as a professional writer, the time that went into putting the post together or the loyal following that you’ve acquired. Know your value and stick to your guns.
4 Your work will get ripped off… at least once.
Whether you see an exact replica of your latest Instagram on someone else’s feed or an original blog idea ‘reimagined’ by someone who follows you online, some part of your creative output will get ripped off. And it sucks. And your blood will boil. And you’ll want to track that person down and ask how they sleep at night. But you just have to remind yourself of that age-old adage claiming that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and just focus on creating the best content you can because the internet is a breeding ground for unoriginality. That being said, if it’s straight up plagiarism, take them to the cleaners.
5 An authentic voice is your greatest asset.
Because there are like, a million other bloggers out there who are posting the same damn pair of shoes as you are. We’re quick to be inspired by what others are doing and often fall in the habit of replicating, but if you look at the bloggers who have made a name for themselves, they’ve got an original story to tell, whether it’s through their style, writing or photography. You’ll soon grow to realize that having an authentic voice and engaging story is what will make your blog stand out from the rest.
6 But aesthetics are important, too.
We’re taught to never judge a book by its cover, but girl, your blog is getting all kinds of judgment every damn day. With the internet offering up millions of pages of information at our fingertips, you have about five seconds to engage with someone once they click through to your site. And if it’s looking like a hot mess? Well, expect your bounce rate to go through the roof. Amazing content will get lost in poor design, so put the investment into a great designer for your site or enroll in photography classes to up your Instagram game.
7 Growth does not come easy.
I’ve had countless emails from readers asking for advice on branding and blogging, many of which come from people who are looking to do it full-time and are asking for feedback.When I click-through to their site, they have a total of five posts of random content spanning a four month period. If you’re getting into blogging for fame and money, know this – success does not happen overnight. I still don’t do this full-time – I freelance write and contract creative services outside of the This Renegade Love brand. And most of the other bloggers I know have side gigs too. Because not only does it take a hell of a lot of work to create a suite of content and define your brand, but building a loyal audience does not come easy. Be patient, hustle hard and good things will come to you over time.
8 Social media will become your best friend and worst enemy.
It’s the easiest way to organically grow your brand without much investment, but also the easiest way to stress yourself out. Sometimes it helps to take a break from social media every few months as a means to reconnect and recharge, finding your way back to your creative soul without the influence of others.
9 You’ll lose yourself along the way.
It happens to the best of us, at least once. It’s easy to get caught up in blogging, immersed in the industry and obsessed with growing your brand. You’ll start to multitask everything, supplementing your real life with constant activity online. You might even accept a brand sponsorship that isn’t at all your niche but you’re desperate to build that relationship. When you feel like you’re slipping away from your ‘why’ – the reason you started your blog in the first place – take a step back and reassess. It helps to keep a document handy from the get-go that outlines your brand identity and purpose, so that when you find yourself in a downward spiral comparing your blog to every single person on the ‘gram, you’ll be able to bring yourself back to centre.
10 You’ll grow in ways you never thought possible.
All the hard work, the nights spent hunched over a computer writing, the months I struggled with creative block and the frustration of proving my value to brands is totally worth it. I wouldn’t trade my little corner of the internet for anything. Because the amount I’ve learned in this past year of building This Renegade Love is invaluable. I’ve developed a voice that is unique to me, built some amazing relationships with brands, fellow bloggers and members of the community, and taught myself how to run a creative business all on my own. Who I am today is not who I was a year ago. And I’ve gotta say…. I’m pretty proud of that.
This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing (:
Oh my goodness, YES YES YES to all of these. Absolutely loved this post – so right on! Thanks for sharing.
Preach! This is all too true. Recently I’ve gotten a lot of questions from friends who just started going “sooooooo how do you get views and followers quickly?”
Lauren, I love you. That is all. Okay, that isn’t all of it. Oh my, so well said!!! I freaking loved this post. Love. Love. Love.
Some day, we will meet IRL, and I will smooch you.
Lynne from Design The Life You Want To Live
I’m constantly surprised by the number of ppl still looking to blog full time because it’s so saturated already. I mean, many of the top tier so-called influencers don’t even have blogs; their IG is their blog. (And while bloggers might tag a post ad/sponsored, most IGers do not. Also, some people’s definition of organic sponsorship is a bit broad (and tacky imo). i.e. blogger moves apartments and thinks, ‘I could really use a new mattress. I wonder if x mattress brand would give me one in exchange for a post?’ It makes it hard to take them at their word sometimes. Every post is just ad after ad and starts to turn me off. So when I see you post your Adidas shoes on your IG for example, I wonder if you genuinely like them and bought them or genuinely like them but they were comped and you didn’t disclose that. Don’t get me started on the bought likes, the robot followers, etc.
Valid points, Donna. I’m very much a believer that any sponsored content should be a natural fit for your brand and shouldn’t make your readers question the authenticity of your review/opinion. For example, if I’m a travel blogger and always use Air BnB, it makes sense that Air BnB might want to partner with me on content and that is a great fit. But yes, there are sooooo many bloggers who partner with anyone who throws money at them, and that makes me sad. I think the weirdest thing is when brands offer a fee, but require that the review be ‘positive’ – like that shit is flat-out audacious. That’s an immediate ‘hell no’ from me.
As for the Adidas comment, are you speaking generally or actually asking about my Insta post from the other day? That was definitely not sponsored and they are definitely the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn (and plan to purchase them in every colourway because they are a treat for my wide feet!). I can’t even harp on about them design-wise because I find them average in aesthetic, but I wear them everywhere because they’re so damn comfy (haha clearly in my 30’s now!).
The latest count shows there’s over 1 billion websites already so what’s one more blogger? It’s easy to plug and play, copy the most popular bloggers but it is not that easy as Lauren pointed out. In a way, I’m learning that successful bloggers have a tipping point where they go from average to a hit.
And that takes time. Even Google didn’t become a hit overnight.
Great post, Lauren.
I HAVE THAT LAMP! (but really, who doesn’t).
Great post girl, really hit the nail on the head. It’s amazing how in 2-3 years, when I first started, the entire blogging community exploded. Makes it all the more challenging, yet rewarding for every success you earn.
Can I give this a huge high five? Your authentic voice is all you’ve got!
This was a super interesting read as I am just starting to really work on my blog!
Thanks for sharing!
As a new blogger I really appreciate your perspective. Your comment about the ‘authentic voice’ was very resonating, it is what has kept me coming back to certain blogs and leaving behind others. Your craft will shine as genuine reflection of your true self.
I love your point about the ‘authentic voice’. That is what has kept me coming back to blogs.