So I’ve been at this whole blogging thing over a year now, I know, I can’t believe it either. So after this amount of time I have a pretty solid idea of what it takes to keep my blog running smoothly and I have learned how to organise myself to make sure my content is the best it can be. I get asked quite a lot of questions, by various different people about the actual logistics of what it’s like to run a blog. There are so many bloggers and content creators out there now, which is amazing but I feel like often people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes and how much effort it takes to keep a blog or Youtube channel etc going. Today I thought I’d talk you through a few of the ins and outs of blogging, maybe after reading you might even realise you can manage it to!
First there’s the actual content creating, whether that be a blog post or a video, it depends on what your creative outlet is. For me it’s blog posts, I attempt to post up to 3 times a week on wanderingmeg.com, however as I have all my final year university deadlines at the minute I’m cutting myself a bit of slack. So firstly you have to come up with an idea, this entails hours of brainstorming, reading other blog posts but trying desperately not to copy them, and of course pestering your friends and family asking what content they like to read/watch. So you’ve come up with the idea, then comes the writing, if I’m really on a roll it can take me around an hour to write a post, this includes proof reading and adding in links to products/ events so that readers can easily access anything I talk about.
The other component to creating the posts is images, I personally am not a fan of a post without images so I try my best to include a few in each of my posts. This for me is the tough bit, I usually write first and photograph later unless I’m writing about a specific event or place which I have already been to. The issue with living in the UK, especially in the winter months is lighting. Even with a ring light it’s an absolute nightmare to get good quality images after about 1pm, everything has a shadow, and you can forget going outside and getting a nice outfit photo because it’s probably raining. Another issue surrounding photos is when it involves roping in another person. Unfortunately I am not in a position to hire a photographer to follow me round documenting my every move, so instead I have to enlist the help of my boyfriend, housemates and Mum. I’ve lost count of the amount of times Josh has been made to take a photo of me standing in front of a nice wall or by the beach on holiday. Or when Amy has dedicatedly stood over me or crouched on the floor to get that perfect shot in my dingy uni bedroom. When you’ve got the photo’s you then have to edit them to ensure that they are bright enough- don’t worry I don’t do any photoshopping, I just try and brighten up a few shadows here and there! However there does feel like there is a pressure to produce a nice, bright and aesthetically pleasing image every time!
See below: Before and After
So the writing and the photos have been put together and the blog post is live, then comes the promotion. To ensure that your content actually gets seen you have to promote it on social media. This involves unashamedly plugging your work on facebook, instagram stories, snapchat and wordpress. My facebook friends must be sick to death of me posting and telling them to read my work, and there are only so many instagram stories telling people to check out your bio that you can post before you start looking like a bit of a dickhead. But you do it anyway because blogging is a labour of love and I write my blog for people to read it, it’s that simple.
Talking of social media, there’s the issue of trying to grow your following. It sounds shallow but a more engaged social media following drives traffic to your blog and also encourages brands to want to work with you, thus boosting your profile. There’s instagram analysts telling you how many people have followed and unfollowed you in a week, and there’s specific times which appear to be the best times to post, which turn out to be a load of rubbish when you actually try them. There’s also the expectation to post regularly, I know I should post everyday to increase engagement with my account, but quite frankly sometimes I have nothing to post, the light is too poor to stage a flat-lay and I’m not a fan of posting out of context pretty pictures. Luckily as I’m on holiday I can stock up on a few images to use as “throw backs” if my instagram feed starts to dry up a little.
The other nightmare battle is the blogger inbox. I set up another email address solely for my blog, as you would if it was any other kind of job. It looks more professional and it’s easy to find things if it’s separate from my personal email. Some days it’s as dry as a bone, not one email, other’s there’s an exciting email with an invite to a very cool event which I feel very lucky to get to attend. However the majority of the time it’s spam, if I had a pound for every time I’d had an email offering to direct more robot followers to my account, or telling me my content doesn’t rank highly, I would not need a job. There are also plenty of brands who send out generic emails offering to work with you if you promote their products, which are totally irrelevant to my blog. An example includes a company offering me a 10% discount if I promoted their baby bottles- I don’t have a baby!!! As flattering as the offer is, it isn’t relevant to my site or the majority of my readers so therefore it would be wrong for me to promote it.
That’s the other thing, if you’re in it for the long game you need to know your worth and your audience. One day I hope to take my blog freelance and therefore charge brands for my content but you know, that’s the dream and I’m a long way off that at the moment. However it’s hard not to get a little bit downhearted when a brand emails a very ill-planned email offering you a 10% discount if you buy their £90 product and promote it for them FOR FREE and that’s it. I’m not saying I want sending free things, that’s absolutely not what this is about, and I think that’s a common misconception about bloggers at the moment. However unfortunately some people seem to think it’s okay to take advantage of bloggers as a means of free promo. Instead I look to work with brands who’s products or services I am genuinely interested in and who I feel I can build a good relationship with and who are keen to work with content creators. For example a good affiliate program which offers a good discount for both you AND your readers in return for promotion in the form of a blog post or Instagram coverage, but also payment through affiliate links is of mutual benefit to the blogger and the brand. If blogging is to work as a business, there has to be a means of making money without making your content inauthentic and uninspiring. I can honestly say I only respond with interest to around 1 in 10 offers that come sliding into my inbox. The rest simply don’t fit my “brand” if you like, and I would never want to promote anything I would not happily buy myself at full price. There’s obviously no need to be rude, being polite is key but I feel like this is the side to blogging that people just don’t see unless they write their own blog.
On the flip side, blogging can be great and offer so many opportunities. I have met so many lovely people as a result of this blog, at events which I would otherwise never have attended. I’ve been invited to some lovely events put on by some very accommodating and generous venues and PR co-ordinators. I have had the chance to go to the theatre, taste menus and view new shops, all of which offer me a fantastic source of content to write about. Genuinely enjoyable and exciting events are an absolute joy to write about, when I know a brand is interested in reaching the right audience by selecting local bloggers for example, I know I have no concerns sharing it with my readers, especially if it’s something I’m passionate about. Of course I would never just attend a random event which I have no right or reason to. For instance I would never dream of attending a Mummy/ Parenting blogger event as I don’t have kids and therefore that content is not right for my audience. Do you see what I mean? You have to be reasonable and selective to ensure your readers remain engaged and trust what you are saying on your blog, in order to ensure that they return to read more content.
So there you have it, just a little bit of an insight into how a blog runs behind the scenes, this is by no means a rant or a moan, I just thought people might potentially be interested in hearing about it! Despite all these various factors, I enjoy blogging immensely, I am very proud of myself for starting it from scratch and sticking with it, but it doesn’t really feel like a chore at all because I’m so passionate about it. So a big thank you to each and every one of you that reads wanderingmeg.com it means a lot!