I’ve wanted to share some thoughts with you for a while now, about the true cost of blogging and now seems as good a time as any, given the amount of buzz and publicity, not all of it positive, around blogging and bloggers at the moment.
Freebies aren’t really free you know!
Belinda’s post sparked this train of thought for me a while ago, with her post, Freebies aren’t really free you know? And then of course, there was the whole fake followers on Instagram debacle, which kinda shocked me, I had no idea this was even really a thing, I am just that naive. And then One Stiletto At A Time wrote this post about why beauty bloggers don’t share negative reviews.
Blogging looks glamorous and easy…
But it’s not. I know from the outside looking in, readers see the blog drops and the awesome sponsored experiences and dollars signs flash in their eyes, but remember, everything you see online, from photos to what is shared is filtered. Behind every carefully written blog post, every carefully edited video and every filtered Instagram image, was a lot of time, effort, thought and work. Yes work.
Blogging is work.
Yes, it’s fun and I love it. It’s my creative outlet and I enjoy almost every moment I get to spend creating, whether that be through words, photo’s or videos but the truth is, it takes time and sacrifice and I’m sure almost all successful bloggers will agree. I work full time. Blogging is not my job, it’s my dream that I could earn enough from this blog to do it full time, but that is not reality, not now and in all likelihood, not ever. So in order to keep consistently creating quality content, I have to plan carefully. I carry a dated notebook with me, everywhere I go, when ideas come, I jot them down on the dated pages. I plan a content calendar, it’s not just a matter of chucking some words on a page. It takes thought and planning.
And then there’s the time!
Because I work full time, I have to plan when I can write and create. Weekends are planned around the following weeks content calendar. If I have paid for content scheduled, then sorry friends and family, that has to take precedence over a braai or a fun outing. Video creation and editing takes HOURS. HOURS! Let that sink it, it’s not 5 minutes and hey presto there’s a video. It takes planning and thought and preparation and lighting and props. So my weekends are planned around my content calendar, every spare minute over the weekend is spent working on my blog. You can ask PR’s I’ve worked with how many times they’ve received first draft emails from me at 22h00 on a Saturday night. And if I can’t get everything done over the weekend then guess what time I blog during the week? At 5am! My husband thinks I’m crazy but I’ve, on occasion, gotten up at 4am to finish a piece of content that was on a deadline. So there’s a cost involved there, my time is valuable, I have to manage it carefully and it does sometimes mean foregoing fun in order to meet deadlines. Again, I love it, but there is a sacrifice involved. I’ve recently taken that to a new level too. Because the longer I do this, the more I appreciate and realize my own value. I recently resigned from a campaign, that was worth a fair amount of moola, when I realized that the brand didn’t really know what it was that they had wanted and had required that I re-edit both video and written content numerous times and still there was no clear direction from them as to what it was they wanted. When I sat down and worked it out, the amount of time I’d put into creating that content versus what I was being paid, equated to R60 an hour. I’m sorry, my time is worth more than that. I am not for sale, my voice is not for sale, and so after a lot of thought and introspection I quit the campaign. Career limiting in terms of working with that brand again? Yes. But in terms of how I value myself, it was so liberating. In terms of how I value my authenticity, it meant everything to me to stand up for myself.
And then there’s the monetary cost of blogging.
There are so many costs involved, so let’s start with the obvious ones, like buying your own domain, which is renewed annually and your web hosting and data costs for photo and video uploads. Then there are all the paid for themes for your website, which are purchased in dollars. Design fees if you are going to work with a professional designer, that does not come cheap and needs to get a face lift from time to time. If you’re hoping to be taken seriously by PR agencies and brands, a wordpress.com with a free theme is just not going to cut it.
Then there are the other less obvious costs, a decent camera for starters. You can’t always take good quality photos with a cell phone, and for the best videos you need a good camera. And lighting. A good video always needs good lighting. I’ve only recently got into video creation so I haven’t done the total outlay for that yet, but the lighting I am using cost in excess of R2500 and there are still more elements I’d like to ad. Then I need tripods for my camera and lights. I also invested in a product light tent, so that I could create semi professional looking product photography, my light tent cost almost R1000! And then there are all the props. I have a cupboard in my bedroom dedicated to photography and videography props.
And then there are the hidden costs, like petrol to an event. Often times, attending an event actually lands up costing me money.
There are so many other costs involved.
I haven’t even touched on the emotional and physical costs of blogging. Opening yourself up to veritable strangers isn’t always easy. Some of what I share is hard and emotional, but I do it because I love it and because I want to touch and inspire others. You open yourself up to, at times, really unfair criticism. Bloggers are tough you guys, any blogger who tells you they don’t look around at other bloggers and at times feel like they may be lacking or why you worked with a brand previously and suddenly got dropped like a hot potato for another blogger. It’s not easy, I have to keep reminding myself not to compare myself to others, to remain authentically me, because this blogging thing can wreak havoc on your self esteem.
So the next time you think about maybe starting a blog…
Because yo want to hop onto the “freebies gravy train” think about the investment, think about the cost involved and remember it’s not all glamorous, it’s not all pretty and fun and while the rewards are many, there is sacrifice too.
Blogging will never make me rich, but it makes me happy. And I get so angry when I see people complaining about bloggers or influencers being paid for work or receiving freebies, because why shouldn’t we be rewarded for the investment of our time and ourselves? I am not for sale and I am not free, and I have worked hard to learn to value myself and so I won’t, no matter the criticism, sell myself cheap. And I think this is why so many bloggers get angry with the cheaters who look like they’re getting ahead by buying their influence and followers, or with people who think that all we do is sit around and receive freebies when in fact it’s taken YEARS of work to build something.