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The Cost Of Being A Blogger

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. 

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24 Comments

  • Reply The Don Father

    This is the truth! All of it!

    April 12, 2017 at 9:47 am
  • Reply Shanéy Vijendranath

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this post!!!!!!! 😀

    April 12, 2017 at 9:51 am
  • Adelè Strydom
    Reply Adelè Strydom

    I have a friend who started a blog, and she is struggling, she simply does not have the time to get to her blog. I admire the fact that you have so much on your plate, and you still write excellent, in depth articles and keep your fans entertained (and your beautiful daughters too) . <3

    April 12, 2017 at 9:52 am
  • Shanéy Vijendranath
    Reply Shanéy Vijendranath

    Amen.

    April 12, 2017 at 9:54 am
  • The Blessed Barrenness
    Reply The Blessed Barrenness

    Thank you Adele!

    April 12, 2017 at 9:54 am
  • Zoe Hawkins
    Reply Zoe Hawkins

    PREACH!

    April 12, 2017 at 10:10 am
  • Reply Celeste Booysen

    Word! I can’t express enough love for what you have written here.

    April 12, 2017 at 10:15 am
  • Reply reluctantmom

    Great post Sharon — I think “the cost” of blogging has definitely made me “less of a blogger” than I used to be.

    I am in no way interested in the freebies and the sponsors and so on — but I still need my blog, my little space where I can say what I want, when I want.

    I have given myself a “free pass” – I blog when I want to, not when I have to to keep my “stats” up — I have a total disregard for my stats.

    I don’t care whether I get invited to an event or not, I prefer not to get free stuff, and I tend not to get “caught up” in the trends. I am no issues that I am not invited to sit at the cool kids table during breaks — I seriously would rather lie on the grass, under a tree and doze off.

    But I still blog.

    Because it is therapeutic to me.

    April 12, 2017 at 10:16 am
    • Reply Sharon

      And that’s totally fine! But for too many people, looking in, they think that it’s all easy peezy and those of us who have chosen to make a little on the side are rolling in the money and the freebies and that’s simply not the case.

      April 12, 2017 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Charlene

    YES, YES, YES!!! I work my ass off on my little blog. Most family and friends don’t really get it. Awesome post xx

    April 12, 2017 at 10:20 am
  • Charlene van der Westhuizen
    Reply Charlene van der Westhuizen

    LOVE!!!

    April 12, 2017 at 10:20 am
  • Cat Barker
    Reply Cat Barker

    Great read!

    April 12, 2017 at 10:21 am
  • Reply Chereen Strydom

    You have so perfectly put into words what I think so many of us have been thinking! I am SO tired of being made to feel guilty for accepting sponsored posts… you still get people that see it as ‘selling out’, and it really, really pisses me off when people complain about sponsored posts… yes, I understand that it’s vital that bloggers are authentic and only work with brands that align to their lifestyles and their audiences, but there is so much time and effort that goes into running a blog that it’s only fair that we get some sort of compensation for our hard work! I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just felt that I needed to get that out – have seen too many sub tweets about sponsored posts lately, and it REALLY irks me. Especially when it comes from fellow bloggers.

    Well done on sticking to your guns and resigning from the campaign that wasn’t worth your time… R60 an hour is ridiculous! Sometimes I think that brands and PR agencies themselves aren’t really even aware of just how much work goes into a blog post. Nothing against the brands or PRs… I just think that more bloggers need to be upfront about it, as you have been in this post. THANK YOU for sharing – this is such a valuable read, and one that I’ll definitely be sharing with others. x

    April 12, 2017 at 11:28 am
  • Reply Yolandi North

    Great post. Very true. I honestly don’t know how you do it all. Well done. You rock! xxx

    April 12, 2017 at 11:55 am
  • Reply Neeta

    Thank your for Sharing this is so true, everyone thinks it’s a magical lifestyle, there’s a lot of hard work going into it. I do wish bloggers could stand together to be more valued by Pr companies who would love to pay us. It’s tiring to thinking they want all this free promoting yet they make loads of money off us.

    April 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm
  • Reply Heather

    So true Sharon. And I think for me the most valuable cost of blogging is time. Getting up early like that – wow. I stay up late when I can. And there’s some weeks I just can’t get it all done. But that’s ok.
    So glad you resigned from that campaign. I think I am too soft and have recently had to do so many edits for a client it really wasn’t worth it.

    April 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply Kathryn

    And so say all of us!

    April 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm
  • Reply Masters Beauty Blog

    Awesome post. You doing a great job and thanks for the informative read.

    I’m definitely getting my own domain soon…

    April 12, 2017 at 3:16 pm
  • Reply Dhanusha

    I just started my blog and I feel your pain. Loved reading this xx

    April 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    This was a great post tx for sharing I am the delayed blogger but I do things on my time and I enjoy it. All the best to u

    April 12, 2017 at 10:31 pm
  • Reply Kersh

    Hi
    So glad that you can stand up for yourselves and not be bullied into promoting a brand and the sponsors don’t realize you also have a reputation to uphold
    We out here appreciating and respect your content and in some cases believe in it becos of yOU

    April 14, 2017 at 7:44 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Thank you Kersh! My integrity & authenticity is everything to me!

      April 14, 2017 at 8:10 am
  • Caffeine and Fairydust
    Reply Caffeine and Fairydust

    Your new look is gorgeous – but your blog always is! Thank you for writing this great post!

    April 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm
  • Reply Wenchy

    So true!!!

    May 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm
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