Blogging has come under scrutiny every which way to Sunday over the last five years. From those wondering about the longevity of the career, to sticker shock at six-figure endorsement deals between top bloggers and brands, like the recently reported $500,000 paycheck between Aimee Song and Laura Mercier, to those harsher critics who question if blogging is a career at all.
The shade, thrown from all corners of the www, is partially due to the shrouded nature of blog life. Is it real? Is it authentic? Just how much are people making for a photograph? For a long time bloggers were hush hush about their income and sponsored posts. Only recently has disclosure emerged as a trend-- from bloggers wanting to get out in front of the story and those who truly believe in transparency.
From the other side of the keyboard, bloggers appear to have it all. Work from home. Freebies. Invites all of the wold and the fancy events. But top-tier bloggers— those making over $10k/month only account for about 4% of the industry, and on the low-end, they aren't making anything at all. 42% of bloggers work full-time or part-time in a non-blogging job and are committing nights and weekends to the endeavor hoping that hard work, time, and determination will pay off.
Jacey Duprie, journalist turned blogger, started her blog Damsel in Dior in 2009. Two years later, in 2011, she left her job to pursue blogging full-time, and the switch from traditional media to blogging was no cake walk. “To anyone who says blogging is easy and is all about simply taking pretty pictures,” she says, “I challenge them to try doing it for one month, or just follow me around for a week and I’ll prove you wrong.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by many in the blog world.
Amanda Holstein who runs the popular modern-day advice column, Advice From a 20-Something says, “Most of blogging consists of sitting behind a computer and running your own business. I spend a lot more time than I anticipated managing the business side of things, like tracking and projecting revenue, securing campaigns, tracking expenses, etc..”
She also brings up the difficulties of freelancing. To be your own hype person is a strange job and while Instagram and Snapchat show the fun side of blogging, AKA “the photoshoots, the trips, the events,” Amanda says, “most of blogging consists of sitting behind a computer and running your own business.”
Jacey sums it the difficulties as such: “In a nutshell: Invoicing and accounting is hard. Losing friends is harder. Hate forums suck (especially when they rip on your parents). Traveling alone is lonely. Fashion week is worse than figuring out which lunch table to sit at in high school. And it’s reshooting product because the brand didn’t want you to wear the color pink but they didn’t tell you not to wear the color pink until after you scheduled time with a photographer, waited out the rain to finally get the picture perfect sunset shot of an outfit you spent weeks planning…”
Amanda says another difficult aspect of running a blog is the solo time. “ It's tough not having someone around to bounce ideas off of. Even just having someone to listen while I talk through some of my thoughts and ideas would be so helpful.”
“I do a lot more than take pictures. Taking blog photos is just a portion. I don’t have a manager, I don’t have an assistant. I answer at least 50 emails a day- from brands/PR companies wanting to work together and readers asking style/blog advice. I do all my management: negotiating with brands, invoices, follow-ups, etc. Every shoot is half planned (we do a lot of improvising), but since there are deadlines, we have to stay organized on what needs to be shot and were. We are also journalists; we write, we research. Some blogposts need graphics. When I do Youtube videos: planning, producing, editing…it’s a lot.”
That doesn’t even include the actual blogging she says. “Putting the post together, editing the photos, arranging the html in both languages, linking to each store.” The final cherry on top is the social media. You have to make sure “you update all networks with relevant content on each one.”
If you take into consideration the rate at which someone scrolls past an Instagram photo, casually making the decision to like or not to like (that is the question of this digital age), the amount of BTS work that goes into curating and crafting is almost crazy.
Throw in the competition and the number of new fashion bloggers that get added to the sphere daily, and it’s amazing there aren’t more stories of blogger burnout. The pressure to be on top of trends and be early adapters mounts with every passing day. Bloggers constantly have to give their fan base what they want, stay authentic, and at the same time, keep content from getting boring. Many of them are also paying their photographers out of pocket.
Daniella says she likes to travel with a photographer because the shoots end up more natural, however, when she’s home she says, “I have to shoot about 3-4 outfits at a time because I am scheduling— and paying for— a photographer’s time.”
There are countless sites telling bloggers just how to make money. Focus on content that other outlets ignore. Make sure that you develop your photography and social media skills— AKA become the queen of appropriate hashtagging and engaging your audience— and focus on quantity and quality. As a blogger you are both king of the social media jungle as well as its most vulnerable prey. If you aren’t producing, you’re losing. There aren’t many professions that require such a constant outpouring of content, and it is exhausting.
And yet, it's a career that most fashion bloggers are reluctant to give up at this point. For Jacey she sticks with it because, quite simply, "it works." And there are few modern jobs that don't require more than a 40-hour work week commitment.
But if you think blogging is taking a photo and that "anyone can do it," think again friends.
Arianna Schioldager is the editorial director of Create & Cultivate. She has never once thought she could be a blogger.
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