I’ve been sharing my creativity, tutorials & love of sustainable style for nearly 4 years and have definitely learned loads about the ins & outs of blogging.
As I often receive requests for advice from those new to the blogosphere as well as bloggers who respect and enjoy what I’m doing and how I present it, I thought it would be helpful to share the important lessons I’ve learned thus far and let you have look behind the scenes of what actually goes into my Confessions of a Refashionista.
Let’s kick off my peek at the backstage of blogging series with one of the most frequently asked about topics:
Blogging: Time versus Money.
It is A LOT of work to make a blog appear effortless & fun. A fact that no one outside of the full-time blogosphere understands or sadly seems genuinely curious about.
Unfortunately many people lump all types of bloggers together which is simply unfair. Someone who hobby-blogs on a free blogging platform once or twice a week for fun and has no interest in presenting their posts, photographs & blog in a professional manner or improving their blogging abilities should not be compared to a blogger who works 12 – 14 hours per day, 7 days a week, pays all of the costs involved for their own self-hosted blog and is constantly learning new skills in an effort to provide the most interesting, easy-to-follow & attractive site possible. Is someone who enjoys preparing a meal for friends on the weekend the same as a restaurant chef?
The time it takes to read & enjoy a blog post vs the amount of time & work that went into creating it are very different. My personal post creation times are as follows:
A Confessions of a Refashionista post that takes 30 seconds to read took 3 – 6 hours to create.
A Confessions of a Refashionista post that takes 1 – 2 minutes to read actually took 8+ hours to create.
Confessions of a Refashionista videos, indepth tutorials and articles can take days or even weeks of work.
In my humble opinion bloggers should be incredibly proud when they’re able to single-handedly present a professional looking, easy to navigate and understand site to their readers however those readers must start realizing and appreciating the amount of behind the scenes work that goes into an “effortlessly fun blog”.
For some strange reason bloggers are supposed to work for free. (unsurprisingly, this way of thinking applies more to female bloggers)
I cannot comprehend why it is that we are expected to provide an excellent service (for free), work longer hours than a full-time job (for free), single-handedly do all of the tasks involved in an office with 10+ employees (for free) and somehow pay bills and live on the few nice comments & “likes” that slowly roll in.
It appears that the general public believes that blogging full-time is “fun”, bloggers are only doing what they “love” and therefore do not deserve to earn a living from it.
That logic is just bizarre. Does that mean that ANYONE who loves parts of their job shouldn’t be paid?
Blogging is identical to any other type of employment: it takes skill, talent, time & know-how and there are aspects that are enjoyable and those that are difficult, uninteresting & dreaded.
“But no one asks you to be a blogger so why should you be paid for it?”
I have seen this lovely little gem in the comments under every blog post that I have ever read about blogging as a living and have even had it snarked at me in person.
Did anyone actually ask you to do your job? Nope. You most likely applied for it, interviewed more than once (if it is a professional position) and were eventually hired and had fewer responsibilities and a lower pay rate than the people who had been there longer than you. However once you’d been working there for a while, honing your skills and wowing your employers, you most likely received a raise in pay and were asked to take on more responsibilities. Additionally, you most certainly were paid an hourly wage + benefits from your very first day on the job – bloggers start out working for free, paying for all of the costs involved in creating a blog and most are never paid a cent during their time blogging.
Blogging is no different. Starting a new blog is like being interviewed for job – but instead of having to answer a few questions from a potential employer, new bloggers must create clever and unique content to impress the internet and find their niche audience.
Full-time blogging is a continual learning curve involving everything from design & photography to editing & html coding + so much more – during which time the blogger must also be frequently creating and uploading interesting and attractive posts to continue gaining and keeping that all important audience.
The fact is that just like a regular job, once a blogger is seen to be popular & skilled at what they do, wealthy international companies absolutely do ask them to write about products and services – the difference is that at a regular job you’d expect to be paid for your time & talent but bloggers are rarely offered anything other than a mention on social media or a freebie product as compensation. (grab my thoughts on working for “exposure”)
These kind of unsolicited “job offers” fill my inbox every single day. It’s baffling that they expect me to not only endorse & recommend their products (many of which are completely against the clear upcycling & sustainable style message of my blog) but also spend a minimum of 4 hours creating an eye-catching, interesting post for free and simply be grateful for the offer. Really? Really wealthy companies? Come on!
I can’t comment on monetizing a blog with affiliate links as I have not tried them nor do I intend to. As my blog is all about upcycling, refashioning & re-using I refuse to endorse ads & links to “new” products that I wouldn’t actually purchase myself and have nothing to do with my blog topic.
So how the hell do I make any money from my blog?
The truth is, I don’t make enough money to pay for anything from my blog alone and honestly didn’t start blogging as a way to earn a living. I make bits of money from my online shop, e-book series, amazon kindle books, and Life on the ZigZag book but most of my meagre earnings come from special “made-to-measure” orders, graphic design and content creation for others as well as organizing and teaching local workshops.
The bulk of my blog visitors are from the U.S yet in the nearly 4 years I’ve been blogging I’ve sold less than 10 physical items to U.S customers which, although a bit disheartening, isn’t any cause for alarm at all as I would think that most of my blog visitors are here for the groovy free tutorials & inspiration to create something themselves, not to purchase me-made garments and accessories. (2016 update: that may change now that I live in Canada and the exchange rate is in favour of U.S. dollars)
I have a ways to go before I can say I earn an actual living wage from blogging alone but I am constantly working to improve my skills & create new ideas to make myself even more well-known in the hope that one day (sooner than later) my hard work, perseverance, talents and skills will lead me to financial success.
Being seen, discovered, enjoyed & shared is the only way a blog can achieve success. Creating consistently interesting, easy to follow and attractive posts, providing a welcoming, friendly and enjoyable environment and utilizing/updating every single possible form of popular social media are the only economical & cost-free tools a blogger can use to market themselves. Of course, collaborating with other bloggers, being featured on popular blogs/sites and just generally getting yourself (& your links) out there online in any way possible helps as well.
If you’re unable or unwilling to support your favourite bloggers by purchasing their products or services then give them some encouragement and a traffic boost, it’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
1. Comment. I don’t think there’s anyone online who doesn’t appreciate a kind comment, especially when so many of us are the victims of trolls. Let bloggers know that you enjoy what they do and acknowledge their hard work – it’s an awesome feeling to discover that our creativity and dedication is indeed helping others and not going unnoticed.
2. Like. It takes less than a second of your time to hit that little like button but it really does go a long way in this fast-paced online world and can even help push those all important behind the scenes stats!
3. Share the posts you love with your own online circles and encourage others to do the same.
Have a scroll through my backstage of blogging series and feel free to request a behind-the-scenes topic that you’d like to learn more about in the comments below.