Recently I celebrated my 5th year as a blogger, and since I’ve noticed some misconceptions, I thought I’d share what the life of a blogger is really like! So what do bloggers do all day?
Maintain an Online Community
Developing an online community is a priority! This is what gets people to read your blog posts. After creating the social media accounts, promoting them to an audience, and gaining followers, you then have to reach those followers regularly to keep them interested. Posting authentic, high quality content consistently and responding to all comments matters.
With current algorithms making it harder to be visible on social media, it’s also important to stay up-to-date with trends in the online marketing field.
Another way to build a community is to find questions shared online that you’ve answered with your writing. The key is to find a person who needs a question answered, and to provide that response through your writing. This gives your writing an authentic purpose and an audience!
Also pay attention to your blog analytics. If a blog post gains traction, it meets the needs of an audience. Make sure to engage that audience and give them a reason to return.
Plan Visual Content
Beautiful visual content gets people to visit your blog, so you plan it in advance. When I first started blogging, I thought of myself as a writer and not an on-camera personality or a photographer/videographer. I thought that writing content would draw an audience searching for those keywords. Later, I realized that the online world heavily relies on photos and videos.
Luckily, prior to blogging, I learned many of the valuable skills I needed for planning photo and video shoots through classes in video editing, photography, and commercial acting. Also helpful is that my “Instagram husband” studied movie directing in college.
Planning visual content means thinking through a visually appealing, stunning shot. Often I run out to the store to buy props and ask around to secure a location. Prior to the shoot, I brainstorm the structure of a blog post that accompanies the visual content to make sure the visuals align with the story.
You also must compare your ideas with the direction the company provided. Make sure the content aligns with the originally pitched idea, and that you don’t violate any brand guidelines.
Take and Edit Photos and Video
After planning comes the actual taking of the photos and videos. One shot is never enough. If something isn’t working, that entire idea might be tossed in order to try a different angle.
Not all blog posts involve carefully-planned shoots with controlled studio lighting at home. Sometimes, bloggers have to capture on-the-go content during travels. Researching photographic spots can help. Editing is essential, but first the original shot needs to look great.
Negotiate Contracts with Brands
There is a misconception that bloggers get sent “free” stuff. Aren’t we lucky to not work at all and get gifts all the time? To give some insight into how collaborations actually work, here is an explanation of the two types of mailings bloggers can receive.
First, earned media is the concept behind sending out press samples for “free.” This means a public relations company hopes you write about their product, so they send it, but there is no payment in place to secure that you are required to do any work in return.
If someone sends me an unsolicited product and I like it, I might use my platform to promote it if I think my audience will benefit from using it. It still takes me time to plan the photo shoot, create captions, and respond to comments about it. Every impression the post gains results in more brand awareness that the brand does not pay for with ad revenue. If their price for mailing the product results in enough views to make one sale, they have profited off this “free” post.
The other type of work bloggers do, and what I pretty much exclusively do at this point after 5 years of blogging, is sponsored work. This involves clearly written contracts with a fair payment in addition to the product.
Smaller bloggers who don’t have a legal team must look out for stipulations that favor a company and that take advantage of your work. Companies should not own your content in perpetuity in exchange for a typical rate. Selling the rights to the content should be negotiated and not signed off on as a regular agreement.
Another thing to negotiate is the draft approval process. Draft approval takes more time and effort and can mean re-doing writing or visual content to align with the brand’s ideas.
Rush fees are another thing to negotiate. Doing work on a short deadline means that one brand takes up more time, and the pay should reflect that.
Plan an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is a list of posts to write that month. Usually the monthly calendar aligns with a timely topic, such as Back to School for fall, Traditions over the winter holidays, and Self Improvement after the new year, etc.
After deciding on the overall topic for the month, I write a list of posts, including sponsored collaborations, recipes, parties and celebrations, movie releases, and more.
The editorial calendar can also involve making a budget because while some posts are sponsored, some actually cost money! Making recipes requires you to shop for ingredients and cookware. Taking a press trip means that you to pay for transportation and some of the food.
The editorial calendar is usually flexible, but if sponsored collaborations fill up a lot of the posts, it can get overwhelming. It’s better to take on fewer, bigger collaborations to do your best work.
Go Through the Writing Process
Being a blogger involves understanding the writing process. Even though this writing style is more casual and personal than a magazine article, bloggers still make sure to organize ideas, write, revise, and edit! Unless you’re sharing content provided directly from a company, most writing involves a personal story.
So That’s What Bloggers Really Do All Day!
I hope I helped explain why your blogger friend or family member seems to surf the internet all day, and then ends up with cool gifts! All that online work takes a lot of planning and coordinating, which means constantly learning to improve your promotion strategies and the content itself. The blogging world is always changing and evolving, and it matters that you are always looking ahead at the new trends to come.