There are tens of thousands of bloggers around the world and they’re all sharing their stories, marketing their brand through social media and connecting with readers. During the last decade, blogging has grown from few individuals posting their diary entries online to a professional industry. The growth of the industry has also spawned a lot of criticism towards blogging. Bloggers get labeled as sellouts as well as self-indulgent narcissists. One major criticism is that blogging is not seen as a real job. But what is it that makes blogging any less of a “real” job? Let’s hear what actual lifestyle bloggers have to say about the matter! Bloggers like Amber Felix (http://www.ambyfelix.com/) start a blog because they need a space for expressing themselves: “Blogging became a creative outlet for me while recovering from a work related injury. I was a restaurant cook and really needed an outlet that would motivate me to continue my studies outside of the kitchen.” But it’s not always your own passion or interest that kick starts the blogging career. For Penda Penn, a blogger and a blog designer (http://www.ohpenda.com/), blogging certainly wasn’t planned: “My mother's best friend has been making a living off blogging for a while and asked me to ghostwrite for her. She saw my potential and told me to man my own blog.” At first, Penda felt that an audience would make her writing less spontaneous and funny, but after a friend had complemented her entertaining journal, she was willing to share it with others.
In the brutal and competitive world of print and electronic media, blogging can be just the thing for budding writers who want the chance to be creative while earning an income. Astrid Delgado (http://astrid-stars.blogspot.fi/) had a clear sense of why she wanted to start blogging and where she could go with it: “My knowledge of blogging was first limited to adSense. But as I began following more renowned bloggers, I saw that this could actually turn into a career. It allows me to do something I enjoy, express myself creatively, and still pay the bills, eventually. I also look towards the future, so it’s appealing to me that if I end up making a living from blogging, when I have kids, I could be a stay at home mom, but still be a working mom.” Not many careers are as flexible as Astrid’s – in the ever-changing job market, it’s good to gather as many experiences under your belt as possible.
There are also a lot of great opportunities for the bloggers who are passionate about their writing and are willing to work for their success. Sponsored posts but also glamorous events have become one of the allures of the blogging world. Amber says that the amazing experiences and networking at different events have improves her confidence as well as interpersonal skills. “I used to be very shy and a bit bashful about blogging due to caring too much about what people thought. Discovering an entrepreneurial instinct and passion because of networking led to my decision to blog full time. I love sharing information with people and hopefully helping others to make their day a little better,” Amber explains. So perhaps there’s more to the glamorous events that readers and critics envy than just make-up and expensive clothes. Many bloggers seem to have similar experiences. Megan Elliot – writer, stylist, and the owner of a fashion and lifestyle blog Lush to Blush (http://www.lushtoblush.com/) – remembers how she realized that making a living through her blog was a real possibility: “It was when I started getting emails out of nowhere from reputable brands. I was getting noticed and I was having so much fun running my blog that I decided to just go for it and quit my full time job.” A job that combines fun and creativity with an actual income is hard to come by. No wonder these ladies are so charmed by the blog life. And the perks that come with the job have to be earned because blogging is not all dancing on roses.
According to Penda, the behind-the-scenes side of blogging requires more than what readers necessarily even realize: “Bloggers actually work for their popularity. You don't set up a blog and expect it to have good readership immediately. You have to work to promote your blog on social media, to your friends, other bloggers, and to people who have internet. Mostly what people see are the invitations to events or the gifts that we receive (the spoils). They don't see the time and effort we put in to get our blogs out there.” This certainly seems to be true about a lot of the critics who haven’t experienced first-hand what goes into building a successful blog. Megan also agrees that blogging is not always easy: “It is a lot of work. I work nonstop. In fact, right now both my boyfriend and sister are upset with me for not paying attention to them while I'm visiting in LA. The work never stops! But I enjoy it so I don't mind and it is well worth it.” This is where the line between blogging for creativity and fun goes; the behind-the-scenes side of the business involves a lot of hard work. In an industry where you work alone and for yourself, you can never fully escape it – the work will always follow you home.
There are a few distinct ways of making money as a blogger: partnering up with brands for giveaways or sponsored posts, putting ads on your blog and selling, for example, blog consultation services. A blogger who doesn’t do any of these isn’t going to make money. Some critics view sponsored posts as selling out because they involve writing a post based on the instructions of a brand that pays to be promoted on the blog. Some bloggers are willing to promote anything as long as it pays but some choose their reviews based on how well it suits their target audience’s needs. Penda reminds that just like anyone in the public eye, there’s a certain amount of responsibility one has to take for the content that they are putting out there: “Earning from your blog can be awesome but you must not let the money cloud you or your blog's integrity. There have been huge offers to me to write about online casinos and adult stuff. But remember, you are responsible for some of your readers' opinions.” The same consideration applies to sponsor ads on the blogs: other bloggers and brands can choose to sponsor you and get more visibility but it’s up to the blogger to decide what they are willing to promote. Social media and marketing your brand is clearly a big part of blogging.
There are clear downsides to being a fulltime blogger: mostly working from home without the support of co-workers, balancing between sponsors and your own integrity, and always having to make sure you have beautiful vignettes on hand to capture for the viewing pleasure of your Instagram followers. There is also the serious concern of the work not being reliable: you can never know when the gods of the Internet will stop smiling upon you. But who can really rely on their job these days? Most people have to change their careers at least once in their lifetime. Since we can’t all be doctors and lawyers, why is it so bad to make a living out of sharing your story and your life with the world? At the end of the day, it’s actually an easier and more accessible mode of writing for the readers than anything else and it offers a lot of freedom for the writer. In my eyes, that’s a win-win situation right there.