First of all, I actually hate the word blogger. And while we’re at it, I don’t like the word influencer either. Unfortunately, those words are very specific, and both apply to parts of what I do for a living, and are easier for most people to understand versus saying founder, editor, and content creator of a lifestyle website for over 10 years. But when someone asks me what I do for a living, if I have time, I usually give a long answer and depending on who I’m talking to, but if I need to quickly get across what I do I say blogger, artist, consultant.
In short, I’m mainly a blogger. I am classified as an influencer, but I would never call myself that word. Let’s just say, even if you are the biggest “Instagram Influencer” ever, please for the love, don’t call yourself that. Any blogger that has an audience that follows them, is an influencer. But you don’t have to have a blog to be an influencer, you could just have one social media platform or a YouTube channel and be an influencer. That’s a whole separate blog post!
I am also an artist, I direct and style photo shoots, I do online marketing, social media, and influencer consulting (see it’s OK to use that word there with the word consulting), among other creative projects and possibly a new business soon that I’m toying around with.
But after blogging for over 10 years, talking to people about blogging and being an influencer, helping businesses work with bloggers and influencers, and answering the most common question from people who find out what I do for a living — “So how do you make money?” — I have some insights into the industry.
I try to cover these funny, weird, behind the scenes type things on my Instagram Stories and sometimes I even write posts about them. But sometimes my photographers capture funny moments and when I saw this photo, it sparked the idea for this post. All the unglamorous things about being a blogger or influencer. And trust me, there are a lot.
Don’t take any of this as complaining, I love my job and wouldn’t do it if I didn’t or if it wasn’t worth it to me. Just giving a little insight/behind-the-scenes look at some of the unglam parts of the business!
10 Unglamorous Things About Being a Blogger
1 // Changing clothes in the car. This mostly relates to bloggers who cover fashion and style, but it can also relate to lifestyle bloggers and anyone who does photo shoots with people on location. As the photo above shows, I’m literally putting lipstick on in the window of my pollen-covered car. Why? Because we were shooting two outfits at a location where I had to change and freshen up between shoots in my car.
Literally just last week I was shooting again at this same location, changing outfits between shoots in my car, and I tucked a blanket in my window and rolled it up, while my photographer sat in the passenger seat holding the blanket up to block me as I changed my top. Why you ask didn’t I get in the back seat of my SUV to do this? I have a white dog that sits back there and there’s white hair on the seat cover…enough said.
Most bloggers have done this at some point as we are usually trying to maximize our time with our photographer, spending the time it takes to drive to locations, and do hair and makeup — we try to get as much done in one time slot with our photographers that we can. Which might sound weird, but doing makeup and hair for photo shoots (for me anyway) is way more involved than what I wear on a daily basis. So if I’m going to spend the time to get ready and do photo shoot makeup and hair, and have my nails done, then I want to shoot as much as I can that day.
While you might not think this is a big deal, it’s REALLY annoying. First of all, you can’t forget anything you wanted to bring with you for the outfit, jewelry, bags, shoes, etc. Also touching up makeup and hair, and you’re probably already sweating by this point, not to mention actually changing pants or tights in a car! Trying to keep clothes wrinkle free (and in my case, dog-hair free) — it’s a whole thing.
2 // You are constantly getting boxes in the mail. While this doesn’t sound bad, half of the stuff many bloggers receive, they didn’t ask for or approve receiving. And it’s common to not love every single thing I receive, but I have to open it, deal with the box and packing materials, and if I don’t like the item and it’s not something I would cover on my site or social, then I have to do something with it. Give it to a friend or donate it, I know that sounds like not a big deal, but receiving things constantly that I don’t ask for that I don’t want to then spend my time and energy giving it to someone or taking it somewhere is just annoying. I know, first world problems, it doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Sure if it’s one item a month, no big deal, but when it’s constantly, all of that shit piles up and you feel guilty throwing it away even though that’s the easiest thing to do.
If I do like the item and/or did approve it being sent it’s obviously fine (it still piles up and my home office is currently a nightmare), but I still have to deal with a constant pile of boxes to break down and deal with. Honestly it’s never ending. I can’t imagine if my audience was double or triple what it is now! Getting free things sounds great, and when it’s something I want, it is, but when it’s not, it’s really annoying.
All of this stuff adds up, and no matter what type of blogger someone is, they probably have a TON of whatever their blog’s focus is. Whether that’s clothes, or beauty, or fitness — a lot of us feel weighed down with the stuff. It’s a constant battle to keep it organized and get rid of stuff. Being minimal and/or simplistic is almost not even an option unless you are ruthless and religious about purging. And I always want things to go to a good home so I feel guilt about getting it there.
3 // Schlepping. Maybe some bloggers don’t have to do this as much as I do, but since I sell products, do pop-ups, paint murals, and style photo shoots, I am constantly schlepping stuff around. It’s rare that my SUV isn’t full of something I’m schlepping somewhere. I don’t have a huge team of people to schlep for me, mostly I’m doing the schlepping myself.
4 // Reading contracts. One thing most people wouldn’t even thing about is the amount of contracts I (and most bloggers and influencers) have to read and sign. Especially when a company has a team of lawyers, the contracts are hard to understand, and you have to be really careful about knowing what you are signing.
A lot of the times you’ll discuss the project with someone on the phone or via email, and then when you get the contract to sign, there’s something in there you never discussed — one of the most common is some form of exclusivity. When these things get snuck in on me I get really mad. Things as important as exclusivity should always be discussed up front as it is something that is typically an added fee.
Some bloggers and influencers are represented by talent agents or similar companies that do all of the contracts for them. I am not signed with a company so I have to do it all myself. And sometimes that means going back and forth or even jumping on a call with the lawyers to fully understand and/or negotiate what I’m signing. Reading contracts is definitely one of my LEAST FAVORITE parts of my job. And a lot of times I’ll ask for a plain English contract if the one they send is ridiculous.
5 // Editing, uploading, and resizing photos. Editing photos is not glamorous. It takes so much time to go through photos, pick the ones you want, and edit them for color and anything else you need to alter on the photo, resize them to fit your site, name them, save them in the right folder, and then do that for every photo you plan to use in your post — then upload them to your site and add all the meta data, which is supposed to be different for every single photo (that’s best for SEO at least), so you can’t just copy/paste the same sentence for 20 photos.
I’ve gotten better about telling my photographers not to take as many photos because I just don’t want as many to choose from, it takes too much time! I’m also a crazy perfectionist when it comes to photos. Even my blogger friends are like, dude, don’t spend that much time doing that! I’ve gotten better at it, but I still spend a lot of time on photos.
6 // Negotiating. I started blogging in 2007 when no one was monetizing their blog. I didn’t make money for the first 4 years of my blog! I’ve been in the industry since the beginning of blogging monetization and let me tell you, it’s been an uphill battle. Still to this day I have to convince some people why they should pay bloggers and influencers for their time, access to their followers, and creating content about their brand’s product, and explain that free products don’t pay my mortgage.
Not only do I often have to convince people to pay me, but then there is a lot of negotiating about specifics. How many posts, how many photos, how many stories, tagging the brand, using certain hashtags, etc. There’s always a lot of back and forth getting both parties to agree on everything and the price!
7 // Hunting down payments. Staying on top of your invoices is so important. I’ve had companies forget to pay me, or not pay me for months. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to remind someone every week after months and months of not paying their invoice. Just the other day I got a check from a project I finished 6 months ago.
8 // You can’t control the weather. Unless you have a full-time photographer on staff you have to plan around when photographers can work with you. I work with about four photographers locally but they are all really busy and can’t always shoot when I need them to or when I prefer to shoot. Also, you might schedule a shoot, but then the weather doesn’t cooperate. It might rain, snow, be freezing cold out when you are shooting a summer look, the sky might be overcast or the sun might be too bright. There are so many things that are out of control that you have to adapt to.
9 // Taxes & Finances. If you make more than $600 off your blog or Instagram the IRS considers it a business and you should be reporting it as income. In addition to actually doing your taxes, which I hire an accountant for, you also have to keep up with bookkeeping. I do my own. I like to know my expenses and income each month and where I’m at with it. Also I estimate how much I need to pay in taxes each quarter and keep that in mind when I look at my account balance. Because about 30% of everything I make goes to taxes, and 20-30% goes to running the business. So when people think my prices are high, they have to keep in mind that EVERYTHING comes out of my price — taxes and business expenses.
I’ve gotten better and more efficient with this and I have a system now, but it was definitely a learning curve.
10 // Constantly on. Anyone who owns a business and uses social media to help promote it gets this, but basically I’m always on meaning always working. There’s rarely an off. If I see something worth capturing as content, it’s very hard not to do so. Also, any time I go to events, or travel, I’m always taking time to stop and intentionally do social or capture content. This is the last thing you want to do when hanging out with friends and family but it’s a part of my job in some cases although I really try not to.
The older I get the easier it is for me to disconnect and just be. But I always have a little voice in the back of my head saying I could be working. My job doesn’t stop at 5 pm or when I leave the office, or when I go on vacation. It follows me everywhere all the time. And yes, while I love most of it, I am constantly working. I rarely feel like I’ve ever done enough. I could always be doing more.
I thought it would be fun to get real with you all with some behind the scenes. The glamorous part is about 10-20% of the gig. The rest is just like any other job! Except when you are doing it for yourself, sometimes that feels better. For others it might be too stressful.
Being an entrepreneur, or a blogger/influencer isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of hustle. A lot of time and work. A lot of self-starting and self-motivation. There are always things you’ll have to do that are weird and uncomfortable. You aren’t just going to get a paycheck for showing up, you have to create it. But for me, it’s worth it.
Thank you for reading!
Photo by Emma Weiss