How do bloggers work? I think that many of you do wonder what’s behind a blogger’s apparently perfect life, among travels, beautiful Instagram pics, enthusiastic selfies. The aim of this post is to explain to readers, friends and potential clients what I actually do and the value of my work as a blogger.
Too many people think that a blogger do nothing all day, that it’s an easy job everyone could do, requiring no particular skills. Moreover, many people think that we bloggers are always on vacation, living off of others.
On the contrary, being a (serious) blogger means having many skills. You need to be able to write, do storytelling, take good pics (my weak point) and edit them, have knowledge of html language, marketing, search engines optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media management (SMM), graphic programs to create banners and logos. Plus, for those who do that too, it requires the ability of shooting videos and editing them.
We bloggers spend time, resources and expertise to produce our content.
The worst thing for me is the brands and the agencies that do not value blogger’s work. They invite you every day to inaugurations or events at miles distance, asking you to spread the word or post content… for free. A blogger is not paid by a newspaper or sponsor, not until he or she’s very very famous.
It’s even worse when established companies ask you to write articles or publish content on social media without even mentioning a fee, and disappear when you start talking about a fee.
Blogging takes hours to study, plan, take photos, write, share, respond to readers. These thing do not take just a minute. And in any case, this is a real job, which must be recognized and remunerated. Above all, if we then think about the discrepancy between the sum that a blogger asks and how much a brand would pay for a short article in a newspaper!
The only exception can be when the product or service they’re offering is something I really, really like or something need for my job or my family, something I would buy anyway.
To explain to you How do bloggers work, I choose an assignment as sample: to promote an accommodation facility located in another region of Italy (so not in my region, the Veneto), 4 hours away from my home.
How do bloggers work? The phases of a travel blogger work for a B&B/hotel:
- You first get in touch with the client. This may seem easy, but it’s not. This phase can in fact be quick or not, depending on available dates, the client ideas or other factors. Sometimes, after 3 emails you set a date and everything’s fine. You spend like an hour writing back and forth anyway. Other times you have to settle some details and it takes more time.. Lastly, it can also happen to just waste time… and more than an hour. For example, one time a potential (luckily not actual) client wanted me to write an article about his apartment rental service in Venice. At first he just wanted me to write a post… for free and without even having me as guest in one of the apartments. After my answer, he accepted my terms, but only if I could stay in that apartment the day after our email exchange. I replied I had previous engagements and I suggested a series of possible dates. He abruptly replied: forget it! :O 😀 Strange people! And he made me loose time for nothing.
- As soon as a client reaches out for my services, I do research about his product, service or property. Previous reviews, website, social media, in order to get an idea. I do not accept tasks by people with proven bad reputation.
- Established that I am going to spend a weekend in the client’s facility, I start planning. I add the task in my editorial calendar. I start gathering information about the area, what to see, where to eat, interesting shops or artisanal activities, local food, etc.
- Often, I prepare a Facebook and/or Instagram post where I announce my forthcoming trip. Or I announce it on my newsletter. If you wish to subscribe go to: Newsletter!
- Now it’s time to leave. Pack my bags, set things on social media to run also without me being constantly present, travel by car or train. In my example, I’m going out of region, 4 hours travel by car to arrive on a Friday morning (day that I normally spend working on the blog). So, yes, reaching and spending time to promote something requires also my time, time that I could otherwise spend to work on other things, paid or not, or that I could spend simply relaxing with my husband (on a Sunday for example).
- I arrive at my destination. Know that 90% of the clients tends not to consider that you have just arrived after hours in a car/train. They wants to show you everything and explain everything… immediately. I can understand, but it would be better to let us breathe a bit. One time, a client didn’t even let us (my husband and I) take our bags off the car or show us the room. No. He made us sit at a table and made us a lecture (I couldn’t define it another way) about all the possible day-trips from his agriturismo. One hour. I was exhausted. He should have left us alone for 30 minutes before the lecture… to relax a bit, unpack, go to the bathroom. No.
- As soon as you get in the room, you can’t unpack and lay down, anyway. You have to take pictures of the unspoilt, tidy room. Often they’re bad-lighted, and not that big, so, unless you have professional cameras, it’s difficult to take decent pics. It means you have to take a lot of pictures. You’ll probably be able to use one or two. This is my case, with my equipment and my ability. Unless the room is big and bright. After that I can unpack, go to the bathroom, change. Then I go to take photos of the rest of the facility: hall, other rooms, garden, etc.
- Now (if I’m lucky I do it now) I can talk with the owners to better understand their story, their clients, their objectives, etc. It’s usually nice to chat and get to know them. To learn that they were born in that house or that they run away from the city after 40 years of jacket and tie kind of work. In this phase I usually take some notes not to forget things later.
- Now it’s time to share on my social profiles where I am and what I’m doing. It seems a 2 minutes thing, but it’s not. It requires up to an hour. I first choose the photos on the camera, I then transfer them to my cellphone, I modify them with some apps if they require more light or something, I write a caption, attach the photos, share it on a social platform, respond to comments. Repeat this for each of my social profiles.
- The day after I visit some place in the area, always taking pictures, making notes and sharing something on the social media. Often, the client wants you to visit everything notable in the area, and it becomes a tour de force. This happens especially during blog tours. You have to tweet while walking or worse, you’re always in a hurry, rushing from place to place, and when you arrive in your room you have like 10 minutes to take a shower and change before dinner.
- Travel home, 4 hours as said before. Once at home, I unpack, do the laundry, relax and stop.
- The next day, I search for keywords for positioning on search engines. This process takes time, not 2 minutes.
- Now I have to structure the article and think how to do it before I can actually write. Then I start writing. And consider I do not write in Italian, my mother tongue, but in English, a language I do not even know that well. So it takes a lot. It of course depends on the content. But, for a weekend out there are many things to say: about the accommodation, the meals, the things to visit in the area. I can write up to 4 hours. That means, half a work-day. Just to write.
- After writhing I choose the photos to attach to the article. This is quite as long as writing itself. First of all, I usually take hundreds of photos. So I have to open them all, observe, choose. After choosing an amount of good photos, I watch them again and I narrow the choice. At this point I can edit them with specific programs. Yes, plural. I often use two different programs that allow to edit the pics differently. This process can last 5 minutes per photo. Imagine if I have to edit 20 photos. It means more than 1 hour an a half.
- Only now I can insert the post in wordpress. It’s not enough to copy and paste the post inside. Once pasted, I have to edit it too. Paragraphs, bulleted lists, bold words, quotation marks, italics, links.
- Then, insert the photos. It takes first time to load them. Then you have to choose a title and a caption for each photo. I can now insert them in the more appropriate position of the article.
- Then I have to insert the tags, categories, choose the post title, Google description, etc. The post editing phase can last 1 hour… or more, depending on the amount of photos, post length and other factors.
- Ok, now the post is placed in wordpress. On the established day, it will be published. At this point, I will have to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For every social, I will write a different short article, choose one or more representative pictures and answer people’s comments. It can take at least 1 hour. At least.
- Optionally, I can create an online promotion to boost the post.
- Finally, I will then analyze the post performance on both the blog and social channels.
- I naturally keep in touch with the client with a couple of emails. One before publishing, to let him know that I’m working on it and when I am going to publish the post. One when I published it to give him the link. I usually try to write the post asap.
- Of course, if I also recorder some videos clips, I have to edit them too, in order to create a single video. And that’s another task that requires at least a 1 hour (for a short video).
After all this, you can easily understand that being a blogger is not that easy. To publish a post requires many different phases, skills and hours of work. If you sum all up it can equal 1 entire day of work or more. Plus the time you spend in the location and travelling.
To think that it can be read in 2 minutes or so! And to think that many brands ask me to write for free!
I still write for free…
- when I want to share with my readers something I found on my own.
- if someone invites me to try/join a long desired experience/restaurant/event/hotel/product, etc., more so if they cover my expenses.
- if a hotel/b&b owners kindly contact me to tell me that they would gladly have me there whenever I happen to be in their area. This way, if I want to visit a city or if I have a business meeting there, I take advantage of their invitation. In this case, I normally just write a paragraph in the article dedicated to the city. Sometimes, I even write an entire article… if I really, really liked the B&B/hotel. Because I always keep in mind that I’m writing for my readers and they could take advantage of my suggestions and my positive experiences. A couple of times, it also happened that (often during blog tours) I didn’t even mention the accommodation. In these cases, it means it was a disaster. I couldn’t possibly write something positive. Therefore I prefer to follow Virgil’s tip in Dante’s Divine Comedy: Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.
Of course, if I write about a single event, or a single visit is not as complicated as the case I’ve just written about.
Next time someone asks: How do bloggers work? please, just make him/her read this article, thanks.