Things I have learnt from my time as a blogger

I have had some time to reflect while I have been on holiday, and one of the things that I have been thinking about is all that I have learnt through my time as a blogger. When I started out, I wish that there had been more out there to guide me, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the blog in case there is anyone out there who might find this helpful. I should add that I have only been blogging since January 2016, so I still have much to learn, but because of the growth I have had on instagram and on the blog in that time, I have had to learn quickly, and of course, made a few mistakes along the way. I think it’s really important to help other bloggers by being open about blogging and sharing what you have learnt, so if you are reading this and have any helpful tips to share, please do so in the comments section below.

 

  1. Remain true to your style. This probably only applies to those that are blogging about fashion, but I think it is very easy to be lead by other successful bloggers, trends and brands that offer to send you clothes and before you know it, you are wearing clothes that aren’t really ‘you’. I am the first to admit I was guilty of this. Not long after I started, I had an email from a brand offering to send me something to wear. Overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of something being gifted (didn’t that only happen to really successful bloggers?!) I accepted the gift, and when it arrived I realised my error. It was not something I would choose to buy and therefore I should have politely declined the offer. This brings me on to my next point about Gifting.
  2. Accepting Gifts – When I receive an email from a brand offering to send me something, I think very carefully about saying yes. The question I always ask myself, is ‘If money was no object, would I choose to buy that for myself?’ Sometimes this is harder than you might think, because very often these are small businesses and the person sending the email has built their business up from scratch with a lot of hard work, passion and dedication. It’s their baby and saying no to their gift feels like a kick in the teeth. But to remain authentic as a blogger, I think it’s really important to be honest about who you are, what you like and learn to say no. Gifting is still a grey area, in terms of what is expected in return. I think it’s a good idea to ask the brand from the outset what their expectations are. Some will gift the product and say there is no obligation to post, others will expect a fully written blog post without any compensation for your time and hard work, so often it is best to have that conversation early on (& before you hand out your address) I have had a few situations when something has arrived and I have had to return it at my own expense. I really love supporting and helping build growth for small brands, but I only do this if it is a product that I believe in. I will happily tag the brand over and over again because it’s something that I believe is a good buy. Never because I have been asked to. 
  3. Sponsored Posts – The same rule applies to sponsored posts. This IS a tricky one, because if blogging is your job, and you have bills to pay (who doesn’t?) then this is one of the main ways to earn from blogging. But if you are approached about a paid promotion, put yourself to the test before you accept. Does it fit with you, your style, what you stand for? If you blog about a range of skincare that you love and have always paid for yourself, then being paid to post a photo of you holding a cleanser that you have never used before may not feel quite right? Of course the use of #ad does help with the transparency of sponsored posts, but I still think that what you are promoting needs to fit. If you do accept a paid promotion, you will be asked what your rate is. I’m afraid to say that I still don’t know the answer to this, because no-one tells you what you are worth. And if you are like me and you are really rubbish at talking about money and believing and knowing your worth, then this never gets easier. I resorted to google, and realised that this is still quite a murky area. And of course every brand has a completely different budget. (or no budget at all if it is a small business) I think a loose guide of £10 per 1000 followers seems to be the starting point from the titbits that I have picked up, but you will always enter a negotiation. I have been approached by brands for a dedicated Instagram post but they haven’t felt right for me or my audience so I’m yet to paid for one of my little squares! My view on this is that everything takes time. And I would much rather wait for the right fit than put my name to something that I didn’t believe in for a couple of hundred quid.
  4. Know your audience – This should probably have been number 1. I think it’s really important to know who your followers are and to think about them, often. Engage with them, respond to their questions, think about what they want to see, what they want to hear about. ASK them what they want to read about and see. If you are offered to trial a certain type of facial that you think your followers might be interested in, jump at the chance. Your job is to test clothes/products/services that you think they will want to know about and then give them an honest review. 
  5. Being a blogger can be fairly demanding. From my experience, it’s a full time job. Not in the ‘sitting at a desk 9-6’ kind of way, but in the way that you never really stop. Taking photos, (I drive my family crazy) thinking about your next post, thinking about the caption for your next post (this sometimes takes me WAY longer than it should, I am an over-thinker) attending events, press days, shopping, returns, emails, writing and editing blog posts, replying to comments, replying to Direct Messages on insta-stories. The list goes on and on, so it has to be something you love doing. Of course you are in control of how much time you spend doing all of these things, but if you have chosen to make a career out of blogging, then I think you need to embrace it and enjoy it. There’s very little that I don’t enjoy about being a blogger. I absolutely love the interaction that I have with my followers.  A comment or a direct message on instagram, can very often make my day. 
  6. Be prepared to take a few knocks – This is the only part of blogging that I wasn’t fully prepared for, but I have learnt that it goes with the territory. When you decide to share your life with people you don’t know, you open yourself up to criticism and provided it’s not all the time, you just have to learn to ignore them and carry on. I have had a few days when I have felt like giving it all up because of one upsetting comment, but you soon realise that they are such a small minority and not worth getting upset about. ‘Haters gonna hate!’ 
  7. Keep a balance – Blogging, like anything in life, is about keeping a balance. If you do take on the odd sponsored post – make sure you balance it out with plenty of non salesy posts. The really successful bloggers that I enjoy following seem to have achieved this perfect balance. I know when it’s sponsored content and I don’t mind one little bit because they give me so much more. I understand that they need to make a living from what they do, because they dedicate so much time to their jobs, put in soooo many hours that are not paid for and seem to have thought carefully about what they put their name to. Alex (The Frugality) Emma Hill (ejstyle.com) and Lucy Williams (Fashionmenow) are all bloggers that I admire for achieving this balance. 

So there we go, I hope this might be useful to someone out there, and if not useful, perhaps just interesting?! My blog is soon to have a little overhaul, so you might have to bear with me while these changes take place. I will have to get to grips with new technology, so there may be a few glitches along the way.

As always, thank you for following, your support and for reading my blog.

Much love,

Chloe x

4 comments so far.

4 responses to “Things I have learnt from my time as a blogger”

  1. Hellebelle says:

    Great read. Thought you might be interested in this about payment which I read recently….https://angrybakerinlondon.com/blog/2017/5/30/on-getting-paid

  2. Kathy says:

    A really thought provoking and interesting post. Thanks for this Chloe, it’s really insightful.
    Point 1&2 really resonated with me as I’ve had positive and negative experiences with this. I’ve learned from them and what you’ve written here backs up my experiences.
    I accepted one gift from a person who gave me a full history of how hard she was struggling with her business – it arrived and there was no way I could promote it as it wasn’t me, didn’t fit and was really poor quality.
    I ended up sending it back (at my expense) with a letter of apology and no harm done; I’ll be far more careful if I’m lucky enough to be offered another opportunity in the future.
    I’ve also had a couple of tremendously positive experiences where I adore and happily wear what I’ve been gifted and would have paid for them.
    I’m only a micro IG account compared to you and it’s not my job but I love learning from what you write and as ever your blog and IG feeds are my firm favourites. A wonderful mix of aspirational, tangible and you connect.
    Thankyou and enjoy the rest of that AMAZING looking Greek holiday
    Kathy xx

  3. Joanna says:

    Hi Chloe. A great post on Blogging and very helpful to us newbies, who are thinking of taking the plunge. x

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Chloe Samwell-Smith

Chloe Samwell-Smith

I am a fashion loving mum of three, blogging about my love for clothes, interiors, children's fashion, fitness, beauty and travel. I live in London with my husband, three children (Liv, Milla and Charlie) and our siamese cat called Sammy.

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