Bloggers.

Some write for the passion, some write for the fun, some write for the fame, some wanna make new friends and some are just looking for an additional stream of income. It could be attending events, media press release, or doing simple write-ups through the products delivered to your address.

Whatever the reasons may be, we all share a same interest - online writing.


No matter how big or small your scale of influence is, different PR agencies tend to target different groups of bloggers and to be very honest, it's no doubt that most of the people within my circle of friends fall under the "smaller scale of influence" category. I'm not sure what it's like for bloggers of a "bigger scale of influence" but whether it's big or small, it still plays a part in raising awareness for the company's brands.

Ever since my Polytechnic Post went viral, friends had been overly concerned and curious about what I do apart from my studies in school. It's funny though, how people only notice you and suddenly cared about what you're actually up to everyday when something gets "popular".

Nevertheless, I've decided to come up with a breakdown of my perception of bloggers with, to put it very bluntly, a "smaller scale of influence" in general. 


To the Public:

1) Not all campaigns and adverts are paid for.

One of the most asked questions has got to be, "Eh, how much do you earn by blogging uh? Got at least $200 or $300 a month?" And my answer will always be the same.

Not every advertisement we post up on blogs or our social media pages are remunerated.
(as much as we wished they were)

I usually attend events only if,

a) The activities/products interest me. (and/or)
b) I'm going with my blogger friends. (and/or)
c) It's paid for. (let's be realistic)

But not EVERY ad we publish equate to us earning income. Even if we do, top bloggers get paid from $1000 to above $3000 per post. For us, we'd be lucky to get about $150-300, where companies usually make use of our other social media pages too, such as postings on Facebook and Instagram. An alternative stream of earnings come from winning competitions, but the closest to $1000 I came to was an $800. So grateful, yet opportunities like these don't come often.

2) It's not a full-time job for the majority of us.

Most of us in said category above are either students or already working. The earnings we get from blogging are a) not stable, b) only seen as a part-time mini career for most of us. Like, you know, getting rewarded for something you actually love doing. But it's so difficult to actually run this full-time unless you're the cream of the crop in the blogosphere.

Event invites and advertorial queries don't come in on a regular basis and even if they do, as happy as we are to receive them, earning $100 per blog post isn't able to sustain us for long. We still have to get out to the real world and work our butts off.

Don't get me wrong though - it's definitely THE DREAM JOB to make this into a full-time career. But how many of us can actually do that?

3) Yes, we can spend a day simply filtering and editing pictures.

Especially when you're a lover of photography or too chio to decide which picture to filter out. I'm not saying that I'm chio (haha) but I've always had difficulty choosing between photos A and B and C although all are of the same people/objects, just different expressions and angles. Then you'll end up editing ALL before settling on the best. Not sure about guy bloggers but girls ARE like that.

4) It's not as easy as it seems.

Behind all the complimentary goodies, sponsored treatments and fun-filled pictures, a LOT of hard work is put into crafting out posts. Usually, we receive invites to attend events to get to know a product/service better before the blog post is requested after a reasonable deadline is given.

What you see:
  • Free stuff
  • More free stuff
  • Making new friends
  • Pretty pictures
  • Easy money
  • Free stuff again
VS.

What you don't see:

Before the event:
  • Travelling time/expenses
  • Effort of dressing up and looking "made-up" for event photos

During the event:
  • Ensuring the angles for the product/service are perfect (when we take food pictures, it usually ends up turning cold from all the waiting) 
  • Flooding our camera rolls with pictures
  • Having to remember the details of the product/service for blogging purposes

After the event:
  • Filtering out a gazillion photos
  • Taking more close-up product photos with better lighting 
  • Painstakingly editing the photos one by one to adjust each lighting
  • Uploading on photo streams (for example, if we upload on Flickr, we still have an extra step of transferring the HTML coding over to our post)
  • Brainstorming on content (this can take days) 
  • Researching on the brand/company to have a better understanding of their background when getting the content out
  • Reviewing our post for multiple times before it's published
  • Referring the post back to your PR agency or client and making sure that they are satisfied with your content (if not, you'll have to make more changes)

And this, my friends, is the behind-the-scenes of every blogger that you don't get to see everyday.

To PR agencies:

5) Don't take in more than you can handle.

I've been to a few events or opening launches whereby they call it a "closed-door event" but it ended up looking the COMPLETE OPPOSITE because the place was honestly packed like sardines.

The good part of it was that you get to see many familiar faces and mingle around with people you haven't seen in a while. It was great catching up with some of them here and there, from time to time.

However, the bad part would be that everyone's just swarming about, trying to get pictures of the best angle or taking turns to do so while waiting for the others to be done. Even the "complimentary food" stated in the email invite had already ran out during the first hour when invited guests were still coming in.

Company X: "Oh, the more the merrier, and I'll get greater exposure for my brand, so why not?" 

Not true. Guests have ended up leaving early (you probably didn't notice anyway) because it was too crazily packed that just goes to show how much you "value" your guests. They might have no choice but to say good words about you online (because of your sponsored gifts etc.), but do they REALLY feel that way? Are they going to walk past your store and think, "hey, I've been here before and it was a great experience"? Are they eventually going to truly recommend it to their friends/family?

No.

Because the experience SUCKED.

6) We're not always just about freebies and vouchers.

Really, we're not.

If you've read number 4) above, and also realize that we have our own commitments (school, friends, family, work) other than blogging and events, you'll understand why.

7) It's not very nice to constantly flood our inbox with media releases.

Many PR agencies tend to forward their messages all at once for convenience sake, and address you as "dear editor/blogger/writer" or just "hi there".

Some PR agencies are really nice, like they reply to your every message politely, telling you things like "looking forward to see you" etc. and are no different for the treatment you receive on the actual event you're invited for.

Then again, there are those random ones you've completely never interacted with before, flooding your inbox with [MEDIA RELEASE] yada yada, with a WHOLE chunk of words that look foreign to you with two-three documents of MORE CHUNKS OF WORDS ATTACHED.

Then I'll be like, "What?"

And after ignoring that insignificant email, they send you more emails of the same format with different alien content.

I mean like, you could have at least sent a proper event invitation to whatever you want to introduce the bloggers to, and wait for them to accept your invitation before you forward them a press release to aid their content writing when it's time. It's just plain rude to keep spamming chunks of words to us like we're secondary targets to get your information across to other audience.

Conclusion: JUNK MAIL.

8) Media events should be scheduled in the evening or on weekends, if possible.

As mentioned, most of us are still schooling or already working a full-time job. To have a better turn-up, try to schedule events on weekday evenings after office hours (preferably at a central location made convenient for everyone), or on weekends.

Personally, I'd also prefer it not to be in the morning because bloggers tend to spend some time dolling up before heading outdoors, and wanting their beauty sleep-in (in fact, everyone loves sleep) on weekend mornings. Try to keep it within 2-4 hours too, so that we can attend the event and yet spend the rest of the day for our own personal activities at the same time.

To Clients: 

9) Get our names right.

It sounds like a no brain-er, but many actually don't get your names right at all, especially for uncommon names like mine. Let's not even talk about uncommon names - they get confused with simple names at times.

You should have the basic courtesy of simply getting our names right. I would much rather you leave my name out and just start with a "Hello, *message here*", rather than you spell it wrongly and piss me off before you even start off with your first sentence.

10) Do your research beforehand.

Whether it is a sidebar advert or style of blogging, whenever you approach a blogger, you should be doing the basic research beforehand and understanding more about their blog templates and blogging style, too.

For example, many bloggers definitely have their "About Me" or "FAQ" page. It doesn't take you long to click into the page and read through a list of interesting facts before knowing which ones are the target group you're looking for. Although most of them are "lifestyle bloggers" in general, there are also bloggers who specialize in food, beauty, fashion, technology or travel, whichever you deem fit.

Also, some blogs don't have a sidebar at ALL. Check on that before requesting to put up a sidebar banner for your brand.

11) If you're going to set a deadline that you strictly need bloggers to stick to, you should be paying us on time too.

Before you perceive me as a money-faced freak, let me clear some things out.

Some clients are quite strict with their deadlines, because they might be rushing articles and reviews out for festivals such as Christmas, the New Year, etc. If you're going to accept their offer, you had better churn out the article to them by hook or by crook.

Once it's done, we understand that some time is needed to process the payment. Don't worry, most of us are patient. Some clients are also REALLY responsible with their bloggers' payment, and ensure that they pay you during the time stated in the agreement. They even ask nicely to check with you if you've received the remuneration. =)

But there are those *clenches fists* irresponsible ones whom you've approached again and again, trying to sound the nicest you can be when enquiring about when the payment comes in, especially when you're low in cash and the payment was already expected to be banked in WEEKS OR MONTHS AGO.

Then for EACH TIME you ask them, they give you answers such as, "It's processing", and "Should be in soon", and "Will let you know again" and NEVER GETS BACK TO YOU UNTIL THE NEXT TIME YOU APPROACH THEM AGAIN.

WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE TO CHASE FOR THE PAYMENT THAT WE DESERVE?! 

All the hard work, effort and time spent on writing posts, with the shitty tight deadlines to meet and this is the kind of reward they give in return. You could have explained to us nicely, that it might take a while for the payment to be banked in because of *whatever legitimate reason*. We will be understanding. But if you're going to bloody drag the payment every single time and still giving the same old replies after 4-5 freaking months, then you're in the wrong. 

Can't believe some companies have no shame at all. NO SHAME. 

12) How much you put in does NOT equal to how much you'll get.

Beyond all these event invites, sponsored products and services, plus all the goodie bags, published reviews and articles, it all revolves around getting the brand awareness raised up and creating a greater number of customer walk-ins for the company. The main reason behind all the blogger engagement and getting the message of the brand across social media platforms.

We get your intention.

But don't expect too much from bloggers of a "smaller scale of influence" to actually produce INSTANT, SIGNIFICANT RESULTS for you. 

Why I'm saying this is because my blogger friends and I had once been "warned" for not having produced results for the client, i.e. having published our posts but with little or no walk-ins till that date. (By the way, it wasn't a paid engagement.)

We found it utterly rude and disrespectful. 

LOOK. We might not have generated the kind of results YOU wanted to get for your company, but that doesn't mean that we haven't did our best in curating the best content that we could in our blogs. I don't even want to get started again on the detailed routine we go through, mentioned above in point 4), before we get to craft out the post that you see on our blog sites.

If you really want your business to go "BOOOM!" and get many legit walk-ins, you should be working on your own business and asking yourself why your marketing tactics aren't working that well. If you really, REALLY want your business to be known better by the public in general, why aren't you forking out the thousands of dollars to approach those at the cream of the crop instead? 

I don't even have to list them out, we all know them ourselves. They have such a huge following with a large scope of public influence. They are powerful and actually generate real quality content on their social media platforms. If you're looking for instant results, I think you've targeted the wrong group of bloggers.

Price is what you pay.

Once again, we MIGHT be the cheaper alternative, but we go through what each blogger goes through too - wanting to portray the best of the brands we work with and in return, hoping you'll give us the same respect that we deserve.

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Disclaimer: 
Hope this article has given you a gist of what it's like for bloggers, behind all the pretty pictures and sponsored products. The main intention was not to shame or mock any brands or companies (FYI, I mentioned none), but for future clients, PR companies and the general public to appreciate bloggers better and have a better understanding of what we go through behind-the-scenes. Once again, thank you to the clients and PR agencies who had been truly empathetic with our needs through our past engagements.