This is not a real job. How many times have you heard this if you are actually a blogger or Instagrammer? On the other hand, how many times have you thought/said this, if someone told you ‘I am a Blogger/Instagrammer’?
It is quiet funny how people react to a digital skill – many times they undermine it. Many times they also think it is free because they do not understand how much time and effort goes into creating digital content be that for Instagram, v/blog or youtube. I decided to write this post and go through what it actually takes to be a blogger/Instagrammer/Vlogger/Influencer – whatever you want to call it. I am not saying being a ‘successful’ one. I am just talking in general, as I think success is a personal thing. I will also talk about why do I think this is not a free skill, to be exploited by the market.
I have always known how much effort it goes into having a blog. I will talk about this further down. First, I want to talk about Instagram. It all did start with food and selfies, true that, however the platform has evolved tremendously in the past couple of years.
I must admit, I was one of those who thought Instagram was just, well, take a selfie, put some bronzing filter and off you go. Or maybe snap Big Ben or something? Who doesn’t like a good, old Big Ben picture – London classic. 1000s of likes – here they come. It only took for me to fail miserably with my initial Instagram attempts to realise that it is not ‘just taking pictures’. Looking at someone’s feed on Instagram, makes it look like it is easy to create it. However, have you ever tried building a pretty feed? I am not even envisioning mine at the moment. There are some gorgeous London Instagrammers whose feeds you can check out (my personal favourites: crazycatladyldn, meanderingmacaron, mylondonfairytales, anna_rudo and obviously the aggregates such as prettycitylondon, prettylittlelondon etc).
Why do I think this is a real job? So what does it take to be an ‘Instagrammer’, get a dedicated and engaged following? Time, effort and a touch of talent.
You need to know how to ‘plan’ your feed. There are apps that allow you to pre-plan your posts to see if they match together
Going around London or any place really and taking photos takes A LOT OF time. Editing those photos, also takes a chunk of time. Instagram is a community. It is like a friendship – you need to nurture it. People engage with you, you engage with people, it is not just about posting a photo. It is about the experience surrounding it.
This is different than time. Timing is crucial – the light, lack of people, cars, vans or the perfect car/van/person to be snapped in a second. It takes a second to capture the perfect moment.
Capturing that perfect moment also takes talent. At the start, I could not even see these moments. I have a theory that there are people who have a natural talent for this and then there are people who can learn. Obviously, it comes easier for the people who have it in them. I consider myself to be from the second type – I learnt to see the beauty. I was way too busy looking at my feet, running to the office every day, to have the time to look around. It took time and effort to make myself slow down and embrace the world.
It is not about posting a couple of pictures and expecting miracles. It is about being there for the long run. Being part of a community and sharing valuable images/thoughts with that community for them, not just for you.
Why do I think this is not a free skill? See points above.
A note on hashtags: #please #stop #hashtagging #sentences Hashtags are keywords – this means people look them up to see imagery associated with the #. Example: #london means your picture relates to London. There is no point of hashtagging a sentence, also no point of hastags, if your profile is private as your images do not get indexed.
Being in the shoes of a Digital Marketeer or just a Marketeer in a company, you kind of appreciate blogs but you are not sure why the heck do you need to pay or give freebies for exposure. Also, surely it is to that difficult to just get a blog together. It is a little bit funny, however since I started this blog I cannot count the number of people who said to me – oh, I can do a blog too.
Yes, you can do a blog. Anyone can start a blog. It is maintaining it where the tough part comes in.
Will you dedicate 4-5h per article? Will you do at least 2 articles a week, ideally 4? Will you become bestest of friends with Search console (aka webmasters)? Will you roll up your sleeves and understand why are you getting a 500 error on your server (rare, horror story)?
Sitting and writing this, at this sentence, I am on my second hour. You might think – oh this is because you are slow, doh. Well, not really 🙂 Or at least I hope so :S It takes time to set up an article with all its headers, meta, titles etc. Finding the images, cutting them in the right sizes, adding all the alt text and descriptions. Practically doing all the invisible work which makes Google happy. If you want to blog, you better make sure Google is happy with it. Traffic is king for a blog, and driving that traffic comes from being meticulous about your SEO and content strategy. Or having loads of money to throw into paid ads 😉
So, yes, I do think having a blog is a full time job. It also takes time and skill to make it work. My blog is coming to being 9 months old and it has taken many months until I started getting traffic. I am getting traffic because I put so much effort into it, and a lot of sleepless nights and weekends.
A gardener won’t just come to fix your garden for free. A v/blogger or Instagrammer should not be required to use their skill free of charge, and the skill should be regarded with a little bit more respect than ‘it is just pictures‘ or ‘it is just some text on a page‘. It is a modern day art, so get with the program. Otherwise, you should probably try to do it yourself 😉