This is the week that was: Behind the scenes of the blog

I’ve had a busy few weeks on the blog. I’ve more or less managed to keep up to date with my ‘This is the Week…’ posts and instead of being a miseryguts, am trying to make a concerted effort to talk about what I’ve been up to instead of doing lots of teenage musing like I’ve just had some intensive Morrissey therapy after been dumped by my German exchange student for someone with more band names written on their army surplus schoolbag in tippex and felt tip pen.

And, I’ve been making a big effort hustling too. It’s not something I really talk about – I was brought up to believe that talking about your finances is terribly gauche – so I won’t go into details. Not just because it’s private but also I don’t feel that I have to explain myself to anyone. I only follow a handful of bloggers but some of them are very successful – almost household names – and yet I see them almost explaining how they are going on holiday twice in one year. I like the transparency, and emphasis on not alienating yourself from your followers who might not be able to afford one let alone two holidays in a year. And yes, maybe it is needed in this weird cyber world we exist in, where things and people are seldom as they seem. But it just seems a shame that so many of us feel obliged to explain ourselves – we can never just be.

Anyway that’s another one of my typical tangents over with; I was meant to be telling you about some of my projects this week. It’s a funny thing blogging. I imagine vlogging too; and that’s probably harder. I have stumbled across many blogs in my time which have reduced me to near tears (of either laughter or pure unadulterated cringing) or at the very least a deep strainful eye roll when bloggers have waxed lyrical about a product or brand that there really is very little to get excited about. Scarlet at Scarlet Wonderland will tell you about a blog post we read once about Kettle Chips and the review of them was so over the top I almost thought it was a parody. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love a posh crisp, obviously I do -but this was too much.

A little while after we had been rolling in the aisles (of a cocktail bar – which incidentally was devoid of nibbles and could’ve done with some Kettle Chips – why does nobody put nibbles out anymore, the tightwads!?) I started to get more offers of paid or sponsored posts. Not to be confused with freebies/gifting, these paid or sponsored posts might involve extolling the virtues of a brand for a flat fee or I might just pop a link to a brand or product in a blog post that I just happen to be writing anyway (like a listicle, for example). Now I don’t feel any shame about doing this, and have turned down brands and products that I’m not interested in or I disagree with. For instance, I think gambling causes massive problems within relationships and families so you won’t see me promoting any of the big bookies or these online bingo games. It’s just not what I’m about. I am not saying I’m perfect – I think we all know that I’m not – but we all have our principles and that happens to be one of mine.

So, the things I do say yes to, are usually things that I would buy or be interested in myself which are either food or lifestyle related. As it turns out, including sponsorships in your blog without being a cringey bastard isn’t even the hardest thing about doing it. Sure, I had to go on a bus shaped like a pig with a heart for a snout and sing the praises of Jamon Iberico with the enthusiasm that only me and Charles Boyle from Brookline Nine-Nine could muster up – but it was genuine. Give me a brief about shoelaces or kitchen roll and I would find it a lot harder.

No, the most difficult bit has turned out to be not knowing whether you’re coming or going. You see, when you’re sent free stuff you just receive and write about it; job done. When there’s financial payment involved then there’s a lot more red tape. I spent four months in talks with the PR company representing LloydsPharmacy on the Diabetes Test feature I did (again, something which I would have gone for anyway – after all, it’s free and very important) and two months waiting for Cadbury’s to thrash out a tailor-made contract for me, during which time I was under a press embargo and couldn’t tell anyone about the project I was going to be working on with them. Ham, chocolate, and diabetes – all very on brand for me isn’t it?

It doesn’t sound like much hassle; it just sounds like waiting around. But what if any of these projects fell through? What if they found someone better, or cheaper, or I didn’t reply to their emails quickly enough when my son was ill? That happened to me once after I had already written and published a sponsored blog which took me hours – I missed the deadline by half an hour and didn’t get paid.

I don’t need to go into what money I’ve got in the bank, or what my other income is, or what my financial arrangements are to make the point that a gig income is pretty precarious. You could be a multi millionaire but if you’ve spent time writing something and you’re promised payment for that then you’ve earned it, regardless of figures.

It also has a knock on effect on your availability for other opportunities. While waiting for briefs and contracts on projects, I found myself turning down other work; freebies that I could have enjoyed in popular restaurants, toys for my son that I could have reviewed. Often the same amount of work, but sometimes… sometimes you just gotta get paid.

Until next time, enjoy your Kettle Chips. They really are the bees knees.



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