This Is The Week That Was #50: Back to School & Back to Work

I’m in such a weird No Man’s Land with regards to routine this week. The World’s Most Gradual School Induction Process has finally culminated in full days for Spaghetti Legs in Reception year, and him coming home wired and tired every school day. Meanwhile, I am still trying to get my head round not being in pyjamas until 10am like the summer holidays, and being hyper alert to the need to pick him up at a new time (cue lots and lots of clock watching).

READ: ‘Case of the Ex: the Brief Hello’ and ‘Playground Pickles’

I go through spurts of getting shit done (google The Pomodoro Technique for a great time management tip if you’re one of these easily distracted people like me) or sitting eating crisp butties watching box sets. Some days I look out of the window and an hour passes.

This isn’t helpful. During the summer holidays, which I describe as a period of very intense parenting, I didn’t do much work. I knew I could commit to deadlines, reviews, visits, or spending much time checking my work (bit of insight here: I never check these blog posts before I press ‘publish’ – you just get what you’re given with these!). It’s only a few weeks’ downtime I told myself, and as soon as school starts I’ll be able to get back at it. Well, October is staring me in the face and bills have to pay.

Selling out

I often see little remarks on social media berating bloggers for commercial activity in their posts. Or rather praising influencers who don’t actively appear to be promoting brands. That’s great, and that’s fair enough, and I get it. I understand why you want to feel like someone’s just telling you about a product cause they genuinely love it. And I do that myself plenty of times. I also tell you if something’s shite but that’s another story.

You see the thing with going commercial, or monetising your blog or Instagram as they call it, is that people can be jealous or they can be pissed off. Or both. They can be jealous of someone raking it in – money for old rope, it seems – and yeah sometimes talentless no marks strike it lucky but whatchagonnado?

Keeping it natural

Other times people get pissed off if there’s an awkward product placement (see: Listerine-gate) or they’re promoting something that doesn’t seem a natural fit with their own ‘brand’. You know, maybe you’ve spent years living the Good Life and subsisting off your allotment then suddenly you’re promoting Range Rovers and going to SeaWorld. Audiences notice these things, and it breaks down trust. It undermines what you thought you knew about this person, this influencer, this face on a video, or these pictures in a grid.

That doesn’t mean bloggers or vloggers have to have a niche and stick to it; far from it. It’s just about really being able to say hand on heart that a brand or product reflects your interests or values. The other thing that pisses people off is when an influencer is far too over enthusiastic to the point of being fake (see also: the Kettle Chips and me on the pig bus). Again, you can either let them off the hook or just unfollow. It’s really that simple. You don’t have to let it shake you to the core. If you don’t think the fit is right and it no longer interests you, inspires you, makes you laugh – or whatever it is that you get out of following strangers on social media – then just knock it on the head. As for me, you can pretty much expect the following…

Things I’m not gonna talk about for money:

Gambling

High heels

Diets full stop

Anything with crushed velvet on

Things I don’t mind including on my social channels and being paid for at the same time:

Hotel stays

Days out

Free food (what do you think I am, all kinds of stupid?)

and plenty more besides.

I have loads and loads of interests – more if you include everything my son likes – and I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but *newsflash* this is my blog, not anyone else’s. It’s my Instagram. It’s my Twitter. That’s why I write about dead relatives from 150 years ago. That’s why I write about an album nobody’s ever heard of from when I was a teenager. That’s why I write about what happened to me when I became a parent. That’s why I write about what I did and where I went. If someone only wants to see stuff that 100% reflects their own life on the internet then I daresay these days they can find it. If not, they can start their own blog or Instagram account.

Crunching the numbers

This month I had to pay £215 just to keep my website going for another year. I’m not a big blogger or influencer. I think I’m what’s called a micro influencer in marketing jargon. Nor do I have a lucrative day job. I can’t pluck two bills from thin air just like that. I have to write stuff and be paid for it to offset the cost of that website bill. I just got paid for some work I did in June, and am still waiting to be paid for some work I did in April. That’s nearly half a year. I was also promised payment from a retail park in return for featuring them on my social media when I went to do my back to school visit there. I was a genuine customer, but wouldn’t have actually planned to go to this particular shopping park if I hadn’t been asked. Nevertheless I made the trip, featured it on my social media, and did I write up including links to their website. They didn’t pay me. They said because I didn’t tell them exactly what time I was going that I had failed to meet the brief. But I had done the work, and they benefited from my work being live on the internet with links to their website for two weeks until they told me they weren’t going to pay me.

Do you see how this works? Whether it’s £50 or £100 or £1,000 or however much; there’s going to be times when a blogger or a Youtuber or some kind of influencer has been ripped off or left out of pocket. Maybe not the big guns, these days, because they have lawyers and agents and all that jazz. But a mummy blogger who you’ve screwed your face up at for posting three pictures of nappies over the course of a week, or the beauty blogger who was slightly too enthusiastic about a lip liner. And whether it goes straight on admin to keep a website going, supplementing another income, paying for school uniform, offsetting petrol and parking to go and do a review, paying off debts, or as a full time fucking income. There is nothing wrong with making money from social media channels.

If you don’t like how they do it or what they’re aligning themselves with, that’s understandable – just ditch them and follow someone else. Otherwise just fucking tolerate it man, there’s worse crimes that getting paid!

Where do you stand on this? Is your Instagram awash with #AD and #Spon posts? Have you ever unfollowed someone for too many ads? And what’s the tipping point between natural and monetised posts where it begins to put you off?

Until next time…. pay your bills on time x

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