If you’ve noticed, I’ve taken a short break from blogging (the writing aspect, at least) not because there wasn’t anything to write about but rather, I couldn’t find the words to say. I pulled a mini Michelle Phan and reassessed the industry I’m in and asked myself some real questions like, “why am I doing this?”, “who am I doing it for?”, “what do I want to achieve?” and more importantly, and the question I have no answer to yet, “is all of this really worth it?” (I’m praying that the answer to this is a big fat yes!). In this industry, I think these are questions we all have to constantly ask to keep ourselves grounded and to avoid a slow, impending and painful death brought about from jealousy and “competition”.
In the past weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to people who I feel like I can relate to on a more personal level, I’ve taken advice from my elders and I’ve made a conscious effort to detach myself from people who I believe could be toxic to my general welfare. I found myself going back to the drawing board and reevaluating the brand I want to create/ build/ maintain. I finally hired myself a manager/ PA/ PR/ agent (my sister- LOL) and I think I am ready to face these next chapters of my life… but now the question is, is everybody else?
It occurred to me over numerous cups of coffee, pizza dates, long phone calls and a random conversation with my neighbors that bloggers are a bit of an urban legend to a lot of business owners, consumers, readers- people in general, and I simply cannot blog about anything else other than this.
So I hope this entry, no matter how lengthy it might end up to be, will give anyone and everyone, interested or intrigued a better idea as to what a blogger is and basically everything else in between.
I. WHAT IS A BLOGGER AND WHAT IS A VLOGGER?
Basically, bloggers write and vloggers make videos but yes, you can be and do both. To make things a lot easier, I refer to myself as an online content creator until asked to elaborate (then I say blogger/ vlogger/ podcaster/ host/ marketing manager/ occasional event organizer/ public speaker) because that is basically what I do- create content online for people to utilize for information, entertainment or to be smothered with ad placements and promotions.
Bloggers can usually be found under a website such as, www.issaplease.com or www.issatalks.wordpress.com while vloggers are commonly found on Youtube and sometimes Vimeo. Both platforms are great for whatever purpose they may serve and both platforms have their own set of challenges which are all exciting, exhausting but eventually worth it.
Advice for bloggers: If you want to create an online identity, ask yourself what your strengths and weaknesses are. Do you like to take photographs, do you like to write, would you rather create videos or both?
Advice for businesses: If you’re hoping to promote your business/ products ask yourselves if a write up that’s easily searchable would be substantial for you or would you rather go all out and have a vlogger over. Personally, I prefer that local restaurants/ events be accommodated through blog entries while products such as clothes, make up & products that are ready for an international reach be done through vlogs. But this is all just my own opinion.
II. NOT ALL BLOGGERS ARE INFLUENCERS & NOT ALL INFLUENCERS ARE BLOGGERS. BUT WE ALL WANT TO BE BOTH.
Same as, “anyone can be a blogger but not everyone can write” or “anyone can be a vlogger but not everyone can create engaging content” and whatever harsh pieces of reality you want to throw in there. Yes, it hurts to hear especially if you’re a blogger but it’s the harsh truth- not.all.bloggers.are.influencers.and.not.all.influencers.are.bloggers. Content creators like to throw the term “influencer” around as yes, we all have our own influences no matter how big or small they may be but I’ll be completely honest, sometimes using the term influencer can be quite condescending. Terms like top blogger, influencer, best, connoisseur and the like, are titles that ought to be awarded to you and not something you claim on your own.It’s probably not a big deal but it really feels like you’re kissing your own ass.
Let’s talk about Instagram for a bit. Over the years, Instagram has slowly evolved from a fun place to post your daily musings and photos into a social media platform that reeks of subconscious ad placements. Does it work? YES! Is everyone on Instagram who has a huge following a blogger? No. Can Instagram influencers make your business grow? Perhaps. Does everyone who sees these posts buy into the idea of I MUST HAVE THIS? Not necessarily.
True, not all bloggers are influencers, as you can own a blog but not haveanyone buy into your posts but the reality is, we all have that common goal of wanting to create an influence on our audiences but like everything in life, not everything comes easy.
Advice for bloggers: Let your work speak for yourself. Be engaging, create honest content, don’t claim to be someone you’re not.
Advice for businesses: Study who you want to work with. Do they have a good following? Are they engaging? Are they someone whom you think would reflect your product well? Don’t just get someone because they have a blog or an Instagram account. Do your research- you are investing money on these people, spend it well.
III. HOW DO WE MAKE MONEY… OR DON’T MAKE MONEY?
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this, I would have more money than I actually make. There’s no hatred in that statement because it’s natural for people to wonder, I’m really just saying. Blogging, vlogging and content creation is fairly new especially to the older generation and if you really wanted to know, here are your answers.
EX DEALS – or exchange deals which basically means you and a company exchange services for free. I think this best works with ambassadorship programs where a content creator/ influencer promotes a business in exchange for the reach of that campaign also given that both parties are working to promote one another. As I still prefer money or ex-deals, sometimes this is a fair trade.
SPONSORSHIP’S – Sponsorship’s typically work the same way any other sponsorship does, you have a benefactor (content creator) and a sponsor (company/ brand/ product). Most of the time, companies will send over items for content creators to promote and then we meticulously spend time thinking of interesting ways to spruce up your product and make it look appealing to our respective audiences. This is when flat lays, location shots, etc. come into play. For the record, I hate flat lays and most of us do but you know what, someone’s gotta do it.
I’ve had a couple possible sponsors back out when I asked for a paid sponsorship because I had taken a look at their profile and realized that I had gotten the shorter end of the stick. Cebuano businesses are very frugal and don’t believe that we bloggers deserve to be paid hence, I lost that sponsorship. It was fine though, I saved myself time and it made me realize that the businesses I do want to work with will see my worth and not squeeze me out dry.
AD PLACEMENTS – You see the right side of my blog with the ads? That spot is for sale. Do you want my readers to perhaps chance upon it, become curious and click on it? Then you must pay for that spot. Sure, it’s empty now but if you ever wondered how some bloggers make an extra living… ad placements.
MONETEZATION – I monetize my videos on youtube which gives me a chance to make my money’s and time’s worth out of all the content that I’ve painstakingly worked on. Making money on Youtube is hard, it involves lifetime views, engagement and a lot of hoopla I haven’t quite sat myself down to actualize. It’s somewhere on the interwebs if you want to search it up but if you’ve ever wondered why vloggers say “let’s get this video to N thousand of likes…” well, now you know why.
Personally, I make an income through sponsorships and clients. I often get paid to promote establishments, events, products and the like. Sometimes I’ll do it for free but honestly, I prefer it if I get paid. Should you want to know my rates, feel free to contact my manager at email@example.com.
The most hurtful thing I’ve ever had anyone say to my face was, “why should I pay a blogger? They ought to do it for free!”. Ex-squeeze me, no. Think of it this way, if If I go to a event, it usually consumes 4-5 hours of my day then I go home, edit photos, write a blog entry, edit a video, post on my social media which roughly takes up about 12 or more hours of my day. If I go to 7 events in a week (or sometimes more!), that’s N number of hours that I’ve given to an establishment for FREE! So question is, with all that time taken up, how do I make money to buy my clothes to wear to your event, how can I afford make up to look fairly decent for your event, how to I pay for fair/ gas money, how do I pay for my camera, my internet, my laptop, my RENT, my GROCERIES, my BILLS? Unless I make a million views on my website, which is unlikely for a lot of bloggers, I’m left with a goody bag/ free things I probably didn’t need to begin with and no money to pay for the things I need to even create a blog entry.
This is why I cannot blog full- time for a living because companies would rather opt for a free blogger rather than pay for one. I’ve worked so hard for my content and I believe I’m worth being paid so please don’t tell me that I ought to do it for free because nothing in this life is free.
Advice for bloggers: Know your worth. Choose your ex-deals properly, know when to charge and when something is worth pro bono-ing. Ask yourself, is it more substantial for me or for the company or would it be a fair exchange? Freebies are fun but when that’s all you have, you’ll find yourself wishing you had money to pay for that camera you’ve always wanted to buy.
Advice for business: Understand that you’re dealing with human beings that are helping you out and vice versa. You would pay for a model, wouldn’t you? Why not pay for someone who does a little bit more than that? (Not dissing models but you know what I mean.)
IV. WHY THE SUDDEN SHIFT IN ADVERTISING STRATEGIES?
My newly found friend and make up artist, Pauline Jakosalem, pointed out a reality that I had once heard of before which is that consumers have found a way to tune out advertisements. We don’t like it when a product is rubbed in our face and so we tend to gravitate to a more human approach which is what bloggers, influencers, vloggers and content creators seem to put on the table.
Since the shifting of times, ad agencies have also had to get with the program and approach content creators. This makes you wonder, do they really believe in the product their promoting or kinain lang ba talaga ng sistema? My only answer to that, in my defense and hopefully everyone else’s is that, we only promote things we believe in. But as I cannot speak for every single content creator on the planet, I think this is when doing your research and knowing your prospective influencer is important.
V. ENGAGEMENT OVER NUMBERS
Sometimes you’ll meet an Instagrammer (influencer that posts purely on Instagram and has a wide following) that has a buttload of followers online and yes, while that’s great and all, sometimes the following doesn’t match their engagements aka likes/ comments. Instagram is a tricky place I tell you and I struggle with it quite often. A harsh reality is that followers, likers and comments can be BOUGHT (enter, Google!) so look for an influencer with a strong following, an engagement and mostly someone who you think would be a great reflection of your brand.
Content creators have affected traditional media, content creators have affected advertising agencies and content creators have killed content creators one way or another. It’s a dog eat dog world we live in no matter what industry you’re in and here’s the juicy part, not all content creators are the same. *shocker*
We all have our own niches, following, strategies and 1 blogger is not a reflection of all bloggers. I’ve been doing this for some time and I may not have been as consistent or lucky in my life as others have but I take everything I’ve encountered and used it as a learning experience. I’ve been blessed enough to understand how the industry works, I’ve delved into the marketing/ advertising life and after all the clothes have been worn; make up has been removed and food has been expelled from my body, the only thing I can really offer anyone is education.
So my parting bullet points are this:
- Do your research whether you’re a content creator or a business looking to invest. I’ve been to events where they had god knows how many bloggers over and it wasn’t their lack of a following that bothered me, it was their lack of a work ethic that kept me up and made me loose complete interest in my profession. Bloggers, when you go to an event remember first and foremost that you are working. If a company really wanted you to just have fun, they wouldn’t request for deliverables to begin with. Show interest in a company, talk to whoever you can talk to, thank them, etc. Being an introvert isn’t an excuse to be disrespectful- if you want to last long in this industry, man the fuck up.Businesses, actually take the time to know who you are asking to represent your company whether you do it on your own or through an ad agency. Create contracts, a list of deliverables, do the necessary research and be smart. I’ve heard businesses call us “freeloaders” and honestly, there is some truth in that depending which ones you’re referring to, but if you give something without being specific about what you want in return, it’s also partially your fault.
- Handle all accounts/ transactions accordingly. Content creators, equip yourself with a media kit, a contract, accomplish all your deliverables and never bite off more than you can chew. You’re a brand, be a brand worth being and please, keep your feet on the ground but your head in the clouds. (I quoted Paramore!)
- Be kind, honest and respectful- a trait we often lack. And please stop creating so much drama revolving yourself, it’s unbecoming and it makes people dislike you more than they already do.
As I end this entry, I feel a huge weight coming off of my shoulders. I am over my writing slump as I’ve vigorously written down months worth of contemplation’s, rants and conversations that I’ve been carrying with me for everyone to read. Love it or hate it, this is still content and at the end of the day, that’s what I do.
It’s been real,
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This just nailed it to the 999th level… <3 I learned a lot reading this and realized things I haven't even thought before. Thanks for this, Issa. This is a life-saver! LOL 🙂
I’m so glad this was helpful for you and your brand, Wellbein! 🙂 Hope to meet you soon!