It’s twelve years this month since I first started writing here at Being Mrs C. A lot has changed in my life since then – most obviously that I’m no longer Mrs C! – but also in terms of the blogging landscape. In a brief moment of calm amongst all the lockdown homeschooling madness I take time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learnt in that time.
I should start with my I started blogging. For me it was a release from a stressful job and also a way of making myself be accountable to someone (i.e. readers) for how I spent my evenings. Rather than just crashing in front of the TV I wanted to do something productive with my time. Be that knitting, sewing or baking in my kitchen. Back then social media wasn’t really a thing in the same way it is today and the term “influencer” certainly didn’t mean what it does today.
As time moved on though so did my blog. From writing about craft projects at home I then moved on to writing about my first pregnancy and the birth of my daughter. In doing so I started to connect with other bloggers and they opened my eyes to the world of what was then known as “mummy bloggers”. I discovered that there were companies and brands that wanted to work with people like me and blogging jobs that pay! Suddenly this little hobby of mine was helping to provide lovely things for my daughter and also an income whilst on maternity leave.
Over the years this balance between making money from my blog and just writing about what I enjoy has been a fine balance. And one that I haven’t always got right. It can be so easy to say yes to every offer of money that comes your way, especially if you need the money, but there are times that it is really not worth it.
Over the years I have had emails that have called me everything from John to Lucinda. I’ve had offers of working with a weaning company when my children were 5 and 7. I’ve been invited to review a teens holiday camp when they were both still in nappies. I’ve been asked to work for a bag of peanuts (literally) and also been told that paying me “wasn’t a priority” for a brand who had insisted that I turnaround a piece of work within 48 hours in the middle of school holidays.
Then there are the emails that ask you to work for free. I’ve spent twelve years now building up my profile as a blogger. I may not be the biggest name out there, and I don’t pretend to be, but I know what I’m doing and take pride in my work. My work online is what I do to pay for my family. It’s helped pay for my divorce and also the steps of independence I’ve taken since then. It’s put food on the family table and kept clothes on my kids’ backs.
When a household name comes along and asks me to do spend time on something from them and then tells me that they have no budget it’s a bit of a smack in the face. Even more so if they are paying to go through a PR agency to do so! My standard reply now is to thank them politely, but point out that sadly no budget doesn’t help to pay for my mortgage or supermarket food bill.
Despite that though, some blogging projects really are just worth getting involved in for the experience. There are two projects that really stick in my mind. One was done for a campaign for a charity called Living Streets who were aiming to get people out walking. They invited Little Miss C and I along to the east end of London to take part in an event they were hosting and offered to pay for my train fare. We had a superb time and I learnt so much about the organisation, as well as the charity Food Cycle who provided our lunch that day. There was no goodie bag or anything like that, but I still remember that day so fondly. The PR at the time went on to become a good friend, especially after my dad died.
The second experience I had was one of those real money can’t buy opportunities. Thanks to an invitation to go to an event at the Foundling Museum in London I was able to take Little Miss C to meet her heroine, Jacqueline Wilson. I even paid our own train fare to get there, yet it was possibly the best day’s work I’ve ever had.
The common thing between these two projects though is that the people organising them and inviting me along knew what would fit well for me and what I write about. I’d featured our love of the outdoors and walking so many times online, and I’d also shown so many photographs of LMC curled up with Jacqueline Wilson books. They’d picked up on that and targeted who they wanted to work with.
As a blogger, if you find a Blogger Outreach Company that gets you, puts projects forwards that are the right fit, and then pays you when they say they will then you’re on to a winner.
If you’re working in blogger outreach then the most valuable thing you can do is get to know the bloggers you work with, or want to work with. With so much of our lives online now I doesn’t take that long to search back through what we do to see if we’re more of a tea or a coffee drinker (tea in my case), find out how old our kids are (10, 7 and 18 months), see if we have any pets (only a couple of fish left now!) or know if we’re someone more into clothes shopping or mooching around a charity shop (give me a chazza any day of the week!) And please get our name right. It’s just polite. As is compensating us for what we do for you. No one should be expected to work for free. Yes payment might be in terms of a product, but please don’t make us work for peanuts either!
Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Get Blogged.