What you need to know about bloggers and freelancers

 

 

I’m often asked why I started blogging.

The answer is both sweet and practical. Being a new mum, it was the best way to keep memories and digital pictures near. It also was the best way to share them with family and friends. Blogs, at the time were a mere hobby. Little by little, though they attracted brands. I started from scratch, made a different platform focusing on London first then travels. And food. Food is central to my world – I’m French after all.

I still had what people called “a proper job” as an aftersales admin in an aerospace company by day, writing reviews by night. When my department closed, rather than taking another position in the company, I dived in. Freelancer. Let’s see what we can make of that. A French publishing company, Hachette, contacted me to revise travel guides for them. The US National Parks first, then Vienna, London. I am just finishing the one on the South and East of Iceland, this time creating it entirely not improving a previous version. Next will be the Balearic Islands (Majorca, here I come) and Andalusia. In parallel, I do translations (French <> English), social media for a couple companies and copywriting.

Blogger, though, is often a dirty word. To many people, it seems to mean I’m always on holiday. That a red carpet is rolled for me in exchange for a few hundred words and a couple pictures. And so I explain, yet again… You do the marketing, the photoshooting, the interviews, you cover social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), you edit the pictures, you write (in English then French in my case), you buzz the link on social media. Then back to square one, repeat. This bring wonderful, exceptional experiences – let alone, seeing what happens behind the stage, meeting founders, hearing about the passion, the story of a product, a dish, a place first hand. But it is work. You are always smiling and cheerful no matter what you feel inside. You can’t entirely relax because this is work, your pictures have to be good even though the lighting is terrible or the pace super fast so you juggle with taking pictures, taking notes and can’t really enjoy it. Oh, and although you have the experience for free, most often, you are not paid. You develop an expertise and hope that this will then interest a brand for a collaboration. With a salary, not goodies.

Faced with condescending smile when saying I’m a blogger, I rebranded as travel writer/freelancer. I don’t think I could go back to working in a company. I love the flexibility this brings. Being able to work from anywhere in the world, as long as I have wifi… Arranging my day as I wish – I can do social media on my phone while commuting, type a text from home if my children are sick and not get a sigh from a male manager annoyed at a mother asking a day off at the last minute.  I can be in London all day reviewing restaurants and exhibitions and start an article at 11pm. I work longer hours than I did before and rarely disconnect on family holidays. When there is a work opportunity, given how much competition there is on the market, you take it… Mostly I enjoy working with people, rather than for people. We both get something out of it. There is more respect on each sides.

Well, almost always. One thing people do not tell you before you decide to freelance is you will work with (many) clients for (many) small sums. No matter what you quote, you can be sure your customer will tell you it is over their budget (if they have a budget at all, bloggers know what I mean!). And although your initial contact might be wonderful, understanding and efficient… the financial team behind is usually slow. You think you’ve worked and therefore earned the payment on time, they think better cashflow on our side if we space things out. I feel I’m constantly chasing payments, sometimes for absurd amounts. It will take a few weeks to a few months to get it. I am considered “a company” in a way, not an individual who might have a mortgage and bills to pay on a regular basis. Or maybe they think it’s my pocket money, I must have a “normal” job somewhere and this is just a nice extra.

Yet, until now, I have always had my fee paid at some point. Before Christmas, shoutnews.net contacted me for a sponsored post. I posted it as requested, sent my Paypal details. I have been emailing since the beginning of January. I was advised on January 16 that my contact had  “just chased this with {her} team and it will be with you as soon as possible. ” and on January 25 “I have addressed this with my team this morning as matter of urgency.” I’m still waiting. There is no answer to my emails anymore. No phone number nor address on the site. The generic email address remains unanswered. I traced the company as being based in the US. What to do now? What a waste of time and energy. All tips welcome! Edit, February 09: Shoutnet are “so sorry again about the delay” and have now arranged the payment, one monthe later than due and with very limited answers to emails. Do not that the contact email given on the website was never answered at all.

So next time you meet a blogger or a freelancer, instead of seeing us as VIPs, remember there always are 2 sides to a story. We have extraordinary opportunities, we meet amazing people. We also often work 7 days a week and at insane hours. And collecting the integrity of our salary is quite a challenge. Give us a little credit, will you?

 

what you need to know about bloggers and freelancers

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2 Comments

  1. February 3, 2017 / 21:39

    I can feel your pain. Although many wouldn’t do it this way I agree that naming and shaming is the way to go. Also to warn others so that they don’t work with the same disorganised people.
    My biggest pet hate is not being offered payment at all. They think it’s somewhat important to use my platform but don’t deem it important enough to pay me. Or they are a start up but have somehow forgot to allocate money to their marketing efforts. Pah.

  2. Chocoralie
    February 3, 2017 / 23:23

    @Silke Elzner Christmas is a particularly tough period. Many charities get in touch for their event to be put forward. And of course you do want to help but… after a few, you simply have to say no, I can’t keep doing that for free no matter how good your work is. And you feel so guilty at the same time…

    I really do not like the naming and shaming but… I am stuck for options. And yes, people (companies and bloggers alike) should know this is not a serious company should they do a little digging.

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