The business of blogging and content creation

Lately it feels like the word blogger is something of a dirty word. Everywhere you look there are articles on why you shouldn’t trust bloggers, or how bloggers are not being transparent. Newspapers, online magazines and online threads are getting in on the whole blogger conversation.  The whole thing is just turning into one big sh*t storm. People think it is a race to the top. A race to become the next big thing. But this race for celebrity and “free stuff” has in fact made this nothing but a race to the bottom. Many even believe it has ruined blogging.

I have toyed with writing this post for a few months now. 2016 saw a big change in blogging. There was less actual blogging and more social media content creation. It saw the rise of the online “influencer” and the blurring of the word blogger. In 2016 nearly  everyone who created content online, was labeled a blogger!

The Oxford english dictionary defines a blogger as “Somebody who regularly writes content for a blog”. While a blog is defined as ” a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group.”

I am a blogger. I write fairly regularly on my blog. My social media is an extension of my blog. If however, I was to stop writing altogether and focus solely on social media, I would then be considered a micro blogger or a content creator. In fact, anyone who creates any sort of content, be it through a blog or social media platform is in fact a content creator.

So now we have cleared up who or what a blogger is, lets get to the nitty gritty but before I do, a lot of the information is from my own reading of guidelines for content creators.

#AD

Ok, let’s start with the obvious one. The one that gets up peoples noses.

When should a hashtag ad be used? A content creator needs to include the hashtag on their social media and blog post, when they have received money to talk or blog about a product of service.  A hashtag is only required if money is part of the collaboration . There is absolutely no requirement to hashtag ad when a content creator has received PR samples. It is 100% only an AD, if there is money involved.  Simple.

Do brands insist on content creators using the hashtag? I can only comment from my own personal experience and it is up to any individual to comment on their own situation.  I have never personally been asked out right to use a hashtag by anyone I’ve collaborated with. I do however, mention that I will be using the hashtag when posting about the item and not once has a brand or business had a problem with this. It is my understanding that brands or businesses feel that it is more or less a given that you would use the hashtag. Why wouldn’t you? Readers or followers generally don’t have problems with content creators earning through collaborations with brands and businesses, once the collaboration is a good fit for the content creator and the content creator is transparent.

The lack of transparency in content creation is something that is an on going battle. Although, I feel, that for the most part people are being transparent but there is just so much scepticism due to misinformation and content creators that were not previously using the hashtag where appropriate. Sometimes we need to drop the scepticism and take things as face value. Follow content creators that you trust and if your trust is broken, click the unfollow button.

Are brand ambassadors required to hashtag? Believe it or not, not all brand ambassadors are paid for their role. For the most part, that is the exception rather than the rule, but it is something to keep in mind. However, if I was being paid to be a brand ambassador, I personally would feel it apprioate to hashtag. It doesn’t need to be on all 15 snaps, but it should be made clear each time you bring up the topic . I’m not sure on the legal requirements, but this is just my own experience.

Do PR samples require a hashtag? No! However, it is considered a decent thing to mention that this product or service was given to you free of charge. Just because a product was sent for consideration, does not necessarily  mean it is going to get the brand a good review. PR samples are on a consideration bases. Content creators should feel free to give their true feelings, be they good or bad. Often new bloggers are afraid to give bad reviews for fear of not being invited to events, or receiving PR samples. There is no need to slate a product of service but you can give two sided reviews. PRs understand that not every product can suit everybody.

Affiliate links

This is yet another topic that people seem to have great issue with and so much false information surrounds affiliate links. While I am by no means an expert in this area, I thought I would cover the most basic questions surrounding affliate links. If you want to find out more details, you can read Lorraine from John It’s only makeup post on affiliate links here.

What is an affiliate link? Basically, an affiliate link is a link where the content creator’s ID is included in the link. This ID then identifies the content creator and gives them a small commission from the sale of the item. Not all links are affiliate links.

Are readers charged for using affiliate links? No. It costs the reader absolutely nothing extra to use the link. If you like a content creators content, click the link and help them out. Simple as.  The company gives the content creator  a small and I mean very small percetange of the sale. If you’re not their biggest fan then clear your cookies and source the item through your own direct link.

How much do content creators make from affiliate links? How long is a piece of string? It all depends on how many links the content creator is posting! However, per sale it is usually around 10% but more often a lot less. I have never come across a brand that is willing to give the content creator more than 15% for sharing the link.

Should affiliate links be labeled so? I don’t know about the legal requirements here, but again I firmly believe they should be disclosed as it is a form of advertising. Do not quote me on that though, as this is more my opinion!

If you are following a blogger  and you like their content and they are openly disclosing their links, use their links to buy the item. If you’re gonna buy online anyway, it is no skin off your nose to give back to the blogger! They won’t get rich from it, but it might give them a few bob for themselves.

How do content creators make money?

There are genuinely so many different ways, I couldn’t possibly talk about them all. However, I will talk about the most popular few. All of these should be hash tagged across all platforms.

Competitions: If a content creator has a good reach, brands and businesses may host a competition on their platform. Not all competitions are paid for!

Blog posts: Brands and businesses can pay a blogger to write a post on their blog about a given product of service. There are ways of doing sponsored blog posts without having to write about something that you are not 100% fully behind. In fact, I think you would be hard pushed to find a blogger who has done a sponsored post about something they don’t like. Most bloggers will turn down collaborations if it is not a good fit. So even if a blog post is sponsored, you can trust the content and reviews included.

Social Media shout outs; This is where a content creator is paid to talk about a product or service. Just like with blog posts, most content creators will not accept a social media collaboration unless it is a good fit!

Content creation: Some content creators are paid to create content for a brand or businesses blog or social media platforms. This can come in the form of blog posts, snapchat takeovers, Facebook lives, hosting events. The list is endless.Keep in mind not all snapchat takeovers etc are paid!

Hosting events: Content creators can be paid to host events .

Taxes

While I am including this heading, I strongly believe, that the relationship between a content creator and revenue, is one of a private nature. You wouldn’t question your local business man or women on how or if they pay taxes, so I’m unsure as to why people feel content creators tax affairs are public business!

I will however state, like with any area of business, some content creators are fully self employed and some are PRSI workers and can declare income as an add on.

The ASAI

Rather than telling you the rules and regulations that the ASAI keep pushing and dare i say changing, let me tell you a story that happened to me. Last year I got a very threatening email from the ASAI. In this email, they had included PDFs of some blog posts with rings around some content, asking why I had included links to Brown Tomas, Beauty bay and a few others. I should at this point note, part of good SEO is linking to the stores where you can buy a product. It is part of blogging and normal practice. The ASAI told me this was undisclosed advertising!!!

Why am I telling you this. Well this little incident, where I was Threatened, and yes I use the word threatened, me with further action, proves how out of touch the ASAI are. They thought any post that had a link to a store website was a paid post that I wasn’t disclosing.  I have paid posts on my blog, which are indicated as so.

What transpired to have happened was the ASAI googled beauty blog and emailed the first few blogs that came up on the first page of google!!! Make of that what you will!!!!

 

Now that the facts are out there, how do you feel about blogging and content creation?

 

You can learn more about blogging for a hobby or for a business at one of our Anseo Workshops . You can sign up for our upcoming workshops here.

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