The more you blog the better you get, and not just at writing, but with managing the time needed to do everything a blogger must do in order to blog well. I'm lucky to have such an amazing job, I get to write for a living, so some of the decisions I've had to make to become more efficient may make me look a tad ungrateful. But bear with me – I can explain!
1.) Just say no to cheap jewellery
I'm all for costume jewellery, baubles and beads, plastic things cut with lasers, and novelty pins with film quotes on them. I get offered a lot of low-cost-but-fun jewellery freebies, and in the early days I was over the moon! However, I've since come to realise, especially since blogging became my full time job, that the time spent pouring over the brand's website to choose an item, plus the to-ing and fro-ing with the brand, and then the photographing of the item, the editing of said photos, and writing the actual blog post – doesn't really seem worth it for the £15 necklace that will just get thrown into a drawer of other fun costume jewellery items to only be worn once in a blue moon. Sorry-not-sorry, but I just don't have time for cheap and cheerful jewellery nowadays. This principle is applied to anything that costs way less than my time does: bags, toiletries, stationary… unless it's something I'm super excited about of course.
2.) Don't reply to every email
This one I feel bad about, but I honestly get hundreds each week, and I've had to be ruthless about the ones which go straight to the digital trash can without so much as a thanks-but-no-thanks reply. I hate to have my own emails unanswered, and vowed I'd never be this rude. Now I get it; there just aren't enough hours in the day even for politeness. Things like mass emails from PR companies asking me to something that's nothing to do with my blog I don't feel so bad about, but the many emails I get from people asking to guest post I do feel a tad guilty for not responding to. Although most of them are probably on the payroll of a brand, I do genuinely think some are writers just trying to build a portfolio (is that naive of me?). It pays to have the time to write quality responses to brands you want to work with, and of course to all readers as well.
3.) Don't meet with PRs
When I first started out I was eager to introduce myself to every PR in town, until it dawned on me a.) just how big London town is, and b.) that not all PRs want to hear from eager, new bloggers. Some did though, and over the years (I make it sound like I've been blogging forever, I should say over the past two years) I've had many a getting-to-know-you meeting with PRs where you go to a cafe and they buy you a cup of tea on expenses, you chat for an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less. The more PRs I got to know through events and writing blog posts for them, the more invites for tea-meets I'd get, and then it dawned on me what was actually happening. For the price of a cup of green tea I was being a blogger consultant. I'd often get asked similar questions – which bloggers do you recommend we contact? Who's written about this or that? Who takes good photos? What do you think of our clients? What ideas would you have for blogger events or social media campaigns for them?… Don't get me wrong, some tea-chats have resulted in the forging of ongoing partnerships and regular work (music to the ears of a full time blogger), but a good 80% of them were nothing more than cup of tea and being mined for information. And those are some odds I can do without.
4.) Don't always take the goody bag
This is another one that makes me cringe with guilt, especially as I'm someone who's organised many a goody bag for blogger events too, and I know how much work can go into it. Actually, that might be one of the reasons that I don't really want to take away a poorly curated goody bag, I almost resent having to cart something about town that's just got a leaflet and a cereal bar or something inside a huge bag. But it's also because at one stage my tiny London apartment was starting to feel rammed with goody bags and I felt positively infested with samples, trinkets, knick-knacks and things that I was really not very likely to use. I gave away lots of stuff to readers, who do love goody bag tat it turns out, but I also made a decision to not feel like I have to go away from every event with a bag of sample swag. I know this is infuriating for event organisers who have sponsors that they've promised exposure to, because I've done the same thing with my blogger PR and events organiser hat on. Yes, it's ungrateful, all freebies are nice presents, right? Except when they're not. Call me, I make really good goody bags.
5.) Take your time turning down events
Again, as an events organiser I'm well aware of how sucky this is. But after initially accepting every invitation that came in straight away, I now see that it makes sense to take my time deciding on events, soirees, showcases, screenings and workshops. The very shallow reason is that something better may come up afterwards, be that better in the sense that you'll have a better time, or in the sense that it will help further your career and/or blog more than the first invite would. For example, say I've been invited to an exhibition opening at a small gallery in Shoreditch – it sounds good, there will be free champagne and interesting people. But then in comes an invite to an exclusive dinner for a select group of bloggers. Both are networking opportunities, both are potential blog content, but the latter is the one-off, never to be repeated event where conversation with people in your industry is a given, not a possibility. You could always say yes to the first invite and then cancel or not not turn up, but that kind of behaviour will eventually catch up with you (PRs talk to one another!). So it's best to take your time and decide what things to slowly raise your thumb up or down to like an ancient Roman emperor at a gladiator fight, and to not feel bad about it – even if it makes you downright, loathsomely ungrateful.
What are your seemingly harsh decisions you've made about blogging? Let me know in the comments!