Welcome to the Words From A Blogger & PR series! I’ll be updating this intro post every time a new post goes live, so here are the topics:
I’ve been thinking about doing a series like this for a little while. I recently starting writing an eBook about how to take your blog from being a hobby to something you can do as a real job – both earning directly from your blog and using blogging as part of your career – but decided in the end I’d make it more of a series of blog posts so that it can be more readily available to everyone. So first up, a bit of an introduction to what the series will include and why I’m personally doing it.
I’m in an interesting position: I’m both a blogger and a PR. It’s not a unique position, in fact there are quite a few of us out there, but it’s certainly interesting to see things from both sides of the spectrum. It’s quite possible that many of you have worked with me in the past, and it’s quite likely that I’ll work with a lot of you in the future. It’s also quite likely that you’ve stumbled across my blog or one of my social media accounts and not connected the blogger Sian with the PR Sian – so here’s that connection (hi!). I started up my blog first and the job came later.
And I’m thinking there might be some questions come in during that time, so at the end I might do a Q&A style post for any particular questions I can try to answer, so please feel free to email me with any, leave a comment or tweet me at @RebelAngelBlog with the hashtag #BlogPRrelations (although please don’t use my personal email address to ask for work for your blog – I generally consider every blog I come across for work anyway since we work across such a huge variety of clients, so if I have something that will work for you, I’ll be in touch anyway!). The majority of the posts will be here, but some will also feature on the Bronco blog so make sure to keep an eye out there too (although they’ll all get linked here too).
And now, a bit of an intro to me and how I got to where I am with blogging and PR today:
I didn’t start my blog because I thought it would make me millions one day. I didn’t start my blog because I thought I was an expert in fashion and that people would flock to me for advice. And I didn’t start my blog because I wanted to make a career out of it one day. In fact, I didn’t know that any of the above was actually a “thing”. To me, a blog was an online diary where I would put pictures of myself and tell stories of my daily mishaps – a bit like an extension of Facebook that had the opportunity to be seen by more people, though it never entered my mind that a blog could end up with viewers around the world.
I remember the first time I realised that style bloggers were getting free items sent to them simply in return for a post. It was a personal style blogger who frequently wrote about her love for Jeffrey Campbell shoes, and she’d written them a “Love Letter”. It wasn’t something they’d asked her to do, but in return they sent her a pair of coveted Jeffrey Campbells. I was amazed, but still never even imagined it was a “thing” that bloggers did and I could do too.
And here I am, five years later: my blog receives opportunities such as the one above (although Jeffrey Campbell haven’t yet been in touch!) on a daily basis. Some opportunities are monetary; some offer me items of clothing; others can be a lot more interesting. And even better, I managed to take the thing which I’d taken up as a hobby, blogging, and turn those skills around to use them everyday in a career path I’d never even imagined myself carving out.
To give you an idea, while I’d always been successful at school in various subjects, I’d never really set my mind on a particular career I wanted. I started learning Latin and Ancient Greek, discovered I had a particular passion for the languages and culture, so followed that path all the way through to university. It was while I was at university in 2010 that I started Rebel Angel as a way to document what I was wearing and what I was doing. I didn’t publicise my posts anywhere on social media or tell any of my friends about it. To emphasise what little impact blogging had on my life back then, I don’t even remember setting up the blog, putting in my details or choosing a name for it. I suppose it’s just like you probably don’t remember the day you signed up to Facebook or Twitter. My blog is something that impacts me every day of my life now, and yet I don’t remember creating it – how fickle!
So I headed off to university to study Classics, not realising that you could even specialise in topics such as fashion or digital marketing. I often wonder now whether I would have chosen to study something else if I’d known I had the options. I think I probably would still have continued in Classics but perhaps looked more into how I could have utilised them more in this sort of career. It got to my final year and I had to decide what to do next. I was accepted onto a Masters degree in Museum Studies, with the plan that I would go on to work in a specialised role in a museum, but ended up being interviewed for and accepting a role at a boarding school to teach Classics and Latin, with no prior teaching experience but a lot of determination.
It turned out not to be a career I wanted to continue in. One of the reasons for this was that during that time, I spent so much time in the school and working on school projects at home that I barely had an hour a month to spend on my blog, and this was making me miserable. Add on top of that the fact that I had to dull down my content hugely based on the fact that at any moment one of my students could stumble across my blog and expose me.
I was at a bit of a loss when I came out of teaching. I’d realised in that year that what I really loved doing was something I’d done all my life: write. Whether it was a diary, a short story, a “novel” (which incidentally has never been finished), or a personal blog on the internet, once I picked up a pen or my fingers hit the keyboard, I loved what I was doing.
And my blog had begun to grow. While I wouldn’t call my blog “big”, I would call it “successful” for me. There are so many measures to go against: followers, pageviews, unique users, income. To me, my blog is successful because it is doing more than I ever expected it to do. With my blog’s growth, the emails had begun to come in; from small companies asking me what I thought of their products, to larger ones wanting me to review their clothing, and PRs wanting me to jump on board their campaigns.
And that’s when I realised that there is a career in what I was doing.
For me, it works in two ways:
- My blog earns me some income (a small amount, but it makes a nice addition to my monthly pay packet!).
- The skills I acquired through blogging helped me obtain a job in a relevant field.
Now it’s an ever expanding circle – I am constantly learning through experience, trial and error what works for me personally on my blog, and through my job, I’m getting first-hand knowledge of how the industry is currently moving and shaking. I like to think of it a bit as insider knowledge on both sides: I know what the bloggers are currently worrying about, who they are and how they work through personal interactions in my own time, and from the other side, I see on a daily basis in a professional environment what bloggers are charging and what issues SEOs and PRs are coming up against.
Throughout this series I will reference PRs and SEOs. I have worked across both roles in my time in the industry, but feel that the title of SEO is really on the way out as it currently has such negative connotations. I currently work mainly in outreach, sourcing bloggers, building relationships and working on (fun!) projects with them. I think of myself more of a PR, but many would say my job still borders on SEO; realistically, I’m somewhere in between with less of the technical abilities of a true SEO and more of an insight into the blogging world.