3.3.15

THIS IS HOW MUCH WORK GOES INTO WRITING ONE SINGLE PRODUCT REVIEW

This April marks the fifth anniversary of LBQ; within these last five years I've seen a huge amount of change in the blogging world, as well as a huge transformation in the way brands deal with influencial sites they know could have an impact on sales. I'm lucky enough to work with the majority of well-known brands in the UK and have a vast stash of beauty things to review, feature and build conversation around; however, this is sometimes trickier than you may imagine to juggle. Over the last few weeks I've had endless approaches from brands that simply lack the understanding of how a blogger works: from the purpose of a blog (to provide an honest and in-depth personal perspective,) to the amount of time it takes to try a product effectively (anything from a day to a few months,) and even how much free value is generated from one single piece of content (reaching thousands of engaged women waiting to spend their hard earned cash.) Being offered a 'free' product in exchange for a feature comes with its own set of conditions and commitments, making it far from 'free' for the blogger intending to review it - time has value and should be respected as such. Although everything featured on LBQ is there for a reason and has been handpicked because I genuinely love it/want to share it/think you'll be interested in it, it's also vital for brands and businesses to understand that blogging isn't as simple as it looks.


My site is my business, my time is money and there's always a cost associated with everything I do. It may seem like the value of a free lipstick is incentive enough for me to lap it up with hearts in my eyes, but I just see another piece of work that needs to get done. I adore my job, treat my site like my offspring and am extremely protective of my reputation and value, but there comes a point when we have to talk about the amount of time and effort goes into writing every one of the fifty odd posts that appear on-site every single month. From being asked to pull together a post to promote something you've never even tried, to samples being requested back because they're short in the office, and unrealistic expectations that you'll be able to write about everything you're sent for consideration, it's frustrating when your output isn't valued because you don't work for a big magazine with a glossy cover (that's often got fewer readers.) In the interests of transparency and illustrating my point, here's exactly how much work goes into creating every single post on blogs across the world and why bloggers should be commended for their hard work - not belittled and ridiculed by those scared of the evolving digital world. 

Research
Before you even agree to receive a product for potential review, you have to do a bit of research. You have to understand what's unique, different or interesting about it, whether or not it's suitable for your skin type or makeup interests, and most importantly: if it's going to be of interest to your readers. If I know straight up a product is just not right for LBQ then I'll decline it straight away, but that still takes time to understand. Once it lands on my desk I have to do a bit more research to understand what it's all about and how I'm actually supposed to use it - whether that's reading the often wordy press release, digesting complex instructions or frantically googling.
Estimated Time = 1 hour 

Photography
In order to get the best possible images to illustrate a post, I try to take as many photos as possible when a product is straight out of the wrapping. This gives a clear and crisp indication of colour and texture, without any finger marks or unsightly smudges that ruin the beautiful illusion us bloggers create. However, to get that one perfect shot takes one hundred different shots and about three different 'scene sets', which equates to a huge amount of time snapping with a camera. I quite often spend two half days a week just taking photos, with another half day to edit the beasts I've created and ensure the lighting appears just bright enough without washing out the detail. This all takes time, skill and practice - it's not something you can chuck together in ten minutes.
Estimated Time = 1-2 hours 

Testing
Now the 'fun' part is over, the hard work really begins. Depending on what I'm featuring, a testing session can take anything from five minutes applying lipstick and seeing how it stands up against a cup of coffee, to a six week trial of an eye cream. I very rarely feature anything I haven't thoroughly tested (only skipping this step if it's more of a news piece or not something that's suitable for my own needs,) meaning I have to dedicate a lot of time to trying new stuff and covering myself in lotions and potions. Consciously introducing new products into your routine, swapping out old ones and remembering to add an additional step to find out if it makes a difference, all requires time and head-space - something I don't have a lot of!
Estimated Time = five minutes to six weeks

Copy Writing
Anyone can write a description of a product, its benefits and how it performs after testing, but creating a piece of content that inspires and evokes emotion takes time and skill. I'm fortunate enough to have a natural knack for writing (something I've always had,) but I still have to continually hone my craft. Sometimes the words flow and sometimes they don't; sometimes a post sits in drafts for weeks on end until I've edited it to a place where I'm happy for it to be published, while on other occasions I get too excited and write so quickly steam practically flies off the keyboard. Either way, creating a great blog post with all of the relevant information takes time and patience; it's not something you can churn out in twenty minutes and still be proud of.
Estimated Time = 1-4hrs 

Launch Info
So you've tried the product, you love it and you want to tell the world about it? Now comes the often tricky task of finding out where it's available, how much it costs and when it will launch to the world. If I was organised and kept every press release I was sent it may be easier, but a lot of the products I'm sent don't come with anything other than a compliments slip and a bag full of hope. I recently spent in the region of two hours trying to track down a link and price for some cheap-but-wonderful lipsticks, even tweeting and emailing the brand without getting a response. Google is my best friend and usually other bloggers are a godsend at having the info I'm missing, but even adding in that final bit of info at the end of a post sometimes takes an age.
Estimated Time = ten minutes to two hours

Promotion 
Once you've spent an age writing and curating a post, you want as many people as possible to read it and let you know their thoughts. I have a lot of 'auto-posting' platforms plugged into the site, meaning every new post is published to Facebook and Twitter without me having to lift a finger, but I also have to actively push out every post via my other channels over the next week or so. From creating new images to use socially, uploading content to Instagram, pinning to Pinterest and scheduling tweets across the next seven days, this all takes a significant amount of time.
Estimated Time = 1-2hrs

In total, I estimate one single post can take in the region of six hours (minimum) to produce and promote - excluding any time taken to actually test and reflect upon the product in question. That's nearly a full day's work in total, that is often expected by many brands for nothing more than the possibility of a free eyeshadow. Don't get me wrong, I fill the site with beautiful things because I love doing it - but when I'm expected to spend time and effort on creating content that's not respected or valued as a significant amount of time out of my day, it's incredibly disheartening. A lot of brands really do get it, but the last few months has seem somewhat of a backwards step when it comes to relations and understanding of the blogging community. We're not here to be used and abused for your marketing purposes, but are real people that need to be spoken to with respect and consideration. We work hard, often for very little reward, but we love doing it - so give us a break, make us a cuppa and say thanks every so often.


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25 comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I work full time and write a beauty blog, so I find it really hard to find time for everything you have just listed, some brands genuinely have zero clue on how much work is involved.

    Zoe Newlove Beauty Blogger & MUA

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  2. Ace post Hayley and very well explained, I hope it'll help people analyse what they are asking for when they ask for a review. I can't believe someone asked you to send a sample back because they are short!? I've never heard of that before, how embarrassing for everyone, I'm pretty sure they'd never do that to Vogue or ELLE!

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  3. YES! So many people underestimate how much time and effort goes into a review. My mom actually used to think that I wrote my reviews in the morning at posted them by 9AM the same day...

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  4. Love this - I am genuinely grateful for every sample I receive and love being a blogger, but it is important to recognise how much work is involved!

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  5. Wow i didnt know this much went into a product review, im a crap talker, im not very good with words, so everything is usually short and sweet.

    emyii90.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. Wow you're posts really do take a while! I love your posts though, totally worth it :) xx
    alicekatex ♥

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  7. This is such a good post! Some amazing points in there
    Jennaloves3.blogspot.co.uk

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  8. I loved reading this as I've been wondering if the reason my posts take so long to put together is because I'm 'slow'. However, the question I've been asking myself, and I'd love your thought on it, is this: Which is better - more posts with poorer images or fewer posts with good images?
    I spend ages over my images and the look of my blog is important to me but maybe I'm putting too much time and effort into that side of things and more posts would be better. I think this dilemma definitely falls under the category of #bloggerproblems Alex xx
    www.iheartbeauty.net

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  9. I LOVE this post! I've just gotten into reviewing things on my blog and it has turned out to be a lot more work than I would have ever imagined!

    PS You're an amazing writer!

    COOCOO FOR COCO

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  10. Girl, you're the dream spokeswoman for all of us bloggers out there. I totally relate to every part of this post. There's always a million and one other things we have to be doing too, like the time it takes to communicate back and forth with those sending us the products and engage with readers. the fitting it into our schedules, the brainstorming needed and so much more. When I made the decision to quit beauty blogging and move into a different niche, I did feel a lot of pressure had been taken away - before, there was always someone emailing repeatedly trying to find out whether I could bring the post date forward and to be prioritised or something along those lines. In the end I realised I was grateful for the opportunities I'd had and for the brands I'd been able to work with, but with my passion beginning to lack more and more each day because of the un-necessary pressure I was being put under by some companies, it just wasn't for me anymore. I totally get it that PRs are the go between between the brand and blogger and that they're being pushed to get the results, but some people just didn't seem to have any understanding about the amount of time and effort we'd put into the posts - and don't get me started on the ones who want something for nothing!!! Blogging's so different to how it was 4-5 years ago, but bloggers still have values, integrity and pride in their work and like you said, deserve to be respected. PS, brands who request products back should only be able to do this if they'd stated this in the initial contact... I'd totally have told them where to go! Fantastic post as always Hayley, I'm sure you're going to get a lot of positive responses and support from other bloggers to this.
    Rebecca-Louise | Autumn Leaves for bloggers and creatives

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  11. Wow, I loved reading this! I've only been blogging a few months but the few beauty and lifestyle posts I've done have been really time consuming, so I appreciate this post for placing value on the time we spend. Photographing still objects and making them look good is something I've particularly come to appreciate is a real art form and not one I'm naturally blessed with at all! I've never done a sponsored post, but I have been taken aback by the brand's attitudes that they are doing the blogger a favour by giving them a freebie as you say, so much work goes into a good blog post so I don't think bloggers should sell themselves short. Thanks for writing this :-)

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  12. I completely agree with this, sometimes I think PRs really take it for granted and I've even had some of them complain about how I posted on their product before despite them not stipulating anything when they proposed the feature.. Ughhh xx

    Magpie Jasmine

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  13. This is a great post to truly understand the hard work it takes! This is why I have so much respect for people that churn out so many good quality posts! I struggle between work uni and blogging and this is exactly why!!

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  14. Well, I love your blog and I look forward to receiving your newsletter - they're definitely worth the hours you put in.

    https://tashasface.wordpress.com/

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  15. Fab post Hayley - maybe some brands will read this and be like "ohhh that's why they ask to be paid for posts!"

    Beth x

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  16. I love this post hun, Written in true professional style also. It does take a lot of effort and time to write a post which is why i only have time to post once a week at the moment. I would love to do it full time and make my living, as you have. You have put so much time and effort into your work and it really shows. xxx

    Anna-Maria | www.topdrawfashion.com

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  17. It's so nice to hear this from you. Blogging takes a lot of time, and I can't imagine how annoying it is when you're constantly having to test new products and make sure to get reviews out with the pressure of companies on you as well. As a small blogger I struggle enough with getting out a few reviews every month, when it's something you're consciously reviewing its a different experience than just buying something and realising you really like it.

    Love your blog and thank you for all the hours you put in!

    Emma xx
    Writing Essays With Wine

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  19. So true! It definitely takes more time than people think.Im a newbie blogger and already have seen how difficult and time consuming it can be!

    http://ariannachatz.blogspot.com

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  20. Great post. I agree non bloggers don't know how much heart and time we put into out posts and blog upkeep. I followed you on GFC

    Deedee

    http://madeupgirl-madeupgirl.blogspot.com

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  21. Absolutely! Wow-couldn't have said it better myself! As well as being a full time mum, I run 10 very busy, Facebook Groups, promote for a huge network and try and fit in blogging! But it's a passion...!

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  22. OMG thank you for writing it down once and for all. That's what make the difference between a good blog and all the others... I am a full time journalist trying to keep an area of freedom with my blog but it takes me soooo much time.... sigh...

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  23. I think you might have undersold yourself! I say my blog posts take about 6 hours and that's because I add all the SEO bits. With you taking 'proper' setup/shoot type photographs, I'm pretty sure it takes you longer (I'm not a pro photographer, I just bung things together). I think we can agree that 6 hours is an average amount, but it's not unlikely to go up to 10! Keep up the great work :)

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  24. Thanks for posting. Very informational article on what to expect when you're just starting out.

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