These functional events (although perceived to be much more glamorous than they actually are) don't directly lead to me generating hits or income, so I have to ensure the time I do spend with brands and PRs is as beneficial as possible. I no longer live in London (despite the now ironic name of this blog,) so I have to manage my time effectively and ensure numerous meetings are squeezed into a single day; top that off with a pricey ticket of £36.00 every time I want to travel the 40 minute journey before 10am and it's not as easy as you may think to just 'swing by' an event. Other bloggers have to cough up in the region of a hundred quid for a three hour journey into London (where 99% of the 'stuff' frustratingly happens,) so I know I'm not hard-done-by or alone by any means - but time (and a train ticket) is money. For all of us.
More and more I'm expected to give up my time for the pleasure of a new lipgloss or face cream; there's increasing pressure placed on bloggers to attend events even after we've already declined because of clashing appointments, lack of time or simply having more important tasks to juggle. It's impossible to attend every launch or be part of every event, because quite simply there's nobody sat at home writing the content for us. There is no team, no beauty assistant and no Plan B... It's all us. Most importantly I, like many others, don't write for brands or PR companies; I write for my readers. If I like a product and think it's worth shouting about it doesn't matter if I tested it on a Soho rooftop while holding a mojito, or straight out of a jiffy bag on a rainy Tuesday morning while holding a cup of tea. There are thousands of brands all vying for my attention and I simply can't provide them with what they want time and time again; I don't want to. I like shaking things up, telling a story a brand may prefer for me to gloss over or provide an honest review of a launch that's just not up to scratch - a cupcake and a glass of champagne isn't going to change that.
Blogging has changed in the last few years beyond all recognition; I want to retain my integrity while bringing readers news, but that's a hard thing to juggle when it's so easy to get bogged down in fluffy PR stories. Building relationships and getting to know brands is an essential part of running a site, but it's not the be all and end all; it's about time the balance was re-addressed and we started to focus on why we started writing in the first place. I love telling stories, providing a helping hand and breaking news; others like sharing pieces of their lives or showcasing their latest purchases. Yes I love discovering new products and ideas, but not at the expense of everything else. Although I do appreciate being offered a car to get me to and from a venue with ease, it doesn't make me any more likely to attend if it just won't work with my diary. Although a 'quick ten minutes' may seem like a reasonable request, if I don't have the time to trek half way across London for a coffee then I just don't have the time. Soz. I'm so often guilted into arranging a meeting or attending a launch that it's getting a little bit ridiculous; pressurising those of us that are already under enough pressure is just going to cause burn out, frustration and bitterness. Although we all understand brands have targets to hit and a job to do, it's becoming increasingly clear that the majority are forgetting that bloggers are real people managing their site single-handedly with a multitude of things on their to-do lists that are far more important than getting their nails painted.
I'm fortunate to be able to do a job I love, but I work bloody hard. This September I'm taking a holiday for the first time in nearly three years and some well deserved time away from my laptop; however, I'm still being asked to work while on holiday or make myself available for a call when I've provided more than enough notice that I'm going to be on the other side of the world. Just because I work for myself it doesn't mean I'm prepared to work 24/7. Just because I'm in a fortunate position it doesn't mean I'll pander to your every whim because you have targets to hit (and just so happen to have sent me something with my name on.) I'm a bit fed up of seeing certain publications being flown all over the world and treated to exotic holidays, while bloggers are handed a lipstick three weeks after it's been plastered all over social media and expected to hype up a storm. It's about respecting us as influencers, content creators and professionals; it's not about thinking we have all the time in the world to sit about twiddling our thumbs, waiting for an invite to land in our inbox. We can't be bought with a cupcake; it's not 2010.
I can't tell you how many times I've gotten home from a day of cancelled appointments, fruitless meetings and launches that don't even provide you with product to write about, only to spend the entirety of my evening trying to catch up on what I've missed. It ends here. I've been saying no to a lot of things for some time, but from hereon in I'm only arranging meetings when there's something of value to discuss; I'm only attending launches if there's genuinely something really exciting happening. I'm not prepared to lose two days a week that I have to make up over the weekend, or dedicate my evenings to inbox clearing; I want my life back. I need to re-balance and re-focus myself, my blog and my business. I need some 'me time' that doesn't just revolve around lipstick. I don't do anything outside of this blog because I simply don't have the time (and god I miss tap dancing, swimming, going to the cinema and generally leaving the house for anything non-work related.) There's only so much work you can do before you start resenting the very thing you used to love. I need to fall back in love with blogging again before it's too late, and this is the first step on that journey.
If you're a blogger, how do you juggle the increasing pressures while retaining your integrity and editorial focus? Do you often feel frustrated that there's a lot of pressure to attend launches and events, or that you miss out on future opportunities if you don't go?