Welcome to our monthly feature The PR Desk! Written by PR professional Heather Travis, it guides food bloggers on the ins and outs of navigating the world of PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather explores whether there's a difference between blogging as a hobby and blogging as work.
Do you blog for hobby or work? I wonder if today in 2017 there's a difference.
Hobby or Work: Rules of Engagement
Before we get to that, though, let’s first look at what should be the same. No matter how you classify your blog — hobby, side hustle, full-time gig or not — there are a few rules of engagement we should all be following:
- If you get something for free, by law you should disclose this.
- If you get paid, by law you should disclose this.
- If you have a formal relationship with a company, brand, product, or service, you should disclose this.
- Don’t steal other peoples $h!t. Respect copyright laws, recipe and image rights, and be a good internet citizen.
- Give credit when and where credit is due. Link to inspiration recipes, credit people for their work, photos, thoughts, etc.
So, Is There a Difference?
So now back to the question at hand: is there a difference between hobby blogger and full-time blogger in this day and age?
Yes and no. I said both and here’s why. Whether you blog as a hobby or it’s your sole source of income, if you receive product or payment you've immediately communicated to the outside world that you are a "professional." The bar has been raised and whether it’s your hobby or not, you’re treating it like work.
If your goal is to work with brands, but you’ve never received product or payment, is it still a hobby even if you "work" at it? If you schedule things and curate things and have "create evergreen content" as part of your vocabulary, it’s work. You work at it and just because you don’t get paid doesn’t mean it isn’t work.
If you don’t want the bar to rise, if improving your photography isn’t high on your priority list, or "creating evergreen content" isn’t in your vocabulary, keep doing what you're doing. Enjoy the opportunity to get creative, to get messy, and to create a site that's just for you regardless of who else reads it or pins it, or how well curated your IG feed is. This is great. That said, you’ll have one heck of a hill to climb if you want to change your tune in the future.
In the good old days of blogging we were all in it as a hobby. No one started a blog as work. Yes, they worked at it, but it wasn’t their full-time paying gig. That came later.
Paid work always comes later, after you’ve put in the work. It comes after being real, after telling great stories, after sharing meaningful moments and becoming a reliable source for recipes or whatever you share. Paid work also comes after establishing a relationship with one, two, or a thousand readers. Which is what it all comes down to here in 2017: if you want to blog for hobby or work, it is still work. You must earn your audience and earn the trust you have with your readers. Hobby or not, blogging in 2017 is work and the bar only continues to rise.
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Heather Travis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She’s a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis.