Six things not to say to a professional blogger

A laptop computer with the words "Six things not to say to a professional blogger" superimposed.

Blogging has been my full-time job for well over two years now. I think it’s fair to say that people still don’t fully get it though. This is fair enough. It has to be one of the newest vocations out there and new things can take a while for us to get our heads around.

As a result, I get asked a lot of questions about how this works. The intentions are always good and, usually, it results in an interesting discussion. I have to admit, though, that some things people say are starting to grate.

Yes, I’m lucky to do something I enjoy for a living and there’s no disputing the fact that I’ve had some amazing experiences as a result of it. That’s not to say that it’s an easy existence though. Because it isn’t. There is a misconception, however, that it is fairly cushy and this is at the root of many of said questions.

So to do my little bit to contribute to perceptions changing, here are six things not to say to a professional blogger.

There’s no such thing as a professional blogger, surely?

There’s definitely a stigma around the concept of being a professional blogger and, sadly, I’ve seen people troll others for it on social media. I’m the family’s only earner and, although I make much less than I did in my last job, it’s enough to provide for us all. I use the same skills that I gained professionally too. So, to my mind, there’s no question. I’m a professional blogger.

You’re a blogger? That’s cool, but what’s your real job?

This is usually accompanied by a look which expresses the sentiment “Hang on in there, sunshine.” Obviously, the first response is to politely repeat the answer in different words as it is my real job! I also remind them of the way people reacted to the first social media manager jobs being created in the mid noughties. Nobody’s knocking that as a career choice now.

I can’t believe companies pay you to write about them!

Well they pay for publicity in traditional media and some studies have shown that people trust bloggers more, so why wouldn’t they? Plus, on the flip side, why on earth would I work for free?

I should start a blog. It would be great to get loads of free stuff!

Remember the adage “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”? Yeah, that. Products for review are a means to an end. How can you share your opinions on something without having it in front of you? There’s a lot of work that goes into producing and promoting reviews too. I often spend up to a day on posts like this and am not usually paid for them.

How much do you claim in benefits?

Yes, someone genuinely phoned a radio station to ask this after I did an interview about work-life balance. I like that they assumed I was a scrounger and the only question related to the extent to which I was a burden on taxpayers! Apart from family allowance – which anyone responsible for a child under 16 gets anyway – we claim nothing. I have a job which provides for my family so there’s no need to claim anything.

You’ve got an easy job compared to me.

Someone actually said this to my face. First things first, it’s pretty much impossible to quantify this. Secondly, there’s much more to blogging than the end product. The analogy of a swan in water rings true here. Beneath the metaphorical surface, I’m ‘paddling’ furiously through numerous tasks every day.

Proofreading, image editing, SEO optimising, fact checking and video editing take large amounts of my time. As do planning blog and social media content, email tennis, negotiating rates, going through contracts, managing finances and chasing overdue invoices. Then there’s the pressure of meeting the monthly earnings targets I set myself. I rarely achieve everything I aim to on any given day. So, no. It’s not easy.

If you make an income out of blogging, what are the questions that annoy you the most?


  1. John Adams

    No such thing as a free lunch…quite right Tom. the perception bloggers “get stuff for free” irritates me greatly. Alas, I think some bloggers are to blame for fanning the flames here. The other thing you’ve said here, without actually saying it, is that when you’re blogging at your level, you are running a small business with all the administration and legal obligations and responsibilities that come with it. I think the blogging world has an issue: we’re all so creative we’re scared to admit we are also business people. If we introduced ourselves as “being in publishing” we might get a different response.

    1. Alex

      Interesting that you say that about running a small business; does that necessarily mean you’re no longer a stay at home parent, which is traditionally a full time role/job and more of a self employed person who fits in work around home life (one of the main reasons people tend to be self employed)?

  2. The DADventurer (Dave)

    Spot on, some of these bug me. I also sometimes get people ‘joking’ about getting stuff for them – I’m all for helping others, but trying to score someone a ‘free’ buggy just shows how misunderstood blogging is.

    1. Alex

      Dunno, I’ve probably had a couple of grands worth of “free” buggies over the years, and it beats paying for them, especially if I can monetise the review with affiliate links/adwords on the video 🙂

  3. Nige

    This is spot on Tom, it really annoys me when people say. What brands/companies pay you to write, almost in disbelief. Why the hell is that so surprising. The free stuff it’s not free as you and I know we have to do everything to get it live on the blog lot of work, which is not free.
    I totally agree with John, at a certain level Blogging is a buisness well mine is now. And that is an issue that blogging needs to get to grips with. Not being taken seriously as blogger that earns money is infuriating to me. It’s hard work.

    Great post mate really excellent read.

  4. Jim Flowers

    Quite right Tom, the amount of people who mention “free stuff” is unreal as well as those asking for stuff too… I haven’t ever had a friend give me a “free GCSE” or a “free Car” (*cough cough to my teacher and car salesman friends).

    I’m not one for the “professional” tag, but thats a more tomato / tomato thing… my reason is mainly that many people don’t tend to refer to themselves as a “professional electrician” or a “professional auditor” and my personal opinion is calling myself “professional” could cause others to believe I think I’m better than others, although I completely understand the rationale to ensure people realise you are paid by it, particularly as you, and John rightly point out, as a full time role, its quite different to say, blogging for a hobby… that and many people not taking blogging seriously but “Full-time” blogger would be my preference…

    I would definitely empathise with you that in it being a full time role, yourself and others, certainly put a vast amount of work into your blogs, both publicly and behind the scenes too… as well as never really switching off, its like being on call 24/7 particularly with social media expecting instant responses nowadays..

    Great post Tom

  5. Pingback: Why being a pro blogger is far from glamorous - blogging - Diary of the Dad

  6. Rena

    Hay Tom thanks for the good blog. I found you by trying to figure out, how do I tell someone that I am a blogger/podcaster for my work? Freelancer? Self-employed? Recently I had someone tell me, “You know you don’t know what it’s like to work. *looking around*. I and my daughter work more than 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trying to make content and all the extra stuff that goes with it. It’s sad, but I think that majority of people don’t realize that everything they search are blogs and pages. Maybe they just assume that they are all corp? and not actually people?

    We definitely need to figure out a “Title” though maybe it will be easier for them.

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