What hats do you wear as a blogger?

hats

One of the things that has kept me intrested in blogging, is the notion that there is always room for improvement, and there is always new things to learn. If I were to look at my ‘to do' list for my blog, it seems that it's getting bigger and bigger. I'd like to say that there is an easy way to have a successful blog… there probably is an easy way, I just haven't found it, but then again, my idea of success is rather embarrassing.

When I first got into blogging, it was because I was looking for a way to get out of being a graphic designer. Well, it turns out, that I use my graphic design skills every day. I wanted to start a career where I didn't have to do admin work… well, that's blown to pieces, I do way more admin work than I did as a graphic designer.. and the technical stuff!

Needless to say, writing is only a part of blogging. It's not a bad thing… in fact, it's what keeps me coming back, what keeps me challenged, and ultimately it's one of the most rewarding parts about blogging. Here are some of the hats I wear as a blogger:

Researcher

What's out there? Who's out there? Who's already written about it? What did they say? Everything has been done, so being original is just a quest for the ego. That's not an excuse for taking it easy, and doing sloppy work. Everyone has their own message, thier own perspective, and finding that perspective takes research, and understanding of the subject. It's what stands between outstanding and rehashed, research is the most vital part to publishing anything.

Writer/Copy Editor/Fact Checker

With one hat, I instantly have to wear three. Writing includes, editing, copy editing, fact checking, and of course re-writing. I'd like to say a post only takes an hour to write, but realistically, a good post takes time. Also, I've learned the hard way by some mistakes I've made by skipping aspects of writing… like the time one of my Interviewees sent my post about him to and editor at Vogue only to have ‘Vouge' misspelled in the first sentence. Or the time I wrote about how much I loved ‘Japanese' designer ‘Eley Kishimoto' when actually, the brand is a design duo Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto. Oh dear… they both really happened. I realize that it's hard to edit your own work, but and it's a craft I'm learning, and learning, and learning. As far as getting the facts right… fact checking is also a craft that one can only improve on,  but making stupid mistakes that could easily be researched by a quick google search should be avoided at all costs. When in doubt, double check, and check for a secondary source.

Photographer/Photo Editor/Photo Researcher

For every photo posted on my blog, there are 30 that are in my trash. Maybe I'll learn to be more economical with my memory card, but the truth is getting a good shot doesn't happen in one take, and taking good shots doesn't happen without practice. Great imagery is essential, especially for fashion blogs. Some bloggers have photo savvy friends to take pictures for them, but I'm way too much of a control freak to let someone take photos for me, unless they are also a control freak who wont stop until they have that right shot.

You may think that photo researching isn't really a hat… but it's a real job that people make a living with. Finding the right photos to bring your point across, getting permission (always nice) following the proper protocol to crediting… sometimes takes even more time than photographing.

Art Direction/Graphic Design

What is the visual language of your blog? Is it a generic template, or did you design the whole site? Did you hire a designer? Coming from a graphic design background, I tend to get sick of the way my site looks a lot, and I always change things up, mostly because I can, and I have fun doing so. But establishing a brand is part  of building a blog, and the more powerful the visual language is, the more authority it has… at first glance.

Programmer/Techie

Anyone who has set up their own blog eventually has to deal with HTML, CSS, XML, PHP…  I'm not really sure what they all mean, but I'm familiar with them at some level, mostly via tweaking and searching though forums, and crying. I also have to select hosting services, source new plug-ins, upgrade software, back up information…

Marketing/PR/Community Manager

No one is going to find my blog unless I put myself out there. Reaching out and building a community is one of the things I love the most about blogging, it's the most human element. Keeping up social networking profiles, reading everyone's blog, commenting it all takes time, and it's essential. I'm sure there are a few people who are able to skip this step, but I don't know many who have successful blogs that don't take this step seriously, or at least have serious fun with this step.

Business Development Manager

This part, I'm only really starting to dip my feet into.. but referring to the first element of blogging, research, its important to know what the standard is, what to expect. What can I charge money for? What SHOULD I charge money for? I've worked in a haphazard way for a long time, but currently I realize I have to develop a strategy and a plan for growth. Something that send shivers down the spine of an art school graduate, but it's not as bad as I thought.

Administrator

This is for managing data, replying to emails, answering questions, figuring out my schedule, updating the site, ie. blogrolls, membership applications, quality control in the forums.  You name it.

What are some of the unexpected hats you wear as a blogger?

Which hats are you suprised you like?

Resources:

Fact Checkers

Image via Library of Congress on Flickr

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12 Responses

  1. Mademoiselle Robot

    Excellent post, good point. Being a blogger is so much more than just writingm even though writing is the fun part. Which is why I sometimes get very frustrated when I tell people I am a Fashion blogger and they stand there waiting for the “…and”. It seems that “pro” bloggers still aren’t taken seriously. No matter if you have a journalistic background or have worked as a professional writer, people still see blogging as a hobby, even though it is sometimes much much more work than old school journalism because you have to wear all those hats at the same time.
    My least favourite hat? The technical one. I am losing my sanity over wordpress CSS!
    A hat I wear sometimes: editor, finding people to write for me and deliver interesting guest posts.

    x

    Reply
  2. Natanya

    I’m actually enjoying researching a lot more than I though I would, I find it very addictive! I love the design/photo/graphic aspect of blogging but as a fashion designer that’s not really surprising. The marketing/pr aspect is much harder than I had thought and more intimidating too.

    Mademoiselle R- I’m with you on wordpress, it is overwhelming especially with having a non-standard theme and the help forum is a challenge for a non-techie like me.

    Reply
  3. Jennine

    @mr…. oh yeah, css! i have been trying to wrap my head around that for years! i’ve come to really lean on dreamweaver to help out with that… but it’s a really expensive program to use for css.
    @mer…ooh lovely hat! I should have used that for the main pic… if you don’t mind!
    @natanya… i think the marketing pr thing comes in time and practice, but i think you’re doing a marvelous job already!
    🙂

    Reply
  4. thom

    I take it as a sign that I work harder and almost longer at blogging than I do at my job…that it might be time to change jobs.

    Reply
  5. Edith Purdy

    When I read the title of this post I honestly thought that this was going to be a post about actual hats. Sometimes I wear a hat when blogging so I thought I had found a kindred spirit.

    In all seriousness thought, this is a great post. I haven’t been blogging long, but when I first started (because I was frustrated at work) I stupidly thought I would just upload a few pics every now and then and the readers would follow. In reality my blog has become much more about words, trends and theories (so the writing hat has become a suprise love) and well, the readers haven’t exactly come in their droves!

    Jennine, it’s difficult to wear all the hats at all times for your blog. You do a great job. Sometimes I will spend all day Saturday just writing one post, and that combined with working full time, freelance work, being in the process of setting up my own business and a desire to go to the pub means I don’t have time left over to put my marketing hat on.

    I really admire those who can knock out several really good quality posts a week, find time to write thoughtful comments on others blogs, network and manage the PR of their site in addition to holding down a normal life. That takes real talent and dedication.

    Reply
  6. Monique

    When I started blogging I honestly thought all I would do is write. I can say it takes much more than I expected. I love it and I’m happy to do it most days.

    Reply
  7. songy

    All of above and I have to act as a media representative to attend fashion shows.. selling my blog as ‘major’ medium. That’s the only way to get media pass to go to shows for free…

    Reply
  8. Ondo Lady

    Brilliant post and full of fantastic tips. Some people may think that being a blogger is just about writing but it covers so many areas. Research is totally key because with so many blogs out there covering similar topic you really need something special to stand out. So this is where your creativity comes in – I always try and find a new angle when I cover a story that I know is going to be hot in blogsphere. Marketing is crucial because people need to be able to find your blog so making your presence known is crucial. Using search engines, tag words and joining blog directories are very useful.

    Reply