Not long ago, someone sent me a message: ‘Hi, I’m a travel blogger too!’
‘Cool, what’s the link to your blog?’ I asked him after some initial pleasantries, eager to read some of his articles.
He sent me a link to his Instagram profile, a professional looking page with over 30 thousand followers and a few carefully curated photographs of him walking along various beaches. It was very impressive.
‘Wow, that looks great, much better than mine! Can I see your blog as well?’ I asked.
‘Oh, I’m just on Instagram,’ he replied. ‘That’s where all the bloggers are these days. Where else would you broadcast your travel?’
‘Um…I mainly focus on my blog itself. Not much of my traffic comes from Instagram so it isn’t my priority.’
He didn’t seem to understand and pushed me for further details as to where he could find my stuff if not on Instagram.
‘Well, on my blog. My website.’
‘OH, we must just be different types of bloggers, haha!’ he replied, before reminding me once more that Instagram really is where all the bloggers are these days, the implication of course being that I, with my humble website, was behind the times.
I didn’t respond.
It took me a while to figure out why his comments had irritated me so much. This was just some random dude on the internet. His opinion really shouldn’t hold that much weight.
However, it was then that the penny dropped.
I headed over to Instagram and began looking through some of the many travel accounts that I follow. All of them had the words ‘travel blogger’ in their bios, but very few actually had blogs. To them, having a popular Instagram account automatically makes them a blogger. They claim the title of travel blogger without doing any actual – well – blogging.
Now don’t get me wrong. Creating a career from on Instagram is not an easy feat and definitely not something to look down upon. Amassing tens of thousands of followers takes work. Not only have you got to have the ‘Instagram game’ down, but you also have to be great at approaching and working with brands. Because that’s what Instagram influencers do. They sell a lifestyle which in turn enables them to sell products and thus make money from the brands that sponsor them.
And that’s amazing.
You are not a blogger if you don’t have an actual URL link outside of Instagram.
Being in the business of influencing (which sounds strangely sinister IMO), is totally different from being in the business of blogging. An influencer’s job is much more closely related to advertising or PR than it is to blogging, which I think is an important distinction to make for two reasons.
The first is that blogging generally isn’t taken as seriously as other writing gigs, and I’ve never really understood why. When I wrote articles for an online magazine, everyone respected it as a job. Now, even though my articles are longer, require more research and are often about more serious topics, people see what I’m doing as more of a hobby than a respectable writing job, and bloggers across the board have to contend with this idea that we aren’t ‘real’ writers.
I work incredibly hard on this blog. Every spare moment that I have is spent writing and researching articles, and it really is my pride and joy. Of course there are other elements to blogging as well, such as managing this site’s social media profiles, working with brands and optimising my content for search engines, but the vast majority of the time that I spend on this blog is spent writing, and I’d estimate that each article takes at least 15 hours from the moment I sit down to plan it to the moment I hit publish.
It comes as somewhat of a kick in the teeth then, when somebody who hasn’t written a single blog post calls themselves a blogger. With their millions of followers, these people have the loudest voices in the travel community, and so when they sing from the rooftops about their status as travel bloggers, people not in the industry think ‘oh, that’s what blogging is then.’
It’s true that there is some overlap, but only from one side. Bloggers do have to market themselves (and work as ‘influencers’ if you will), but influencers do not have to blog. The vast majority of social media influencers are not content creators. They are not writers, photographers or videographers, nor are they professional models. They are in the business of marketing, through and through.
While most bloggers are also influencers, most influencers are not bloggers.
This brings me to my next point. Claiming to be a blogger when you don’t have a blog is dishonest. Even if you disregard everything else I’ve said in this post, claiming to do a job that you don’t is at best inaccurate and at worst, just flat out lying.
Think about it like this: two men meet in a pub. The first says that he is a professional footballer. The second man says ‘wow, what a coincidence, me too,’ before it transpires that the first man is actually a football commentator. Still a respectable job in the football industry that requires professional knowledge and skill, but not the same as actually being there on the field kicking the ball.
D’ya get me?
The way I see it, blogging and influencing take equal amounts of time, effort and skill. They are both respectable careers in their own right. However, they are not the same and an influencer has more in common with someone who works for a digital marketing agency than they do with a blogger, who is in the business of writing.
So now a quick word to any influencers out there who are unsure what to call themselves: if you want to know whether you’re in the business of influencing or blogging, then there is one quick question that you can ask yourself to help figure it out.
“Do you have a blog?”
If you answered yes then you’re a blogger! If you answered no then you’re an influencer! Problem solved!
What do you think? Are you a blogger, an influencer, or neither of those things? Am I being an elitist judgy bitch or do I have a point? Let me know in the comments below!