Sign in/sign up

Going Solo: Journalists moving to full-time blogging

By Beth Carter in Media News on

The token line most bandied about for why journalists are being forced to branch out and tap into digital content is that “print is dying”, and therefore job opportunities in the sector are decreasing.

 

Influencing spoke to three journalists-turned-bloggers, who mostly say that the changes to the print industry are not the sole reason for their drastic career change, just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

 

With 45-years of journalistic experience between them, the three full-time bloggers have worked for some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest lifestyle publications, as well as in local regional newspapers, business magazines and government publications.

 

“Ultimately, the print magazine industry is getting smaller and smaller and I wanted to be able to cover subjects I know and love again,” Jenna Moore, founder and editor of lifestyle blog Gems of Gorgeousness, told Influencing.

 

The story is the same across the board. Nikki Parkinson, of award-winning beauty blog Styling You, said redundancies were being handed out at her workplace in 2008, creating a “scary” environment which motivated her to make the change.

 

“The atmosphere in the workplace was not good and it didn't look like it would ever improve,” she said. “I had a ‘now or never’ moment, really. I wasn't happy with where things were going - the weekly glossy magazine I edited was getting increasingly smaller (the death knell for any product - it was shut down less than six months later) and I could not imagine returning from that to sub-editing or general news.”

 

Jen Bishop, founder and editor of design blog Interiors Addict, also turned to blogging as a result of financial pressures and magazine closures within the print industry.

 

“I'd already been a journalist for 12 years when I started my blog in April 2011,” she said.

 

“When the print edition of Dynamic Business [where she was editor and publisher] closed in October, I decided to take my blog full-time and really commercialise it. Working in publishing, I was well aware of how the media landscape was changing and the growing importance of digital and bloggers.”

 


Possible to make six figures as a ‘blogger’?

 

“Over the 20 years I worked on regional newspapers we'd had budgets and resources squeezed and squeezed. I hadn't had a non-CPI pay increase in 10 years,” Parkinson explained.

 

Parkinson discovered that she can make a lot more money running her own company through her blog. After four years of using the website to promote her personal styling business, she realised she had to focus solely on the writing and content.

 

“The advertising and sponsorship opportunities had started to come in,” she explained. “My national profile had risen considerably, and by May 2012 I had a Sydney-based agent selling my blog to brands. My gross income has far exceeded that of my ‘senior’ journalist wage.”

 

Both Parkinson and Bishop remarked that it is absolutely possible for bloggers to earn a six figure salary. Moore, however, thinks the potential is there but maybe only for the next generation, saying that as recognition of bloggers grows, so too will their opportunities.

 

“As long as you have that all-important traffic, there will be lots of potential to earn well - more through partnerships and the like than actual advertising, I'd say,” she explained.

 

“For example Lancôme has linked up with Michelle Phan, a vlogger in the US, Estee Lauder has their affiliations, and Redken linked up with The Blonde Salad,” she said, before adding there are big name brands linking with blogs in Australia, but in New Zealand that may be a bit different.

 

“I think we'll have to see. That said, Maybelline New York NZ has teamed up with Isaac Hinden-Miller of Isaac Likes here.”

 


So, what’s the difference?

 

Many people have the impression that the work of a blogger is substantially different to that of a journalist, but all three of the journalists-turned-bloggers said they do considerably more now that they work for themselves.

 

Instead of being just ‘writers’, they now run businesses, self-publish and interact with their readers more than a typical journalist does. Not to mention being solely responsible for sourcing all of their own content.

 

“As a blogger I curate, write and edit content everyday,” explained Parkinson.

 

“It's not all that dissimilar from my previous career of 20 years when I was an employed journalist. I had to come up with story ideas and I had to write them to a deadline. I wrote mainly about fashion and beauty, so it was advice-driven and often contained commentary. It was written with a particular audience or readership in mind. And, I had to be mindful every step of the way of ‘commercial considerations’.”

 

Bishop said she sees no difference between being a journalist and being a blogger.

 

“I still write, interview people, decide what's newsworthy and relevant to my readers, deal with PRs and have advertisers. The only real difference now is that I self-publish and I own the publication,” she said.

 

Although the workload may be different, for Moore that is a good thing. Blogging means she can spend her time, energy and money on the writing and how readers are interacting with her content, as opposed to running costs.

 

“I run my site more as an online magazine so I don't feel there's a huge difference. Happily the print costs don't apply,” she said. “There's something very special about being able to have one-on-one interaction with your readers when they comment or send questions. It's very different from print in that way.”

 

Bishop says that, although she may not spend as much time writing, she “definitely works more hours overall because I’m now a business owner and self-employed, so there are a lot more things I have to do as well as just write!”

 

Moore explained that her workload varies, saying when she began she worked seven days a week and 18 hour days.

 

“These days it's a lot more manageable. I try to have writing days and event/meeting days. I'd say - and I do still do some freelance because that's my income - I do 30 to 40 hours per week including meetings and events,” she added, explaining she still never has more than two days a week to herself.

 

Parkinson also explained she works long hours, but it suits her family because she is able to choose which hours.

 

“I would average 9 hour days, 9 - 3pm and then back on the computer at 8pm...I try not to work on the weekends but my phone is always close by,” she said. “Like any small business, annual leave is rare. I didn't blog for a few days over Easter and Christmas but apart from that I turn up weekdays with new content.”

 

Even when Parkinson is away for work or on holidays, the business of her blog is on her mind, requiring her to hire freelance journalists to fill in and “lessen the pressure before and after” her absence.

 

Parkinson travels to Sydney (from Queensland) at least once a month, and explains: “I love what I do and all the hours that go into it benefit my business, not someone else's.”

 


Balancing act

 

There is a whole new skillset journalists need to acquire in order to run their own blog and business.

 

Journalists-turned-bloggers need to manage the day-to-day tasks of a small business, whilst writing and content creating, but also deal with commercial aspects like advertising and partnership agreements.

 

Moore says this is the biggest challenge, and her site is yet to be financially viable.

 

“I had to write all the content as well as explore, and learn about things like affiliates and Google AdSense and be out-and-about spreading the word,” she said, adding they aren’t lucrative without a “huge” number of readers.

 

“It's all about traffic. You don't have anything to sell until you have an audience.”

 

Despite hiring a person to deal with sales and marketing, Moore says time management is still a challenge for publishing quality content that she is happy with.

 

Parkinson explained she garnered a lot of these skills working as the editor of print publications, using social media to figure out what her readers want, taking commercial interests into account in deciding what is published and making sure her reader’s interests come first.

 

“I have an agent who handles any negotiations for sponsorships and ambassadorships on my blog,” she explained. “I don't accept all that is offered but instead choose to work with brands that fit me and my readership demographic. So it's “readers first” for sponsorship as well as editorial.”

 

Bishop also took on an agency to help deal with the advertising and sales aspect of career blogging.

 

“I approach it very much the same way as I did when I was in traditional publishing,” she explained, adding that advertising and editorial need to be kept “as separate as possible”.

 

“I appreciate there are opportunities for integration, sponsored posts and brand ambassadorships where the two have to meet - the most important thing there is to be transparent about what is paid for and what has been gifted,” Bishop added.

 


Backlash and job satisfaction

 

The change isn’t all rosy, with occasional backlash from others who think journalists are making a poor decision or taking the easy-road by becoming career bloggers,

 

“I realise that this is not the journalism most people think of when they think of journalism,” said Parkinson, explaining that even though she had worked in media, she’d spent over a decade working away from general news reporting.

 

“I truly believe only a small percentage of people are really cut out for the cut and thrust of political reporting or the court and police rounds. I am not that person,” said Parkinson.

 

“Being a journalist does not make you a great writer. It trains you to write to a formula but I think that you either have creative flair or your don't. And there are less and less avenues in journalism to express that creativity.”

 

Moore said her work in the newsroom was not challenging enough and taking up blogging full-time meant she has better job satisfaction.

 

“When I made the decision, I was working part-time as the beauty editor at New Zealand New Idea and only writing about beauty,” she said. “After having been used to doing longer, much-researched stories for a long time, I didn't find it fulfilling.”

 

Bishop explains she still feels uncomfortable with the title ‘blogger’, because people may assume ït isn’t “a real job”.

 

“I personally find it a little weird, maybe even embarrassing, to say ‘I'm a blogger’ when people ask me what I do,”  she said, adding she still feels she has to justify her career move, telling Influencing she mentions her journalism background whenever she gets a chance, despite the change being beneficial.

 

For instance, Bishop’s LinkedIn masthead reads: “Experienced journalist, editor & publisher turned full-time interior design blogger and freelance writer”.

 

“When I think about it, I probably have more readers these days as a blogger than I did at the magazine I was editing. Plus I own my own business now!”.

 

-

 

For more information, media with enquiries should contact:

 

- Lorraine Murphy at The Remarkables Group via email (lorraine@theremarkablesgroup.com.au)  for enquiries regarding Styling You


- HS3 Media via email (info@hs3.com.au) for enquiries about Interiors Addict.


- Victoria Turner via email (victoria@gemsofgorgeousness.com) for enquiries on Gems of Gorgeousness.

 

-

 

Contact the author of this article by email (beth@mediaconnect.com.au), phone (+61 2 9894 6277) or on Twitter.

 

Send all Influencing and ITJourno press releases, leads and news tips to the editorial team by email (editorial@mediaconnect.com.au) or phone (+61 2 9894 6277).

 

Follow Influencing for the latest media and PR news and features on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google+. You can also follow ITJourno on Twitter.

 

Membership privileges

  • Read and comment an all stories
  • Weekly digest of media and PR news (optional)
  • Post media releases to PRWire newswire
  • Advertise job vacancies
  • List your business in our PR directory


Please note that Influencing is used EXCLUSIVELY by media and influencers, as well as professionals who manage marketing and communications within their organisations, so we need a work email address.

More Media News

Mangioni joins Man of Many

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
Sam Mangioni has signed up to a staff writer post with men’s lifestyle brand Man of Many.

He had recently left a digital content producer position with Triple M’s national morning show.

Follow Mangioni on LinkedIn.

SENZ prepared for July launch

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
Sports Entertainment Network’s (SEN) New Zealand arm, SENZ, is ready to go live on 19 July.

At the network’s media event in Auckland’s Eden Park, SEN CEO Craig Hutchison said the date helps set the mood for sports enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, with its slated kickoff on 24 July.

“SENZ is kiwi for sport – and will be a welcome place for all sports fans to engage their passions. New Zealand deserves its own 24/7 sports platform across radio, streaming, podcast and video. We can’t wait until July 19 and celebrate the nation’s great love of its sporting heroes and identities,” said Hutchison.

SENZ is already set to cover more events outside of the Games, such as live coverage of Wellington Phoenix matches, the Black Caps’ upcoming tour of Australia, the NZ Warriors, and a major partnership with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s 2021 Horse of the Year Awards this coming September.

A major multimedia campaign is also in place during the

SBS taps new scripted leaders

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
SBS has chosen Julie Eckersley as the head of the scripted drama division, with Donna Chang as commissioning editor. 

A veteran writer and producer, Eckersley had been working as a freelancer since leaving Matchbox Pictures in late 2019 after over nine years as producer. She will now oversee scripted’s new content development and inclusion-based projects.

Chang has been with SBS for a year as development executive. She will collaborate with Eckersley on the overall development of SBS’ commissioned projects. She assumed similar roles with Lingo Pictures and Screen Australia.

The appointments come as SBS seeks more under-represented talent representation in scripted content, such as premium TV series, short-form material for SBS On-Demand, new screenplays and investing in quality low-budget films.

“We have a fantastic slate of new scripted programming in development and production, and it’s an exciting time to welcome Julie to the team. We’re thrilled to have someone with

Longhurst to take over 97.3FM/4KQ content director role

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
Ali Longhurst has joined the Australian Radio Network as the new content director of Brisbane stations 97.3FM and 4KQ, effective August 2021.

She will succeed Barry Drinkwater, who has opted to move on after 28 years with the network. 

“Back in 2001 it was amazing to get the chance to launch 97.3FM – a brand-new FM radio station in Brisbane. So many great and talented people came on board and it’s wonderful to share in the incredible successes of 97.3FM with them.  To also oversee the 4KQ crew – the station where I got my start at ARN – for the past 14 years has been equally pleasing.  But now, as 97.3FM turns 20, the time seems right for me to try something different,” said Drinkwater of his departure.

The transition is also Longhurst’s homecoming to ARN, as she left five years ago for Southern Cross Austereo, until earlier this month when she gave notice as content director at HIT 90.9 Gold Coast.

“We welcome Alisson home to ARN. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and p

REPORT: Thomson Reuters Reveals Overall Trust In News

By Elliott Richardson in Media News on
Thomson Reuters, in collaboration with Oxford University, has released its 2021 Digital News Report incorporating data from 46 countries throughout 2020.
 
Overall, the report found trust in news has grown by six per cent on average, with 44 per cent of survey respondents saying they trust news most of the time. The report stated a key driver in this was the coronavirus pandemic, with news sites providing information from the government and health experts.
 
The highest levels of trust in news were found in Finland with 65 per cent of respondents trusting news, while the US now has the lowest amount of trust at just 29 per cent.
 
In Australia, 43 per cent of respondents trusted news overall, an increase of five per cent and placing the country in the middle of the pack at 21st place out of 46. In addition to this, only 18 per cent of respondents put trust in news on social media.
 
In terms of the most trusted news sources, the ABC topped the charts with 70 per

Warburton exits Audi Australia

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
Nikki Warburton is standing down as Audi Australia’s chief customer and marketing officer, effective late July 2021.

She has been with the company since August 2018, when she came aboard as CMO. The company has been able to post strong growth under her watch, such as nearly 85 per cent more sales in June 2020 on the back of new ecommerce solutions and COVID-safe sales protocols such as dealership staff bringing a car to a customer who pre-booked a test drive. 

Audi Australia has yet to announce her successor.

“I am enormously proud of all we’ve achieved in the last few years, but I feel now is the right time for me to leave Audi’s future success in the capable hands of my team. Audi is an incredible brand and I’ve had an amazing time helping it to shine as brightly as it does now, and I will always carry with me a great fondness for the fearless progress it has always stood for,” reflected Warburton.

Follow Warburton on LinkedIn.

Maddison takes on The Australian politics beat

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on
The Australian has assigned Max Maddison as a political correspondent at Parliament House in Canberra.

It is a maternity leave cover for Rosie Lewis, who is expected to return in June 2022.

Maddison has been with The Australian since joining as editorial assistant in March 2016. He was primarily based in Sydney on general news and politics.

Follow Maddison on Twitter @MaxMaddison.

Media news latest

Mangioni joins Man of Many
Sam Mangioni gets to work at Man of Many.

SENZ prepared for July launch
SENZ is set for a July kickoff.

SBS taps new scripted leaders
SBS appoints new scripted heads

Marcoms news latest

Thrive PR scores SodaStream deal
Thrive PR has won representation for SodaStream.

Ogilvy NZ rolls out new management team
New leadership in place for Ogilvy Network NZ.

Spark Green and Yoke fuse operations
The Spark Green and Yoke agencies have joined forces.