Saying No Is The New Going Out; Taking A Step Back & The Ever Increasing Pressure

This post has been bubbling away under the surface for some time. I try to keep myself as positive as possible, but occasionally something frustrates me so much that I have to get it out there; a weight inevitably lifts off my shoulders and more often than not a huge number of others feel exactly the same, so it’s always worth it. Whether your a full time blogger, a part time enthusiast or an occasional writer that loves feeling part of a community, it’s hard work juggling all our different priorities without dropping something altogether. I have a blog to run, a new network to promote, a second site to manage, clients to provide content for, strategy to develop, photos to take, social media to update, meetings to host and products to test; my time is more precious than gold because there’s so little of it. I need to generate income, continually strive to keep my place in the bloggersphere, negotiate deals and draw up proposals; although important in their own way, often at the very bottom of my list are appointments and launches.

These functional events (although perceived to be much more glamorous than they actually are) don’t directly lead to me generating hits or income, so I have to ensure the time I do spend with brands and PRs is as beneficial as possible. I no longer live in London (despite the now ironic name of this blog,) so I have to manage my time effectively and ensure numerous meetings are squeezed into a single day; top that off with a pricey ticket of £36.00 every time I want to travel the 40 minute journey before 10am and it’s not as easy as you may think to just ‘swing by’ an event. Other bloggers have to cough up in the region of a hundred quid for a three hour journey into London (where 99% of the ‘stuff’ frustratingly happens,) so I know I’m not hard-done-by or alone by any means – but time (and a train ticket) is money. For all of us.

More and more I’m expected to give up my time for the pleasure of a new lipgloss or face cream; there’s increasing pressure placed on bloggers to attend events even after we’ve already declined because of clashing appointments, lack of time or simply having more important tasks to juggle. It’s impossible to attend every launch or be part of every event, because quite simply there’s nobody sat at home writing the content for us. There is no team, no beauty assistant and no Plan B… It’s all us. Most importantly I, like many others, don’t write for brands or PR companies; I write for my readers. If I like a product and think it’s worth shouting about it doesn’t matter if I tested it on a Soho rooftop while holding a mojito, or straight out of a jiffy bag on a rainy Tuesday morning while holding a cup of tea. There are thousands of brands all vying for my attention and I simply can’t provide them with what they want time and time again; I don’t want to. I like shaking things up, telling a story a brand may prefer for me to gloss over or provide an honest review of a launch that’s just not up to scratch – a cupcake and a glass of champagne isn’t going to change that.

Blogging has changed in the last few years beyond all recognition; I want to retain my integrity while bringing readers news, but that’s a hard thing to juggle when it’s so easy to get bogged down in fluffy PR stories. Building relationships and getting to know brands is an essential part of running a site, but it’s not the be all and end all; it’s about time the balance was re-addressed and we started to focus on why we started writing in the first place. I love telling stories, providing a helping hand and breaking news; others like sharing pieces of their lives or showcasing their latest purchases. Yes I love discovering new products and ideas, but not at the expense of everything else. Although I do appreciate being offered a car to get me to and from a venue with ease, it doesn’t make me any more likely to attend if it just won’t work with my diary. Although a ‘quick ten minutes’ may seem like a reasonable request, if I don’t have the time to trek half way across London for a coffee then I just don’t have the time. Soz. I’m so often guilted into arranging a meeting or attending a launch that it’s getting a little bit ridiculous; pressurising those of us that are already under enough pressure is just going to cause burn out, frustration and bitterness. Although we all understand brands have targets to hit and a job to do, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the majority are forgetting that bloggers are real people managing their site single-handedly with a multitude of things on their to-do lists that are far more important than getting their nails painted.

I’m fortunate to be able to do a job I love, but I work bloody hard. This September I’m taking a holiday for the first time in nearly three years and some well deserved time away from my laptop; however, I’m still being asked to work while on holiday or make myself available for a call when I’ve provided more than enough notice that I’m going to be on the other side of the world. Just because I work for myself it doesn’t mean I’m prepared to work 24/7. Just because I’m in a fortunate position it doesn’t mean I’ll pander to your every whim because you have targets to hit (and just so happen to have sent me something with my name on.) I’m a bit fed up of seeing certain publications being flown all over the world and treated to exotic holidays, while bloggers are handed a lipstick three weeks after it’s been plastered all over social media and expected to hype up a storm. It’s about respecting us as influencers, content creators and professionals; it’s not about thinking we have all the time in the world to sit about twiddling our thumbs, waiting for an invite to land in our inbox. We can’t be bought with a cupcake; it’s not 2010.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten home from a day of cancelled appointments, fruitless meetings and launches that don’t even provide
you with product to write about, only to spend the entirety of my
evening trying to catch up on what I’ve missed. It ends here. I’ve been saying no to a lot of things for some time, but from hereon in I’m only arranging meetings when there’s something of value to discuss; I’m only attending launches if there’s genuinely something really exciting happening. I’m not prepared to lose two days a week that I have to make up over the weekend, or dedicate my evenings to inbox clearing; I want my life back. I need to re-balance and re-focus myself, my blog and my business. I need some ‘me time’ that doesn’t just revolve around lipstick. I don’t do anything outside of this blog because I simply don’t have the time (and god I miss tap dancing, swimming, going to the cinema and generally leaving the house for anything non-work related.) There’s only so much work you can do before you start resenting the very thing you used to love. I need to fall back in love with blogging again before it’s too late, and this is the first step on that journey. 

If you’re a blogger, how do you juggle the increasing pressures while retaining your integrity and editorial focus? Do you often feel frustrated that there’s a lot of pressure to attend launches and events, or that you miss out on future opportunities if you don’t go?

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  1. Kylie
    September 4, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    Hi Hayley,I completely understand what you mean about losing the love! I am a self-employed dance teacher. I started off going to ballet classes after university for something to do in the evenings – loved it so much I built up and up and trained as a dance teacher. Over 5 years I went from dancing every night of the week myself, to teaching every night and spending all my days trying to lesson plan, update my website, answer emails from parents, buy new props and music as well as squeeze in my own life. It didn’t happen and I got to a point where I really started to resent my teaching because it was all I ever did and when you’re self-employed there is always more work to do and people really do think you’re on call 24/7! I have now (hopefully) managed to find a balance between a regular job, teaching, studying, and also having a life of my own. Getting back to a dance class myself and being the student again has really made me appreciate myself more and I think my teaching has improved because of it. But I did have to say no to a lot of opportunities and I am very choosy about how what work I can and can’t take on. Enjoy your holiday, have a well-deserved rest and hopefully it will give you some clarity on how you can start to claw back that precious ‘me’ time!Kylie x

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:44 am

      Thanks Kylie! You're so right – it's all about having perspective and a little space to breathe. It's so easy to find yourself bogged down and doing nothing but work. I like to keep busy and there's always something more to do, but we're all more productive after a little step away. x

  2. Pam Scalfi
    September 4, 2015 / 2:59 pm

    I too have said no to a few companies because I dont think anything can be gained from working with them. It should totally be ok to say no! Good for you Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  3. Janie
    September 4, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    Sounds like you def need a big break before disillusionment becomes resentment. I always love your posts and hopefully you can fall back in love with blogging again because honestly this was a tough read.

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:45 am

      Thanks Janie x

  4. Gemma Louise
    September 4, 2015 / 3:47 pm

    Ahh the joys. I've had to say no to companies just because they ask me to do something that will take me ages, plus it's been something completely unrelated to my blog content! I'm about to go into my last year at Uni, I don't have the time or resources to collaborate with people like that. Recently I was offered the most amazing opportunity but I couldn't go purely because it was in London, it sucks that they can't arrange these things in other places. When you live all the way up North it's not easy to just pop down to London for the day! Anyway I hope you have a nice holiday :)Just Little Things xo

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:47 am

      I feel you Gemma! I don't live in London anymore, even though I'm close, and it's frustrating that people just assume you can pop in for a coffee. Although I do completely understand local events are a drain on resources too.

  5. sampan_27
    September 4, 2015 / 4:27 pm

    Aw I hope you do fall back in love with it. I completely see where you're coming from, about the events and fruitless times. Hopefully your me time will help you. You're a unique blog, so that will help a lot, and it is still briliant that you're honest in every way. Definitely my favourite blogger. Good luck on getting back to you

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:48 am

      Thank you! That's so great to hear x

  6. Emmys Beauty Cave
    September 4, 2015 / 4:35 pm

    It is hard and i think some brands/pr firms forget we are actual people. I decline offers but still get 2 or 3 emails chasing it up to see if i have changed my mind! xEmma | Emmys Beauty Cave | My YouTube

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:48 am

      They're my least favourite emails ever!

  7. Jennifer.P
    September 4, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    I like your honesty about the blogging world. I am only a small blogger so I don't have all that pressure on my shoulders, but I do understand how all of this can be a bit overwhelming! Even though, blogging is your job, it's important for you to enjoy it. I really appreciate that you write about things that you like and not just because you've been pressured to talk about it. Keep doing it, that's what I like about your blog, you're honesty! I hope that you'll enjoy your well-deserved holiday!xxJennifer | Pretty as Summer

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:49 am

      Thanks so much Jennifer! I'm glad that comes through x

  8. Stella
    September 4, 2015 / 6:22 pm

    I don't bother with events and meetings at all. I will love to attend LFW as I have turned down an invite for NYW, was not willingly to cough out flight and hotel fees. Great post.

  9. Saloca
    September 4, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    The break will do you good, and if they phone you, let them listen to the international dial tone they'll get, that's what they deserve if you've already told them you will be unavailable. Just because you're a blogger does not mean you don't have 'business hours', you're entitled to holidays, time off, even sick leave – all the PR people who work on behalf of the companies have these entitlements so they shouldn't consider full-time bloggers any different!Sarah :)Saloca in Wonderland

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:50 am

      The sick leave is another thing! OMG the two times I genuinely have been bed ridden in the last two years have been painful – texts from brands because I haven't replied to an email.

    September 4, 2015 / 8:37 pm

    So well said Hayley! I'm small fry in the blogging world and can't cope with much pressure at all as I have chronic illnesses and MH issues, and I've kinda lost my way with blogging. I realised it's because I'm constantly being pestered in email about things which don't interest me, and more importantly which don't BENEFIT me. It's a constant slog getting through all these emails from people who mostly want to take advantage of bloggers and it gets me down. I realised just today that I was happiest blogging a couple of years ago when I was a nobody. I didn't feel competitive with other bloggers; I was in my own little bubble. And I miss that. So I wish you much happiness in creating a window in which you can live your life a bit too. xx

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:51 am

      Thank you Leah. Don't let it get you down – and don't feel like you can't just delete all those irrelevant emails that take up your time. I've had to learn it's ok not to reply to everyone, because that's all I'd ever be doing!

  11. Abigail Alice
    September 4, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    Great post! I do have to spend quite a bit to attend events in London as I'm from Manchester. Sometimes I'm lucky and can get the train cheap but it's a really long day. I hope you have a nice relaxing break soon!

  12. alicekatex
    September 4, 2015 / 10:06 pm

    I don't have this issue yet but it must be hard! I have still had companies asking me to do silly things for free and its like why would I do that and waste my precious time?! xalicekatex

  13. Bubblybex3
    September 4, 2015 / 11:11 pm

    I admire you for voicing your frustrations! I think saying no and having 'me time' is a great idea! Schedule your blog like a 9-5. Not always easy I know but if you have boundaries you'll hopefully be able to fit in more personal time :)Enjoy your break and know that I trust your blog to offer honest reviews and information. It doesn't matter if you're in a cocktail dress or pjs from primarni 😉 Bex x

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:52 am

      Haha, thanks Bex – always in PJs ; )

  14. Tiffany Legg
    September 5, 2015 / 11:27 am

    My blog is still new, so an email from a PR always excites me, but I do know what you mean. Working in marketing and PR I see the pressures the team are under to hit targets, but I think the ideas need to get a little more creative to spark bloggers interest! Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:53 am

      I've no issue at all with brands getting in touch or PRs wanting to build relationships; it's the constant need for attention and my time when there's nothing really to talk about (or real story) that becomes a frustration. You're very right about the creativity too!

  15. Tamzin Swann
    September 5, 2015 / 5:40 pm

    It's so reassuring to read things like this, as a quite newbie I'm still learning to ropes but I understand what you mean! A lot of the events are in London, so you have travel time etc, and if you were to get there and it not benefit or help you I can imagine it being frustrating! It must be so hard to juggle it all! My blog is just a hobby along side life, full time work and university so I struggle to do it all too. I love reading your blog though, and always love your posts. But enjoy your break! Everyone needs one

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:53 am

      Thanks Tamzin!

  16. Rebecca McMahon
    September 5, 2015 / 7:07 pm

    I'm not a full time blogger and my blog isn't nearly as popular as it once was, however I'm self employed and my time is very precious. I recently got invited into a pr office on one of my very few days off so they had an opportunity to catch up before I move abroad for my exciting new job. After being there for an hour and a half and asking what they had coming up over the next few months, we didn't talk about one product. I was so annoyed! I am under so much pressure at the moment with work and trying to sort my move out. I had so many better things to do than sit awkwardly in their office watching them write emails. Meow.

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:54 am

      I can't tell you how often this happens. I think a lot of companies have targets to hit based purely on 'face time' – but with nothing really to tell you!

  17. Jhem Arzaga
    September 6, 2015 / 8:44 am

    Blogging at first can be fun, but sometimes when we put ourselves into it, we get too attached and I can relate on everything you have said. And yes, glad you're having a holiday after years, it's finally your "me time".. Take care always, Hailey!xoxoJhem |

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:54 am

      Thank you!

  18. Chloe Rhys-Jones
    September 6, 2015 / 10:43 am

    Hi Hayley, I hope you are feeling better after this blog post. I absolutely love your blog posts and your Instagram because I genuinely believe you are real. I feel like you only write about what you like and what you think is good. You need to do things for yourself, something a lot of people including myself don't do. Pressures come from too many places and we deserve a break and deserve to put ourselves first. Thank you for an honest blog post, I genuinely hope you are having a relax and have a great time on holidays because you deserve it. Love Chloe ❤️

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:55 am

      Thanks Chloe for such a lovely comment. x

  19. Glam O'Clock
    September 6, 2015 / 12:21 pm

    It's important and healthy to take a break and to say know. Blogging even if turned into a job should remain something that makes you happy. Enjoy your holiday! xxAlexandra | Glam O’Clock

  20. BritishBeautyBlogger
    September 7, 2015 / 10:15 am

    You're preaching to the choir here! I couldn't agree more – I had something the other day where I had said no to an event, but was then asked again as a 'massive favour' to attend so I just asked the question outright and asked them to be honest about whether it was a numbers thing or if there was a very good and definite reason for me to be there. It turned out it was just numbers, and to be fair, the PR was very honest. I said I wanted to continue a good relationship and could we save up the favour for a time when it really was necessary and then I would go out of my way to be there. I know that brands apply a lot of pressure to the PRs to have 'numbers' so sometimes you have to bend a bit to continue good relationships. I think they very often don't realise that time spent at an event is time that has to be made up well into the evenings. In another recent 'massive favour' ask, I said I would come in to meet the brand if the PR felt it was worth giving up part of my weekend for (because that was the reality) – she said she felt it was. It wasn't and I ended up working most of Saturday. I always feel guilty about saying no, but you can't spend time you don't have. I think there is genuinely a misconception (still) that bloggers have all the time in the world to spend at launches with very little thought to the reality, especially if you're a full time blogger. I would LOVE it if I had time to coffee/lunch/afternoon tea all day – what a great life that would be!

    • Hayley Carr
      September 7, 2015 / 11:57 am

      Absolutely Jane. There is still a lack of understanding as to how much time and effort goes into running a blog and getting daily content up – I do feel a lot of the time they assume I'm sat at home watching daytime TV, so have all the time in the world to give up. So many meetings recently have been utterly fruitless and I've come back with a bag of stuff I'm not interested in. From hereon in I'm only arranging meetings for genuinely useful info or potential collaborations; I pay for that free lunch ten fold in extra time!

  21. Fiona - The Beauty Shortlist
    September 7, 2015 / 10:55 am

    Spot on. I hate saying no to "let's have a coffee/breakfast/whatever and we can go through the autumn beauty launches, would be lovely to meet you!" but who's got time to (a) get into London/cross London for a coffee; and (b) there are too many deadlines all the time anyway…! Let alone the travel costs…for a coffee? 😉 Great post, spot on (I'm repeating myself now…) x

  22. sugarpuffish
    September 7, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    I have to turn a lot of things down because I have a full time job unrelated to blogging and of course the two clash when it comes to weekday PR events. I have the statutory holiday allowance I can't be taking time off or leaving work early, I have to prioritise who is worth my free time. I hope you have a relaxing holiday and everyone leaves you in peace to enjoy it 🙂

  23. Anonymous
    September 7, 2015 / 3:01 pm

    I take my hat off to you. I could never do it full time – I work on counter as day job and write my little diary for 'letting off steam' by night. I don't think everyone has yet cottoned on that 'blogging' is a full time job and no longer a hobby – it is a valuable stream of revenue for both blogger and company PR. x

  24. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 / 6:06 pm

    This was a really interesting read. I do understand the pressures and situation from both sides, as I have been on both sides myself – in the bloggers shoes and in the brands shoes. You have worked f*cking hard to build an incredible blog (which is NOT easy or an overnight job), which inevitably leads to the viscous cycle: readers love to read what you write, the numbers go up, brands want to get involved and get that exposure (particularly when a blog pulls in a higher circ than the traditional print media). You're in an interesting position – you write for your readers, but without the revenue stream that brands and advertising may be able to contribute, it would be challenging to be a full time blogger (and still be able to eat!). In this respect, there needs to be a balance between all stakeholders (readers, yourself, brands, PR etc) – which you happen to be in the middle of! As you say above, your time is gold, so perhaps you should consider hiring an assistant to help ease the pressure – particularly if this will allow you to delegate tasks that take up a lot of your time. Time that you could then spend more effectively, such as building new ventures or chasing new revenue streams, to be able to build your blog and business for future sustainable growth.To be successful in any field – either business, the arts etc you do have to work f*cking hard. But don't forget there needs to be a balance, you have to be able to work to live and your health/wellbeing should always be the number one priority.So on that note, I hope you enjoy your holiday, switch your phone off and come back nice and refreshed! xxx

  25. Heidi B - Chronic Beauty blog
    September 9, 2015 / 5:22 pm

    Hi Hayley, thankfully I'm too far for launches and not attended any but..I totally agree on time, energy and money when it comes to blogging. Yes you do work hard on a very informative and 'no-bullshit' blog so…enjoy that well-earned holiday H!Heidi x

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