The difference between influencers, bloggers and journalists

One thing I’m surprised by in my career (in less than a year at professional blogging) is the haters.

Really, people hate bloggers. I have a hypothesis about why this might be.

People don’t really know what blogging is. It seems like an easy cop-out instead of having a real job, but the truth is, blogging is really hard.

Digital media

People know what accountants do. They know what footballers do. They know what actors do.

Digital media is still such a new field that not many people are sure what careers in this field involve. They sure don’t know what blogging is.

What’s more, there’s no guild for bloggers. There aren’t really any standards, and people mean a lot of different things when they use the term “blogging”.

From having had to explain my abrupt career change to colleagues, friends and families a number of times, I’ve realised that when many people hear “blogging”, they actually think of influencers.

Influencer marketing

Wikipedia has some interesting thoughts and is a barometer of public opinion on the topic:

Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Colloquially, the modern term “influencer” refers to online celebrities who can sell products to their audiences. Many of them have found fame through social media, and this is the primary medium of their success (in contrast to other celebrities who perhaps used film, TV or music to catapult themselves into the public eye).

Influencers are your YouTube vloggers, your Twitter stars, your Instagram sweethearts. They make their money from advertising products for companies that appeal to their audiences. Some influencers clearly set out to build their career through social media, while others seems to have found their fame by accident.

They are sought after for their influence over highly profitable target markets. Think, Zoella, fashion and beauty vlogger. Or, PewDiePie, the famous gaming vlogger. Entrepreneur and business guru Tim Ferriss is also an influencer.

zoe elizabeth sugg

Image: Zoe Elizabeth Sugg (Zoella) (zoella.com)

PR professionals seek out influencers on behalf of their companies or clients to help them sell more products. Influencer marketing is booming, and still growing.

Who hates influencers?

People can be extremely dismissive of influencers, but they’ve worked hard to build up their audiences, just like the influencers of the pre-digital age.

For example, if someone like Marilyn Monroe wore something, everyone else would want it too. They were trend-setters. Today, people still pay a lot of money to famous sports stars like David Beckham to wear their clothes, or actors like Robert Downey Junior.

Everyone understands this classic form of marketing.

When we say influencers now, we mean the same thing, except the medium is digital instead of print or television.

Some people may argue that influencers in the non-digital industries actually have a skill that makes them more deserving of their fame and fortune. For example, actors. But that’s coming from the perspective of not understanding the digital industries.

It’s hard to become an influencer. Otherwise, wouldn’t everyone do it?

People are scared of digital because there is a lack of understanding about digital technologies. It seems that these young upstarts are using witchcraft to skip the necessity of hard work, sweat and tears. It can seem that the power of internet has come from nowhere, to those who cut their teeth in the pre-digital age.

But the internet has slowly been growing in scope and reach for decades. Now, it’s coming to mainstream attention.

Difference between influencers, bloggers and journalists

Image: Pineapples, Unsplash.com

Why an influencer is not necessarily a blogger

An influencer is very different from the type of blogger that I am. Some influencers are bloggers, but not all of them are. If an influencer blogs, they make money from their own blog.

For example, when an influencer mentions a product on their blog, and you click on a link to buy that product, the influencer gets a fee (affiliate marketing). Some influencers are also paid to feature certain products on their Pinterest profiles. Others, particularly vloggers or Instagrammers, are paid a direct fee to simply say they like the product or feature that product in a post (brand ambassador).

I do not make any money from my own blog. If anyone asks me to promote their products on my blog in exchange for a fee, I say no. My fees are definitely not dependent on me being famous, only that I can write well and about specific B2B industry topics for my clients.

That’s how I know I am definitely not an influencer. And anyone can do what I do.

Comparing blogging and journalism

Being a blogger is also very different from being a journalist.

A journalist’s job is to create news. To find that news and report on it. They train for years to be able to do this effectively. Journalists belong to professional bodies and many of them have degrees in journalism. There are no blogging degrees.

The development of technologies and the disruption of traditional print media has threatened many jobs in journalism. When I was choosing my career, print journalism was in the process of dying out, but most people outside the industry didn’t know it.

Successful journalists have managed to transition online. Still more are freelancers. Now, instead of ‘newspapers’, we have ‘media’. We’re in the era of Buzzfeed news.

Because journalism and blogging both appear online, they also get confused. But blogging is different again.

What kind of blogging I do

I engage in two types of blogging.

One, is this blog, on which I post articles written as myself. I am writing industry-focused posts relating to women, tech and marketing. These are collections of my thoughts on these topics, in order to showcase my writing abilities to potential clients, and also reach out to the community.

I have experience in these areas, as someone who is female, has worked in digital, marketing, and learnt to code as part of the London women in tech community.

My blog is proof that I live and breathe what I do, and that I can do what I say I can do. It’s also an amazing way to connect with other people in the industry. It provides me with credibility by showing I truly care about my industry niche.

I feel inspired by every topic I write about on my blog. I think what people like about blogging is being able to connect with the authors. Blogging is characterised by being very authentic, or at least the best kind of blogging is.

Audiences want to feel they have had a glimpse into the dimension of someone’s life, whether that’s a blog about women in tech, or organic recipes for babies. The possibilities are pretty endless.

B2B client blogging

For my clients, I write targeted B2B blog posts with the goal of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in mind. These blog posts are part of a wider content marketing strategy, aiming to engage audiences and encourage them to convert into paying customers for my clients.

I could write so much more on the topic of B2B blogging, and I have done so here. Many others have written extensively on the topic of content marketing.

But does what I do sound much like what an influencer does? Someone who makes their living playing video games in front of a camera, or doing their makeup, or even being a prominent business person?

No. I am a freelance blogger. I sell my blog-writing services to companies in exchange for payment. My job exists because of the internet, pure and simple, because content marketing is a key way to drive traffic to your company’s website. It’s actually nothing to do with journalism.

Influencers have always existed, and the internet is their new medium.

Digital is the future

Many people think that tech is just for millennials, but I’ve seen many successful influencers and bloggers who didn’t grow up with the internet. For example, Elna Cain is a famous freelance blogger and influencer who is older, and also a mother of twins.

The fundamental principles of success, business and marketing don’t change. Audiences primarily want to connect with others like themselves. They want to hear a story, to have help for the things that matter to them, to feel connected to something bigger.

And that’s where journalists, bloggers and influencers all overlap. They’re all in the business of connecting with audiences, and they are not even in direct competition with one another. I think journalism still has to catch up, because it has to contend with business models better suited to print media.

Journalists also need to band together to fight corruption in their industry. Only by standing up to bullying and blatant profit-seeking can journalism regain its rightful reputation of serving the public with real news.

Still, the future is digital, and there’s no point in resisting. It would be like sobbing over the loss of the first printing press, the record player, or the first aeroplanes. It’s sad when things change, but principles remain the same.

I’m looking forward to seeing where digital takes us next.

I’m B2B tech industry and business blogger available for hire. Contact me at catherine@awaywithwords.co to see how we can work together. 

About the author

Catherine Heath

I’m a B2B freelance tech blogger and content writer. I have a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups. Learning to code.

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