Dear new blogger,
Iam fine and thank you for your kind words, hope the following article makes you feel better and may give you a clear vision of blogging business in Qatar.
First of all, I totally feel you on your struggle as some of your words remind me of my initial days. I believe that if your content is admirable you should be approached by the brands, because 9k followers are as much as necessary to get paid collaborations. As you said, you are creative and have a good sense of style, then there is no way that the brands wouldn’t notice you. I would agree on some of the points that it’s not easy to get business in Qatar. But don’t get disappointed, because this is 21st century and this generation is way smarter than we ever imagined. The old regulations are already getting replaced by the new rules. And new rule asks for the talent; if you have it nobody can stop you to get it. Social media is the tool to influence for people like us who struggle to get what we deserve. Maybe it will take a little more time than that of the people who got it with reference. But we will shine brighter than the thoughts of those who think that they can control our destiny by not giving us opportunities. Firstly, I wouldn't advice you to leave Qatar because it has an emerging industry for bloggers and you have strong chances to grow equally along. You can move to Dubai if your heart says so. But, you will have tough competition there as well. Also, it will again take time for you to get established in new country. Doha welcomes everyone who comes to this city with dreams. It has offered so much to a person like me who had no contacts or references, Not perfect with english, doesn't belong to a rich family as well and too shy to ask for a helping hand. I believe it has much more for you too.
I agree with you that meeting with people and pleasing them wouldn’t benefit you much. As you already know it’s a circle, where outsiders are not welcomed wholeheartedly. There are people who just do not tend to give opportunities to new talents. But believe me not all who are responsible for giving business to bloggers are corrupt. I know they are small in number, but there are honest people who don’t believe in mixing business with personal relationships. So, don’t give up on your dreams. Back in my initial days, I was going through the same struggle, when I came up on making a strategy to tackle it rather than giving up.
I knew that I will not get the business in Qatar easily, because Doha is a small town, people know each other very well. Many bloggers of D-town were already close to the main PR co. and marketing people who were responsible for selecting bloggers for business opportunities. Many people who are in showbiz, lack creativity and talent, but know how to use contacts and references and so they preferred to please people who could bring them business rather than focusing on making themselves well deserving. I am sure you must be aware of many big names in Doha who are not in blogging business because people are truly influenced by them, many of them are in this business because they are either sponsored by their families or they are supported by somebody who is into running these influencer’s programme. Now, as many bloggers in Doha themselves didn’t have to struggle to get where they are, they are unable understand what it would be to make their place on the basis of sheer hard work and talent. This must be the reason they don’t have much emotions and respect for the people who are truly deserving. Sadly, the moment they see somebody with great potential, they want to make sure that the person is not reaching to the people who make decision of giving business to the bloggers. I have been a victim of rumours which were spread by the other social media influencers which led me in not getting business.
It is true what you said, that most of the PR co. and marketing people of the brands are related or have connections with the people who are called fashionistas of Doha. So, it’s quite obvious that you have less chances to get business from those brands. Even if you offer them the best of your service, they would prefer working with the people whom they already know over somebody who is genuine influencer but unknown to them. Pleasing people to get what you deserve is not my cup of tea either. So, I knew that there is no way getting business from these PR co. and fashion groups. Though my work was good enough to get the business from many brands, I couldn’t get it, due to lack of professionalism and more of favouritism in the selectors. I wasn’t approached by many sources who could benefit their clients because some of the PR and Marketing executive don’t think about betterment of the client, instead they are more into maintaining the relation with their favourite blogger or the ones who are in their friend circle. The clients remain unaware of how their money is spent in an unrighteous way.
Though its difficult but not impossible. There are some Qatar based fashion groups and PR co. who look for true influencers and bloggers who can work for benefit and betterment of their client. I would tell you about one of the biggest fashion group, who played a vital role in my blogging journey. AZADEA is one of the leading fashion group in GCC and when I got my first business from them, I did not have any reference in AZADEA or the agency who approached me. I was approached by one of the agencies, asking me my charge for promotion on my social media account. I shared the details and they hired me to do the work. My first International collaboration came through AZADEA and it was not because of I had any reference; my work caught their eye and they approached me for the business. I am thankful to every single person even today, who has worked or is working for AZADEA group and those agencies who believed in me and gave me work which culminated my confidence and restored my faith in good people. After getting looked over by many sources this opportunity helped me to take it further.
In the course of time, I started getting so much of work from Dubai and Kuwait based PR co. that I had to look over Qatar based PR agencies. Till now, almost more than 60% of my work is non-Doha based. But now, there are many PR co. and brands coming up in Doha who are not bound by these old rules and are willing to give work to the right talent. So, there is still hope.
I would suggest you to focus on new agencies or try to create work which can get the attention of PR co. and brands which are not based in Doha as well. Because, you cannot wait for somebody to let you enter the business in Doha. It is impossible for them to think beyond the box and sadly, they are not ready to welcome new talent. This circle will remain the same until somebody who is more powerful and honest comes to replace the old ones, which I believe, is happening soon or somebody brings this darker side into spotlight. Because, in most of the cases these brands are innocent. They have no clue how their money which is supposed to be spent on marketing their brand has been spent in wrong place.
Also, you need to understand that what you see on a profile of social media influencer, is not all true. You might think that somebody is big business because they are getting constant work. But you don’t know the harsh reality that most of the bloggers don’t get paid. You might be mistaking many big names in Doha, but they are mostly not paid by the brands, most of the events they attend are unpaid. Brands are getting smarter now, they don’t pay those bloggers who fail to offer something which is not influential for them. Brands might offer them a free item, a free goodie bag, free food, free stay, or free everything in the exchange of a post. But you need to know, if you want to do serious business or you will be just happy with free items in the exchange of the promotions on social media.
Below are the few points which you should keep in mind to become a paid blogger in Doha.
1. Create Content that is more widely accepted.
Always try to create content which is acceptable internationally. There are many international brands and agencies who are trying get into Qatar market. Now, these new brands and agencies do their own home work. They do not rely on local PR co. They look for the content which can keep up with the class of their brand and check the journey of the bloggers. There are high possibilities that they will check your oldest post to be sure that you are in the business for a long time. A good profile always gets the attention of brands.
So, make sure you have good and informative content.
2. Connect with the Brand and PR agencies directly.
Though I haven’t tried it much, but you can write emails directly to the brand or their PR agencies. If you are lucky enough you might get noticed by the right people and they might add you in their influencers programme.
3. Add diversity to your content.
Create content which is different from others. A different and creative content has high chances to get noticed by the right brands.
4. Keep it Real.
Along with diversity and creativity it is important to keep the content of your blog authentic and honest.
5. Make use of appropriate tags.
Use right hashtags to reach right brands and agencies. If you are doing business in GCC, then tag all the nearest countries. This might increase your chances to get noticed.
6. Have a proper understanding of the audience and market.
Understand the market, know what your target audience and brands are. It makes your work much easier.
7. Be calm during your struggle days.
Know this, that bloggers don’t get paid frequently. In some cases, people who are doing 9-5 job are financially in much better position than to a famous blogger. So, do not feel that all the bloggers are doing good all the time. Maybe, you’re doing better than them.
8. Passion is important in your work.
A blogger who is well known and has good content gets paid good amount of money. But any profession needs a lot of passion. whether you get paid or not, keep up the consistency of work on your social media. As I said, that brands do check your oldest post to be sure that you are in the business for a long time.
9. Keep your hopes high.
Believe me, that miracles do happen. There are good people in this world who are willing to help and work with right people. They might not have reached you yet, but they will reach you soon.
Don't lose hope. You are not alone.