I feel like theatre blogging is a relatively small niche, but with the decline of print newspapers, it’s a niche that is quickly growing. With the right SEO for reviews, it’s easy to rank above some of the bigger newspapers when it comes to theatre reviews and get a fair few hits to your reviews. And your review could be the decision that somebody books to see a show. But the reality of being a theatre blogger isn’t all going to new launches, writing a post and going to bed, then repeating that a couple of times a week. I’ve been blogging for almost three years, and whilst I enjoy writing about the theatre above anything else I’ve written about, it’s probably the most exhausting thing to write about.
I have made going to the theatre a priority, and have seen 30 shows and concerts this year. Around a third of these have been complimentary shows with an expectation that I will review a performance, but even these incur a cost to get to the show. And if they are shows that I’ve paid to see myself, then I still have to consider getting there and back. It’s not a cheap hobby!
Despite what people might think, my inbox isn’t full of invites. And even when there are a few sitting in there, I can’t make most of them. Thanks to a full time job that finishes at 5pm and a journey that takes me about an hour and a half just to get from my office to King’s Cross on a good day, getting anywhere outside of the West End on a work day is nearly impossible. Most of my theatre trips for the bigger shows happen on a Saturday, cramming in as much as possible on my time away from the day job. Roll on July when I’ve got some time off work to actually go to shows mid-week!
Whilst sitting in a theatre for two or three hours might seem like a really easy job, it’s actually exhausting. As a reviewer, your brain is constantly ticking, picking up on anything happening on the stage. I don’t personally write notes whilst I’m watching the show, meaning that when the interval rolls around I’m busy scribbling notes. Sure, this sounds like first world problems but think back to the last time you were in a lecture, or training, or at school: your brain is switched on and you’re learning and you come home shattered. It’s just like that. I’m also somebody who needs at least 8 hours sleep per night, but even if I write my reviews on my way home, working full time means on press night – which is mid-week nine times out of ten – I only manage about 6 hours. And if I wait until I get home to type up my review, it’s even less.
Theatre blogging isn’t all about going to see shows for free, having a nice evening then going home. Theatre blogging is reviewing, content creation, it’s photography, it’s working to deadlines and it’s working wherever you can on whatever device I can get my hands on. I write in my room, in my lunch break, in cafes, on the train, in the car…wherever and whenever. I have a notebook full of scribbles that I write on the tube, on the bus and when I wake in the middle of the night.
Before I talked about theatre on my blog, I didn’t understand how people could say blogging is another full time job. Beauty blogging a couple of times a week was just a hobby, but in terms of hours, this is a second full time job. I easily spend 40 hours per week creating content, responding to emails, seeing shows, travelling and keeping up to date with theatre news. Think about it: a two-show day can mean that I’m out of the house for 14 hours and I’m working pretty much the entire time. But I love being a theatre blogger and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I would personally love to be able to talk about the world of theatre full time but for the time being, despite the constant state of exhaustion, I really love talking about it as much as I possibly can. And people obviously happy for me to talk about it, which makes it all worthwhile.