I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while now and I recently managed to put my ideas together for what will mark my 200th post. In no way am I generalizing in what I’m about to state, there is a sea of wonderful bloggers, professional PR managers, and inspiring Instagrammers, and although I may sound cynical, I’m only conveying truths I have lived for the past few years. I know many of you still enjoy reading as opposed to having images crammed down your throats, so this one’s for you.
To the general audience, bloggers are the ‘it’ crowd. They receive gifts, get invited to many events, and are pretty much everywhere in the press. While being a blogger definitely has its perks and I’ve enjoyed it so far, there is a downside that rarely anyone mentions. I’m pretty sure once I publish this I’m gonna want to add so much more but I’ll try to limit myself with the rants given below.
Blogging is not my job (in fact most bloggers have full time jobs). Why is that significant? Its because I have a job that takes up all my time during the day, afterwards I have my 2 kids, my husband and a home to care for. With what little time remains, I have my consultancies, my research, my hobbies, and myself to think of. How on earth do I find time to blog? I just do. Its not easy at all. Many times I just want to turn my brain off when I have some free time, but I have responsibilities towards my blog if I want to always be present in the blogosphere. But since blogging cannot be forced, it becomes a dilemma of making the time to write and actually wanting to write. I also suffer from a lack of inspiration. Many times I will have a writing outburst where I feel like pouring all my thoughts onto my blog, other times I go weeks without posting. I also have many drafts and unpublished posts waiting for what exactly? I don’t know. Blogging is writing, and writing is a creative process that cannot be forced.
Its true that bloggers have really cool and inspiring feeds, but that doesn’t come easily either. Social media is not for passing time anymore, a constant presence on all platforms is a must, and so is being up to date with the latest trends, hashtags and events happening. Many days I simply don’t feel like posting, and sometimes that mood turns into weeks. I’ve had that withdrawal before, so now I learned to prepare a few photos in advance to share on those specific days when I’m feeling under the weather. Editing pictures needs some thought, and if you want your profile to have a harmonious feel you must think of the overall effect that an additional photo will have on your feed. Speaking of taking photos and editing, I have come across the most hideous photos posted by some bloggers, it pains me to see them, and I wonder how they found the setup, lighting, angle and filter plausible. Because we live in a very visual era, photos mean a great deal, and yes an artistic eye is innate, but it wouldn’t hurt some of these online personas to brush up on their photography skills.
Choosing the right photo to upload on Instagram is not an easy task. If you are running a personal profile you can post whatever you want, a blog profile however is a whole other issue. People follow an account for a reason, perhaps they draw positivity from it or maybe they can relate to the person behind the screen; whatever the reason is, bloggers have a duty to post relevant content. Personally and since I’m a lifestyle blogger, my profile is a mixture of things I love and places I go to, but it doesn’t mean its an easy task either. If a blogger hasn’t found their niche, it becomes a tricky ordeal and if the topics shared become sporadic, the audience will lose interest.
Another issue is events. I started receiving invitations to attend events quite early in my blogging journey, specifically during my first month. I didn’t have to wait months or even a year to be summoned like most, and while I heard a lot of “wow you’re lucky” from many bloggers and friends, it really was a social shock for me, being thrust into a circle I wasn’t ready for. Invitations started pouring, and now I am literally booked every single day weeks in advance for multiple events during the same day. Many of these events are really cool, and as a lifestyle blogger I get to experience the best of all worlds. A new restaurant or bar opens or launches a new menu, I’m there. A fashion show or a boutique opening, count me in. A beauty brand introducing itself in the market, you bet. A seminar on parenting and health, front row. A luxury car unveiling its latest model, yes please. Red carpets, invitations, cocktail events, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and businessmen, and being at the forefront of the media to name a few, are some of the many perks. I have tried attending daytime events but that was very tough. Taking long lunch breaks and being stuck in horrible traffic, I ended up resenting the event I’m attending, and most times I felt that these gatherings were unproductive and the meetings useless so I stopped. And really, these agencies should give their day events some thought, because as I previously mentioned, we have jobs (most of the time its the client’s input and not the agency’s fault), so evenings are always better. Attending events is definitely a perk for social butterflies, but for homebodies like me, they are really hard. Countless times after having confirmed my attendance, I would want to cancel last minute because I wasn’t up for socializing, I just wanted to relax and unwind. But because I am a woman of my word, I would soldier on, put my best face forward after taking care of the kids and putting them to bed, and show up. Mind you I end up having fun but still, when I have nightly events to attend, it becomes rather tiring.
Bloggers also do suffer from the sudden emerging of the “Instagrammers”, meaning those who post on Instagram (sometimes very beautiful) photos and are called bloggers but in fact aren’t. To blog is to have an actual blog. Like it or not, this is a fad and an easy way to get exposure and the perks of blogger without taking the time to write a couple of coherent words. As I previously mentioned, writing isn’t all that easy and the inspiration isn’t always present, so taking the shortcut or perhaps lucking out is an issue we face when placed in the same media category as the aforementioned online users. Relevant to my drift of thought is the over dramatization of food. Meat is meat, chicken is chicken, fish is fish. It’s one thing to describe your dining experience using enticing language, but there is no need to go all Shakespeare on us. Many food related events leave me mouth agape while listening to the banter of very young adults debating existential food questions. Be real people, I’m all for stating an opinion, but please, less professional food critic mode and more relatable blogger speak.
Yes, being in a fashion entourage is fascinating, but this scene swallows you and spits you out and is relentless in between. If you don’t have a strong backbone you will get trampled over, or you will eventually change to fit in. But please, don’t change. It might be easy for me to stick to my guns because of my age and experience, but I hope that younger bloggers will be confident enough with themselves so they won’t feel the need to be someone they are not, or imitate another influencer just because they feel that’s the way they should go. Find who you are and what you love and let it be the driving force. I started my blog knowing that my style is effortless and casual, just what the average mom would wear. I have stated many times before about how I do what makes me happy and wear what is most comfortable to me. If I’m attending a fancy event, I go confidently in flats. If I’m invited to a makeup event, I go bare-faced. I truly do not care what this industry thinks of me, they can say what they want behind my back if that makes them feel important, while I carry on with my life. I frequently meet so many young ladies who love my personal style and no makeup philosophy, and I know then that my blog and persona has made an impression. Best of all, that has happened on its own, without me having to change anything about myself.
Many times a brand will reach out to collaborate or will want to promote their products, and more times than not, these brands will refuse to give us compensation for our trouble or for a spot on our blog and Instagram. They somehow twist it to seem that they are bestowing upon us the honor of their name being related to our blog. While in some cases this might be true, the majority just want free spots on our social media platforms instead of shelling out for advertising in a magazine or on a billboard. I have fallen trap to such clients but since then I have become aware of the reach that my blog has, and its up to me to choose if the whole collaboration is worth it for me, and whether or not I require anything in return. Having mentioned that, and while its perfectly fine to make a living out of blogging, too many sponsored posts make the blogger lose credibility in the same way that too many news posts turn a blog into a news feed. I personally prefer to stay true to my initial blog path which is sharing and encouraging women to be themselves.
As bloggers we receive a lot of gifts from new stores or from shops that are launching new collections or products. While that is a major plus, there still lies the struggle of sharing on social media. Many choose not to reveal what they received as gifts. Others claim that these products are their favorites when they compile a blog post. I personally share the gift on my social media platforms and if I feel necessary, I do so on the blog. Sharing the gifts I receive is also work. I have products delivered to me almost daily, and if I want to Instagram them on a daily basis, what would my feed be like? I am not an advertisement platform so I have to carefully balance both aspects of my page, which ends up meaning a lot of delayed posts and thank yous. A little note to PR agencies: bloggers talk. Yes we do, and we know who is receiving what, even if its not being posted on social media. So pay attention to who you are including or excluding in your product distribution, because if you don’t treat a blogger fairly, don’t expect them to attend your event and promote your product. If you are sending out a promotional product relating to a luxury event, also make sure you include all bloggers. I have had many incidents such as these, and at first I thought it would be beneath me to come flat out and face the representatives, but as time passed I started looking them straight in the eye and calling them out on their behavior. Sometimes I even make it clear enough with a few agencies that I don’t want anything to do with them. You think I will suck up to get freebies? Think again. Unfortunately, many bloggers do. In fact some even started their blogs so they can receive gifts, which is the worst motive ever for wanting to blog. Another issue I want to raise is the unprofessional organization of some events. Food events with a single tray of finger food? No. A pub opening without their main advertised alcohol brand? No. Fitness events that turn out to be public, and the relevant personnel not being on location? No. A restaurant opening where the service starts 2 hours after the time mentioned on the invitation and when the food arrives, it is laughably minimal and tasteless? No. An invitation being sent with the absolute wrong timing? No. A makeup event where a beauty blogger is not invited while social bloggers are? No. A fancy hotel dinner and an irrelevant focus group of bloggers? No. Invitations to environmental related events when the same agency previously chose to ignore you as an invitee for a cool event. Not cool, but not a no because I love supporting NGOs. A blogger who happens to be an artist not receiving a certain clothing item to style for an event while many others did. Heck no. I could go on and on, unfortunately those situations happened and are happening because some agencies have under-qualified staff working on these events.
Online wars is a major con. There are always people who feel that every tweet or Instagram quote is about them. There are people who don’t talk to you because their blogger friend doesn’t like you for no apparent reason. Rise above that and stand alone. On the other hand, online friendships can flourish into real life ones, and the bonds created are real and deep. I had to go through a couple of tough situations and fake people to learn my lesson of distinguishing those who prey on a good heart and those who are true to it. I am lucky to have met ladies and gentlemen online from all walks of life, young and old, and we have each others backs.
Being a blogger is similar to being a public figure, not in terms of the celebrity status, because in no way are we such (although many “influencers” will have you convinced) but in a way that makes you feel exposed. The issue of sharing too much is always a risk. As a mom I do want to share parts of my life with my readers but I am careful not to compromise my children’s privacy. While I share a lot of my daily unfiltered life on Snapchat, I do so because I am showing what motherhood is really like. Instagram fashionista moms have got the community thinking this is the norm. No its not. You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, the perfect “Chanel mom” you see on social media probably has her hair up in a bun and has been awake multiple times per night to tend to her kids, supposing she is indeed a hands on mom, but I digress.
The number of followers you have is an important factor for PR agencies, but it is not everything. A lot of accounts have 50 or 100 thousand followers with no real substance and minimal engagement, while accounts with around 5000 followers have me intrigued for their beautiful and meaningful posts. Unfortunately the accounts with a high number of followers whether real or fake will get more attention and will be signing contracts and ambassadorships whilst the low profile creative accounts will go unnoticed. A lot of brands will hastily have a certain blogger on board without doing a background check to confirm their credibility and even their writing skills, but while they don’t, the audience knows and this lessens the brand’s value.
I hope I didn’t ramble too much, and if you made it to the end of this post, thank you!