8/04/2016

Some Notes On Blogging




I'm not about to come out shaking my fists like some misguided troll or Elder of the Internet. While I have been blogging now for what feels like an age, almost half a decade as of December this year, it's not a lifetime. A lot changes here on the Interwebs in such a short space of time and since I've been blogging a lot has changed. For one, I feel like there are a lot more blogs out there now. A lot. Everyone has something to say and speak on and that's fantastic. 

However I have to admit, I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that I've found some of the behind the scenes elements of blogging in the past year tough. Not the picture taking and the writing, although there's some days when the writing isn't as articulate and clear cut as I'd love it to be. No I'm talking more about the general transparency and sometimes lack thereof in the blogging land. It's something I find disheartening and disappointing across the board.  Before we go further, this post is simply for me to showcase my opinions and share where I stand on these issues. Please don't see it as me pointing the finger at anyone, whether it be a blogger, PR or talent agency. That is not what I am trying to do. While there's definitely some goings-on that I disagree with, I'm not going to air them all here. It's not the place. 

So, as with any creative industry, yes I would class blogging as a creative endeavour and industry in its own right now, there is competition. A lot of it is healthy and some, not so much. There are a lot more beauty blogs out there now for instance and sometimes it can feel like everyone posts the same content. It becomes difficult to avoid that in a place like New Zealand where everything blog-wise is done on a much smaller scale. There's bound to be similar press callouts for instance. Sometimes there probably will be discrepancies across blogs, Instagrams and the like. Sometimes it will feel disheartening when you've worked on a post and then somebody else posts something similar. Admittedly that will bother me sometimes because I am sensitive but moreover, because I'm passionate and enthusiastic about what I have created. How do I get around this? I push myself, healthily. I'm always trying to better myself, my written voice and my imagery. What I showcase, what I don't showcase. What I blog and what I don't blog. I do take it all seriously. It's also important to remember that blogging is not something groundbreaking like neuroscience. In the grander scheme of things, it really isn't a major deal if heaven forbid, someone lifts a sentence of your copy. That was a longwinded way of me saying that blogging is my passion and if I find myself getting too overcome with the behind the scenes side of things I do step back. It might not seem that way but I do step back every now and again and I think that is healthy.

As the blogging market is so crowded now, naturally people will ask questions of blogs. Your Average Joe will want to know how it works. People are fascinated by it. We have to remember that making money off writing, videos and online content curation is still relatively new. Yes the Internet's hardly a new phenomenon but the idea of people making a living from their digital creative pursuits is. Forty years ago blogging was a mere speck on the horizon so of course people are curious. Who can blame them? I still genuinely wonder how some people make a living out of the Internet. In New Zealand there are currently no legalities around people disclosing this paid content or any advertorial work they might produce. It's not even a requirement for people to say when they've been gifted a product or been invited to try a service. There's so many opinions and thoughts on this but here is mine; Yes I think we owe it to our audience and the wider blogging community to declare gifted products, whether paid or unpaid. Especially sponsored collaborations.

 Since 2012, I have always asterisked (*) products I have been given. I do this for many reasons. Firstly, I'd hate for people to think I am a walking wallet with an envy-inducing salary. I wish to the latter part of that statement. SecondlyIt establishes honesty, over time at least. I'm sure there'll be the odd person who will think "Sophie features MAC just because she's sent it." No, no, no. Nobody's perfect though so of course in the past when I got too jaded I absolutely may have featured something out of the excitement of it being a perk. Some of my sponsorships I wish I'd put my foot down with as well but again, excitement got the better of me. I regret that now obviously and looking at some of those posts makes me cringe. If I am featuring a product, whether it be a lipstick or a new novel, know that I feature it because I genuinely like it and it sparks some enthusiasm for me. Yes, some products might inevitably be more likely to be instant winners, I haven't found many a MAC lipstick that I did not like. There's also some products I would never have discovered if I wasn't made aware of them. Whether that be by one of you lovely bunch, another blogger, or just a PR taking a chance and sending me something. If it's on here, I love and am excited by it and think you will be too. That won't ever change, regardless of whether or not it comes with a press release and dollar bills attached.

As for sponsorships, again, I have always declared those and always will. Sometimes the way I disclose these may be challenged. I have and will dispute this in the interest of remaining transparent. I value my integrity and that of this blog much too highly for me to dance around the fact that I got a paycheck for a writing opportunity. I am by no means swimming in paid work, in fact you'll notice that I haven't done an ounce of paid work this year for this blog at least. I do the odd bit of freelance which is paid and I am forever grateful for that. There have been times I have turned down sponsorships, paid and unpaid. Just as I turn down the offer of free product which happens far more often than you'd think. I say no more than I say yes. Some people might think that is insane but again, I value integrity and my audience's trust much higher than I do a temporary cash injection. 

So that's where I stand. Whilst I might find blogging disenchanting sometimes and regardless of a couple of niggling feelings I have every now and again, I do still love it and genuinely enjoy it. I still get that indescribable feeling when I hit 'publish' on a post I've spent time and energy crafting, capturing the winning blog photograph, in my eyes at least, straight away, reading other people's blogs and seeing what amazing things they're doing. I just felt like sharing how I feel because having your own soapbox has to have its own perks every now and again, right? I'm kidding. This is a post I've wanted to do for so long and maybe it will resonate with someone else, if so, yay. If not, that's okay too. Differences in opinion and interests are what keep life fresh.

-If you blog, what do you think about the changing landscape? If you're not a blogger, I'd love to know your opinions too. Leave them in the comments below.

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