Those of you who followed my previous blog, Daydreams and Pretty Things, know that I’m not shy about addressing uncomfortable topics.
This is definitely one of them. I have been blogging on and off for around 8 years, mostly hobby blogging. At times, I’ve thought about trying to make a full-time living out of it, but I have a major problem that prevents me from doing that. Before I get to it, let me tell you what has inspired this blog post. Also I should say that I am not trying to upset or offend anyone by posting this, this is my opinion and how fraudulent bloggers effect the wider community.
Increasingly over the last few weeks, there has been a rising tide of voices speaking out over fraudulent and/or entitled, spoilt bloggers. This isn’t anything new. Far from it. One of my very first experiences of the blogging community, was a popular blogger at the time declaring very loudly that all new bloggers couldn’t write for toffee. Of course, I learned much later on, that this was coming from a place of jealousy. In fact around that time, new bloggers were faced with a lot of resentment and unwelcoming behaviour from the community. In recent years, bloggers have focussed on something much more worthwhile. Those bloggers who are fraudulent and those bloggers who manage to become successful but are less than grateful.
So let’s start with the fraudulent bloggers. What do we mean by fraudulent bloggers? When a brand wants to work with a blogger, they look at the blogger’s following across their social media. Primarily they are looking for BIG follower numbers. The bigger the numbers the more inpressive the blogger’s reach is, right? Wrong! Someone can have bought thousands of followers, but their actual reach may only be twenty real people a day. By buying followers you create the illusion that you have many hits on your site, so if a brand sends you a product for review, they assume it’s going to be put in front of thousands of readers. For as long as I’ve been blogging, the issue of bought followers has been a hot potatoe. Being a working Mum and crippled with self-doubt and anxiety, growing my following has been an arduous process. It’s still not brilliant, my best being on Twitter. Instagram is a beast I am yet to master. It also doesn’t help that I have no consistency with my posting which is a big no-no in the blogosphere. Knowing that brands look for bloggers with big numbers, have I ever been tempted to buy followers? Hell yes!! Especially during the times I’ve thought about making blogging my job.
So why didn’t I? Ultimately because I didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. When I post something, whatever the subject matter, I want it to be honest. I want my blog to have integrity. I may only attract small numbers of people to my blog, but at least they can have trust in me and are loyal to my blog. For me that is everything. Sure I don’t get any opportunities, I don’t get sent samples in the main (I have had a few over the years) but I’d rather that, than convince people I’m something I’m not. The reality is that I’m a woman in my late forties, with 5 boys who keep me out of trouble 90% of the time. Most of my clothes come from Tesco and I sway more towards slummy than yummy. I harbour dreams of writing for a living, and before I take my last breath I’d maybe like to see something I’ve written make it onto a screen. At least, as I said earlier, my blog has integrity and I am true to myself. Everything I write on here are my own words, and are not always people pleasers.
The cold hard truth is this; whilst brands continue to be swayed by big numbers and ignore engagment and quality of content, then the manipulation of follower numbers across social media will always be a thing. There in lies the conundrum, and it almost becomes understandable why people do buy followers. But really it is high time we addressed the issue of bought followers.
And then over here on the right ladies and gentleman, are the entitled, spoilt and ungrateful bunch. These are the bloggers who chase every opportunity, whether it’s a fit for their blog or not. Really it’s just for the freebies and it’s these people that make bloggers look grabby. These are the bloggers who whinge like a toddler with no more chocolate buttons when people DM them, repeatedly asking questions about the pretty pot on their ikea photo shelf. These are also the ones that rarely respond to any comments on their posts, believing they are minor celebrities. These are also the bloggers who will, without a second thought, write a scathing brand review when they have been declined a ‘freebie’. Finally, these are the bloggers whose expertise undoubtly lies with the passive aggressive. Whether it’s a pitch to a brand, a twitter chat or the once in a blue moon response to someone. These are not the bloggers who spend hours reaching out to other bloggers, supporting them, guiding them and spending hours engaging with their followers.
I am not going to lie. On the few occasions I have been approached, I have bloody loved getting a pretty little box with pretty little bottles in it. However, on one particular occasion, when I was fairly new to blogging and didn’t fully understand the process, I didn’t conduct myself very graciously with one brand. As a consequence I shot myself in the foot, they have understandably never come near me again. If that happened now, I would do things very differently.
When I deleted Daydreams and Pretty Things, I was totally and utterly exasperated with the blogging community. I was frustrating myself trying to organically grow a large following, and dealing with the amount of people who play the follow/unfollow game as well. I’d go to bed with nearly 500 followers, and wake up the next morning with only 450. I’d check to see who’d unfollowed me, and discover that although they had 22k followers, they were following 3 people back. That is not community minded. However, there are several articles out there that state playing the follow/unfollow game works despite how unfair it seems. It really is no wonder people play it.
The unfortunate truth is the blogging community is disingenuous at best. Do not get me wrong, there are large numbers of honest, friendly, approachable bloggers out there. But those who start blogging on a Monday and have 25k followers by Friday are not those people. So what is my problem with making a living out of blogging? For all the reasons stated above and I’m positively ancient and I’m not much of a yes woman. Put all those things together and I’m just not an attractive prospect. I accept that, and that’s why when I resurrected my blog I was determined to write for myself. I have mostly stepped out of the blogging community, I no longer obsess about my numbers or how often I’m posting. I blog for me, and my enjoyment. I continue to write often, just not always here.
I know that this is a bit of a controversial post, and there is that old saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Well in this case, I feed myself so I really haven’t got much to lose. Over the last 8 years, I have seen a growing resentment towards bought social media following, so maybe now many voices will trigger a change in mentality when brands are looking for bloggers. If I was a brand, I’d rather work with small but honest bloggers with a genuine reach than a bought one. I’m not a brand though, I’m just a small time, mostly hobby, blogger. What I’d love to see is the community once again have some integrity.
Edited to add that I was very happy to see this morning that all entrants to the UK Blog Awards will have their social media following screened. Maybe change is happening, we can only hope.