When I started blogging all those years ago (I say that like I've been at it for decades, when in reality its been just over three years), I never thought this was a post I'd have to write. Partially because I was pretty clueless when it came to blogs and bloggers and didn't fully understand the opportunities that blogging brings to both bloggers and PRs and because I genuinely think that the blogging community was a nicer, much calmer place to be. Last night I joined the #bbloggers chat on Twitter for the first time in ages, and I'm honestly appalled at some of the things I was seeing. Admittedly, I've been keeping my distance from the blogging world for quite some time now, choosing to slow down and explore other interests, but I just cannot believe that the blogging community loves so much to tear each other down, to tear it's own down.
A lot of the comments being banded around last night were to do with the age old topic of bloggers receiving 'freebies', and only being interested in getting their grubby mitts of free stuff. Freebies is a word I hate so much, as a lot of the things we supposedly receive for 'free' aren't actually as free as they may seem. Think of it this way, if a brand were to approach a magazine for coverage of their latest launch, they'd be charged through the roof, similarly with other online content platforms. However, when a blogger is doing the exact same thing as said magazine, the product is a 'freebie'? That just doesn't wash with me, especially as 9 times out of 10, the price of the product (sometimes worth as little as £5) is completely disproportionate to the amount of work a blogger puts into the post, and the size of the audience that post is then promoted to.
I guess my point is that bloggers should not be shamed and made to feel bad about something they've worked for, a lot of the time alongside a full time job. It's not showing off if they talk about the products they've been sent for 'free', it's them doing their job - and to those of you who spend time tearing other bloggers down for receiving these so called 'free' items, just think of how you could have spent that time working on your own blog, instead of ripping someone else's to pieces.
The conversation then moved on to how bloggers caring about their follower number. I'll be the first to admit that it's not all about having a million followers, and engagement is extremely important in today's saturated blog market, but that's not to say I don't care about my follower number, of course I do. The number of followers a blog has is used as one measure of success by other bloggers and those working in blogger outreach, whether you like it or not. So with that said, it's completely understandable for bloggers to want to increase their follower number and grow their audience size...after all, if you've poured your heart and soul into a blog post, you want people to read it, right? I admit, I care about my follower number and I want to work with brands. Working with brands has opened my eyes to a whole host of new and exciting brands, allowed me to discover some of my favourite products, and it's been a hell of a lot of fun along the way - all of which was because I have a platform on the internet which people follow and read regularly, so yes, your follower number does matter if like me, you want to work with brands. I'm not saying all bloggers want to work with brands and that's okay, but what isn't okay is when you're calling someone a 'sell out' for wanting to work with brands. Working with brands doesn't mean you lose your integrity overnight (I often post negative reviews of products I've been sent) and it definitely doesn't make you a sell out.
By no means is follower number the only measure of success and if you've not got the biggest audience it doesn't mean I think you're a bad blogger, on the contrary, some of my favourite bloggers have under 1,000 followers - but please, think before you criticise those bloggers with large followings, as usually they've got that many followers for a reason - they've worked for them.
I could go on for days about this subject, and I know I'm going to get some negative comments for speaking so honestly about something that seems to be a taboo topic - but I will finish with just one thing, it's absolutely okay to care about your follower number and want to work with brands, and that doesn't make you a sell out at all, it means you're working towards a goal. It doesn't make you any nicer of a person or some kind of saint if you spend your day tweeting how much you don't care about your follower number - you do you, and let the others worry about themselves. It's about time we all learned to tolerate each other in the blogging community and work alongside each other, as after all, we all have something in common. You don't have to like everyone in this life and blogging is no different, but as my Mother always said - if you've not got anything nice or constructive to say, then keep your mouth shut.
Lots of Love,