Hi everyone! I know it’s been a good few weeks since I last blogged on here! If you don’t follow my original blog-you might not know that I’m pregnant; and, as a result, have been taking it easy over the last month or two.
But today I’m back with a bit of an opinion piece. I know my views might not be for everyone but recently, I can’t help but feel disheartened at the various blogger initiatives that have been popping up: new platforms, awards and now Blogosphere crowdfunding for a rating system. This isn’t an attack on any of these things individually but a warning that just because something has the word blogger in it, doesn’t always mean it is beneficial. A suggestion that it’s ok to question and consider things rather than fear not following blindly means your unsupportive.
Why I’ve stopped voting in blogging awards
I blogged about this a while back when I pointed out that lots of blogging awards are often simply schemes to get backlinks and promotion; like Feedspot’s awards for example. Their ‘badges’ (with in-built follow links naturally) are an eyesore and I’ve personally had them persistently email me to place it on my site. Now I do blogger outreach, I’m actually a bit put off when I see blogs with the badge on.
Similarly, a lot of brands are now doing blog awards-where often a prize is something like £100 gift voucher. You don’t have to be a rocket science to see this is a genius way of getting a lot of TRAFFIC to their site.
You can either approach ten bloggers and pay thousands for them to give you a shoutout, mention and link to your site, or you can approach hundreds to tell them they’re ‘nominated for an award’, spend a small amount of money on a prize and watch as they give you so much free promotion in a bid to win and often install a permanent badge too.
I’m sorry if this sounds cynical and I don’t mean to put down anyone’s achievements. Even if there is another intention in mind, it’s still something of note that a brand found you and got in touch.
Obviously, there are some bigger awards like the UK blogger awards. Now there is no doubt that the organisation has done a lot for bloggers in some sense-they’ve formalised the ideas of awards, offered recognition and I enjoy their weekly twitter chats. There is a sense of legitimacy from the work they do in the blogging community.
Last year I was nominated but deliberately didn’t ask for votes or sharing because I just don’t like getting involved in popularity contents (Which is essentially what the majority of these awards are).
I was also invited by my publisher to attend with them for free as they were judging the health category. I didn’t end of going as the hotel and travel was just too expensive, but I did ask quite a few people about their thoughts both before and after to figure out whether it would be useful to go then or in the future. However, quite a few people warned me it was a ‘waste of time.’
Afterwards, I had a bit of FOMO so asked others how it was and there were also lots of negative reports about it-including that winners only got a printed certificate (Without frames as they hadn’t arrived), there were lots of mixes up with winners and nominees (with wrong names on the screen), poor value for money with drink running out and little food(other than nominees, everyone had to pay £80)etc.
Full disclosure- I got my ticket to last night’s #blogawards free because I was Head Judge last year. So thanks for that – but I won’t be attending again, and feel really sad for the bloggers involved. I was really disappointed by the event, and I wasn’t even a finalist!
— Charly Lester (@charlylumen) April 21, 2018
However, there were always be different experiences of events. And this post is not to slate and list everything about UK bloggers awards. I know some loved the event and are thrilled with their well-deserved awards.
However, in one category this year there are 44 PAGES of ‘shortlisted bloggers’ for voting. Now I understand that a judging panel (with bloggers included this year, which is nice) have the final say so this isn’t purely a popularity conquest but, as well as diminishing the achievement of being shortlisted somewhat; the only reason I can think of including so many is that it leads to more people voting which is more clicks and more traffic (which can then be used to attract sponsors and advertisers).
I don’t begrudge anyone making money from the blogging industry (it’s pretty much what I blog about!) but UK Blog awards is also a business and it is worth remembering this.
And a final note, don’t even get me started on the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards. Do I need to remind you that one year they let an intern pick the winners on the train down there? Or the fact they continually run negative pieces on bloggers? I understand why bloggers enter but personally, they are purely a profit-making exercise with no desire to support the blogging world.
To conclude, blogging awards do have a place in the industry-I just want people to not follow blindly just because there is a chance to be recognised. I know many of you have been nominated and shortlisted for the UK blogger awards and I hope this hasn’t seemed as if I was diminishing your achievements.
Blogging Platforms and Blogosphere’s New Initiative
It’s not just blogging awards that are the issue. We’ve seen lately a rise in blogging platform of all different kinds. I don’t think a week goes by without an email to join the latest blogging platform to connect you with brands. A lot of them either pay incredibly low, don’t seem to understand the community or bombard you with emails to join and then you never hear from them again.
It’s incredibly easy to get hundreds of bloggers on board with a venture-if you tell them it will lead to paid work or connecting with brands. There was one platform I saw the other day that had registered their site a week ago and had 14 twitter followers- yet we’re telling bloggers they had already got lots of brands on board and ran a campaign with a paid beauty brands.
We have to keep our wits about us when it comes to this stuff. 9/10 times the best way to find work in this industry is my plain and simple email and networking. But if you’re going to sign over all your info to a blogging network, at least take a look at when it was registered, it’s social handles and feedback from fellow bloggers.
Talking about feedback from other bloggers, that leaves me to my last point: Blogosphere’s new project.
For too long we’ve been concentrating on those doing it wrong within the influencer industry…
It’s time to champion the brands and influencers who are doing it right.
— Blogosphere (@BlogosphereM) November 14, 2018
I will be honest and say I am not the biggest fan of Blogosphere. They are, I feel, aimed at an audience who are more focused on interviews and pictures of popular bloggers rather than practical and useful info about the industry (although I must say, their podcast is worth a listen).
And I just don’t know who any of those people on the cover are! I’m just not their audience (which is fine) but I also know of contributors last year who were not paid for their contributions to the magazine. You’ll probably know my views on working for free by now-but a magazine about being successful blogging that doesn’t pay their fellow bloggers is something I can’t really get my head around (this was of last year so do appreciate this could have changed).
Anyway, Blogosphere’s latest initiative is interesting: a rating platform that essentially allows bloggers and PRs to rate each other.
There’s no doubt this is something that is needed in some capacity (although really by an independent body rather than a business). However, I did have a ‘hmmm’ moment when I saw this was being crowdfunded for £85,000 when the magazine itself already costs £8 an issue.
The intentions are certainly welcomed but from questions on twitter-it seems that the system will rely on ‘dual rating’ so a bloggers’ and brands’ feedback will only show if they both submit it. Personally, what I feel we need is a system to out the late payers, those who mess us around and the bloggers who buy followers.
Wouldn’t it be the case though that most of dodgy PRs wouldn’t use this service? Those that work from abroad etc, disappear when invoice sent. It would more likely appeal to those who want to do everything above board? So those that we really wanted to warn about wouldn’t use it?
— Jenna Farmer (@jennafarmeruk) November 14, 2018
Which I did put to Blogosphere and they replied very promptly and politely that therefore the emphasis would be on positive feedback.
With lots of the bigger bloggers gushing about this, I can’t help but feel that the platform-however, well intended-could quickly turn into a place of bloggers and PRs gushing about each other. With bloggers not wanting to upset PRs and PRs not wanting to upset bloggers. Meanwhile us ‘micro influencers’ are still fending off those who won’t pay up, those who keep emailing us to blog for $10 a piece and we haven’t really got much further along.
It’ll be interesting to see how it develops-but I also feel again there’s so many people saying how amazing it sounds without really asking questions.
I will end this LONG post here but I hope today’s post hasn’t come across as critical. It’s easy to say we should all support the industry but what does that really mean? To blindly praise and accept isn’t supportive at all-to question and hold up to account is sometimes needed for change to happen to all of us.