Dear reader – I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, because truthfully, I’m a bit sick of the #influencer industry. Don’t get me wrong – I love writing (especially about skincare and beauty) and get just as excited about a new MAC lipstick or moisturiser as the next blogger. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bullshit that comes along with writing about MAC lipsticks, so prepare yourselves because the Top Three list of Blogging Things That Make Me Grumpy begins here. See how many you can relate to:
1. Not Having Your Work Valued
To be clear, I’ve never worked with a brand I didn’t wholeheartedly support and endorse, and any brand I’ve promoted on this site has been promoted here because I like what they do and I want to share it. I have met some truly wonderful people and been offered some really exceptional opportunities because of the blogging business. I am extremely grateful. BUT – I get at least one to two emails every week from a new blogger or brand with a vague M.O. asking whether they can either publish their infographic on my site (what?), whether I can create content for them (sometimes they want me to buy their products AND create the content) or whether I want to be a part of a special new ‘panel’ or ‘influencer network.’
It’s a trap. I respond to 70% of these emails asking if they’d like my rates because what they’re asking is essentially for me to work for them to create content (which obviously takes time, skilled labour, money, resources). 100% of the responses are: no, we don’t want to pay you. Can you imagine calling your plumber and asking them to fix your blocked sink, then telling them their payment is you showing your friends your working sink when you came round so they know what a good plumber you have?
Hell no. Like a lot of freelance work, blogging is definitely an industry where the less experienced lot get taken advantage of. If you’re a new(er) blogger, and someone wants to work with you, great! Just make sure that they’re either sending you product first (you can’t write about something honestly unless you’ve actually tried it, so pretty key to the whole blogging thing), OR paying you, or both. Your time is valuable. It costs money to pay for software, cameras, web hosting, photography equipment, even courses and workshops you attend. It takes a lot of effort.
TL;DR: stop working for free, ask interested brands and PR for product or payment or both, because your time is valuable.
2. Bloggers Turning a Blind Eye
Almost every time there’s a new release from an ethically dubious brand, I find out about it via a blogger I admire. I am consistently surprised and disappointed at the number of great bloggers who ignore fairly shocking controversy around brands and keep buying, supporting and sharing their reviews of those brands anyway. As bloggers, we have an ethical responsibility not to encourage our readers to spend their money supporting brands with poor ethics. The ‘not tested on animals’ stuff is in some ways an ethical grey area with parent companies technically doing animal testing instead of, say, The Body Shop directly. This isn’t the sort of Blind Eye I’m talking about.
The stuff that bothers me is the Jefree St*r and Lime Crime stuff. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this and this and this. As an example, I recently got an email about doing a post on hair extensions, where a company offered to send me ‘real human hair’ extensions in exchange for a review. I thought about it but ended up declining it because I wasn’t sure about the ethics of wearing real human hair – where does it come from? Are the people growing the hair paid fairly? If I promote real human hair extensions, what kind of industry am I supporting? I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that as bloggers, we have to remember that people will buy the things we tell them are good, and we have a responsibility to make sure we’re guiding them well.
TL;DR: are you joking? It’s not 2009 any more heh, stop promoting Lime Crime.
3. Insincerity in Blogging
Commenting on other blogs is a good way to direct traffic to your blog. This isn’t a secret. It’s a pretty good method – Blogger A gets reader engagement with their work when Blogger B comments on their posts, B gets reader engagement with their work when other bloggers and readers see their comments on A’s posts. We all find new things we like and we all get to feel good. It’s a win-win. This is one of the wonderful things about the blogging community – we all get to raise each other up. Scratching each other’s back is easy, and it feels good.
I don’t have enormous qualms with this because I sometimes do it myself – I want to show my friends in blogging that I enjoy and support their work, and if it gets traffic directed back to my site, that won’t hurt either. But when I get comments, especially on instagram, where they’re literally just thumbs up emojis, or something really simple like ‘great post!’, it drives me nuts. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for the engagement, but really – be a little less transparent about what you’re doing. At least try to engage with the material – is it a well-framed flatlay? Have you tried the product? Did you enjoy the writing? Come on.
TL;DR: people can tell when you’re being insincere.
There you go – rant over. I know it’s a lot nicer to read my writing when I’m not whining, but I think it’s important to share the good and the bad, because knowledge is power and not everything is limited edition MAC blushes and the Valencia filter all the time.
Can you relate? What’s your biggest blogging pet peeve? Let me know in the comments.