I wrote last week about all the amazing ways that starting a blog has changed my life; the opportunities it’s brought and the friends I’ve made as a result. But, as with everything, there’s a different side to the coin, the dark side of blogging if you will and I have most definitely had some negative experiences as well as positives.
So in the spirit of ‘journalism’ it’s only fair that I share with you the bad as well as the good.
The lack of integrity
This only applies to a very small number of bloggers, but sadly you do see it happen more and more.
Like most things, there are a certain set of ‘rules’ that you’re expected to abide by; or a code of conduct, just to level the playing field for all. For example, if you’ve received something discounted, for free or been paid to promote something (which I have no problem with whatsoever) it’s only fair that you declare it to your readers. They have a right to know when they’re being advertised to, but of lot of people are very vague about the free stuff they receive. Personally, I like to shout it from the rooftops if I’ve been paid or gifted something, but bragging about something you’ve been gifted is also frowned upon, honestly it’s a minefield sometimes. My point is that as Monica says, rules help control the fun and if people aren’t sticking to them, it gives all bloggers a bad name. Which isn’t fair.
People pinch your work
I’m not naive, and I know there’s a finite pool of ideas and by and large we all live similar lives, so it’s inevitable that people are going to come up with similar ideas and that’s fine. Myself and the lovely Chloe from New Girl in Toon both independently came up with posts on how to beat the post wedding blues, as we’d both recently been married; two completely different posts from completely different perspectives, and variety is the spice of life.
But I’ve had people completely 100% rip off my work almost word for word and pass it off as their own. I’ve also had people steal my photographs and pass them off as themselves. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then colour me flattered.
People expect you to work for free
On a weekly basis I get an email like this…
I’m blah blah blah from blah blah blah and I am living for the work you do over at honestlyhelen.com. We love your style and think you’d be the perfect ambassador for this and that. Hit me up if you’d like to know more, can’t wait to have you on board
Overly chirpy PR person’
Depending on the product, sometimes I bite and sometimes I don’t. If I do respond I’ll let them know I’m interested and ask what the expectations are and what their budget is. I guarantee you 99% of the time they will come back and say that unfortunately they have no budget for this campaign, but can promise me social media shares and positive vibes for the next 6-12 months. Unfortunately social media shares and positive vibes don’t pay my mortgage (neither does free booze, but that’s by the by) so it’s a no from me. Your time and your brand is worth something and unless you’re starting out and want to create content, I would avoid working for ‘free’ like the plague.
Success breeds contempt
Some of the most successful bloggers I know personally, and look up to the most are also the ones who get the most hate. Well established, high profile North East bloggers like Ellefluence, Fashion Voyeur, North East Family Fun and Mandy Charlton are hugely successful, but get their fair share of trolls – Why? Because people are jealous and like to put other people down so they can feel better about themselves. When Chronicle Live published a story on the Metro Pub Crawl I completed last March, Dave almost had to take my laptop off me to stop me reading all the horrible comments people were leaving for me. How long it took me, which pubs I visited, even a top I was wearing in one of the photos all got commented on, picked apart and insults thrown my way. It’s hard not to respond because you want to stand up for yourself, but it’s also not worth engaging at all because you won’t get anything out of it. I also had a comment on one of my fashion posts saying ‘you dress like you think you’re thinner than you are’. Which is lovely.
There’s lots of competition and it’s not always healthy
I do believe that there is enough content and personality out there to attack the same subject from many different angles, but anyone who says that blogging is inclusive and not competitive is a fool. People will help you out as long as there is something in it for them or they don’t see you as a threat.
I’m not saying I like it, but that’s how it is. It’s also just human nature. I’ve fallen victim to it myself, if I see an event the whole world seems to have been invited to and I haven’t I think ‘what makes them so special?’. Which is negative, pointless and self-indulgent, but it happens. I’ve also met people who have been lovely to my face and then word on the grapevine has gotten back to me that they have been less than complimentary about me.
Similarly I’ve had people lovely to me online and blank me at events. The fact that Coldplay are one of the most successful bands of recent times proves that people don’t always act predictably, and this encourages you to keep people at arm’s length which goes against my nature.
It’s a lot of pressure
I don’t mean to sound all dramatic; as I choose to write a blog and I can stop at any time I liked. The world is full of pressures so I accept that is this a pressure I choose to put on myself, but to keep up with posting regularly, promoting yourself and making sure your pictures are all filtered within an inch of their life (all while working a full time job) can be exhausting. I only post once a week, so it’s kind of like a weekly episode of ‘Honestly Helen’ – which means I can stagger my content and have it scheduled well into the future, moving things around as and when needed, but it’s still stressful sometimes. I over analyse my stats way too much and if I’ve worked really hard on a post but it doesn’t perform very well, I get really down and fall into an existential crisis wondering what the point of it all is.
Ok now I’m being dramatic!!!
I’m not trying to be a cow or put anyone off writing a blog, because if you read both posts I think it’s clear that the good outweighs the bad, but I just wanted to give a balanced view from both angles. Do you write a blog? What do you think the pluses and minuses are?
Yesssssss!!! I think this is a wonderfully honest (& pretty balanced actually) post. It’s something that you know I’ve experienced – you’ve seen it first hand & I think that because it’s something that’s established in the industry, particularly in the North East, it’s become very easy for new people entering to see & just assume that’s how it is & what’s expected.
It’s a shame, I work a lot in London & it really isn’t like that there in my experience! Love the post though, you NAILED IT!
As always Helen, spot on. Lots of love, Mark x
Great set of articles. Depends on what you blog, I find time a big issue personally and also despite doing it for a couple of years up here – knowing my sites identity.. think I’ve finally decided on it though.