Whenever I try and write a piece on blogging and where we are now, I hardly know where to start. But, I try and put these posts together because it is a chart of progress (in some cases) and I think important to document and recognise. It also gives me a chance to put together in my head current issues and also perhaps to clarify some things. They’re not really supposed to be critiques but an honest look at how things stand and they’re really difficult to write because you always end up upsetting someone!
So, this might be a little muddly because there are SO many issues that raise their heads in the blogosphere.
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First up, I’ve noticed a real lack of generosity in the beauty blogosphere. I overheard someone say ‘I never, ever send anyone away from my site,’ meaning they never let a comment with a link to another blog go live or run a Blog Love side bar that sends readers to other blogs. Actually, I felt quite shocked about that because it’s really that kind of linking generosity that keeps the beauty blogosphere going round. Some don’t even want to be called blogs anymore – I’ve heard some astounding names for what used to be called blogging. Social voices, for one. Some bloggers are very generous with linking, re-tweeting and generally promoting beauty blogging in general, but I’d hate to see the community aspect die out altogether. Personally, I do object to comments that say ‘nice post’ with a massive long link to another blog, and also the comments that say ‘read my detailed review of this product HERE’, but I do, on the whole, let them go through. I don’t feel as though I’m losing anything by doing so. I keep a small side bar of links because I feel it’s the right thing to do and again, I don’t lose anything from it. What I hope happens there is that I am sending readers to good sites that I personally really like, and from there they may discover another Link list with other great blogs and so it goes on.
But moving to Topic Two, which is an off-shoot of my first point, I think cutting off any community aspect is the first sign of insecurity. So what if someone went from your site to another site? Why the need to hang on to every single stat? But insecurity is probably the most common blogger problem. What brands and PRs forget about us is that there is ONE person doing the whole lot. From picture editing, product sourcing, writing, copy editing, testing, photographing, ad sourcing – the whole damn lot is done by one. So, what that equates to is a level of focus that sometimes becomes overwhelming. There’s no team at the back end of our blogs to give us a pat on the back, talk through ideas or even have someone say, wait a minute, that’s not such a good idea (like this, probably!). I remember meeting a PR years ago who said, ‘Basically, I live my job.’ At the time, I thought that was strange but now I get it. I live my blog, because to stay on top of the ever shifting sands of blogging you have to.
It’s very easy to feel that another bloggers good fortune has taken something away from you personally, that someone else has been chosen over you, is preferred by a brand or agency or that if you aren’t at everything or covering everything then some how you’re losing the game. Believe me, any or all of those points are felt by most of us at some point and it’s a horrible place to be. I call it the Popularity Pit. You don’t ever want to be at the bottom of that. Beauty blogging is at its peak of competitiveness – it all began quite tentatively it’s not so now. New bloggers come in like lions whereas back in the day, we came in like lambs. I want to promote new bloggers and the blogosphere in general but it’s a very hard thing to do when a few wreck it for many with their demanding ‘shopping lists’, aggressive tactics and total fabrication of their stats, but also very difficult if everyone is hanging on to their stats as though their lives depend on it and won’t keep the circle going.
I don’t really think there is scope for change on this either.. I saw a tweet the other day that said, ‘…so what? Every girl has a blog now.’ And, it’s more or less true. This wonderful thing called blogging is and should be open to absolutely everyone and anyone that wants to share in the Social Media age. And with more people sharing, it’s more difficult to get an audience share. Which moves me on to Topic 3 (oh no, this is turning into a tome..). Nobody is really looking too hard at how these audiences break down (that’s YOU, Marketing!). Marketing departments are notorious for wanting the big numbers – they’ll chuck any amount of money at a big hit. But unless they’ve done the time on analysing, it’s potentially money down the drain. A much smaller blogger can have a phenomenally reactive audience that equates to bigger quality in terms of influence than one that is read by an irrelevant audience with bigger numbers. It’s not rocket-science… I’m rubbish at maths and statistics but even I can work that one out. What that means to us is that those at the very top of the Popularity Pit consistently pick up revenue, while others struggle to find it (and if you’ve made the brave decision to throw all your eggs into one blogging basket, then you do need revenue) when in fact, their audience is more reactive and far more relevant. And all because nobody on the brand side can be bothered to do some analytics.
Finally, with magazines focusing more and more on their websites, the new term for this is a ‘Digital Title,’ which distinguishes ‘them’ from ‘us’. I hate this term.. we’re all digital titles in the sense of the words and I find it divisive which is pretty much the last thing we need when we’re all just muddling along trying to keep up with the pace. It’s just another way to make one thing, perception wise, greater than another and is unhelpful in my view. Beauty bloggers have changed everything about the beauty world and it’s probably best not to consider one way of digesting beauty as superior to another.
Anyway, that’s where my head is at right now.. hope you managed to stay the course!
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