Today our beautiful country celebrates Freedom day. Now for some people out there, this probably means little to nothing, but to others it symbolizes a huge victory. To me it symbolizes a basic right to freedom of expression.
Lately I have come across a good number of bloggers, that are feeling the need to defend their chosen form of expression, and even worse than that, feeling compelled to explain or defend the income albeit very small, that they possibly derive from it.
As a blogger, you more than likely started your blog as an outlet for your voice, that was being muffled by the noise of life around you. Later you started writing content that was being read by people other than your BFF and other family members. Your readership started to grow and a few people even recognized your blog name, and what you wrote about. This was all very exciting, and you started to feel amped to give your readers more of what they wanted.
As time moved on you put out regular content, and your blog perhaps got picked up on the radar of a few brands and PR agencies, and that was when the whole thing that had been working like a well oiled machine went for an entire ball of dust.
Soon you received some press drops and press releases, and it was very exciting. You felt the need to write about them, take pictures and instagram or tweet about them. Your readership and social following first grew, and then as time moved on it started to dwindle a little and you wondered why and started to question what you were doing wrong well I am going to tell you.
Firstly you needed to sit back and ask yourself who you were blogging for? Were you still just blogging for yourself or were you blogging for what you thought people wanted to read because most readers can soon smell a rat and know when a blogger is no longer being authentic. There also seems to be this common misconception out there between blog readers, that if a blogger receives goods or issues from the press, that they are being paid to say these things, and that the information is biased and that they will blog about everything they get because it’s free and they feel obliged to say nice things.This simply is just not always true. Some readers and also other bloggers often appear to feel contempt or jealousy towards the blogger in question where larger and more interesting things are concerned. That is when readers decide that your blog is not for them.
I feel it is important to set the record straight here. Yes many bloggers blog in order to create an extra income for themselves, but that does not mean they are willing to sell out and lose their authenticity. They still blog because they love to. Brands can easily identify who writes in such a way that the readership identifies with, and they are looking to see the engagement between the blogger and the readers. They see an opportunity for their brands to reach more people, and a good blogger with an engaged readership, can mean a whole lot to a brand looking to subtly market by influence of someone with a niche reach.
The biggest bone that needs to be contended with here though, is that most or all bloggers worth their salt will only blog about things that fit in with the ethos of their blog. They will only blog about issues and things that their readers can identify with. There are only a handful of rogues out there that will sell out and “bleg” and blog about anything just because it’s “Free stuff”.
So why shouldn’t we get paid for what we write or review?
Think about this? Does Leo Dicaprio wear that Tag Heuer watch for free? No, of course he doesn’t. Do you think he appears at media opportunities and photo shoots for the value of the watch that he may or may not even like that much? No! He endorses the product and spends countless hours “influencing” other people and fans to buy one, and gets paid millions to do so, and that is seen as perfectly alright to everybody out there, people are buying watches and all still following the actor, but if a blogger receives an item for “free from a brand and possibly gets paid to write a feature on it and does so, that is seen as biased and dishonest by some. That is a special type of ignorance in my opinion.
So now I will tell you why I should get paid for it!
Because it’s hard work, that’s why. I, like many or most bloggers out there, I work a full-time job, we have families and responsibilities, we have daily lives that are pretty busy, and we have our blogs. They don’t run themselves. So let’s start here. If a brand has sent some items to review, and they are in line with my brand/blog ethos, and I either did or didn’t enjoy them, I may decide to write about them. This same brand may be paying me for a feature, but let’s be honest, this is not something that happens too often, because it is easier for a brand to provide a product,than pay money into a freelancers bank account.
That being said the time and effort that gets put into a review post about a face-mask far outweighs the value of the item received. It can sometimes take me an entire day to put together the content after spending the time actually reviewing a product, taking the perfect images and compiling decent ideas and thoughts for readers. So why would I do all that to myself just because a company sent me a R100 face mask? For relationship, that’s why. If I had to calculate the actual cost of my time at an hourly rate then I am the one being short-changed, not my readers. I spend hours writing good quality content and creating designs for my subscribers and readers to use, and I never question them receiving these things for free. I provide these things in the hope that my readers will share them with others and they do. So why would a reader question a blogger receiving something for free from a brand only hoping for the same?
I am a living being, I have bills to pay, I need to buy groceries and things for my family, I can’t do that with a free face mask or the like. I blog about these things usually as an extra in order to build relationships, but I have to be paid by way of actual money for it to be deemed as an income and consider it work. Our blogs are spaces where we talk about things we have discovered and loved or hated, and for the most part a valuable resource for consumers just like us, so why shouldn’t I use this platform to not only write my thoughts and feelings, but also be a portal of influence like Leo Dicaprio, only on a much smaller scale, and with less recognition or payment other than a few Facebook likes and a free face mask? Why is that such a problem for some people? It is surely my choice? It is my blog after all. If I choose to blog about something as paid work, I would declare that ahead of time, I still would not sell myself out for a brand that I did not share a vision with, and I am sure that most bloggers will agree to this sentiment.
Another blogger wrote something similar the other day and called it an “entitlement mentality” of readers. And I see that too. Somewhere along the line readers of blogs decided they were entitled to tell bloggers what to write about. Well that is wrong and it brings me back to start of my blog post and the concept of freedom of expression. As a blogger I write for me first, and then for my readers. I use this space as an expression of who I am. That is first and foremost what matters. I never want to feel that I need to write content to make someone else happy. At the end of the day I can only hope that my readers will stick around because they like the things I write and find value in them. I am sure there will be many casualties along the way and I can live with that.
So all I really want anybody reading this post to take away from it, is that good writing is a skill, it takes hard work and dedication, and often at the expense of time away from your family. Why do we do this? We do this because we have voices that we want to have heard, and expressions that need to be made. If we happen to be able to use that expression as a form of income then why not? And why do we need to explain that to anybody?
So if you are a blogger reading this, then remember why you started, remember that you have a right to live your expression of choice and you have a right to earn from it. And if you are a reader, please remember that bloggers gonna blog because they can!
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