Let’s get the truth out the way so we can get back to content creating.
It was about this time last year I went to my first proper PRed blogging event. The Launch of Make Up Revolution in Superdrug L1. My now good mate Josie Peaches helped me get the gig the day I met her. Like, five minutes into knowing her. I was blown away by how someone could do that for me and thought this community was going to be as kind and supportive as she was to me. I soon found this not to be the case and I’m here to tell you what’s good.
I have been very frustrated with the blogging world which is currently imploding on itself right now. My annoyance has been prevalent for some time. You may have noticed my content since I went to China has just been reuploads from China and no blog posts. Yes, I am fully aware I’m a travel bore. But I felt a demotivated and uncreative. I had no desire to make content because we are seeing our views, our likes and our following decline or come to a halt across the entire community and it’s time we did some troubleshooting. So, I went on a break, like many bloggers do. Bloggers and mental health breaks are going hand in hand more and more often and I’ve been thinking why that was for a long time.
The reason I felt so futile was the whole crisis that the blogging world is simultaneously, oversaturated and drying up, as we transgress into the new wave influencer world. Instead of articles and polemics, we have insta posts and stories. We have teenagers asking for tens of thousands of pounds for a sponsored post. We have Generation Geordie Shore advertising bum lift surgery through Instagram which has recently taken the life of a young girl. We have people discarding perfect blogger morning routines and Listerine adverts. We have apology videos from a beauty community purging itself across the pond. We are undergoing a huge revolution of speaking out and rejecting this influencer world and wanting change. We are still unsure of what the effects of this revolution will be. I’m here to evaluate key errors in the community into seven points and work out where we are meant to go next.
SECTION ONE: GLOSSARY
So, before I dive into this here is your glossary of terms and definitions of common industry terms you will need to navigate this blog post. I call this the entry level tea.
FOLLOW/UNFOLLOW. Definition: A technique used by shitty people to trick others into thinking they are being supportive. they are not.
BOTS. Definition: An automated robot designed for social media. A service you can purchase which is programmed to automatically give fake likes, follows, comments, unfollows and messages to other people on your behalf. In short, fake support.
SOCIALBLADE.COM. Definition: A bitch that don’t lie. Used to identify the growth of anyone’s social media account. How to check if someone has fake followers.
FAKE FOLLOWERS AND LIKES. Definition: Instagram accounts that are inactive or not genuine owned by companies. You can buy a certain amount of these computer-generated followers and likes to make you seem more influential. People have their careers built on this, more like bought a career on this.
PODS. Definition: Private groups/chats of Instagrammers, bloggers and influences on the premise that every time a person in the chat posts, they must go and like and comment on each other’s pictures to help increase their engagement. Not necessarily organic. Not to be confused with group chats and pages of blog communities. Though they never like your pictures either. Tea.
SOCIAL CLIMBING. Definition: Being friends with people in order to achieve a higher social status. Synonyms include parasite, leach, and a big percentage of this community.
ASS LICKING. Definition: What people do when they don’t have the resources to social climb. Will exhibit begging behaviour to brands for gifts and collabs. Synonyms include parasite, leach, and a big percentage of this community.
COLLABS. Definition: Short for collaboration. An agreement most often between a brand and a blogger in which a blogger takes part in a social media campaign with the brand for gifts or money. Successful when used with good intention however prone to malpractice. Collabs can also be between bloggers in which they work on content together.
MEDIA KIT. Definition: A blogger CV with statistics and a price list of the services bloggers offer. Often includes their rates for things like Instagram posts, blog posts as well as engagement numbers.
SECTION TWO: HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
The first world war had 100 causes and 1 catalyst. This was my Franz Ferdinand. Already in a rut, I went to a blogging event for shop launch for a store called New Life. I felt good about it and was ready (or so I thought) to get creative and into writing again. My Instagram story on leaving the house read ‘So I’ll let you know all about it when I get back’. The event was terrible. I’m a blogger, therefore, I give my opinion, and this is mine. I did a whole ass Instagram story about how problematic the business and event was, and I didn’t shy away. Not because I love a good kick off (we all do a lil’ bit like) but because how dishonest it would be to not even address an event I had been to, never mind, say it was good when I thought it was shite. Did I get gifted anything for going to the event as a blogger? Yes, I did. Does that mean that the company is holding me, hostage, for a positive review? Absolutely not. You can with some bloggers, but you damn well can’t buy my voice.
So, I do this negative review of the event and people get pressed about it. I get blocked, I get subtweeted, I get unfollowed like whatever. If you don’t like my content that’s not my business or concern. But I don’t understand how my honesty and transparency is so threatening to others in the community when it should be your core value. Without honesty, you’re a sycophant (ass licker in the Glossary). People want to take shit I say to heart and rip into me but not actually say directly to me their different opinion. Maybe it’s off brand or they may need the people they don’t even like in the future for personal gain. I know I can’t relate.
SECTION THREE: THE CONVENIENCE OF GIRL POWER
I’m cynical. I really can’t help it. So you can imagine when I hear the phrase ‘girl power’ in the mouths of some people I get flashbacks to my school career of exclusion, insincerity and bullying all done at the hands of girls; so, I’m a little reluctant to pound my fist in the air only to convex my body forward in pain from a dagger in my back from the team I’m meant to be rooting for.
Now, genuine girl power does exist, and I have endless gratitude and adoration to those fellow females who have helped me out and supported me with no strings attached. Because they know being a woman means you take a few steps back from the starting line and even more steps if you’re a woman of colour, LGBT or other minority groups.
But in the influencer world, I am seeing the same clique-like behaviour saw in school. ‘Girl Squad’ is the influencer version of ‘You can’t sit with us’. Girl Power is a convenient free pass that allows some people to exploit their fellow creatives. This goes from wanting services for free to steal whole blog ideas and even business concepts. You can’t empower one woman when it works for you, and then discard another because their numbers don’t benefit you. Numbers talk in this business. Your number of followers and number in your bank. And your media kit is your credit score. Don’t be surprised when a supposed gal pal in the business is running a credit check on you.
SECTION FOUR: INFLUENCERS AND GENERATION GEORDIE SHORE
This is the part where I disclaim post that I’m not attacking bloggers getting their coin from sponsorships. I don’t run ads, so all my blogger coin is made with sponsorship and affiliates. My issue lies the greedy who put their morals aside to get ahead for their coin. Those that will stand on anyone to get said coin and honestly, they are closer than you think.
I only use affiliate links for products I used and if you’re observant, I announced in February that I would no longer be an affiliate of ASOS due to their relationship with sweatshops and lack of transparency. This was because I personally, cannot help fund a brand doing something that doesn’t align with my morals. In the same way, a vegan can’t support fur because of their own morals for example. However, in this industry, a lot of people seem to not have morals. Or at least, honest opinions and principals to be less harsh. There is such a lack of transparency in the community on what is sponsored and what is not. If you’re keeping quiet about the fact you’ve been paid to say something, then that’s both shady and incredibly disrespectful to your audience.
Bloggers killed the magazine writer like video killed the radio star. Now the Geordie Shore and Love Island effect has taken hold of the influencer world. Once they leave their respective shows, they become walking billboards for skinny coffee, appetite suppressants and plastic surgery. This has came under fire this week for false advertising weight loss with edited photos. A person I know who worked in media once had the job of photoshopping a product into a Geordie Shore members hand for an Instagram campaign. The worst part is this is some of the most engaged with content out there. And Instagram’s algorithm is pushing these accounts to the top of young girl’s news feeds. The correlation between social media and depression is bleak. This is everything that is wrong with the influencer world.
SECTION FIVE: I SAID WHO OOOH DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
I once got asked by a very popular new restaurant and bar in Liverpool for my media kit and I panicked so much that I didn’t even send one. I don’t even have one because I don’t consider myself big enough at all to be charging anyone anything to give my opinion; especially when I was already being gifted food and cocktails anyway no strings attached. This comes down to status in the community. Having a large following opens a lot of doors as this means brands want to give you more opportunities. But this doesn’t entitle you to anything. Numbers go to people’s head and they exhibit strange behaviour. Charging thousands for Instagram posts, Diva attitudes during collaborations and scamming small businesses, and I’ve even heard of bloggers and influences walking into places and telling the management that it’s free for them because of who they are. You would think I was making this up, but my friends in hospitality have seen this for years. Not in LA, but in Liverpool.
This industry is fleeting, and when your net worth is followers, and your employer is your URL, I suggest if this inappropriate behaviour applies to you then you go check yourself before the industry churns you up. VIVE LA RÉVOLUTION.
SECTION SIX: BRAND PERSPECTIVE
Working as an independent business with my mum has taught me so much about the influencer world never mind being in it as a blogger anyway. I see both sides. Every day as a blogger I have people sending me the same copy and pasted messages for blog development services and fraud collabs and sponsorship. We all get them and talk about how annoying the lack of personalisation and the awful deal we get don’t we? Well on the flipside, some bloggers and influences just send the same copy and pasted message to brands asking for a collab aka money and/or free products. Our business receives dozens of messages from people asking straight up for free clothing. Our business has worked with influencers in the past and loved it. We have also been completely fucked over and taken advantage of by influencers. After five years of blogging it breaks my heart to see how people have went from using the phrase ‘blogger’ to mean documenting about what they love in well written & edited content to using it as a title that they believe gives them the right to gifts and money. To be a blogger and solely be in it for gifts and money is a joke. But it’s so common.
I fully support when someone loves a brand and does a collaboration with them. I have friends who have sponsorships with some brands but GENUINELY love the product. Maybe they have contacted a brand they like or a brand has noticed them already talking about their product, this organic collaboration benefits everyone. A brand is paying for a bloggers work and valuing their content and opinion and I fuck with that.
For brands that have open blogging events however and think that a glass of prosecco is payment for a glowing review, they should be shook when I bring in my ‘Come Dine With Me’ numbers and rating the evening out of ten in the back of a black cab.
SECTION SEVEN: NEXT STEPS
I have felt for a long time out of place in this community, I’ve felt like I’ve come across as too aggressive or loud. In the same way, I felt out of place during my troublesome school career. I floated between social groups after years of bullying and exclusion. The reason I’m talking about all this is because I have felt the same exclusion from a community that is meant to be all about supporting each other. I’m not a vulnerable person and have worked so hard to be secure today let me make that clear. But this world just mirrors all those painful emotions of being too much and not enough. My retaliation to over-explain myself, I hate being misunderstood and I know this post will be no exception.
Thanks to my break, I have discovered now that I don’t need to find my place or clique or gal pals in this community because I don’t have to conform to it. Some of my best friends are in the industry and I am so inspired by other creators. The people I should associate myself within this business is those that don’t need me to explain, they just enjoy my content for being well made, creative and genuine, whether they agree with me or not. This is an over explanation into why I’m no longer going to overexplain myself. I love Irony.
We blame the algorithm, but shouldn’t we be analysing how we ourselves view and digest content? That’s what is next in terms of what we creators produce and how we support each other in the influencers world’s future. My plans personally, are heavy professional level fashion content and irregular uploading. Schedules are dead, and Shane Dawson has proven that. Where’s there is passion, there is organicity. I just know the repetitive content we have seen over the last five years has to evolve or we will die. The Zoella effect is long gone and transparency is making its way in as the new trend. An affirming flame that when we begin with ourselves, and how we view content, this will shape the future of the influencer world.
I’m not out of control. I’m just not in their control.