Is blogging pulling the wool over your eyes?
Blogging has turned the world upside down. I could sit here for hours, debating with myself how it has evolved and how it continues to change its colours. I could also regurgitate what other bloggers have written on these changes but I am not going to. Instead I have been thinking about something else which has got my moral compass going a bit loopy.
I’m wondering if blogging is a thin disguise for marketing and advertising brands, products and selling a lifestyle – the exact thing magazines were doing before blogging superseded them. Of course blogs now mimic magazines with flat lays (FFS to that), Pinterest friendly set-ups and backdrops plus the hipster posing…seriously, some blog photos are like something out of a styling shoot (I know the time and effort that goes into these things, I used to work on a food magazine) and it’s a never-ending vicious circle.
My current cringe is an iMac on a white desk (probably from IKEA) with a cactus for company. Bloody hell, my desk at work does NOT look this anal and believe me, I’ve tried to tidy it up but ah, you know, actual work gets in the way. I think this trend is described as ‘Nordic’. That’s funny because I grew up thinking the Scandinavian look was really a Swedish MFI. (Google ‘MFI’ if you’re under 25.)
Whoops, I’m getting swept away in a tidal wave here. Let me get back on track. Clearly there is a hierarchy of bloggers, a premier league if you will, with a first division, lower division and any other division just like in football. Bloggers are now wined and dined and whisked away on press trips all to push a mascara.
The eye-watering budgets brands have are probably similar to what they would throw at journalists once upon a time…and it’s got me thinking if this is a deliberate move to ensure positive coverage. It’s a difficult one, isn’t it? You’d feel bad if you gave a bad review but you would also feel like a fraud for gushing on about the gorgeousness of something and not actually telling people if it’s actually any good and worth their hard earned money.
Obviously only the major players get the deluxe treatment because they have the huge traffic that brands want to connect with. In a way I am glad to be somewhere beneath plankton on the blogging scale as my views aren’t going ruffle feathers because essentially that’s what it boils down, doesn’t it?
It’s not about how well a post is written (hell, you don’t have to string a coherent sentence together or even run a spell-check – see the Daily Mail as an example), it’s about influence. Some key bloggers are influencers, they influence people (often young and impressionable readers) to buy a product, they get paid to say that they can’t live without an £85 blue dyed serum and go all bug-eyed over yet another neutrals palette.
The thing is, some readers have wised up and will no longer be hoodwinked so I wonder if this supposed strategic plan will eventually backfire. Probably not. The current generation will grow up and be replaced by a newer and younger crowd. It’s why the concept of boy bands works.
Seven years on, I am amazed to still be blogging and in the manner I have always strived to – sharing products I like or don’t get on with. I am conscious of not overdoing it with press samples to the point my readers question my authenticity. I try to put myself in the shoes of the reader and ask myself if I believe what I am writing is real and honest.
I always declare sponsored posts, press samples, affiliate links and clearly state when I’ve purchased something. Why? I don’t want to be perceived as a shady blogger or tarnished with the brush that all bloggers are blaggers. Some are but most of us aren’t.
I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this. Do you think there are blurred lines with blogging now? Who do you trust and believe? Can you smell the manure?