Not all bloggers are idiots
My friend linked to a brutal takedown of ‘mommy bloggers’ on Facebook this morning. It was an interesting read, coming as it did from a blogger who had profited heavily from the blogging industry.
I am a weirdo in the sense that I am a journalist/blogger/former PR. There’s a prevailing sentiment that journalists hate bloggers and PRs, so technically I should be monumentally self-loathing. I’m not.
What I am is informed about the way marketing and media work.
There is a little thing called ‘reciprocity’ that everyone should know about. I give you something – say, a free dinner at my restaurant – because I want you to review it. The trouble is that because it’s free, you are programmed to want to repay the debt somehow. It feels wrong to trash a gift, no matter how much you dislike it. There is now a social contract in place.
It’s a lot more complex than that and author and psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini goes into this in some depth.
All you need to know is that accepting something free will, on some deep level, skew your behaviour towards a positive response to the giver.
At times, I have sold out on my blog. I have been slogging away at this for over six years now and the temptation to make money has gotten the better of me. I have reviewed things, linked to things and generally obeyed an SEO specialist’s wishes in order to make a few bucks.
The thing is: I am still writing what I want to write and being as obnoxious as ever. It’s just that sometimes I get paid for it because I include a link to something and sometimes I post other people’s articles about things like car hire or dating tips. In my darkest and most shameful money grabbing posts, I have linked to online gambling sites. Those are the months when I am running out of money and a cash injection from PayPal is the difference between eating dry goods or fresh produce. That is embarrassing to admit for so many reasons.
I have been to blogging conferences where I felt a) motivated to improve and, b) disheartened that I only have a small readership/following.
The idea is that a gazillion followers will make you a gazillion dollars and you will LIVE THE DREAM, largely depicted by Google Images as a person sitting on a beach with a laptop.
Uhhh, no thanks. I don’t want to get sand in my laptop and I sure as hell don’t want to work at the beach.
I would like more readers and followers because hey, nobody wants to piss into the wind but, by the same token, I wish marketers would realise that readers who stick with you are far more valuable than drop-ins who swing by from Google (my top ranking posts are about nudist beaches in Sydney and how to find a good massage in Bali with the unfortunate title ‘How to have a happy ending’. I meant it in the Disney way. Not the hand relief way). I doubt those visitors are going to stick around and read on, let alone buy your product.
So, to the people who do read my blog, you have my sincerest gratitude. I know I probably make you cringe but I hope I make you laugh and think about things as well.
To all my current and future employers, I am sorry. I know my online profile is a mess and I should manage my ‘personal brand’ better (ugh).
To the marketers out there, I will happily take your money and review your products and services but can you please have the balls to accept constructive criticism if it’s warranted?
After working in PR for 10 years, I am well aware of what it’s like to have a client freak out over some perceived slur from the media but as everyone knows, honesty is a virtue and a powerful sales tool in a world full of bullsh*t.