Building a blog or any online business requires a substantial amount of intentionally invested time and a crap load of sacrifice. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who has run blog or business for longer than two years and who posts regularly enough. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be like investing in a child. You don’t always feel like doing it, there are days where you may even want to walk away from it, but you choose to stay because without it you would feel a part of you were missing. You know that to keep it alive and flourishing you need to attend to it regularly, armed with a fair degree of integrity, passion, patience and commitment. If you are serious about doing it and doing it well, you’re usually in for the long haul.
Now this is the part that I say straight out that my intention was never to grow my blog to the point that I could make an income from it. Not in the beginning anyway. Monetising my blog has certainly never over-ridden my need and desire to write and connect and share and grow and explore the meant different elements of motherhood. And it never will take first priority. Like I said it took lot of hard work getting it off the ground, writing my heart out and sharing our lives with the world before we were even noticed by brands. And over the years I have slowly made connections with brands and worked on some incredible campaigns, projects and makeovers, all with brands who found true value in partnering with me. Just an added bonus I say! And I as much as I’m not in it for the money, I feel I’m at liberty to enjoy the “wealth” of all the hard work I have invested. The blood, sweat and tears. Will I ever sell my soul for money or risk the integrity of my blog to earn extra moola, hell no? But If a brand resinates with me, I enjoy using it or if I want to share a brands message through meaningful campaigns, I feel it’s okay to earn a small income from sharing these experiences.
If you build and grow your online brand properly you will also very soon come to learn that there are no short cuts and certainly no easy ways around growing your brand organically. I think anyone who starts a blog doing to the right way, thinking they are going to make money a few weeks or months in to their new venture is in for a rude awakening. And anyone who goes into it with the intention of cutting corners and taking short cuts should really take a long hard think about what it is they are actively trying to achieve. I say this with conviction but also as a warning. If you aren’t prepared to put in the grit, blogging or building your own business might not be the right industry you.
The sad part, that I have taken longer than others in the same boat as me to realise, is that not everyone sees the value in doing the dirty work, in laying down the foundation and earning the trust and respect of brands and their followers and bloggers alike. So many so-called “Influencers” are choosing to ignore the fact that to obtain a respected and authentic following, you need to build from the ground up, instead choosing to cheat the systems by buying followers. Yup, I know *GASP, like where have you been Leigh?? `But here’s the thing:
It never used to really bother me. I used to turn my head away. Maybe in disbelief, but I never allowed it to really get to me. I guess I thought to myself “Shame, if that’s the way they want to to it then so be it. If they want to grow their brands by buying bot followers then how is it really hurting me? Surely they are only hurting their own brands? I basically felt that just because we chose to grow our blogs differently, I had no right to judge. But I’m starting to feel a little differently about that now. (Sans the judge part, I never want to come across judgmental, but at the same time I want to ask the questions that get people thinking for themselves. )
You see when Instagrammers and Influencers cheat the system, bloggers like myself who work hard and tirelessly to do it properly, lose out. When brands and marketing companies who see the potential that exists in influencer marketing, scroll through Instagram feeds to find potential people to partner with, they naively believe that those numbers mean something. That they reflect the degree of influence or potential a blogger has. And so ultimately it means bloggers like myself lose work.
So in a nutshell, because Instagram has became the popular way for marketing companies and brands to find potential collaborators, many bloggers like myself have started losing gigs to people with more Instagram followers, despite the fact that our websites (our ACTUAL BLOGS) had always been our primary platforms, our motherships! Now It’s become as easy as someone paying a once-off fee and they are able to grow their following seemingly overnight, or worse hiring third-party services act on heir behalf so that they are seen by more people and followed my more bots. And the more their numbers increase, the more bloggers who have worked so hard, only need to work that much harder to be noticed.
I really wish brands would start doing their homework. For their sake and for ours. You see the only people who seem to be benefiting from this ridiculous system are the ones faking it. Influencers with inflated followers accounts are literally dominating the field while bloggers who work hard at content creation with actual ROI in mind, are left scooping up the leftovers. And brands are wasting heaps of their marketing budget for very little true reward. (Marketing and PR people reading this don’t let those numbers fool you. Look who the people are following them, do they live in you country? Do they even have any posts, ARE THEY EVEN REAL??)
I don’t say this lightly, nor am I sitting on a high horse preaching about ethics, or maybe I am. I don’t know. I mean who am I really in the greater scheme of things? I’m just an average mom who built her relatively small blog on nothing but love and grit. (Okay and a fair deal of wine and many late nights) And I know what some of you are thinking. ‘Girl, put your big girl panties on and keep doing what you’re doing.” But truth is guys it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. The truth is is that this trend is hurting me and my fellow bloggers directly and brands aren’t doing their homework. We are missing out on opportunities because of someone else’s laziness and bad judgement.
At the end of the day I’m not going to be the one to judge, and I’m sorry if it comes across that way. And I don’t know if this problem will ever go away (despite Instagram’s promise to penalise these systems) What I do know is that I’m never going to be that girl who sits on my hands or puts a sock in my mouth and doesn’t stand up for what I feel is right. I hate injustice, of any kind. I realise I can’t make people do things a certain way but I will always try to stand up for myself and the people effected by other people’s choices. And why should this be any different?
Care to share your thoughts on the matter?
On another note, thank to the who have stuck it out with me, through the thick and thin xxx