People regularly ask me how to start a blog. Can I help them, can I put in “a good word” with PR’s and can they work on my blog. Firstly let me just say this….If you are blogging for “Free Stuff” or to become the next Zoella, then just move on. Too many “Bloggers” have become fame hungry this year and it has turned what was a lovely community, into one full of bitchiness and cat fighting. The likes of which you would never see within the workplace. Blogging is a huge job in itself and whilst it’s absolutely not up there with brain surgery, saving lives or flying to the moon, it most definitely has its moments. In another post I will share with you how to start, where to start and why to start but for now, I want to share what the year 2017 taught me about being a ‘Blogger’ and boy oh boy was it an eye opener.
Having been blogging since 2010 – Originally as a wedding blogger and for the past five years as a Beauty Blogger, no other year has affected me as much in my career. So lets take a look a what made me sit up and think.
1. Bloggers Cheat – Ok! Ok! Not all Bloggers, but 2017 was most definitely the year for calling out the cheats. It was the year where more and more bloggers bought followers and cheated their way into Brand Collaborations and jobs. Why is this a problem? Let me tell you. Firstly, if a blogger is buying thousands of followers, they are lying to brands that they have a huge following. Brands will look at a Bloggers “Numbers” take it at face value and offer that person work, sponsorship, paid for collaborations, because they believe that person has a huge audience. Therefore, said blogger has taken money unlawfully. Why should this matter to you as a reader/follower of their blog? Well, if they are buying followers, are they even trying the products they are being sent? If they are lying about their following, are they lying about what they think of certain products? Can they be trusted. As a reader/follower, this of course is up to you, I however, never have and never will buy followers on any platform. EVER
2. Not all giveaways are real – Something else that I noticed becoming a trend in 2017, was fake giveaways. A blogger would ask their reader/follower to LIKE and FOLLOW to be entered into a competition and guess what? No prize would ever be sent out. May I just add that only a minority of Bloggers do this, again to increase their following in an untrustworthy way. Make sure when entering these giveaways, that I myself also run, you know where the prize is coming from, you check back to that persons site or social media and make sure a winner has been announced. I will always announce winners of my giveaways across my social media and 9 times out of 10 the prize will be dispatched directly from the brand, making this a genuine giveaway. I also try and make sure the winner comments on my page/social media saying they have received it. When in doubt, check it out. If a blogger is lying about a giveaway, can you trust their reviews?
3. Blogging became more about who you know than what you know – Sadly, the smaller blogger has really lost out this year as more and more “big” bloggers best friends have suddenly seen their collaborations get better, audience get larger and cliques get tighter. Now, obviously if one of my very good friends was a blogger and I knew a brand was looking for a specific niche blogger, of course I would introduce them and I have, I do believe in sharing the love where I can, BUT when I blatantly see the same collection of “Besties” getting the same gigs, you’ve got to ask yourself what the hell is going on?
4. Brands will expect you to work for free – When a brand kindly sends you ” a face mask to enjoy” this is not at all what it means. The brand wants you to use it, spend hours shouting out the joys across social media, write a full page blog post, take and edit photos and share it across social media, therefore “promoting” their product for free….now, if you love, love, love the brand and are happy to do this, as I do organically and without pressure many, many times that’s fine. But when said “Free gift” is followed up by many emails asking when you will post about the item…you have been had over. Some brands will try it on, tell you how great they are for your blogs traffic, how you need the publicity, and I must admit some brands really do bring a huge amount of traffic to the blog, so you do have to work out the pros and cons for yourself, BUT…..when you have been writing FREE posts for some brands for many, many years, and they still come back, there comes a cut off time. Enough is enough. They know you are bringing in the sales. A face mask does not pay my mortgage or feed my children, it doesn’t cover my blogsite costs, my photography costs, new prop expenses’ or anything else involved. However, it does make that brand just a little bit richer.
5. PR’s have no loyalty – Some PR’s (Not all and I will get to that later) have absolutely no loyalty to you. So you wrote a great blog post, got sent the latest releases and were invited to an event, low and behold you cannot make that event due to work/family/children commitments you will be struck off that list quicker than I can say Free Face Mask (See number 4). Don’t believe me? Its happened to me many times. If I have been unable to attend an event due to other commitments I have been taken off the PR list and have to work really hard to get back on it. Dear PR’S I’m not here for the free prosecco and canapés, I’m just genuinely interested in seeing the product, so if I have a genuine reason to not attend an event that is going to cost me a fortune to get to and be about a 5/6 hour round trip out of my working day, please just send me the product to review? Whilst I will try my hardest to attend all events I am invited too, sometimes my heavy work/family commitments have to take priority. Whilst it is lovely to be invited to so many events, and there really is one almost every night of the week, my work would never get done if I attended every single one I was invited to.
6. The Blogging Community turned into a Bitch-fest – My oh my what the hell was everyone on in 2017? I couldn’t look at my Twitter feed without seeing rolls and rolls of arguments. I mean why? Why? Seriously, I am a 43 year old woman with two boys that wouldn’t act that way in private let alone on a public forum!! Life is too short and too precious for me to be involved in any of that. I just want to do my work, chat to likeminded people and smile. If you wanna come to me for a bitch-fest jog on!
7. Instagram took the piss – Instagram decide to screw us all over and any little blogger, and I don’t mean the short ones, I mean those of us with followings under 5k, really struggled. With changes to the algorithm meaning I was seeing posts about Christmas Day on 30th December and Shadow bans meaning posts were not being seen at all, it really became a struggle. However, Insta-stories is my bag! It is where I publish most new releases I am sent, share my thoughts and feelings on products and, well, everything really and where I receive a HUGE audience. This is where my attention will be focusing on more in 2018 – aside from my actual blog. Follow me HERE instagram.com/backtoyoubeauty
8. Big Brands and Some PR’s showed Loyalty – Although I came down hard on PR’s in number 5, I do actually have some PR friends that I have made along this journey. I trust them, ask their opinion and they very kindly take me from brand to brand when they move. These PR’s are absolutely worth their weight in gold and know a great blogger when they see one. In the same vein, I know a great PR when I see one. I have worked with some huge beauty brands that have started to realise that with the use of sites such as Social Blade they can see which bloggers are genuine and have integrity. My numbers might be small (as in total followers) but I have an incredibly loyal following that I trust and they trust me. I am completely transparent and honest with both brand and reader and always have been and will be and for this reason, my future with some brands is looking incredibly bright.
9. I nearly gave up, but then made it my career – In a year which saw me almost give up blogging for many of the reasons listed above, I also remembered the reasons I started and actually turned it into my full time career. I not only write an incredibly successful Beauty Blog, but I also host social media web chats, run Instagram takeovers, look after some brands social media, organise brand events, run Facebook groups and run incredibly successful customer feedback groups. Through hard work, 24-7 literally, I have become a well sought after professional in my field and know my own value hence my anger in Number 4.
10. My Readers keep me going – 2017 brought me back to earth with a bump. It made me realise that the whole reason I became a blogger in the first place was because of my absolute obsession with beauty products. I want to tell the world about products I have found amazing, how they help me at the age of 43 and how they can help you. My readers are the best I could ever ask for and are the reason I do this. They constantly push my boundaries, demanding (in a nice way) more information, better products, better results. They are there for me when I have a down day as much as I hope I am there for them. I am only as great as my readers allow me to be and luckily they enjoy what I do and join in whole heartedly. So thank you for being one of my readers/followers and subscribers and know that I will always be honest with you. I will always only ever bring you the best and share my thoughts good and bad. I thank you for believing in me and look forward to a better blogging journey in 2018.
So, there they are! The 10 things I learned about blogging in 2017. As you can probably tell, some things made me angry but do you know what? That’s what spurs me on!! Onwards and upwards.
Do you agree with any of the points I have raised above? I would love you to leave me a comment below.