No Win, No Fee
This blogging game is hard work, especially if it’s not just your sideline or hobby, but what you actually do. It’s a constant hustle, there is no ‘off’ time, no office hours. We manage our own editorial and if it goes wrong, there is no buck to pass, it’s all on us. We work tirelessly to peep our heads above the sea of more than 180 million or so blogs there are out there to build an audience and become recognised in our field. It ain’t easy. Now that mainstream media is starting to cotton on to the impact of blogs, they all want a slice of the action. But it’s all coming off a little bit like they’re late to the dance, but acting like they sent the invites. We are still being made to jump through hoops to get mainstream recognition. Surely, we can do better.
I’m sure we’ve all seen them by now; magazines running blogger awards and blogger competitions. Initially it seems great that these big titles we’ve read all our lives are bigging up us, the little guys, for our achievements. But dig a little deeper and that’s not what’s going on here at all. We have to nominate ourselves, or get our followers to nominate us (so they’re not actually taking the time out to research which are the blogs of note, let’s just get the bloggers to slog it out). And in order to get people to vote for us, we have to keep reminding them with tweets and blog posts (but don’t worry, the mag will gladly provide you with a badge of their logo that you can stick on your blog to remind your readers). All the while, the magazine puts maybe one blog post up on their own site about these magnificent blogger awards (with a link back to your blog, if you’re lucky) for which the grand prize is usually….*drum roll*…a chance to do a guest post on their site.
Wait. So essentially, bloggers are spending weeks touting for votes, posting links to the magazine’s site to get people to vote for them (oooh imagine the surge in traffic they must see for THAT), providing plenty of free promotion for them and what we get in return, if we win, is a chance to work…for free. But yet this whole thing is set up on the premise that they have so much admiration for bloggers.
If only admiration could pay your rent.
I’ve also seen brands running blogger competitions where in order to win the grand prize of a pair of shoes or whatever it may be, you need to write a post about how great the company is. Hmm, yeah, OK – well, in the blogging game, that’s called a ‘sponsored post’ and any blogger worth their salt charges for those, so excuse me if I’m not jumping up and down to promote you to my audience, that I’ve spent years building, in return for a pair of shoes. I value what I do a little more than that. But thank you for belittling it by making us jump through hoops and dance like circus clowns for you to show us a little recognition for what we do.
There are, of course, bloggers for whom these kinds of things are beneficial and I applaud these magazines and brands for attempting to embrace bloggers, but let’s do it in a meaningful way. If you truly value what bloggers are adding to the online landscape, why not make your prize a three month paid column on your website, for example – giving the blogger an opportunity to build their profile further, rather than just a one off guest post?
Heck, I don’t have all the answers, it just feels at the moment as though we’re being treated like the ugly little sisters of the media world. I admit, not every blog is great, but there are good ones out there that deserve more than scraps thrown their way. We’re moving in the right direction, let’s just keep the momentum going, keep working together – after all, with everything becoming more online-centric, you’re gonna have to embrace us sooner or later.
Now, let’s all hug it out.