|Image by Marisa Hopkins|
I get riled up about stuff sometimes. About blogging stuff even. Or especially.
I have seen a few comments floating around the interwebz about bloggers. About how bloggers are “feeling entitled” – to payment, to free products, to being wined and dined by brands and businesses. I’ve seen comments about “selling out”. I’ve also seen comments about bloggers versus writers versus journalists, which to me, smack of professional snobbery.
All of these comments annoy me.
So what is this entitlement business? Well, apparently, we love blogging and therefore should not require compensation for our effort, even when that effort is to publicise someone else’s product. So whenever a blogger asks, “What’s in it for me?”, they are acting “entitled”.
Would you consider an electrician who comes in to install a power point in your home “entitled” to payment for his services, just because he loves his job? Or do you consider it payment for a service, a job well done? Maybe if he was a friend, you’d buy him a beer, or a slab, instead, or invite him for lunch.
An electrician has spent years learning and practising his trade. He has bought tools and equipment to do his job. He spends money on his car, on fuel, on insurance and a myriad other things to continue working.
It’s the same with bloggers, especially personal bloggers.
Yes, many of us do it because we love it. This does not mean that we don’t take blogging seriously. We spend money on our blog. This includes website hosting, software, design and professional development. Yes, we are constantly improving our skills – technical, marketing, design and writing skills, to name just a handful.
Also, strangely enough, computers and cameras (our most significant tools) cost money. Fast computers that deal effectively with large photographic and video files, can run several programs simultaneously (and withstand children’s assaults) require constant updating.
Internet connections cost money, as does electricity and gas used to light and heat our homes. Because our homes, or at least a portion of our homes, are our workplaces.
Also, we love our content. We have lots of it, because we blog about our lives. If you want us to include your branded content, even if it’s content we love, it is content we have to spend time and resources on creating and so, yes, we feel “entitled” to payment for a job well done. Or another form of compensation.
A link back to our blog is not compensation. Allowing us to write for free for your website is not compensation. Not even if you’re a major media outlet.
Unless, of course, we feel a strong sense of affiliation with that website, want to help a friend or can see further opportunities coming from that collaboration.
It seems that PR agencies and big brands expect us to be honoured by their interest in our blogs and by them sending us “free” content. Sorry, I don’t need your free content. Give me something fantastic to write about, something that adds to my quality of life, or pay me.
A $300 camera is not too much to ask. If I don’t like it, I’ll send it back. I do not write bad reviews, because I don’t accept payment for crap products.
Over the last twelve months, I’ve learnt that I can write about brands and products and still weave it into my story (or perhaps it’s the other way around?). I also really enjoy it.
Does that make me a sell out? Are YOU a sell out because you sell your skills to a government department or a PR agency or a shop? Is anyone who exchanges their skills for money a sell out? I felt more of a sell out when working in a job I hated, than I do now.
For me, working with brands is a win/win. I get paid and they get exposure on my blog to readers who trust me and my opinions. Readers who may remember the brand or business I’ve written about when they find themselves in a situation to need it. They may not purchase a magazine subscription right now, but they may remember it for the next occasion they need a gift or want to buy one for themselves.
I see these opportunities as product placement, or incidental marketing. Many big brands pay big bucks to place their products in film and TV, so why not pay to place them on my blog? (That really sounds “entitled”, doesn’t it?)
The difference between me and a film or TV show is that I’m discriminating in what I “place”. I will not write about a shoddy product or one that has very little relevance to me. I will not write about soft drinks or cereal (unless it’s porridge).
I will not write about a missile factory, or baby food. Not ethical for the former and not relevant for the latter. Unless I decided to start writing espionage fiction. Or a baby advice blog. Both highly unlikely.
I do wonder sometimes, though, whether there IS an amount of money that would change my attitude on that. Post and run?
Finally, all this professional snobbery business.
Writers, bloggers, journalists. As far I’m concerned these are just words – labels for the different forms that writing can take. None of them is better than the others, they are just different.
Not all bloggers have a qualification in blogging, writing, or publishing. Some do.
However, what a lot of qualified and experienced journalists, writers and PR reps forget is that we all have life and work experience, we probably have a qualification (or many) and experience in another field, and we ARE constantly updating our skills.
I loathe the preconception that we are “just bored mums”.
No, I have not been trained as a journalist, but then I don’t aspire to be one. I know that many professional journalists don’t have qualifications either and have learnt on the job.
Just as bloggers are doing now.
I do not have a qualification in professional writing. Yet again, not all writers do. Does that mean that I cannot call myself a writer? Does not all the experience I have had matter? What about all the things that I have taught myself?
How I choose to use my writing skills is up to me, but I know I have them and I am really sick of blogger bashing by traditional media.
What about you? Have you encountered professional snobbery in your field?
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