Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is It Coz I Is... small?

I should prepare you, this is not sugar coated blogging.

Blogging, PR, Competitions, Freebies, it's a minefield. I don't pretend to comprehend any of it, I blog as a hobby, not my profession- that's not to say that I take what I do less seriously, but it's not my means of keeping a roof over my head, and therefore takes a lesser priority than, say, case prep or essay writing or showing up to work/work experience.

But as Chloe Likes To Talk has grown from 50 to 100 to almost 200 followers, all of these things are becoming a bit more prevalent. Earlier this week, I received an email from a brand who I have been 'in touch' with before. They've offered to send me previews of their lookbook which I've talked about and I've commented on the person's personal blog before too. They wanted me to advertise something that they're running.

What's wrong with that? It's not exactly novel is it? But my jaded feeling comes from this issue: This brand has had several big press events/blogger events/pr events in the last 6 months. I wasn't invited to any of them, my guess is, that it's because CLTT is quite small, and you know, that's cool. Why should a company spend money on a blogger who's blog doesn't have a big enough following or a relevant enough following to generate business from. But if CLTT is too small to be considered for an invite to an event (and all the nice things that go with it like freebies and parties and early viewing of new products...) then why should I (for free and with no benefit to myself) advertise their event for them?


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I recently saw another blogger- incidentally one who has around 2.5 times as many followers as I do, tweeting about a competition, stating that they didn't like competitions where bloggers needed to get votes as it was unfair to smaller blogs. The competition was being run by a brand. I wonder if the blogger stopped to think that the reason the brand was running the competition in the first place was in part to gain recognition and business. And why not. Why shouldn't they ask the winner to have the most votes, in order to give the prize to the person who will be most beneficial to them? Yes I know we all had to write a post and link to them to enter the competition, but I wanted the prize like everybody else, therefore to me, there's a tangible gain- a chance at lots of free stuff... HELLO. But what does a brand have to gain by offering the prize (which would have meant regular blogging about their products) to a blog that doesn't give them any return?

There's nothing wrong with having a smaller blog. I love that there are at present 194 people who like what they read enough to have my posts show on their reading lists, but I also like that I don't struggle to keep up with zillions of e-mails, events, product reviews or obligations as well as a full time post-graduate degree, a job and work experience... But why should I get the same opportunities, free stuff, event invites etc etc etc as all those people who have the potential to generate a whole lot more interest, exposure, maybe potential business for a brand? Having a space on the internet that you call a blog does not entitle you to anything except a URL. Making it something is 100% on you.

So there you have it, an issue which I find interesting to see debated. Should smaller blogs have a 'fair chance' for invites to expensive PR events or large volumes of freebies from companies? Personally, I think not. Coming from a business background, I know that everything you do has to be justifiable in terms of its return. But in turn, brands, PRs and companies, don't expect smaller bloggers to fall head over heels for you, gush about your products or your events, if you don't feel that we generate enough following to be worthy of any kind of return, because what you're actually saying, is that we're only ok because we don't cost you anything and it's any port in the storm of advertising.

Needless to say, I have chosen not to advertise the particular event I was e-mailed about.

**DISCLAIMER**
All views are my own and I have chosen not to name bloggers or brands because I don't feel that this is a targeted or personal post, I am merely expressing my view on what seems to be a common practice.
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24 comments

Angel In This Dress said...

I completely agree with you here. Did you liaise with them in the end? If I were me, I would've turned them down. If there is blog size / popularity bias on their part and I wasn't invited to any of their events, why should I help promote their brand? I was once sent something to review and I didn't mind that at all as I could write honestly about its pros and cons. But I have noticed some of the bigger bloggers being sent stuff regularly and just writing posts full of praise and telling us to check out their website.

One company once asked me to do put some advertising on my page for them. I turned them down because I made an order with them once and I was appalled at the customer service and their quality. I'm not going to promote or recommend to my followers someone who I think could do better.I hate that there is bias towards smaller blogs. I love all of my followers and I love how in their comments, they know what I've written and have taken the time to write something insightful rather than just; "nice shoes!"On some of the larger blogs that constantly do OOTDs, I notice people just commenting one liners like "nice hair!" I'd love to attend an event or receive a freebie, but receiving comments like the above - where people just judge you on your looks / pictures rather than your writing or your news - would be such a downer (for me personally). So I am more than content with my little blog. Like you, it's a hobby and I blog because I enjoy it.Sorry for the long essay of a message! I love blogs like yours that actually generate an interesting discussion rather than just a post of pictures. I mean is it really necessary to post 8 different pictures of your outfit from many different angles?? I think not! x x

Chloe said...

No need to apologise for a long comment, I'm  a bit of a one for those myself! 

I didn't end up responding to the e-mail in the end, as it was a generic one, sent out to many people I imagine. I should also make clear, I don't know for sure why I wasn't on the list for things like events etc, but it's probably a good guess. 

With freebies etc, I think integrity is key. Only review things you think are relevant to you/your readership and be honest. That said, there are good and bad ways of writing positive and negative reviews. 

I don't necessarily think there's a bias to smaller blogs, I don't think the bloggers get the same incentives, but I don't really see why we should if we don't have the same power of numbers that another blogger with a much greater readership and more influence might. Like everyone else, PRs have to justify their budgets, spending and decisions. And as for bigger blogs, there are some great ones out there. And I love a really well done outfit post with lots of images as much as a wordy post about debatable issues, I think it's all about finding blogs you like and content that you enjoy. 

Marta Turkalj said...

Great post! I understand what are you talking about even though my blog is even smaller and I don't get any kind of offers.This company has shown how unprofessional it is. I mean how can you expect favor from somebody without giving something in return. Once is enough and then it becomes exploitation. You've done the right thing :) xxx

Sarah said...

I agree with you that generally smaller blogs aren't considered for freebies or events (not that blogging should be about that anyway), and that it's generally fair because obviously they don't reach the sheer amount of people that bigger bloggers reach. I also agree with regards to advertising something on your blog for a brand. I really dislike brands wanting to guest post (basically a generic guest post including lots of links to their website) on my site for free. It's disheartening because they see my blog as being great for free advertisement but nothing more, whereas I see them hosting giveaways on other blogs (not that I want them to host my giveaway on my blog, but I feel a bit taken advantage of when they keep e-mailing me wanting to guest post). I guess it's just the way it goes with blogging. xo

Adaisychaindream said...

I always feel awkward commenting on posts like this as I do get a lot of the blogger perks (and still don't fully understand how, or why my blog above others)
but this post is fab, everyone should read it. I love you Chloe. And you blog...big or small it will always be a favourite ((and so will YOU!)) x

Caroline Henson said...

i couldn't agree more with what you have to say on the matter. I generally ignore 80% of PR emails because they're just boring press releases or asking to guest post or for you to link them. If they think your blog is 'big' enough for them to benefit from you putting their link on their page, it should be 'big' enough for them to invite you to events/give you samples. Otherwise they don't value your contribution to the blogging community & are just using you. They think they can take advantage of smaller blogs because you might be so happy to just be contacted by a well known brand.

I was going to do a sponsored post for free (& I wouldn't have expected to be paid for posting a link either)  because I liked the concept of a certain website. Then I got an email from them asking to include some other information about it which featured a forwarded email conversation between them and another blogger. That blogger only had 100 more followers than me but easily commanded £40 for just posting the link on their blog. The email also included the bloggers bank account number & sort code so I felt this company must be so unprofessional to just include that in an email to someone else. I never posted about it & ignored further emails from them. That was a little random but it just made me feel dirty & like they were using me. I feel so naive to this whole thing to be honest. I started blogging because I wanted to interact with people with similar interests & share things about my life. Not to earn money or get free stuff. If anything I think that PR samples/events are a hindrance to blogging & suck the fun out of what you enjoy as a hobby. Its so lovely to meet other bloggers which is always the best thing about events. It makes it feel more like a job when you have deadlines to review a product in & I really don't enjoy it that much. I'd rather not be given anything & just have my blog as my own xx

Chloe said...

Thank you, glad you were able to relate to the post. I was a bit worried it wouldn't go down very well....

Chloe said...

I definitely think that's a bit the way of it with blogging but I do think it's a shame so many companies are taking this attitude. Particularly as there are some truly lovely PRs out there. 

Chloe said...

Oh no, please don't feel awkward. I'm really interesting to hear opinions from all sorts of perspectives, and also, this really wasn't meant as a negative slant on people who do receive things, I don't have a problem with that at all, and hope it hasn't come across that way. (Seriously... let me know if it has!)

But thank you queridita, much love in your direction.

Chloe said...

Wow, the particular email you mentioned is incredibly worried, sending on not just the email conent, but bank details. I think if you works with brands and your blog is your profession, charging for it is just fine, but I'm not sure I'd ever be comfortable with it, as my blog is my hobby and definitely a community. I've made more friends through blogging than I ever did at uni or in jobs I worked. First and foremost my blog has been my space to be me and a way of interacting. Anything else for me is a bonus that I should be able to pick and choose as I wish. 

LO_TS said...

TO be honest I find a lot of the "smaller" blogs are more real and the people behind them more honest because they don't have that huge PR/Brand following that they have to stick too. I rarely get approached by companies but I guess that's because I probably don't command a huge blog presence and it's just not really what my blog is about. I feel smaller blogs are more honest with their readership too, I guess in a way it's good for the bigger bloggers to get the freebies but if it gets to the point when all the big, established blogs are saying the same things then they'll just carry on drowning out the little voice.

whereisharriet said...

I've thought long and hard about this issue, because I've had really great experiences with brands and PRs, but I've also received a lot of emails asking for free advertising, or offering something whch is way more beneficial to the brand than to me. I definitely accept that PRs have a job to do, and they need to get the maximum exposure they can for their client, so bigger blogs are always going to be more attractive, but that doesn't mean that as a smaller blog you need to take whatever they give you.

These days when I do get an email asking to work with me I always remind myself that y'know what? If I really want something from this brand I could go out and buy it. And if they want an excessive amount of publicity in return for a free item, or even the promise of freebies in the future then it will honestly cost me less to go buy the item than it will to give up my time and my blog space.

For me blogging as a hobby alongside my day job gives me an advantage in a way, because it's really meant that I value my time, and made it easier for me to see what is worth it and what isn't. Blogging is fun, and if I don't think a blog post is fun or interesting I won't write it. Simple!

(you always talk about such interesting topics I end up writing an essay in your comments!)

SouthMoltonStStyle said...

What a refreshing read - couldn't agree with you more. I bet that as your (third person) blog becomes bigger and bigger it will be hard to resist the charms of some brands - particularly ones you like.  I suppose you could see it as a stamp of achievement - rightly or wrongly - that your blog has reached a certain 'level.' I think I can take a good guess at the brand you are referring to as well... xx

South Molton St Style

Louise said...

This is a great post. I personally have always blogged for my own pleasure, and as a means of continuing to write following my own post-graduate degree. I agree with what you are saying, why should us smaller blogs consider writing for big brands without any gain. Of course, it may be something you feel really moved to write about, and then you take it anyway, but actually some of the big brands and PR companies need to cotton on that for some of us, blogging is a hobby not a profession and therefore there's no drive to take on these thankless tasks.

Maria Fallon said...

I have to say I have always been very lucky with any brands I have worked with and I became an Aussie angel when Frills 'n' Spills was still a baby blog! :) I love your blog and I love blogging and I am lucky to have an engaged readership (however pretentious that sounds) and although I guess I do receive a lot of perks, for me the best part is the community and the friends (like you) that I have made! 

Maria xxx

Chloe said...

I do agree that there are a lot of blogs that are quite samey because of the volume of PR samples/sponsored posts etc etc but I don't have a problem with that, I choose who I follow and what's interesting. My point is directed at PRs who think it's ok to pick up and put down smaller bloggers as suits them. 

Chloe said...

I love your long comments, it's nice that you take the time to read what I write. 

I'm with you 100% here, I've been offered a couple of things that just weren't for me, and therefore weren't worth the time I'd spend writing about it, and like you, my time is precious. This coming week is the first week since New Year that I'll be home before 2200 every night. Why would I spend time writing about something that I don't really love/enjoy when they're usually 101 other things to do. 

Chloe said...

I think whether you're a pro or you write as your hobby, you shouldn't and probably wouldn't do anything for nothing, but it seems that brands/PRs are often asking the same of smaller bloggers, who they don't offer any of the same rewards to, as they ask of the larger blogs. I do agree though, if it's something you love or truly believe in, go for it. I've certainly done the same. 

Chloe said...

I definitely think there are brands who have nailed it- whoever they work with. And like you, by far my first love of blogging are the awesome awesome people I've come across, like you mi querida! I also like having a space to call my own that I can use to voice opinions or indulge in things I don't get to in my 'real' life.  

Lisanne Hillen said...

Great post! I completely agree that companies shouldn't expect us small blogs to be all honoured and excited when they email us to publicize things. On the other hand, I know companies are really insecure about how they should use social media & blogs, and are still trying to figure out how to handle them.. Let's hope they learn from their mistakes!

http://styleservings.blogspot.com/ 

Chloe said...

I know that blogs and social media are definitely new for a lot of businesses, I just hope that they can get to grips with it, because the ones that do do it so well are a joy to work with and really stand out from the crowd. 

Chloe said...

Thanks Rosie. I agree that we all give people free marketing all the time as part of things that we post, I just find it hard to stomach being asked to post about something specific about a company or event- which takes time and effort, when there's no gain, and often it blurs in with the 100 other bloggers who are posting about the same thing and therefore readers get sick of it. I know I get bored seeing the same post several times over...

Definitely agree that it's a case of finding a way that works, maintaining your integrity and blogging for the reasons you always have. 

Claire said...

I can totally see where you are coming from on this - I don't blame companies for being selective who they invite to things as of course they need a return on their money and a blog with more followers is a wise investment. On the other hand I find the whole follower game a bit of a minefield really because sometimes I see blogs, who clearly don't spend much time and effort on them but have 1200 followers and a million sponsorship deals. Then I visit a blog with loads to say for itself and is beautifully designed and only has 40 followers. I am in the smae position as you really and this will always be a small hobby for me as I work, volunteer and are in the middle of a degree but then I think kudos to those people making a real living out of it. 

Chloe said...

Followers and the number of is definitely difficult. I agree that there are definitely blogs where I sit and wonder why so many people follow them when it appears no effort goes in and others where I wonder why so few people have found them. It's difficult too, because although I love blogging, if I wasn't interested in having people follow me, I wouldn't publish but that said, my aim is not first and foremost to gain followers, but to provide the best content that I can.

Definitely muchos respect for people who make a living out of this, it's a tough game, but that's not to be said that people who make their blogs a hobby don't care as much or don't work hard to make their blogs the best they feel that they can.

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