I am in a blogging rut. I have written up my New Zealand trip and loved walking through the memories, but now I can’t quite remember what to do. How does this London blogging thing work again? I have a list of posts to write but I need some sparkle, some inspiration…or maybe just some caffeine.
My blog has evolved hugely in the last couple of years. For the three of you (I must buy you a drink some time) who have been reading from the beginning you will have seen it change from a blog that was updated every day with sentence or two, to this behemoth where most posts are over 600 words and are normally totes emosh or awkward stories.
By god I enjoy my blog now more than I ever have. I LOVE storytelling. At school I had to bribe myself with candy to write 100 words, and now I happily pour my heart into my laptop at every opportunity.
Anyway I digress, inspiration. I feel like I am at a crossroads with my life at the moment (is there such a thing as a 26 year old mid-life crisis?) and since Runawaykiwi is just a reflection of my state of mind it is all of a sudden hard to pick a direction to write in.
So what is the plan? I’m going to go back to basics for a while, I have some amazing coffee and brunch spots that I want to tell you about while I try to sort my creative brain out. And I’m heading off to The Hive this weekend which will hopefully glitter bomb the parts of me that are crying out for creative inspiration.
Oh and I’m also going to try and figure out just what the hell chia seeds are…
I wasn’t going to write about this, I really wasn’t. But yesterday at a blogging event the PR used me as an example of a bad blogging relationship. They kept it anonymous and did not mention me by name but the blogging community in London is tiny so I heard about it from three different people. I am going to extend them the same courtesy and not name names, but again the blogging community is small so I think many of you will know who. As I said I was never going to write about this, but since they raised it in a public forum I feel like I need a right of reply, I need to tell my side of the story.
I have worked with PR companies pretty much since I started this little blog of mine. In London PRs run great events where you can meet other bloggers, give you a heads up on new cafes/exhibitions and can be an amazing way to be introduced to brands that really mesh with your blog. They are great to work with and in three years I’ve only had good experiences. After years of fun I’m not going to let this one little upsetting moment sour an otherwise pretty damn cool blogging journey.
So what happened? Last year I was invited to a drinks evening by a travel company, it was good fun and as well as hearing about their social strategy and meeting some other bloggers they also said they wanted to be pitched to. This company wanted to work with authentic, quirky and unique bloggers and were just waiting to hear our good ideas.
I got inspired. I don’t normally even think about pitching because I blog for the love of it not to turn it into a career. But I figured it was something different so why not. I spent a Sunday afternoon putting together a pretty insane ‘pick a path’ pitch on my blog and then sent it to the PR.
I got really good feedback from the pitch and I met with both the PR and the travel company for a coffee, where they said they wanted to work with me and send me on a trip. Very exciting times. I secured other partners for the trip (the travel company was only going to pay for certain aspects) and started the quite painful journey of trying to confirm all the details. I didn’t mind putting the time into this (seriously, over 80 emails back and forth just trying to book everything) because it was an awesome opportunity not only to see and experience a new country but also to work with a couple of really big brands.
So the day that the go button was going to be pushed and everything booked I got a call from the PR saying that the trip was off because I had written something controversial on my blog. Now given that I had recently written a blog post about chocolate butt plugs I thought that might be the controversial aspect. But no, the post they found offensive was this one, the 17 most overused phrases in blog land.
To be specific the aspect they had an issue with was point 6 where I poked fun at bloggers who received something for free then claimed to have an un-biased opinion by writing the phrase ‘all opinions are my own’. In the PR company’s words they could not work with someone who had publically admitted that their opinion was biased by getting something for free.
My point by writing that was that ‘all opinions are my own’ is an overused phrase and that bloggers need to be honest in their reviews (remembering that they are recommending this to people who will have to pay with their hard earned cash).
I personally think the more controversial part of that post is that I couldn’t figure out which whether/weather/wether to use…
Now as I said I was not going to write about this. After all this is a business relationship and to be honest the PR/travel company can make whatever decisions they like. It is entirely their prerogative to stop working with a blogger if they disagree with something they write. I just shrugged and moved on.
But when they raised it as an example in a blogging conference it really really upset me. Firstly because alluding to someone when it is likely they will be in attendance is bad form, and secondly because of a question someone asked. When the PR said they had dropped me because of something I had written a member of the audience asked “was it because they wrote something politically insensitive” and the PR said yes*. It is abhorrent to me that a professional trusted voice is standing in a room of my peers saying that I have written something offensive about anyone’s race, class or gender…the commonly accepted definition of politically insensitive.
What was extremely frustrating about being dropped was that this was a company looking for ‘authentic, quirky & unique’ bloggers. I have written a couple of posts about my opinions on the blogging world and one of the things I think my reader’s value about me is my honesty (and pictures of cats riding unicorns of course!). I’m happy to poke fun at the blogging world and laugh at it while still being part of it and I would have expected a PR company to research my tone of voice before working with me.
I am a hobby blogger. I blog for the love of it, for the community and the adventures along the way. I am never going to censor myself, and I really don’t think I write anything so controversial that it would require self-censorship anyway. I write this as my right of reply to a publicly made statement about me, and I also hope that it helps any other hobby bloggers out there – relationships with PRs can be fun, friendly and beneficial for all, but they can also be a murky water that needs a bit of respect on both sides.
Good luck kids,
*I heard this through other people who were in the room at the time
Yes you are somewhere in your twenties and don’t want to give your exact age because of the internet being stalker city, but be creative here. How about infant-adult, selfie generation, or ‘I can’t afford a house because of you fucking baby boomers’ age.
2. Lucky enough to
Screw this. As a blogger you are a commodity, you write (mostly for free because you want to) take pictures and sell your blog on social. So why the hell are you ‘lucky’ to be invited to an event or given a sample of something? If you weren’t a blogger and had no presence on the internet I would say you are lucky, but since you are its all your damn hard work and dedication that got you there.
This is just a conspiracy made up by bloggers who have been on the internet since MySpace was popular. When your blog is big enough they will show you the secret handshake and oh how you will laugh at the silly newbie bloggers attending SEO workshops as you drink gin based cocktail in a rooftop bar.
4. It will be great ‘exposure’ for you blog
Yeah this is the internet equivalent to a skeezy old man telling a 15 year old that she has what it takes to be a model. If the brand wants to pay you, fine. If you get some awesome product or experience out of it, fine. But exposure? Bullshit, you are just a component of a marketing campaign that is not costing them anything but that is costing you time and energy for a brand you don’t even like.
A mythical kingdom that you will sometimes be given an overcomplicated password to. The password only works half the time, and when it does the signal is so bad you can’t send a tweet. But hey, thank god bloggers don’t really need a good internet connection to do what we do.
6. ‘All opinions are my own’
Sorry team, if you get something for free it influences your opinion. Weather it is wanting to work with the PR again, the fact they were extra nice because they knew you were a blogger, or just that if it’s free pretty much anything seems awesome. Good that you are disclosing (a curse on all the houses of bloggers who don’t) but don’t for a second think that you are un-biased.
7. Amazing/Brilliant/Stunning/Lovely/So Yummy
Oh hot damn I’ve shot myself in the foot with this one. But what other adjectives are out there? And to be fair that stunningly amazing coffee was just brilliantly lovely and so so yummy. DON’T JUDGE ME.
8. Blurred photos
Ok so this one is not really a phrase but who in the hell puts a blurred photo up on their blog? Your blog is your portfolio regardless of what you do in the real world. I once overheard a fashion blogger say ‘always dress as if you might bump in to Ryan Gosling at any moment’; same goes for your blog photos, only post the ones you want Ryan to have a gander at. Or something like that, I might have missed the point.
9. Follow me on Bloglovin
Can we all just accept the fact that it is mostly bloggers and the parents of bloggers that use Bloglovin? If I love your blog and find myself googling you daily like the true stalker that I am then I will follow you. The only result a begging tweet has is to make my finger work a little harder as I scroll past it.
10. ‘Top Secret’ or ‘Hidden’
If that gem of a place you just discovered is on the front page on Google then sorry but it’s not Top Secret or hidden…you are just oblivious.
Awesome so you either spent a lot of money or sweet talked a PR, back in the day showing off like that would have been seen as bad taste. But please if you are going to do a haul please don’t lie about how good the products are, and by all that is holy please take a composed and pretty picture of the sodding thing.
What the ten bells of hell does lifestyle even mean? “The way in which a person lives” yes I know that, but for a fashion blogger they live and breathe fashion so why the hell are they not a lifestyle blogger? I straddle way too many blog cliques to make anyone comfortable, so I will just continue to eat my lunch in the bathroom.
14. ‘Provided for review purposes’
Totally fine occasionally, seriously bad if on every post. How the kittens is the reader going to actually trust what you say if we don’t know what you choose to spend you’re hard earned cash on? At the very least imagine that you went to a shop and purchased it and add the justification of spending a weeks’ worth of lunches on a crappy neon lipstick.
15. Finding your niche
I got told by a PR the other week that my blog was not niche enough. I write about me…that’s one a one in six billion topic. How is that not fucking niche enough? Write what you want to write and if you fall into a niche then raise the flag and have a shot of tequila, bully for you.
16. ‘How to start a blog’ posts
Just start writing stuff on the internet and you are in the club. Show me a blogger that didn’t make some really valuable mistakes along the way and I will show you a liar.
17. ‘I’ve been nominated for…’
Can we all just be honest here and blog awards fall into three categories: publicity campaigns, chain letters and genuine awards. The publicity campaigns are the ones where a company ah la Low Cost Holidays have cottoned on to a brilliant way to get bloggers to tweet their name for very little cost. The chain letters are where bloggers nominate others and you answer questions, nice in theory (I love a good chit chat) but can we please not call them awards? And lastly we get the actual awards like the Cosmopolitan Blog awards, which to be honest after all the bad language in this post I think I have disqualified myself forever. Can someone pass the gin?