I’ve been blogging for four years, writing about makeup launches and skincare tips for the benefit of some amazing readers that keep me motivated and strong. For the first three years I blogged in my spare time, juggling a full time job and a hectic social life with attending events, meeting brands, testing products, taking photos and writing until my fingers went numb. I used to work until the early hours of the morning, at weekends and during holidays – both because of the pressure I put upon myself, but also because the love I had for the blogging world. Just under a year ago I had the opportunity to turn my site into a full time job, taking the time to focus on growing and perfecting my little corner of internet. I’ve invested in equipment, skills and knowledge, taking what was previously a hobby into another realm altogether. However, what I have noticed in the last few months is the absolute lack of respect from so many individuals, brands and agencies towards blogging as a profession. Just because you have the label of a blogger, why does that leave you bereft of any respect of value?
I’ve recently experienced a multitude of presumptuous individuals that effectively want something for nothing. I’m all for collaborating, working for mutual benefit and bringing my fair readers a great story, but I’m not up for using my site to push out messages you want to share without there being benefit to me. When I work day in day out (from the early hours of the morning until the darkness of the night,) to create content, that content has value. As a blogger you’re the content creator, ideas generator, photographer, designer, editor, social media manager and much more – that doesn’t come easy and it shouldn’t necessarily come free. A freelance photographer or writer place value on their time and work, so why is a blogger any different?
I work with lots of different brands in lots of different ways, helping to monetize my site in a way that’s unobtrusive as possible. I supplement my blog income with a lot of consultancy work, so not to become a site full of adverts and irrelevant content that pays the bills. I want this to be a place that’s creative, fun, informative and relevant. However, there are certain instances when I charge for content creation, my time or simply for photography – but there’s a serious issue with the respect that comes with the work of a blogger and how that should be compensated.
Let me tell you a little story. I was recently contacted by a brand (that I had worked with previously) who wanted to use my imagery on their website, in order to help promote a product. They hadn’t invested in their own photography, so they thought they’d ask if they could use mine instead. “Sure, here’s my fee for imagery” I said. Radio silence ensued… Until I had a hunch that they would use my imagery anyway, regardless of paying a fee. Sure enough, clear as day, one of my images appeared on their blog with no credit and certainly no permission. When questioned, one of the brand’s associates started to belittle how much ‘hard work’ creating an image really took and stated that ‘bloggers want paying for everything now.’ When you spend hours positioning products, getting the lighting just right, taking photos, editing and uploading them, it angers me to see such little respect or value placed on something that’s valued enough to be taken without consent!
I’ve had images taken from my site without permission and used by brands on their social media channels. I’ve had blog posts copied and pasted to other sites without consent. I’ve had brands and agencies demand I place their links, information or offer on my site – just because they want it there. I’ve had rude responses when I’ve asked for compensation for my time, such is the little value placed upon bloggers and blogging by some. I’ve battled with brands for payment when they changed the goalposts at the last minute. I’ve been asked to act unlawfully and illegally. You name it, I’ve experienced it… And it just isn’t right.
The blogging world has evolved so much in the last few years, opening up doors previously unimagined to those of us that started writing simply as a creative outlet or to channel a passion. Now the possibilities are endless, with bloggers launching their own cosmetics lines, appearing in magazines and being paid thousands of pounds to endorse or support brands. We’re all still the girls you can relate to, the boys you see down the pub, or the geeks you like to discuss skincare with – we’re approachable, relatable and above all ‘normal people’. That’s where we differ from magazines, faceless corporations and brands; we’re your mate that you can ask a question, or the girl on Facebook who you like to outfit stalk. That is worth something. That has value. That deserves respect.
So many of the brands I work with are understanding, ethical and place huge value on sites such as mine. They respect what we do and they treat us accordingly. However, it’s the actions of the minority that are now becoming increasingly frustrating and unacceptable. I don’t write a blog for the benefit of your brand, I don’t take photos for you to use nilly willy and I don’t curate my social channels for you to spam them with irrelevant messages. So many bloggers put their heart and souls into their sites, regardless of size, and that deserves a little recognition. I have to admit I’m at the end of my tether and I’m not quite sure how the blogging world will evolve over the next 6-12 months, but I’m extremely hopeful that it will involve a little more appreciation.
What are your thoughts?