Blogging is changing. It no longer feels secure and supportive. Fortunately for me, the negative comments I receive are quite low, and the friends I have made through blogging are amazing. I also know I am not going to please everyone. And that my blogging style has changed a bit. Lucky I still love blogging. But recently, I have seen bloggers get into arguments, slander other bloggers in blog posts, or have sneaky digs at them. I've seen bloggers being ignored on Twitter or Facebook. And I've known of bloggers be dropped from advertising companies because they didn't fit the mould. I've also seen bloggers stop their blog altogether, because they didn't find blogging fun.
Blogging is getting more and more exclusive. Who you know. What events you're invited to. The reach your blog has determines its worth. Blogging used to bring people together. Not I think it can drive people apart. And then when bloggers vent, they are torn down.
Perhaps it is the PR and advertisers that create the exclusiveness. As I tweeted, "When the blogging community is so open and inclusive, I think it's unfair that the PR part of it is SO exclusive. Not in the spirit." I think this is the case. Because all of the bloggers I've met have been lovely. It's the events and online communities created by the PR companies that may create the exclusive feel.
A number of bloggers and I engaged in a discussion about a recent competition to win an invitation to a Christmas party. It was an advertising opportunity disguised as an invitation. Very deceptive. And it implied there are A-list bloggers out there, and they were the ones invited to the event, the rest of us had to sell our blog space for advertising to vye for a chance to attend. Sneaky indeed. And it doesn't seem fair that, when we are all part of that particularly blogging community, there is a hierarchy.
I couldn't attend the event anyhow, as I had something on. My birthday. Cold Chisel. But these tactics made me feel like us bloggers are no longer equal. That some are celebrities and some aren't worthy. To me, we are all worthy. We all have a passion, and are mostly great people whose opinions and creativity deserve to be noticed.
There are other exclusive events - some I've been to, others I've been overlooked for. I am not resentful for not being invited. I am invited to a number of great events - for blogging and for other things - but often when they involve brands, the events are often targeted towards select audiences. Often mummy bloggers.
Don't get me wrong, I have met some great mummy bloggers. I love hanging out with them, and made some great friends. But sometimes I think the greatest emphasis is placed on mummy bloggers, because of the value of the reach, and the brands they can work with, but I think this leaves the rest of us - me genre-less - feeling a bit stranded, like we don't quite belong. And I wonder whether I should pose with a watermelon shoved up my dress just to get an invitation to an event that has apparently been advertised 'all over Twitter'.
And I've seen blogs becoming less authentic. They're no longer about the writing or original content. But about the adverts. They're becoming putty in PR hands. And the original, creative writing has now turned into the way bloggers can best spin a press release and make it their own. I recently clicked on a link via Twitter - a fellow Tweeter said 'what a great blog post' and so, valuing their opinion, I went to read the great blog post for myself. I can't even recall what the post was about now. It may have been great. Well written and thought provoking. But what caught my attention, and has stuck in my mind, was the blog was divided into three columns. One of those columns was dedicated to content. The other two were purely ads. It's a sad day when a blog has become two thirds ads. I understand bloggers need to make money. I understand blogging may be a person's only source of income. But now bloggers have the power to influence buyers, the writing sometimes takes second place.
I'm not going to deny it. I will do adverts on my blog. I may seek sponsorship for my trip to BlogHer. But I am selective about the brands I believe in, and don't want to compromise my integrity by replacing good written content with sponsored posts. I have been in talks with two brands I believe in, that are important to me, and will hopefully connect with my readers. But this blog is definitely not going to turn into an advertorial. I want to maintain quality writing and use my blog to leap into other things.
This blog, Tune into Radio Carly, is about to turn two years old. I have received some amazing opportunities through blogging. The people I've met have been the best. Conferences I've been to and spoken at have been fantastic. Some free things. Freelance writing. I even had a job interview recently, and I said at my interview that if it wasn't for this blog, I wouldn't be there. And I receive comments from strangers saying that I've helped them in some way. These are all privileges. And to have my writing read (and enjoyed) by so many is the biggest privilege of all.
I hope the blogging community continues to stay strong. We can do amazing things to raise awareness and build friendships. And there is always some great writing and opinions to be read through blogs. But as long as this exclusivity continues to drive the community apart, the in-crowd and the rest of us - it feels like blogging is no longer about writing but the notion of being a celebrity.
To end this little rant, I am not phased about *only* achieving 400 views per day. I know the value my blog has had on those with disabilities and chronic illnesses and those who have been bullied. I am damn proud of the writing opportunities I've created through this blog. And I cherish the friendships I've made through blogging. Those things are all more important to me than being in the 'in-crowd' and having my worth measured by a company.
Post script: I completely forgot to raise this in my original post. Anonymous commenters and their 'constructive comments'. I've received a few of them lately. If you feel the need to crtiticise a blog post, at least have the decency to put your name to your comment. I blog with my name, true to my values and opinion. And I've set up my comments where you can list your name too. As my friend Genevieve Maynard commented once, "As for you Anon, it is very easy to create a log in. It's too easy to hide behind a made up name, or Anon, and comment on other people's thoughts.". Comment with conviction. Just like we blog with conviction. Put your name to what you believe in.
What are your thoughts about exclusivity in the blogging community? Is this new 'exclusivity' only coming to a head in Australia, or is it world-wide?