Once upon a time there was a blogger. She sat home all day in a cashmere sweater and heels waiting for gifts to arrive, watched Netflix, did her nails and occasionally snapped a pic of her coffee for the ‘gram.
..and then she woke up
Today I had the most aggrevating conversation on twitter and a lot of it boiled down to the illusion that a blogger should be ‘grateful’ for the ‘gifts’ that they receive. Now I’ve seen this discussion a lot over the years and from a readers perspective I can totally understand that perception but this was not a reader, this was the opinion of a fellow blogger.
As bloggers we are forever fighting the misconception that we’re all sell-outs who would tell you black were white for the right amount of cash and so to hear another blogger say it’s ungrateful to negatively review a PR sample is frustrating. What sets us apart from the (dying) print media if not our unbiased opinions? If we aren’t giving you the good the bad and the ugly then really, what’s the point? Now this particular blogger was ‘style’ focused which is (in fairness) a different kettle of fish. If I were to be sent a coat (let’s say) then the aim of the game is showing you that coat in action rather than talking you through the thread count and durability but much as it’s lovely to receive items from brands they aren’t sending me presents, there are strings attached!!
I’ve spoken a lot recently about the positivity trend and how detrimental it can be to our mental health. Obviously we want everyone to be happy but without balance your timeline can make you feel like you’re living under a cloud. We cannot possibly love everything all of the time, it’s just not realistic. We all have that friend we go to when we want to hear only the good, when we’re already at the bar and there’s not time to change but we need a little pick me up. ‘You look great!’ ..fantastic, job done but we also need the honest friend. The friend who will tell you (at a more opportune moment, preferably when you’re still in the store) ‘nah, that’s not for you.. try the other one’.
If every review on Look Fantastic was positive, every product would have 5 stars and nobody would be any the wiser. Although I understand the logic of ‘you’ve been sent this, you should be grateful’ I have been sent this because I have an audience and that audience wont be sent this. They will be parting with their own cold hard cash for this! Okay, I could not review it but where will that get us?? I have reviewed products and said they were awful and still received comments from people saying they’re going to go out and buy said items because they liked the look of them. Ultimately my review is just a guide and it’s still alerting my audience to a product.. which is why it was sent to me.
There are platforms (like instagram) that are made for the aspirational, there are platforms (like twitter) that are made for discussion, blogs (and YouTube) are made for people to share their experiences, opinions and lives. I did get a little burned out here on my blog pushing myself to talk about products that didn’t interest me, if I don’t love it or hate it I just can’t be bothered but those two extremes are what people want to hear about. As a reader I don’t want to see a press release, I want to know what you think.. about everything. I want to see real life! I want to know what makes you tick because if I can get to know you I will know whether you’re my guy when it comes to reviews of XYZ. If you only want to show me the shiny side of life then I’ll look at your pretty pictures, sure but I wont be back to hear anything you have to say.
Of course the blogosphere is infinite and because of this there’s room for us all. We all like what we like and it can’t be the same.. but a word of warning for those budding bloggers among you, much as it’s fabulous to receive an eleborately wrapped PR package (especially in the run up to Christmas) remember why you are receiving it. You built a following on integrity (hopefully) and there are people who trust you, don’t let all that tissue paper cloud your judgement when you come to recommend things to your readers. It’s natural to feel grateful if you’ve received something exciting but don’t let that be a factor in your review. If you had paid for that with your own money how would you feel?
No go forth and blog honestly 😉