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I Blog For Love & Other Thoughts In My Head

blog for loveThere seems to be a shared theme amongst a number of bloggers at the moment and being that I suffer from “foot in mouth” disease and have never been afraid to be outspoken, I wanted to weigh in and add my two cents too, see Lydia, my opinion is also worth less than a Chappie! because it is just my opinion. My opinion probably won’t be a popular one, or maybe it will, I may make some “frenemies” with what I’m about to say, but that’s ok, pick a number & get in line.

The three thought provoking posts that prompted me to write about what has been bumping around in my head are these:

 

All thought provoking pieces, all worth the read. All with points that I agreed with. So here is my two cents:

I’ve been blogging since 2008, in fact, next month is my blogoversary, I will have been blogging for 6 years exactly. My blog started out as an infertility blog, a way for me to deal, share & purge some of my emotions surrounding our struggle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, well that and if I’m honest, also because all my IF buddies had blogs and so I figured I should have one too! But here’s the thing, somewhere between starting that first blog, that had a rather ridiculous name and I spent hours crying because I didn’t know how to use WordPress, I gradually grew to love it. I loved the connections I formed, both online and IRL. I loved the feelings of validation I got, that I wasn’t some crazy, psycho, emotional bitch walking the lonely path of infertility. That I wasn’t alone, that when I felt I couldn’t pick myself up, someone would be there to help me.

I loved it, it became my hobby, my passion. Of course, it’s a learning experience and along the way I got better at it, I learned from it. I made terrible blogging faux paux’s and mistakes. I was, at times and ashamedly, bitchy, I subtweeted, I got jealous, I was mean spirited. But I learned from it. I learned the art of shutting my trap, ignoring mean spiritedness and trying not to get involved in online spats.  I made a promise to myself a couple of years ago, after a particularly vicious SM fall out that involved a number of bloggers that I respect, to not involve myself in that kind of behaviour, because it always made me feel bad about me, because that kind of behaviour said WAY more about me than it did about the people I was trying to dig at. I’m proud of how I conduct myself online today. I do not subtweet, ever, I don’t write spiteful blog posts thinly veiled as a dig at someone else. I just don’t, I just won’t.

I honed my skill as a blogger, I got better at writing (not anywhere near brilliance, but better, if you read some of my earlier posts, you’ll know what I mean), I found my niche, I found what readers liked about me and I focused on it, I tried to stay true to who I was. I’m not a funny blogger or a particularly clever one. But I know that my readers read my blog because they enjoy my fairly unique story, they appreciate my openness and honesty.

Are their people online I don’t like? Yes of course! But I don’t advertise it, I don’t go out of my way to show it, or at least, I don’t think I do. I just unfollow, on Twitter, on FB and on blogs. And the reason for this is two fold….

1. It’s unnecessary and speaks volumes of your character if you feel the need to constantly take someone down or pick on them

and

2. Well 2 may be a contentious one, but guys, we’re bloggers, brands and PR agencies are watching us, we’re considered “influencers” (this still makes me uncomfortable but it is what it is) so I’m constantly conscious of how I conduct myself online because I want to be included in the campaigns, I get a kick out of it, I’m not gonna lie, I LIKE the free stuff, there I said it, I’m cheap!

Which brings me onto the topic of freebies…

Freebies…. Yes I like them! But I blog for love, I blog because I love it, this is first and foremost why I do it. Yes, some misguided PR agencies and Brands have considered me an “influencer” and chosen to send me freebies and of course I love that to, but it is not the core reason why I blog, that is just a bonus for me. Everyone likes to be valued, everyone likes to receive a beautiful package delivered to their office with all kinds of spoilings inside. But we can’t all be everything to everyone, in the same way, my blog can’t be everything to everyone. There are blogging opportunities that have come along that I’ve turned down, why? Because my own code of ethics won’t allow me to do it, I won’t promote products tested on animals, I won’t write a paid for piece on debt collection (true story, I’m not even making that up), I’m NEVER going to be a blogger who simply copies and pastes a press release.

Good grief, I feel this post is going to go on and on and I’m rambling a bit, but this really has been in my head for over a week now.

I also wanted to touch on Lydia’s topic of the blogger get together’s. I loved the #JoziMeetUp, I was one of the organizers and I spent the whole morning flitting from group to group trying to chat to everyone. I love that sort of thing, I really do. That’s why I work in sales and marketing!  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love my swag bag, because I did but the thing is…. I feel, as bloggers, we do have a responsibly to brands to be cautious with these types of events. I don’t know how we go about it without creating even more jealousy and negativity and having our sponsors feel taken advantage of. But lets call a spade a spade…

Do you know what was the NUMBER 1 question from all the sponsors we approached? A list of attendee’s with blog addresses, Twitter followers and FB fans. Nothing is for free and Brands see this as an opportunity to harness the collective power of influencers for the better of their brands. Don’t mean to be crass but that’s sales/marketing/promotions 101 right there.

Do you think if the guest list was Piet Pompjies and family from the arse end of nowhere that we’d have had the support of the amazing brands we did? Um… no.

Having said that, I wanted to do the get together because I “know” so many amazing women in my computer that I wanted to get to know in real life too and that was what made Saturday so awesome for me.

I think I’ve gone way off topic here and rambled on and on, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on all that I’ve said above, in a respectful manner of course. We’re all individuals with differing opinions and points of view, we all blog and interact online for different reasons so I’m keen to here your POV?

 

 

 

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30 Comments

  • Reply cath

    I giggled. “Piet Pompjies” Hahaha. I’m using that in future 😛

    My sole point on all of this, and always will be – if you blog, cool. Do you have a reason for doing it? Cool. As long as people are upfront on their purpose, then that’s cool. What do I blog for? I blog for me. Sometimes, I review stuff. Sometimes, people pay me to write a post. And I say so when that happens. And I don’t have to explain or apologise for it.

    As for Twitter, you know it’s my therapy! 🙂

    May 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      You hit the nail on the head there… there are no “rules” when it comes to blogging, it’s your space, do whatever you want really.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:25 am
  • Reply Laura-kim le Roux

    mmmm – I am going to need to think about this and blog about it because right now I may not be respectful (not towards you :))

    May 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm
  • Reply reluctantmom

    Here is my thought on this —- and many other social situations. I think I blog because I like to hide behind my keyboard.

    It makes me feel safer, and it allows me to be more of who I am. Because I really struggle with social phobia and social get togethers.

    I love the idea of bloggers being a community – but I think that many bloggers blog for the same reason, we think better and interact better when there is a screen between us.

    Put me in a social setting with bloggers, and I get twitchy, nervous, and forget my manners.

    The other side of blogging is that our blogs have all become “our children” and we are usually rather proud of them, want them to do well, think they are the prettiest, and get jealous when they come second, third or no where in the three-legged race.

    That is human nature.

    I (unlike you) am very suspicious of sponsors, because then I feel I have to “fit the line” in keeping with a sponsor, and it does not give me the freedom to always say what I want, because I feel that I must “punt a sponsor.”

    I do not love freebies.

    I get deeply suspicious that somehow I have managed to feel obliged to a sponsor, and am now sitting holding their product, when actually I have no urge to tell everyone how wonderful they are.

    I love blogging, because I love writing (just not right now clearly) —- but I do not enjoy all the “stuff” – both physical and the pressure to conform to a party line, a product endorsement, or the jealousy I feel when I see every other blogger do stuff that I am jealous of.

    I love blogging. I am just not that much a fan of people.

    May 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Except you are a fan of me right? 🙂 And if the CPT meet up is on 9th August, you will come cos I’m gonna be in CT then & will be attending! OMG! I used a smiley face… I’m so sorry!

      May 15, 2014 at 9:32 am
      • Reply reluctantmom

        I am possibly not a fan of all people, but I am a fan of a select few …. and you are so in that little circle!!!!

        May 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm
  • Reply cat@jugglingact

    Sharon, of all these posts you are possibly closest to where I personally sit. I have brands I will blog about firstly because I love their products, not because I get anything. I really love to give away stuff and often there is none of what I give away for me and that is fine too. But mainly I blog because I love it, its my hobby. ( also started in 2008). I connect with people. Its about no material stuff. yes, having to privatize some stuff has been tough but so be it.

    As to meet ups I am totally sad I missed the last one.

    BTW I have a small personal theory that this all was sparked by Woollies and the Eater and Mothersday hampers they distributed close to each other to their selected social media people. Wow, I would have loved them too BUT no, I did not let the ugly green monster thinly disguised out about it. Its plain childish

    May 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I can’t comment on that because I was apart of that. But like I said, we can’t all be everything to everyone, find your niche and mine it!

      May 15, 2014 at 9:33 am
      • Reply cat@jugglingact

        Exactly! And let others be and find theirs. It was just the timing and some things said especially on Twitter and Facebook which gave me that idea that the green monster was out on that one. Personally I think it was two brilliant campaigns and great on those who were part of it.

        May 15, 2014 at 10:50 am
  • Reply Andrea

    Well written Sharon – I read the other ladies’ posts earlier and must say I agree with much of what has been said over all, and applaud you all for saying it like it is. I went to a bloggers meet up recently and we were also showered with amazing gift bags. I almost felt guilty! I made an effort to thank each sponsor, but I also only ‘promoted’ the stuff I wanted to share with my followers – I wasn’t going to go on about X-item ‘just because’/because it was expected. Without intention to offend the organisers of said event (they did a really amazing job, and to be fair it was the first time they’d ever organised one and regardless of my comments to follow, it was still pretty top notch) my biggest criticism was that none of us had name tags or opportunity to introduce ourselves/our blogs to the group as a whole. As Tash mentioned in her post, being at such events can be daunting enough and not everyone has the confidence to go around asking who is who. I think next time I go to one (or even host one of my own!) – I’d love the focus to be more on networking, sharing ideas/experiences, focusing more on productive and positive things rather than listening to sponsor talks and not having much time to actually get to know our online counterparts better… I also blog for enjoyment and would happily forgo freebies and continue as is, they are just added bonuses for the hard work and energy we spend on our blogs 🙂

    May 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I agree with you Andrea, my feeling is as “influencers” we need to be credible and you lose credibility is you promote something or favourably review something you wouldn’t normal use or that is just plain horrible.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Gaelyn Cokayne

    I’m enjoying these posts, and relate to a lot of it. Fortunately I’ve never experienced any open nastiness or unkindness, and perhaps I’m too happy-go-lucky to notice subtle hints at my failings? Maybe it’s cos I’m small fry, maybe because not that many people actually read my posts, maybe I’m. It influential enough for others to actually care?

    BUT by opening up and sharing a piece of yourself you do pit yourself at risk of being hurt. It’s like anyone in the public eye – we run the same risks. Jealousy makes you nasty, our moms were right.

    Personally, I look at all you “proper bloggers” and try get as much out of you as possible, so that I too can create a blog of value. I am a fan of empowering and uplifting, the belief that not everything is a competition, and that sometimes that tiny little bit of effort you put in to compliment or encourage someone else’s work, is worth more than any sponsored goodie bag.

    Being on my own in East London means I miss out on the events, the product launches, the exciting things. I often feel left out, but have to remind myself that it’s not personal. What I want more than a prize or freebie, is to feel noticed, appreciated etc.

    After spewing all that on your post, I’m going to have to think it all through and probably do my own post about it. Thanks for taking the risk and sharing your thoughts xxx

    May 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      That’s the thing though G, there are blogs out there that simply copy and paste a press release every day with very little original content or “story telling” for me, that’s not really blogging, there needs to be balance. BUT that is my own personal opinion and NOT what I want my blog to be about.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:36 am
  • Reply ailsaloudon

    Who doesn’t love freebies? We all do!!!!! Who doesn’t want to be a blogger – some of us – it involves work! I would actually like to sit and write about my life and medical challenges but not so sure anyone would want to read about me. Bitches – there are far too many in the world but I try not to get involved (although I haven’t always succeeded) in the spats! I love reading personal blogs – people are interesting and – well – different! Get-togethers – lucky people who manage to attend them. I don’t have transport so it makes no difference to me. So Sharon, just keep blogging and giving us a chance to get our hands on a freebie. 🙂

    May 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Ailsa – thank you for ALWAYS commenting, you have no idea how much comments mean to me.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:38 am
  • Reply Louisa

    Great post! 🙂
    I blog for me…sometimes I get free things to review, and I’m happy to do so as long as it’s understood that I will say if I hated it too. Sometimes I just write up about a thing or a place without anyone asking, because of the either great or terrible experience I had there. Mostly I just write about my every day things.

    I enjoy a meet up every now and then, but not too often. And generally I get a lot more out of it if I know a few of the other participant before hand or at least follow their blogs or tweets. I have actually never met anyone that I absolutely disliked at one of these shindigs.

    May 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      That’s why Laura is so clever! TG she thought to have everyone wear name tags on Saturday because otherwise we’d all have been wondering about feeling like we knew no one!

      May 15, 2014 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Robyn

    I’m like this is MY space, I can actually say or do whatever I feel, you are not obligated to read/follow and if you don’t particularly like what I have to say, you can be on your horse. No hard feelings. I don’t mind my point of view being challenged but there is a nice way to agree to disagree, we really do not need to resort to school yard tactics. I know what Cat’s talking about, when Woolies was giving everyone hampers on Twitter, I won’t lie, I wanted IN on that action, but hell, it didn’t mean I could bad mouth the lucky gals who were recipients. To be honest, I don’t even believe you need to justify your reasons for blogging. If you want free stuff, go for it. If you’re getting paid for it, great for you. I don’t understand why we have to explain ourselves to the rest of the world, it’s my little space to do with as I please. If you don’t like it, leave. Or start your own blog so you can do all the things that you perceive that I am doing wrong, RIGHT!

    May 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Totally agree with your Robyn, it’s all about the tone for me. No one has to agree with me but at least disagree kindly and respectfully.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Heather

    Wow six years! Congrats!
    I think this book I read recently by Ruth Soukup out it quite well: if you already know what your boundaries are then you don’t have to sell your soul as a blogger.
    I love free stuff too…
    I also think it’s kind of low to bring your differences out against bloggers in blog posts etc, I’ve also read that kind of thing and it puts me off.

    May 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Agreed, like I said, bringing up differences of opinion in a passive/aggressive way says way more about you than the blogger/tweeter/person you’re trying to take a dig at. I lose respect for peeps who do that instantly.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:41 am
  • Reply kerryannvollmer

    Thank you Sharon, I loved this post. I’ve only read Sam’s piece and will now read the others.

    Since I’m a noob and a perfectionist I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes and I haven’t quite found my niche just yet which I’m sure will come with time. Not quite sure how I’m going to deal with the Seagulls (the ones that fly in, shit on your work and fly off), I’ll probably cry…a lot. I’ve seen it so I know it happens.

    My blog is the culmination of many months of procrastination and me not being perfect just yet, I was advised last year to get my blog on and I knew better…not. I want to share my life with the world and “the friends in my computer” who I may not necessarily chat to everyday.

    Having said all this I really enjoy reading many blogs, I once read on somebody’s blog that not commenting is like going to someone’s house and not greeting and walking off, so I comment too.

    May 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Kerry, you know, I’ve been blogging for 6 years and it really is a learning process. In the beginning the trolls and seagulls really upset and at times even scared me a little, but you grow so much along the way that eventually it becomes water off a ducks back! Really, the gulls and trolls are just cowards without the courage to kindly and respectfully state the opinion & who has respect or time for that?

      May 15, 2014 at 9:45 am
  • Reply Julia

    I am extremely vain.

    I know that it’s not a pc thing to say but I blog entirely for me. I blog to engage. I blog because writing is my hobby. I love the intimacy. I love the community. I love the behind the scenes friendships. I do NOT know how I would have gotten through my kids issues or depression or anxiety or my FIL’s death without my blog. It has been my sanity during certain periods of my life.
    Don’t care much for the freebies though I definitely won’t refuse them. But. I recognise that accepting them means that I would need to grow my blog and put it out there – something that I am loathe to do because I don’t like to feel exposed. As an introvert, this freaks me out but I suppose I can do baby steps.
    I do find that some bloggers are bitchy. I just unfollow or whatever. I see no need for ugliness in my feed. I am happy for whoever gets something nice from a sponsor. Actually I don’t really care.

    Ps I ADORE your blog and I have LOVED watching you grow these past few years. You have come SUCH a long way. xx

    May 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I don’t think it’s vain at all, just a different reason to what others may have and there’s nothing wrong with that.
      Personally I love you blog because your posts are so thoughtful and thought provoking!

      May 15, 2014 at 9:46 am
  • Reply Mrs FF

    I am a bit confused or maybe I’ve been living in a fool’s paradise or under the rock somewhere!!!!! I’m still trying to make heads or even tail of what is being discussed. Maybe naive is my middle name!

    I had to read all these posts and comments at least 2ce.

    I’ve met some of the most amazing women from blogging! People who I can now call friends without hesitation, some who I have not met and hope to meet someday very soon. That for me is the reason why I blog. And I’m not shy about it. I love the connection. Reading something and thinking, gosh she just wrote what I was thinking. If freebies come along the way , ok! It won’t hurt but really I just love the connection with other people.

    I have a policy if you don’t have something good or constructive to say then don’t say anything. There’s really no value in tearing others down.

    May 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Nah! You’re not, or perhaps I’m hiding there with you?
      But in all seriousness, I’m not aware of the blatant nastiness, mostly because I’m selected with the blogs and tweeps I follow, you’re mean? I unfollow.
      My post was sparked in part by the other posts but also from my own thoughts on brands and their links to bloggers and how we, as bloggers, have a responsibility to them to a. not take advantage and b. to conduct ourselves in a becoming manner.

      May 15, 2014 at 9:48 am
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