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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Is Blogging Changing Us?

Perhaps a controversial subject, but one I’ve found myself pondering a fair bit lately. I really love my blog, the people I now know through it and the opportunities and doors it has opened in the past year.
I had staple blogs that were the reason I started writing my own in the first place and the majority remain firm favourites to this day. However, I can’t help but feel that in this saturated market more and more bloggers aren’t staying true to themselves. I absolutely have no problem with anyone taking full advantage of any blogging opportunities that arise, hell I do it, and I don’t think there are many out there who would turn down gifted items of clothing or beauty products in return for a review. But isn’t there a line?

I’m not going to fabricate the truth and say it wouldn’t be lovely to work from home and have my blog be my job. But I tend to find more often than not that I am looking to ‘newer’ bloggers for honest reviews (not that new is bad, but you’ll see what I’m getting at) rather than the bloggers that first had me inspired. I find it quite difficult to trust a blog (be it fashion or beauty) when every single item in a post is a PR sample, taking away any natural inspiration from the writer. Yes, we do pick the items that are sent to us and they will only be things we would want, but when you started your blog, what did you have to write about? You had to find things and that’s when discovering a new website or product was inspiring.
Don’t get me wrong guys, I know it’s awesome when a PR contacts you and it’s a website/brand you haven’t heard of and it’s you down to a T and you can’t believe you’ve found your style soul mate. But when it happens every day? Not so much.

It’s especially frustrating when every blogger and her dog gets sent the exact same product and everyone thinks it’s a groundbreaker, surely there must be one person it’s skin-type doesn’t suit?!
Image source

I know some may think I’m somewhat hypocritical because yes I do receive gifted items of clothing, but what I do make sure I do is always incorporate them in to my existing wardrobe – instead of adapting my style to suit ‘trends’.What I really want to get across is that surely there can’t be a steady future for these bloggers that are just going along with everything that is thrown their way? We read blogs for recommendations and inspiration, but when you get to the ‘top’ who is really staying true to their style? I really don't want this to come across as some form of jealousy either - I completely admire what loads of bloggers have achieved and of course envy a teensy bit some amazing opportunities they work hard to get, but that's not what this is about. It would just be so lovely if there could be a little more focus on why it started rather than what it's growing in to - which of course, is still an amazing achievement and I also understand we all change over time. Writing a blog is bloody hard work and I appreciate the amount of effort that must go in to writing one full-time; but hey if we didn't have opinions it would be a pretty mundane life, right? And I'm certainly not tarring everyone with the same brush, I know this doesn't apply to heaps of bloggers out there, but it's something that niggles me and I would love to know if any of you guys feel the same? 

What I really want to say is let's help keep each other grounded and on the right path, keep the readers we have and entice new ones to say hello. Let's all get to where we want to be in a positive and honest way! There's competition in anything you choose to do and there's always going to be nasties trying to bring you down, but it's possible to achieve anything you want in this life it's just discovering the best way to do it, and as a wise woman once said....
Image source


jennifer said...

Great post as ever Meg and I one hundred percent agree with you. There is nothing more irritating than looking down my reading list to find 20 people giving a 'rave' review on the same product.

hoodidthat said...

i agree my blog is about photography and graphics i don't get much views or traffic but i want to keep to my idea, beauty and fashion just seen so easy and replicated in every other blog you find there is no spark anymore i tottallyyyy agree

Becki Jess Dunn said...

Great post meg! Started up such a interesting convo! I think its important to know that everyone blogs for different reasons and so if you want to just share the latest beauty news then thats fine but you will prob wont be the only one or it might not be as personal as picking your monthly favourites, of course there is an audience for every type of blog- we blog because its something that we have loved sharing as sisters and meeting beautiful people along the way has made it more rewarding. Yes most poeple might love the face that you can get "freebies" but for me its never been about that- i feel privaliaged that companies would want to work with me :)

Becki xoxo

Lauren said...

I think my problem is when a blog basically just becomes a stream of press releases...at least put into your own words what the product is and what you like about it? There's absolutely nothing wrong with gifted items and sponsored posts but I think its important to embrace the challenge of incorporating it into your own style/words so that readers aren't just seeing the same thing on 10 different blogs! Great post Meg, its always good to have a gentle reminder to stay true to how you started! x

Carly Jade said...

I completely agree with this - I started my blog back in July. I definitely had my firm favourite blgos that I would stalk every day, sometimes twice a day in the hope that they'd have updated again, but what were once my favourites are slowly slipping down the slope! Sure, the content is really well written, but I hate how they all get sent the same things, and alot of their posts become PR*'d or sponsored posts...

I also hate how adverts have replaced basic backgrounds! I remember last month, I went onto what was my favourite blog (I won't mention any names...but she is pretty well known!) to find a huge wallpaper for McCains chips plastered across the screen, with a mini pop up square AND a little side bar advert too!

I just think that some big time bloggers have forgotten what blogging is really about :(


Rebecca Morgan said...

hey Meg, I really agree with you on this one. last night, I was thinking about this with YouTube beauty gurus (American) - they're all recommending the exact same things in their monthly favourites. It gets boring & repetitive and I've come to realize that the videos are now just a plug for the discount codes that they have, and I've found myself looking to watch other people who have a smaller audience with real opinions. It can be really frustrating! I've noticed the same thing with blogs, and that's why I wanted to start my own. My opinions are honest and I have fun finding things I love and want to share!



Ash B said...

Definitely agree with this post. I'm by no means any kind of big time blogger, as I'm still one of the little guys, and I do get PR samples. The thing is that I was the one to approach the company about something of theirs that I wanted to try out for myself. I think in these cases, it's ok, since the company isn't throwing stuff at me to push to my readers. It's genuinely things that I want to try out. Anyway, I can definitely see where you're coming from, and yes, it's hard to trust blogs that only say good things about everything. That's a bit sketchy... Great post though. I admire your courage in coming out to say it. I can imagine the kind of things people will be saying about it... oh, the blogging world.

Megan Beth said...

Thank you Jennifer. xxx

Megan Beth said...

Ahh I still think there can be spark in beauty and fashion, maybe just have to look a little harder to find your perfect ones :)

Megan Beth said...

Definitely Becki! :) xx

Megan Beth said...

Exactly Lauren, blogging is a brilliant thing you've just got to keep savvy!xxx

Vicki Higham said...

I whole heartedly agree! I couldn't have put it better myself xx

Megan Beth said...

I think that with regards to adverts it's okay as long as the content is relevant, after all ads are one of the main penny earners for bloggers so I don't see a problem with that. Maybe not chips though, haha :) xxx

Megan Beth said...

Well I shall certainly be checking yours out then Rebecca! Thank you for commenting :) xxx

Fern said...

I definitely agree. Whilst there's absolutely no problem in people accepting items for review, it does get very tedious seeing the same product talked about on at least half the blogs in my feed. Sometimes they are really helpful, as something they've received is something that I actually want to read reviews of. Most of the time however, when searching for reviews on particular products, I take to google and look up personal reviews by some 'smaller' bloggers. It's really great when people feature sponsored items on their blog, but not just in a 'I was sent this, it's good' way. It's nice when the items seem to actually be incorporated into their every day lives instead.

I know that people who blog for a job need to be able to live off of it, but the majority of my favourite blogs have far less sponsored posts.

Anyway, ramble over, lovely post megan xx

Megan Beth said...

Thanks Vicki!xx

Megan Beth said...

Hit the nail on the head Fern, thank you :) xxx

Robyn said...

I've got to admit, I'm a sucker for trends! I definitely get what you mean though! I think that in blogging we can get caught up in trying to please others (including PRs, other bloggers, our readers) rather than ourselves. We can think that taking every opporunity is what we should be doing - but in fact, being selective is more sensible and makes your blog more unique!

Another thing that bugs me is that as blogs are becoming fantastic platforms for brands, some bloggers are still unaware of the rules around things like links, 'sponsors' and samples. Don't get me wrong - a lot of these can be great opportunites for content and to pop on a CV or whatever floats your boat. But I feel that some brands / marketers take advantage of this sadly, as it's convenient for them to do so. Bloggers should equally read up a little on these things to ensure they're not going against Google's rules (if they want to have a decent shelf life!) and aren't being taken advantage of. Maybe that's something I should do a blog post on haha!

Sophierosehearts said...

I completely agree with this post, so many people seem to be blogging for the wrong reasons these days and it really grinds my gears!

Sophierosehearts x

Laura Gois said...

This post was a really interesting read :) it does frustrate me when a load of almost identical posts pop up about a certain product - I feel like they aren't as trustworthy even though that isn't necessarily the case. That's why I quite like reading reviews longer after the products have been released - if you're writing about them a day or two after release date, how can you have given them a thorough testing? Your fashion posts, even though they include gifted items, stay true to your style and I like that :) xx

Ash said...

I completely agree, a few weeks ago my feed was rave reviews of the Marc Jacobs Honey perfume & they were all PR Samples. The reviews all seemed the same but just worded differently. :/ It's sad to see the people who once inspired me to blog now do it for all the wrong reasons. xx

Fiona Lily Avenue said...

I entirely agree with this post! I'm not even reading popular blogs anymore because they all talk about the same product at the same time and you can see that it's not completely honest. They're not talking about a product/item of clothing/ or whatever it is that they "truly" love and use on a regular basis or as you said that they discovered themselves.
All this blogging thing became too commercial for my liking.
I don't receive any samples as my blog is not very popular but at least I talk about things that I adore and that's been in my routine for ages. But let's stay positive! :)


Beau Blushes said...

Well said. In addition to reviewing the same pr samples, I find that some bloggers/youtubers struggle to find their own inspiration. As soon as I saw one of my favourites review a box of cereal I new it was time to look for new bedtime viewing!

Becky | Beau Blushes

CatrinTeleri said...

I agree with you one hundred percent! Take for example when Marc Jacobs Honey was released there was a blanket blog coverage from some more popular blogs, and I was personally excited because I love Marc Jacobs. I've been blogging for just under a year and everything I have ever featured I've bought with my own money. Sometimes I wonder if someone really likes yet another (same) shade of eyeshadow of feel they have to be nice about it as they've been sent an expensive product.

Emma said...

Well said! A good post and interesting to read, but it's good to know that there are bloggers to genuinely like the products they say about, rather than just saying it for the freebies!

Hmm maybe...

Claudia said...

This is sa great post and I agree with it all. I turned down a sponsored post yesterday because I didn't believe it suited my blog content, I have also turned down a couple of other bits because I like to only blog about something I would buy.I agree though that some "big" bloggers have far too many PR related posts and I therefore don't always believe what's written.

Great, honest post

Claudia xx

Beauty and the Chic

Nature With Nurture said...

The one thing you've got to remember is that these more popular bloggers have to have the new bright shiny thing to stay relevant. How do you think temptalia etc. stays ahead of the game? Sometimes it's a good thing to have a greater voice on a genuinely great product. I have rarely felt as though a blogger is lying to my about their opinions just because the product was sent to them and I don't feel like it changes them either. This was a very well written post and I agree with you on some points but there is more to it.

Rebecca Morgan said...

Thanks Megan! :)

Amy said...

I completely agree with you here - particularly on the trust issues with blogs that first inspired you. I've found that a lot of blogs that initially inspired me have actually stopped disclosing PR samples and I that's what bothers me.

Of course blogs are a great way of getting products and brands more coverage, particularly since the decline of magazines that generally just push PR samples that haven't even been tried, but there's definitely a line and some blogs do cross that.

Danielle Smith said...

I love this post Meg and what you say is so true. I think its so important to remember why we started blogging in the first place and bring back some of those posts and reviews that required a bit of imagination. Being a part time blogger means you only get a limited time to blog and if all of those posts have to be of samples because you've accepted them then your not going to have the time to be as inventive and could loose that magical spark. You said everything perfectly :) Fabulous post beauty xxx

Danielle || Miss Sunshine & Sparkle

theitalianbunnyreport said...

I completely agree, really. I was thinking the same thing the other day, whilst going through the different blogs I follow via Bloglovin'. I admire the guts you got to write "black on white" as we say here in Italy. Well said. Hear Hear.

all about the girl said...

This is a great post, and I totally agree with you! One of my pet hates is seeing all the 'top' bloggers be sent the same thing in the same few days and then they all review it within the same 24 hours! I like reading new things, a little bit different...and I like to read honest reviews! I haven't been sent a lot of stuff to review but the handful of times I have, I like to make sure it's something I'd actually wear/use and it suits me/my wardrobe. I've bought lots of make up products I've read about on blogs and been disappointed (obviously been some out there I've loved too) but it would be nice if everything single thing wasn't 'amazing' and then (*)!

Love your blog, so keep up the good work :)


allaboutthegirlblog.blogspot.com xx

Holly Gardiner said...

Hit the nail on the head there Megan!
I consider you to be a 'bigger'(ish) blogger and yet it's very clear that you stay true to your own opinions and content (gifted clothing at times or not, you work them your own way gurllll!) and I thank you for that :D you are a doll!
These days I seem to skip straight past blog posts which are either obviously sponsored or duplicates of other posts I've read that day on the same items, which are clearly PR samples - the Marc Jacobs 'Honey' perfume mentioned above is a good example!
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have received one myself haha, *currently own no perfume and love Marc Jacobs' 'Daisy'* but it gets a bit tedious at times - you're right, not EVERYONE can 'love' the same thing.

I'm a small blogger and as much as I'd love my blog to grow and I'd love to work with PR peeps more than I do, (less than a handful of times ever) I'll never change my style or fake an opinion to suit them; I have a very specific way of writing which quite possibly puts some companies and/or readers off, but there's no way I'd change that to suit a blog post and be dishonest.
Couldn't change my style even if I wanted to if I'm honest haha :p
My blog is what it is and I'd rather it stayed small and remained that way, than it grow but lose it's 'me-ness' in the process.

Holly Mixtures

Georgina Fox said...

Literally feel like you've taken my thoughts straight out of my head. Really refreshing to hear and I'm so glad you took the plunge to publish this.

Respect girl!

Georgina at itotallypaused.com

Amy Keeling said...

It does make me wonder when I browse my bloglovin feed just how much honesty is going on, I mean, we can't all love the same thing can we. I think the key to blogging, particularly beauty blogging is to be honest to your opinion. So long as you're polite and not rude about things and offer constructive criticism then I think you're onto a winner; honesty after all is the best policy.

When I started off blogging I reviewed everything I had which I had purchased with my own money. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with receiving pr samples as they do come with time but they are certainly not the reason why I ever got involved with writing about beauty.

I agree with you on reading newer blogs, I do it all of the time :) plus, it is a great way to find new favourites!

Amy x
-A Little Boat Sailing-

Victoria M said...

Ive been thinking the exact same thing recently. Where is it going to end and where will it lead to. Makes me almost wonder if blogging is going to have a shelf life as after a while, there will be far too many opinions, too much choice and too much propaganda. I too do not read my once favoured blogs as much, as they are just one big PR advertisement. Literally. But then again, when you work so hard on a blog, you do feel as though the odd sponsored post or sample is a little reward for it. I spend almost half the day every single day writing and updating my blog. Whilst I work full time. Sometimes I need that extra boost of income or a lovely dress to just make me feel as though my no social life is worth it. But I always make sure every review or item I show, is something I do rate or love. And I have found myself turning away samples because it is just getting too much and I don't want to sell out. What blogs will be in a years time will be entirely different to now and Im scared of what that is actually going to be.

Wonderful writing Megs, as always, oh wise one xx
Inthefrow xx

Dannielle said...

Great post! I completely agree with everything you said, and it was so good to actually read that someone else has been thinking the exact same as you. Some bloggers seem to only be in it for the freebies, which is kinda pointless to me. And it gets to a point where, if loads of bloggers have been gifted the same product, I just stop reading reviews on it because they all sound pretty much the same. Luckily, I've found a couple of blogs where even though something was a PR sample, you can tell it's an honest review they've given so I always stick to them now when it comes to new or upcoming product xx

D Is For...

A pearl in the sea shell said...

Hi Meg..
I Totally agree with what you've written !! That's def the reason why I don't follow (on my instagram and blog) after those 'top' bloggers, but I look for honest!!
I wrote 'top' in ' ' because I do follow huge bloggers cut only if they are honest!

I like Oprah's quote..( And your blog !! =] )

the novice blogger said...

Hallelujah! THIS. I just find that blogs have a blueprint now on how they should be run - their look, their content - it all seems so formulaic. I like you see all these bloggers with these amazing opportunies and sometimes wished I'd started similarly, doing reviews etc. But I like being proud of my content and writing things in my style about things I genuinely believe are important. That's not to say I don't think beauty and fashion are wonderful things, I completely love reading them. But it does feel like a lot of things are losing their integrity, and I find this a lot with youtube soon. And it won't go on forever, which is why staying true to yourself is so important.
Thanks for this great post. x

Rebecca said...

I can tell almost instantly why someone blogs (call it my bloggy senses, or whatever you fancy!), or at least the ones who have gone in it for the free stuff. And, I'm not sure about you, but the moment I notice the weirdest things popping up in posts (erm, would you really wear a bright wig to work?) that I start to wonder why people have chosen to accept an item. I don't know whether this is because I'm in the current mindset that my blog is a hobby; I do not deserve to be treated like a member of the press, and so whenever I am given a sample I want to show it at its best, with the best photos I can take, and not write a negative review, which more often than not necessitates me turning down the things I think are a load of rubbish, or simply wouldn't fit in with my blog. I've only ever received one item that I haven't blogged about, and that's only after my emails trying to sort it out with the PR fizzled out. I try to be honest, particularly when it comes to sizing and quality. I'm not so big on the beauty scene, but there does seem to be a massive influx of reviews for the same thing which comes across as false, and although it's similar with fashion, brands tend to offer a choice or a voucher, which gives a nice variation. I know that I've changed my attitude to PR samples a lot since I started (I completely ignored my first blog email ever - I didn't know how to reply!), then started to accept everything, and now I'm a lot more selective, but I do try to remind myself that it's just a bit of fun and that in turn means I keep (I hope!) the kind of attitude I started it with, namely that it's a place for me to share things I wear, regardless of whether it's high end, gifted, or from a charity shop. For me, I read blogs based on their photography, what they write, and whether they're a nice person, and couldn't really care where their stuff's from, although I do put this down a lot to the fact that I don't actually buy that many clothes new, so the reviews don't really bother or affect me. I keep coming back to yours though, and that's what matters ;) xxx

Gemma said...

Love this post! I too have been subscribed to blogs which I have followed for a long time, and have noticed them change - with at least 4 I could think of at the top of my head that post only product sample reviews. Do they not buy anything themselves anymore? Or do they receive so much free stuff they don't need to anymore?!
I've found that I've turned down more stuff than i've been offered lately - as I just refuse to accept something for the sake of it. Some bloggers take ANY thing offered - but when they're reviewing a moisturiser from 3 different brands in 2 weeks, has any of those 3 moisturisers had a full testing period?! I think it's so important for bloggers to remain true to themselves xx

Gemma | Miss Makeup Magpie

Martha Woods said...

Amen! I've stopped following quite a few blogs because I felt that they weren't being quite true or honest with their readers--every review is a PR sample and they LOVE all of them, etc. etc. I don't know, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Zara M said...

I completely agree with you, it's become harder to know who to trust and which products are really good because there a lot of hype around a lot of products. I am also with I about looking to blogs with smaller audience they do seem to be more honest but I still love looking at the amazing products the 'top' beauty products rave about.


carrie_mae said...

Brilliant post and thank goodness you had the balls to say it when others wouldn't. I've been attending lots of events recently and then firing up a blog post, thinking this is great I'm getting out and about. But what I really need to be focusing on is delivering good, honest and quality blog posts and staying true to why I started blogging, to have a place to share my inspiration and love of writing. :)


Caroline said...

Well written, honest and truthful post. Plus totally relatable. I have a couple a blogs that I read day in day out before I started blogging and whilst I started blogging, but now, I just skip them, unless a title or product intrigues me.
I do seem to make some purchases based on bloggers opinions and I still buy some products even when the reviews wasn't 100% positive, as, like you say, not everyone has the same skin tone etc.
I also agree with a comment above, that, sometimes you can tell with some reviews that they're pr based etc as certain products surely need time to be fully 'tested', not just a few days. Obviously if you had a breakout, or a rash etc, then ok, but, a month is surely a more realistic time frame?


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