Blogging and integrity
Oh man. Grab yourself a cup of tea and a blanket, because this could take a while.
There's a topic I've been thinking a lot about recently, which is how to keep your inegrity as a blogger. I just had to get some thoughts down onto the page.
The other night I couldn't sleep (again), so was reading Hannah Gale's blogpost about comparison and the internet, and she referenced Katie Oldham (AKA Scarphelia)'s last ever blogpost. I clicked, meaning to have a quick scan - but proceeded to spend the next hour completely wrapped up in it, shaking my head and making appreciated "mmhmm" noises at regular intervals.
Not only because the writing was so beautiful it made me want to cry (both out of admiration and jealousy), but because a lot of what she said rang true.
If you haven't read the post, or don't have time to (it's a long 'un at over 5k words), it's hard to sum up in a couple of paltry sentences. However, the main gist is that blogging as a discipline and as a business has come a long way since its humble origins. And that this is both a good and a bad thing.
I'll say here that I am not, and never have been, a "successful" blogger, in the way that I have hundreds of thousands of followers or make fat wads of cash through this blog. I don't. But through working in digital media and the social sphere over the years, I've definitely witnessed how things have changed.
In my opinion, blogging as a medium became successful because it was just so much more real and accessible than other forms of media. I started out reading beauty blogs while bored in one of my first jobs, and quickly became addicted to them. I'd go to them for reviews and advice on products, because I knew the posts were written by a girl just like me, sitting in her bedroom and just raving about what she loved. It felt authentic, honest and trustworthy - a world away from the polished (and biased) TV and magazine ads that had preceded it. Laidback, impartial content. That was the dream, and it all started out so innocently.
But then, I guess, money got involved and things started to change. If a brand is going to give you free stuff and pay you to talk about it, your opinon on something is probably going to be a little bit more positive. And don't forget, at the time this was all completely new - people were probably just too blown away by the incredible opportunities coming their way to be suspcious or cynical about it. And the smell of all that money got around, and more and more people started blogging. And over the years the content has gotten glossier, the industry has gotten bigger and the whole thing has become more and more like conventional advertising. It has become further and further removed from those honest, genuine reviews that made it so appealing in the first place. In short, the perfect little dream has died.
So where is the blogging world now? Is it still possible to be a blogger and have integrity?
I'd like to think it is. Yes, blogging started out as a dream, but it's the fate of a dream to die. For us to wake up. Once awake, we just have to pick up what's left and try to make something we can live with; something that's still beautiful in its echoes.
That will mean something different for everyone. For me, as a teeny tiny blogger whispering over here in the corner of the internet, it simply means never selling out. Never promoting something I don't believe in, for money. Never putting a filter on my life, or living through a lens. I will always try to be as honest as possible on here, and to keep my intentions the same: travel, write, and share that with people.
I'm not saying that I will never accept paid or complementary opportunities; because I have and I will. I'm not saying I won't only put my best pictures on Instagram, because I will. However, I'll always be honest and open about them, and never accept something I'm really not interested in, or that doesn't fit with this blog. For example, today I was offered to write about weddings in Nova Scotia. I plan to go to NS, but would never write about it from this angle if I wasn't getting paid. So it just doesn't make sense to me to publish it here, and, in a way, lie to you.
I really hope this post doesn't come off as preachy, or as me getting on my high horse. But as well as letting you know how I feel about this stuff, it was important for me to remind myself to have integrity. To remember what the magic of blogging really is, and that isn't money or free stuff. For me, it all ends where it started: with the writing.