Sometimes I have to blog about blogging. I often contemplate if I should write about it over on Social Dialect where I actually focus my writing specifically on the business of blogging. Most of my readers over there are bloggers or brands or PR professionals. But sometimes, like today, it’s got a personal slant.
Realizing that not all of you who graciously come and read here every so often are actually bloggers, I get how the whole blogging about blogging thing can make for some dull reading. But stay with me because I’d love to hear your opinion on this.
If you’re a blogger, you probably already know this. But for those people outside of the blogging world, I try to explain that not only are bloggers a community of their own but we’re also a little subculture. We have the celebrities (think Dooce or the Pioneer Woman), the bad girls (who leave no stone unturned and no curse word unwritten), the popular girls (fill in your own blanks), the wannabes, the groupies, the hangers on, and so on.
As with any work environment, you have all sort of personalities. There are really nice people and climbers and just plain old jerks. The same is true for blogging. Except it’s different.
In a more traditional work environment, there’s usually some sort of hierarchy. There might be an executive leadership team, followed by senior managers and middle managers and supervisors and the all-important worker bee. Everyone usually knows where they stand and where they want to go. The hard part is figuring out how to get there.
But blogging is nothing like this. There are no real bosses or managers. It’s every man (or woman) for himself. And we don’t all know where we want to go. Or can go. It’s like the Wild West.
Or is it?
Trying to find some sort of order in this world, I started thinking about how bloggers are often like real estate agents. We’re all independent contractors that may be friends with one another and may work together, but ultimately we’re all competing for the same business.
It’s still different though. We’re not all selling something. And we certainly haven’t all taken a standardized exam that awards us a license to blog.
Then I started thinking about the entertainment industry. I minored in theater so it’s a world I know and can relate to. And I started seeing some of the similarities.
You can be an overnight sensation or have a slow, steady climb to success. Like actors.
You can be a great writer that goes completely unnoticed because no one reads your blog. Like great actors in indie movies that never see the light of day.
You can write a horrible post that people absolutely love. You can write a darling little piece that people could care less about. Think about how those awful blockbuster movies are always so popular even if the acting and writing are terrible.
Let’s take it a step further and think about the qualifications for blogging and for acting.
Here’s an example of what I’m getting at.
Lindsey Lohan and Meryl Streep are both considered actresses.
That’s it. They are both defined by the same word, the same profession. Actress.
Behind that word, you’ll find one woman who attended the Yale School of Drama, has won three Oscars, and has mastered virtually every accent on Earth, all while raising three daughters. Behind that word, you’ll also find one woman who started as a child model, won a Teen Choice Award, and has now become virtually unemployable, all while creating a rap sheet that rivals Snoop Dogg.
The same is true for bloggers. Some are experienced professionals. Some work hard, play fair, have ethics, build relationships, and generally still stay true to the nice people that they are. Others… not so much.
As in the entertainment industry, you’ll find people who have developed overinflated sense of ego, an erratic temperament, and a strong sense of entitlement.
Now, as far as I know, nobody has specifically requested they be given Cristal, Fiji water, and a bowl of ONLY green M&Ms back stage at a blog conference. But I do hear plenty of other stories.
Some are more widely known and have become legend (like the woman who demanded that she get a pair of free Crocs at a conference). Others are discussed in hushed tones in private settings.
Frankly, it’s starting to get pretty irritating.
I hear about bloggers who steal things off of sponsor displays. Bloggers who request review items and never review them – but still find time to sell them on Craigslist. Bloggers who complain about the steps required of them to secure their travel documents for a fully funded trip. Bloggers who only talk to brands on Twitter when they want to complain about something (yes, we all know you’re fishing for something free). Bloggers who are working for a brand and trash that brand directly in front of the brand’s reps.
Oh, the stories I could tell.
I once bought a domain with the idea of an anonymous website built solely for the purpose of calling bloggers out on all the things they’re doing wrong. I still fantasize about this idea but I’ve shot it down for several reasons.
First of all, it’s not my place to be the judge, jury, and executioner of any one person. Second, I’d rather focus on the good things in the blogging world rather than the bad. And third, because I know from my own personal experience, what goes around comes around. Every dog has his day (or something like that).
So then I have to ask myself, why did I write this piece in the first place?
Mostly I’m hoping it will be a little food for thought. Maybe at least an appetizer for thought. We all need to stop once in a while and reflect on our own behavior and decide if we are the people we want to be.
And also to say to the world of brands and public relations professionals, we’re not all like that. Promise.