Is Anyone Reading This Shit?

So I was sitting in a Google Hangouts (best chat) and the subject of blogging came up among a group of well… Bloggers. The discussion went back and forth but something interesting (at least to me) came out of it. Has the landscape of online “media” changed or evolved to the point that people still care about blogs?

If you were to ask me earlier today I would say yes instantly. I had just given props to two of my favourite bloggers in Kristen and Simone. Those two have got writing chops that I couldn’t even steal, never mind come up with on my own. I’ve been reading their work for the last 4 years (maybe 5 in the latter’s case) and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Now taking those two out of the equation, I don’t think I can even name 5 other bloggers that I consistently read. Just ponder (EDIT: I had the word “pontificate” in that spot and then Google laughed at me for not having any idea what it actually means) on that one for a minute. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Bloggers. My own RSS Feed has about 50 of them. I read 10% of that, if not LESS at any given time. I represent what people would classify as an active user. I consume A LOT of material. Why aren’t I reading all of these people’s work? For me it’s two fold.

The posts are shit!

Before people are all “awwwww fuck you Justin, your blog is shit.” Guess what? I know that. In fact I TELL PEOPLE that on a regular basis. The only material I write that I don’t think is shit, are ones just like this. Posts where I actually have a true motivator. I call a lot of things “shit.” I don’t mean it’s the worst or anything along those lines. I mean in comparison to the few people who BUST THEIR ASS to put out quality content. I’ve watched first hand when a guy has papers all around him with idea upon idea upon idea that he then puts together over days if not weeks. That post isn’t pushed until not only he likes it, but he knows it can stand up to the height of scrutiny. How many people can say they do that? I sure as hell can’t. A LOT OF PEOPLE CAN’T! Nobody seems to have standards so why are we all expecting people to read garbage? Bloggers take an event, throw a few words together, slap on a couple photos and call it a day. That’s honestly like… 95%? More? I’d actually bank on more. Less than 5% of Bloggers do more than THE BARE MINIMUM?! How gross is that? What’s even worse is this reality check. Let’s say 50 bloggers go to an event. Out of those 50, you can rest assured that only 10 of them are going to actually WRITE A POST (remember why they’re there). Out of those 10, MAYBE 1 of them will be worth a damn. ONE OUT OF FIFTY IS WORTH SHIT?! SERIOUSLY?! So if all the work is shit, what’s the Blogger’s worth? What are people consuming from them?

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Instagram has changed “the game.” Whether it’s for the better is still up for debate. As is the case with most social media, commercialization has bastardized intent. I NEEEEEED THE LIKES! VALIDATE ME! *BARF* The companies that could spend a few minutes looking up proper metrics to ensure they get actual ROI (LOL!) just jump to Instagram now. You’ve got Likes? Here; have some stuff. What’s the Like standard for an event invite or a free product nowadays? 5? 50? 500? Those “50 Bloggers” I mentioned earlier? What’s their value if they all post the same photo of a Local, Organic, Gluten and GMO free, Artisan Thingamabob? BZZZZ! You guessed it. NONE! Actually hold up, that’s not true. TWO Bloggers have value in that spot! Whoever was fast enough to be first and whoever was fortunate enough to be second. The rest? I skipped them. YOU skipped them too. Nobody remembers who came third. They barely remember who came second. So why am I bothering with the 3rd picture or the 33rd? I’m all tapped out for Likes. Double tapping is a bitch son. So now you’re in a spot where the Blogger isn’t doing the post they were brought on for AND their back up plan of whoring their Instagram out for the night is essentially worthless unless they were quick on the draw and (hopefully) competent enough to take a decent photo.

So on one hand you’ve got bad, and from all accounts, barely written blogs. On the other hand, you’ve got lazy Bloggers who think Instagram is their saviour. Neither of these assets are worth jack without actual quality work put into them. The proof is in the pudding. Bloggers want to talk about how they don’t look at their metrics? SUUUUUURE BOSS! If Uniques, Second Views, Click Throughs and all the other Bloggy Buzzwords were up for public perusal, A LOT of people would be punked out for being frauds. At that point you’re left with two options. Step up your game or face the reality of your current worth and walk away. One would hope for the difficult former, though the reality is the infinitely easier latter. As for those few non frauds? Shockingly (get ready for it) they’re already pushing quality work with consistent readership.

What a novel concept.

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3 thoughts on “Is Anyone Reading This Shit?

  1. I like this post Justin….as a PR person, sourcing out quality bloggers these days is difficult, but I understand that I a lot of bloggers are in strange situations as well, in that a PR company that they really like working with wants to send them something, invite them somewhere, etc. and they want to maintain the relationship so they accept the thing or they go to the event and then they don’t produce any content around it, because there is SO much product to get through and maybe you don’t like it or maybe the event sucked etc. As someone who used to consider herself a blogger, I remember going to so many events and receiving so much product that it was overwhelming and a lot of it was junk at the end of the day. You got maybe 10% out of 100% of product or events that were worth a damn in the first place. It gets tiresome and soul crushing.

    So the bloggers that I respect are the ones who can say no and give me a reason when I send them a pitch or offer a free product or invite. I’ve had bloggers turn down very tempting offers; clothing, trips, events, booze, etc. because they know their capabilities to produce quality content in return. I respect that and I also know that when I send them a pitch they like, I’ll get what they promise.

    On the flip side, I also get asked for shit non-stop. People think that because they have a bunch of followers that my clients will happily give them whatever they want. Not so. If bloggers want to start to treat their blogs as businesses (i.e. charging for content, bartering high value items) then I want to see proposals as to how they chose to utilize the items I am giving them. You tell me what is the ROI for my client and I’ll take it to them. Don’t ask me for something and expect ME to build out your proposal and pitch it to my client on your behalf. You’re creating too much work for me and I will take a hard pass.

    It’s tricky on both sides. At the end of the day, everyone wants something from the other side and both sides need to respect the other.

    Long response…maybe i missed the mark. If we don’t want shit content, let’s not pitch shit ideas and if people want better opportunities, then up your writing game and deliver.

    xo

    • Completely agree with you Val! I’m seeing the same situation, and the solution is the one you gave. Respect on both sides. As a PR person, I respect that sometimes bloggers can’t produce for me, or can’t make it to an event or cover it. As a blogger, I respectfully say no if I can’t get a result that a PR contact wants out of me (e.g. I’m too busy doing PR work to blog!), but at least follow up with a “lets connect in a couple of weeks, as I’m still interested in helping you out with a post… just busy now!”

      One other note about poorly written blogs – this is so true. I’ve been challenging my blogger friends and contacts who get invited to brand events I manage to push themselves and think creatively about what they will write. I ask them, “What did you learn from this experience that you never knew before?” or how will you use this product/service in your own life? This goes beyond the event recap and into something more meaningful that people can enjoy reading. Instead of a headline being “The XYZ event” it becomes something more compelling like: “How I learned I am a XYZ addict” or “Top 3 Things about XYZ You Need to Know”.

      The best bloggers think like writers – they share a personal anecdote or story angle on their experience that entertains, educates, inspires. They proofread their writing (making sure they spell the brand correctly at least!), edit it and make it look 100% perfect. This is what makes for a great blog post that I, as a PR person, can share with my client… which means, that you as a blogger will not only be invited to events, but also hear more often from me for better, more interesting partnership opportunities.

  2. Thanks so much for the shoutout and the compliment Justin!

    I’m a writer and I use my blog as part of my portfolio to show what I’m capable of delivering. It’s my calling card, so it needs to be well written and engaging! 🙂 If I was a fashion blogger or a home blogger, I know I would approach my blog the same way: I’d want my site to be really good. I’m also a Virgo & somewhat of a perfectionist, which adds to this. 🙂

    I totally know the blogs that you’re referring to and I know I’m always saying this but, I feel like a lot of this is a Toronto issue. Yes, there are crappy blogs all over the world, but when I still lived in Toronto I noticed that PR companies & brands went after blogger hardcore, causing blogging to become extremely commercialized + the content very shallow. My blog is kind of niche, so I didn’t receive all of the same opportunities. I used to resent this somewhat, but now I see it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to focus on what’s most important to me: telling great stories – whether I’m writing on behalf of a brand or just sharing my own experiences.

    I also don’t really notice these kinds of blogs you speak of anymore because I’ve made a point of actively disengaging from them (so much easier once I moved away from TO!) Also, the blogs I do choose to read are really, really high quality. Although I consume a lot of different high-quality content from home design to fashion; the small handful of personal blogs that I actually read regularly, I do so because the writing is always top notch (and most of them are written by professional writers like myself) Some of my favourites:

    http://apocalypstick.com

    http://www.thebrazenbible.com

    https://www.lifelessbullshit.com

    http://www.greatestescapist.com

    http://www.jamievaron.com

    http://singlegirlblogging.com

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