27 Feb 2018

Being an "Honest" Blogger

Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog
Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog

What does an honest blogger look like?

Honesty is something I value in a blogger, but it's also something I think about a lot. How do you define an honest blogger? Is it someone who lays their soul bare, telling you about every inch of their lives in great detail? Is it someone who doesn't gloss over the shitty bits of their day, shows you life behind the flatlay and tells you when things aren't going quite so well?

No, I don't think that's really it. I don't think you have to tell your audience every little thing about you to be an "honest" blogger. You can be honest and only show what you want to show. Your platform is exactly that - your platform - to do with as you see fit. I share a lot of my life online, but there are some things that I just don't publicise. I like to keep some things private, does that make me dishonest? Get ready, there's an incoherent ramble coming...

As much as a value my privacy, I do also value my integrity, and I like to think that shows. I'll always disclose my partnerships because I am proud to be offered the chance to work with businesses and brands I admire. I'll happily tell you when I've been paid to create a post, again out of pride in my abilities to grow my blog to a point where I will be paid by brands. I spend hours of my life creating content for you to indulge in for free - so why shouldn't I make some pocket money for that? After eight years of pouring blood, sweat and tears into turning this blog into something that brings joy to not just me, but other people too, I think it's allowed.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will quite likely see me ranting about bloggers who don't disclose their affiliate links, in between ponderings on the latest book I'm reading or what I fancy for my tea. I have very strong feelings about this, but even I slip up sometimes. I've forgotten to add the disclosure to my tweets or to the bottom of a blog post, I'm only human. It is all too easy to forget when adding affiliate links is second nature, but I don't think forgetting makes me dishonest, either.

Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog
Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog

Seeing through the bullshit

We might disagree here, but that's okay. At the end of the day, I think it really comes down to intention. I never intend to deceive people, quite the opposite, and I am very open about who I am, what I do and what my life looks like. I'll happily chat to my friends about how much money I make or how fuzzy my brain is or the nagging feeling imposter syndrome leaves at the back of my brain at all times.

I look at the bloggers around me and, for the most part, I see honest people. We all have different interpretations of what's "okay" in the blogosphere so this will mean different things to different people. I think it depends on who you interact with on a daily basis. There are bloggers out there that I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them, but I tend not to follow them or keep up with their content because of this.

I think I come from a privileged position when it comes to spotting dishonest bloggers. I know the ins and outs of the industry, as it's one I interact with every single day, so I know what to look out for. I know how to see if someone is buying followers, and I know how to spot dodgy photoshopping or undisclosed collaborations.

Looking from a different perspective

But I can totally understand why people who aren't so involved in the world of blogging would see bloggers as being dishonest. It can be difficult to understand, especially as it's still a relatively new phenomenon, and if you don't necessarily get to see the inner workings it can be confusing. Seeing bloggers swanning off on these free holidays with the latest makeup releases just for "posting a few pictures" might seem dodgy to the untrained eye, which is wholly understandable.

A lot of people don't realise that the world has worked this way for a long time. The concept of influencer marketing is not a new thing, it's just that the idea of what constitutes an influencer has grown legs. Those big magazines have beauty cupboards full of press samples to use for their one sentence reviews, travel journalists go on their very own press trips (the clue is in the name, right?) and celebrities are often paid to tweet about new releases or their "favourite" products. So why are bloggers seen as being so different?

It doesn't help that a lot of the more "mainstream" bloggers influencers are surrounded by controversy. When those in the public eye are flouting the rules a bit more than others, it can give bloggers a bad name. I think, for the most part, bloggers are decent people, but there are definitely some bad apples out there. Again, it all depends on who you follow and who you interact with.

Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog
Are bloggers honest? | Colours and Carousels - Scottish Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion blog

Don't worry, I'm wrapping this ramble up now.

Again, I want to bring it back to intention. Intentions aren't always as transparent as I'd like, but when you get to know a person I think you can gain a vague understanding of what motivates a person and why they do the things they do. I think it also helps to look at thinks with a critical eye, and try to see it from as many angles as possible. If a blogger posts a rave review of a product that they adore, but then it doesn't work quite so well for you, it doesn't necessarily mean they're dishonest. Context is important, so I think we have to take the things we see on the internet with a pinch of salt.

I also have to wonder, does when you started have an impact on how you work? New bloggers nowadays can enter the industry armed with a wealth of information from those most experienced, those who lead by example and who know what best practice is. Those who started before the ASA even had the slightest idea of the power of bloggers (which even now, they still don't seem to get) and didn't have to know what disclosure was adequate for what style of collaboration might just be trundling along as they always have. Not that it's an excuse, I mean, but maybe it's an explanation.

Dishonesty can take so many forms and I think, ultimately, it comes down to what you personally define as being dishonest. Basically, what I'm saying is, don't buy followers because it's shady as hell and infuriating for people who work hard for each and every follower. Appreciate the level of trust that your readers give you and respect it. Don't be a dick, and we'll get on fine.

Photos by the excellent Claire White

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