Sunday, 16 April 2017

I'm A Blogger With An Influence Not An Influencer.

Dublin, Ireland

It seems to me that the line between bloggers and influencers if ever there was one is blurring or perhaps becoming defined. Much like the fact that all snails are slugs but not all slugs are snails...All bloggers are still being classed as Influencers buy not all Influencers are bloggers. The word Influencer is one that has blown up the last few months for many diefferent reasons, good and bad. Unless you've been living under a rock with Patrick Star, you have definitely heard of the word which in the early days was associated or substituted for its counterpart, the Blogger. 

There is a difference. I repeat,there is a difference and the harm that ensues from not recognising these differences is what is making people think that blogging as we know it is coming to an end. The rise of the Influencer is seen by some as the fall of the Bloggers. I've seen many comments of some Facebook groups  asking if blogging is really coming to an end and the best answer I've seen for this so far is that 'no, it's weeding out the fakes'. I won't say that the world of blogging is the same as it was maybe four years ago when I started blogging seriously, or event two years ago when I started Albatroz & Co. No it's changed, changing, evolving but it's change and growth has attracted swarms of people who with good intentions or not are making the blogging waters murky and at times downright dirty. For me, some these so called Influencers are just that. Some.

The term Influencer is something I have been aware of since the beginning of my blogging days. Companies about to launch apps or sites will reach out to you an 'Influencer' to invite you to be the first on their platform and then when it launched you would influence others to buy or download that app or use the site. That was my first introduction to the word 'Influencer'. These days Influencers are people with large followings on social media who endorse products or services to their followers so they buy and use them and in return they make some dough on the side. In other words, Influencers are walking advertisements and some believe in what they sell and others don't but that's their business. A business.

You can be an Influencer on Snapchat. You can be an Influencer on Vine, you can be an Influencer on YouTube, You can be an Influencer on Twitter, Musically and most famously, an Influencer on Instagram. Being an Instagram Famous , or Snapchat famous or any kind of famous according to what your social media numbers say is a great achievement and I am not going to tear that down but for the love of all things beautiful on this earth, I am a Blogger not an Influencer.

 I am a blogger with influence, influence on an audience built on trust and mutual understanding from months...years of blogging. They see me as human and I see them just the same. When people start blogging and expect to rise to the levels of top bloggers, the first thing they are told is that it takes time, because it does. Successful bloggers write for years and years before really seeing big results because as with everything it takes time to find your style and your audience. When I started blogging for the first time noone read my posts, so I stopped, I was about 12 and didn't really have much to say. But I always came back to blogging as a way to reach out to other people like me out there. 

I went through every 'Confessions Of A...' blog title under the sun ( although subject to availability) but my favorite was definitely Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen after the movie with Lindsay Lohan. I started blogging more seriously over four years ago, I had one reader and it wasn't my mum which was to me a great success and with time that grew and so did I, and I changed too. I started Albatroz & Co. two years ago when I felt I had reached a point where I could shed my teenage angst and turn a new leaf and by then I probably had about 100 constant readers and had made some nice friends in Google+ groups ( where all the fun happens) from just writing the past two years.

 It takes baby steps because blogging is more intimate than being an Influecer, like making new friends, it takes time. I've never walked into a crowded room and walked out with a room of new best friends, sometimes I don't speak to anyone at all ( surprising if you know me). And that's what bloggers do. We build that foundation of trust with people who are like us, can relate to us or simply like reading what we have to say and that is our only influence, trust. We are trusted. So when a blogger you trust recommends something, you are more likely to look into it because you trust their opinion. Like a friend telling you about the newest place they eat or what buggy ( Americans read: pram) they can't leave the house without.

I'm not saying you can't trust any Influencers, I'm just pointing out the obvious, as has been pointed out before that some Influencers are just in it for the money and these days so are some so called 'bloggers' who turn to blogging as a way to make a full-time living because they're fed up with their jobs and some make it,selling what they're learning to other bloggers who also hold to the same goals, 'how to make it big in as little time as possible' and pay for it. I don't remember money being such a huge factor of blogging a few years ago because it really wasn't, I mean you could make a few bucks from AdSense and then maybe an Amazon Affiliate program, put up ads and some reviews, honest reviews, when you maybe weren't sent free items by a company to review and thus didn't have to feel worried to write a bad review because it may hurt your chances of working with other brands. 

I can see how much harder it is for new bloggers these days to get out there, I mean if you start blogging in 2016, you're already a good few years behind other bloggers in the game, you have a lot more competition and social media runs the game. You want to catch up so you can start making the big bucks like everyone else. If you're reading this as a blogger tell, many bloggers do you know personally that make money primarily from their blog without guest writing, V.A work, copywriting, brand collaborations, things behind the scene? I'd say very few. That's because a blog is also a creative resume to be used to open doors to other opportunities. There is so much more to blogging that people just don't understand, but that's a story for another day.

The truth is being an Influencer or a Blogger is not easy. It's tough work. There's a lot that goes into creating quality content that makes you feel fulfilled and in turn adds value to the lives of those on the receiving end, even if it's just them enjoying your work. And being an Influencer you constantly need to keep no top of your numbers, you may spend a lot of time glued to your phone or you may have found some pretty neat tools to use to make life easier. There are a lot of programs for Bloggers and Influencers alike out there and you have to shift through a lot those worth your time. When it comes to social media, Influenecers have to be top dogs to get top results, I get it it is the nature of your business but it's affects on the blogging world is what I don't like.

The life of an Influencer is run by numbers and sponsored ads but that isn't always the world of a blogger. Yes we want people to read our blogs and love them and follow us on social media so we can be like besties and live happily ever after, though I can really only speak for myself. There is nothing wrong with wanting people to read what I have to say or follow me based on that. There is something wrong with following people and three days later hoping they won't notice that you've unfollowed them because they notice. And yes they notice it when you follow us again because we unfollowed your lying ass.

Read: Get Your Greedy Hands Off My Blog

As a blogger, social media, if you even had it was a way to connect more on a daily basis with your readers so that they wouldn't be waiting days or weeks for updates and have radio silence. Social media was a way to bridge that gap between posts. Now, social media is the only way to get our posts out there so people can see them. You leave links on Facebook groups, Google+, post to StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Flipboard, Reddit etc.

The idea of a comment thread, Instagram like/comment pod, YouTube thread is a direct result of the affect of Influencers in the blogging world. Some people join threads because they genuinely want people to read their posts. without it there is very little chance of it being read because there are just so many blogs and articles out there. Others just want the numbers. And yes, I completely see the sense of support that some people gain from threads like these. I have two Facebook groups that are filled with such genuine people, loooking to support each other without being fake. They're the kind of groups where you can ask for help and can be assured that you won't be bombarded with links instead of actual answers.

Everyday  we run a thread for links but the thread doesn't come with a thousand strings attached. You simply add your link and it's up to people to read what they like and I love this because there are some bloggers whose work I always read and I try to read a new piece of work every day but the thing is even with that, I sometimes don't manage to read all the posts that interest me, let alone to read the 10 posts above mine, comment on each of them, pin it, like it 1+it and then tell the people so they can do the same for me. Where's the choice in that? Where's the genuine audience. Yes you are supporting each other but for what? The stats and numbers?

In this media world overrun with, ordinary people, Influencers, businesses etc., bloggers have that extra little bit of work to get their work out there to be seen. Unknowingly and/or unwantingly we join the battle for exposure,  and the social media platforms are fighting back, algorithms are constantly changing. Instagram's shadowban is a much welcomed  method to control the amount of spammy accounts out there using bots and dirty tactics to grow their following.

It's important to remember, more now than ever why you started blogging and who you started it for, yourself and people like you. Taking your blog to the next level doesn't mean selling your soul. Find brands and groups that share your passion and motto, do what you love, stay true to yourself AND your audience and people will come, it'll take time but it will be so much more worthwhile. I'd love to generate money from my blog but I'm not big enough to work with most brands, aside from signing up to the Amazon Affiliate program and placing ads like the ones below this paragraph, I haven't done much else because I haven't put in the work to find avenues to earn money that remain true to me and what Albatroz & Co. stands for but if you can do that for your site, you'll build an audience who trusts you and you may make some money but there is a lot of work to do.

To conclude, blogging as we know it is not ending, it's still very much alive and there are still many genuine bloggers out there making a living without selling out on the trust people have in them. You want to start a blog, then start one but are you doing it for you or the free perks, the money, the fame,fortunes, lights, camera, action? Because one lasts longer than the other.

So that's all I have to say, I am a Blogger with an influence and not an Influencer so kindly feck off with your Influencer labels.

Where do you stand on the Blogger / Influencer topic? Do you think I'm talking out my arse? Let me know below ( I dare ya ;) )

Till next time my pretties xxx

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