Are you ready to read a rant? Because I’m ready to finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and have a little rant about something companies and some VERY big publications like to call ‘exposure’.
When you are first starting out in blogging, a little exposure is great. We ALL love to be featured on top blogger lists, our posts to be shared, to be interviewed in big online publications or local magazines. We want our voices to be heard and we desperately seek readers to read the blog posts that we have literally poured our heart and soul into. We want our hard work to be acknowledged and we want to grow our readership. However, there comes a time when we must say NO.
Say NO to exposure
No, no , no. Why? Because, at the end of the day, exposure is not going to pay for our next flight. Exposure won’t even be enough to pay for a Ryanair flight. Exposure, as amazing as some companies make it out to be, won’t even put food on the table or pay our phone bills.
I saw this cute, but painfully accurate, cartoon shared by Gloria from The Blog Abroad and it made me laugh, cry and get quite angry all at once. Mainly thanks to the amount of emails I have received this week asking me to do things for free. Oh sorry. I meant for exposure.
Cartoon Credit: The Oatmeal
Over the past 6 months, as I started to take this travel blog a little more seriously and work on making the design, layout and most of all the content better than ever, I have received a lot of offers from companies in return for ‘exposure’. Now don’t get me wrong, I have also worked with some incredibly decent companies and tourism organizations who offer a lot more than exposure, and I hope to continue to work with them well into the future.
This blog post, however, is about a whole other brand of people. These guys are like the new wave of Nigerian princes online, letting you know by email how lucky you, that you have won BIG TIME. You have won EXPOSURE…and lots of it. These princes have no clue how hard bloggers work. They think we should work for free and be grateful for whatever opportunities are offered to us. They contact us because they know we are influential and have a wide reader base, but are by no means willing to reward our hard work with payment. Exposure…that should do it. Here’s what these people think, and here’s what we must do to change the way bloggers (and all creative types) are viewed to the outside world.
Ridiculous Misconceptions About Travel Bloggers
Travel Bloggers only want free stuff
Sometimes I believe the older generation has no freaking clue how hard us bloggers work. They think it’s a cute little hobby and thus they can ask us to do things or for us to be their little guinea pigs and that we will be grateful for anything that comes our way. Here’s a an example: I was at an awards night a few months ago and an elderly gentlemen looked down on me and my friend, a fellow Irish travel blogger, as if we were the lowest of the low. He actually laughed in our faces when we said we were travel bloggers and then turned to me and said, “Are you enjoying the free food?” as if that was the only reason I was at the awards. I swear I turned red with anger.
As the evening went on, his comments got nastier, and I had to bite my tongue many times to stop myself from listing off how many hours I have worked and how many late nights have I endured to get to where I am today. I wanted to should at him, to let him know that I had been invited to the awards by the organizers, people who actually valued my work. I honestly wanted to challenge this guy to a ‘Harry Potter style’ duel!
Travel bloggers aren’t good brand ambassadors
I got an email from a lady this week asking me to be an ambassador for her jewelry collection. I must admit her marketing ploy is pretty ingenious, mainly because there are so many young travel and lifestyle bloggers out there willing to do anything for exposure. Not because they don’t value themselves but because, at this stage, it’s almost ingrained in us that we should do whatever comes our way for a bit of exposure. Almost like it’s our duty to help companies in exchange for exposure.
Ar first, I was intrigued by her email. She said she loved my Instagram and blog and thought I was the perfect person to be an ambassador for her collection. She would send me a free necklace of my choice and then I would need to give them shout outs on social media and maybe write a blog post promoting her collection and offering a discount to my readers. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Once I said “Yea, I’m interested”, the icing on the cake was revealed. This lovely lady said all I would need to do is pay for the weight of the necklace and the package and posting…which would come to over 30 dollars. So, wait a second now. YOU you want ME to PAY to be an ambassador and give you shout outs? Listen up lady! If you think my blog and Instagram is so good that I should be your ambassador, show a little respect and don’t ask me to pay to promote your business! If I was a model, would you ask me to pay? If I was a celebrity, would you ask me to pay? No, apparently just because I am a blogger I am valued as less than anyone else.
Travel bloggers aren’t travel writers
From now on, I have decided I will have to refer to myself as a freelance travel writer / journalist rather than as a blogger. Why? Because we live in a ridiculous world, that’s why! You see, if you’re a freelance writer, publications wouldn’t dare ask you to do things for free. Would a newspaper or print magazine ever contact a freelance journalist and ask them to write an article for exposure? I don’t think so. And yet I get numerous offers every week asking if I would like to write fresh, high-quality content for websites. For free.
Here’s an example: I got an email during the week from a new luxury website trying to edge their way into the luxury travel market. They have been in touch with me twice now, so they obviously value my skills as a writer and know connecting with me will help them gain access to a whole new customer market. I was, as a freelance writer, very interested in working with them so I asked how much they paid per article. Here’s the response I got from the Head of Marketing:
The way I see this relationship working is that you provide us content of luxury travel and we increase your viewer account on our blog and our social media. I really think we can do some great things together.
In other words, we won’ be paying you but YAY for free exposure on our social media! I was about to delete this guys email when I decided, just out of curiosity, to see just how much wonderful free exposure might be coming my way from their potentially large social media channels. As it turned out, they have a mind-boggling 269 followers on Twitter. Wow, can you begin to imagine how much incredible exposure I would be getting compared with my measly 6,000 followers?!
Travel bloggers don’t work hard
I heard an anecdote on this subject summed up so well by Irish YouTuber Clisare at the recent Blog Awards Ireland event in Dublin. She was saying that people think a bloggers job is so easy. All they need to do is think of something to write about, then write it. Anybody could do that. She actually did our jobs for us at the awards, by giving us some great list posts that we could write about on our blogs in our hungover states the next morning. Job done. She had, she joked, done our entire blog for us.
Now all we needed to do was: take a few hours to write the post, source the perfect images, film then edit a video to accompany it, format and edit the post, publish it. Schedule tweets to promote it, share it on our own Facebook, our Facebook page, Facebook groups, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Instagram. Reply to comments, tweets and Facebook messages, emails, and Instagram comments. Work on building our social media channels to ensure maximum exposure. Then simply submit it to other, larger, sites who pay wish to republish it (in return for payment!) and out job would be done. But, like I said, she had already done all the hard work for us.
If you still think exposure is great, then I recommend you read this great post by a fellow blogger entitled, “How Not To Die From Exposure.”
Want to learn how to become a travel blogger and get paid to travel the world? Read my in depth guide on How To Start A Travel blog here.