Thursday 13 February 2014

My blogging ethos and taking the corporate shilling

I've been toying with the idea of writing this post for some time now but since the subject has been playing on my mind again lately I figure I might as well get it off my chest.

I've said it before and I'll say it again that in the near-five years I've been writing this blog it has evolved beyond my wildest imaginings into what I hope is a bona fide vintage blog able to sit alongside its peers.  Last year I wrote my first collaborative, sponsored piece and I continue to have high hopes for the future of Eclectic Ephemera.

Even before that Hawes & Curtis post last December I had many calls from those close to me to "make more" of this blog and take it in a direction where I might actually earn some money from it (seeing as times are tough at Partington-Plans Towers).  It was pointed out to me that my links to purveyors of Classic & Vintage Clothing and Accessories are little more than "free advertising" for the companies therein and that it is foolish of me to send business their way and expect nothing in return (this presupposes that someone actually reads my blog, clicks on a link and then buys something from the shop in question, something which I consider rather unlikely to say the least).  Perhaps, it has been suggested, I ought to approach all these companies whose products I like and admire and demand that they provide me with some tangible benefit in exchange for a place on my blog.

Now I know that there are many successful vintage bloggers out there (who I admire) who do sell advertising space on their blogs to businesses relevant to their (our) interests, or who offer sponsorship deals, product reviews etc.  Frankly a lot of it is all a bit beyond me even at this stage, although I wouldn't rule any of them out for the future.  I'm sure the benefits to both parties are worthwhile, but I don't pretend that I am in their league.  Just recently this blog passed 300,000 pageviews (although that's using the notoriously inaccurate Google Stats - with something like Google Analytics I'm sure the figure would be far lower).  I have 182 valued Followers (plus 60 on Bloglovin', although some if not all of them will also be among the original 182).  But the likes of Fleur, Jessica, Jill and Gemma (among others) have upwards of a thousand Followers and probably 300,000 pageviews every year (all fully deserved).  In comparison I have never considered myself anything other than a complete amateur, with a capital A.  I have no custom domain address.  My blog template is a simple Blogger one, tweaked here and there as best I know how.  My pictures still sometimes appear gappy; I occasionally curse Blogger's embed function (and others) to this day.  I barely know my HTML from my HDMI.  I post what I like to read about and what I hope you like to read about as well.

My attitude to this blogging lark therefore puts me in a bit of a quandary when it comes to advertising/ sponsored posts.  As mentioned I still currently see myself as an amateur - a gentleman amateur if you will (a description that has elicited exasperated bewilderment from some quarters) - and the idea of paid advertising is one I still have some difficulty reconciling with.  I don't want to alienate anyone.  Is it for me to put you through looking at distracting banners each time you visit?  But like any advertising you could just choose to ignore it, right?  Is it any different to the links bar and other banners on this blog?  But, in the spirit of amateurism and the real friendship that exists in the vintage blogosphere, is it not a public service to point out these sites - many (although admittedly not all) of them small independents - where we can find clothing and other items intrinsic to our lifestyle that are difficult or impossible to get on the high street?  I sometimes get the feeling that I'm being encouraged to participate in a world where everything has a price, where good fellowship and helping other enthusiasts is naïve and outmoded, and it makes me feel sad - and old.  I suspect we've all had that feeling once in a while(?).

My positive experience with H&C has proved to me that collaborations can work - and work well - and as I say I wouldn't rule out doing similar again.  But it must be on my terms and I'm still working out in my mind what is best for this blog and for you, dear readers.  I'm still on the first tentative steps towards this potential path, still learning the ins and outs of "social media" and I remain unsure of it all.  I enjoy blogging, I admit it is an escape but it is a joy to maintain and share.  I don't want to wake up one day feeling I have an obligation to it, or to end up resenting it because of some commercialisation - that I've maybe "sold out".  On the other hand it is everyone's dream to be paid to do what they love and there are many professionally-written blogs out there, even in the vintage blogosphere.  But what does it entail, being a self-employed writer/social media whatsit etc.?  I suspect quite a lot.  Always I wonder if what I write is of any real value.  Just words spewing forth from m'brain really; my thoughts on interesting stories I find.  I get told by these same people that my writing [style] is very good, a genuine skill I should be proud of (and paid for), and maybe it is but without doubt there are others out in the æther whose prose is the equal of mine if not better.  Could it really be mine is worth as much?

To potentially interested parties I say: don't let this stream of consciousness put you off contacting me - I can only say "No"!  I just felt the need to get this off my mind and throw it out there where I can maybe gauge reaction and hopefully find similar thoughts and opinions.  I've got a lot of classic Eclectic Ephemera subjects on the way after this too, so normal service will resume shortly!

1 comment:

  1. I don't have a problem with commercial posts, as long as people are covering stuff they'd have written about anyway. When it annoys me is...

    1: If they start covering stuff that doesn't really seem appropriate to their blog but hey, they got it for free/ were paid to write about it
    2: If all they ever talk about is stuff they're given/paid to talk about

    I can't see you falling into either of those traps. You know what you like, and I can't imagine you destroying the character of your blog.


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