I got the call last week, from a friend. It went kinda like this.
“Hey girl! I heard your good news! You’re going to Milan to cover Fashion Week! That’s SO awesome!”
Yes, I agree – that would be awesome. If it were at all true. Which it isn’t.
I’m learning some hard and cold facts about the nature of this business that I’m in. And one of those facts is, people will use your name and hard work to their advantage. And sometimes, you’ll even be bamboozled enough to be flattered by that kind of thing.
I’ve said it so many, many times but it bears repeating. Blogging takes work. I’ve been steady staying up till 2, 3 in the morning to put together these words and photos and giveaways and special tributes since 2006. It’s my baby. It’s my labor of love. It’s my passion project. And somewhere along the line it became my brand and my business.
I didn’t start out with these goals in mind but I recognize that now, that’s what it’s become. And it’s really interesting, having to learn what professional is in a field that doesn’t always recognize professionalism. It’s been quite eye opening, actually.
Blogs are where it’s at right now. And slowly but surely, advertising agencies, public relations firms, and yes – even mainstream media – are having to recognize that. They’re starting to offer olive branches for not inviting us to the party before but all too often, the overtures made don’t take our skills or capabilities into consideration. So please allow me to make these things plain (and forgive me for addressing this all so publicly).
1 – I am a professional writer. I’ve got a masters degree and years of editorial experience to back it up. I’m interested in paid writing opportunities. I don’t think it’s fair to ask bloggers to blog for free. And it happens ALL THE TIME. Big ginormous megacorporations that can afford to pay you, will ask you to work pro bono. I don’t get it. I’d never consider asking someone to clean my apartment, watch my cat, or wash my car for free. Why do people think writers are so desperate, that they’ll gladly accept free work on a consistent basis? Do they think the love of writing and being published overshadows the need to pay bills? It does not.
Having said that, the only time I’ll consider writing for another site for free is a. if we are really good friends or b. if there’s really something to be gained from the partnership, and a possibility of this leading to better things for both of us. Other than that, I have to respectfully decline.
2 – Communication is KEY. If you want to work with me on something, please e mail me. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact me directly. Please don’t go around pitching your ideas and telling other people that “Afrobella is on board.” Because if we haven’t talked and I get wind of that through the grapevine…I’m NOT going to work with you. That’s a shady, weird, backwards way of doing business and I don’t like it one bit.
If you contact me and ask me to write something for you, or to support something you’re working on and I do…then for some reason it doesn’t work out and never winds up being printed/posted/taking place at all – contact me and let me know as soon as you can. That way I won’t feel like I wasted my time, I won’t regret working with you, and I won’t say to myself – now why did I waste my time working with so-and-so?
3 – It’s a new era, a new media landscape, and we’re all trying to figure things out together. It’s important for us to do that with mutual respect. Recently I’ve read some articles where old media has come after young media for the audacity of being invited to sit in the front row at Fashion Week (Team Tavi!), and it’s apparent that mainstream media is ruffled by the new respect that bloggers are getting. Well they’d better get used to it, and it’s about time. We’ve BEEN here, we’ve proven that we can cover events and breaking fashion/makeup/hair/pop culture news just as well (and often more quickly) than the MSM, and unlike big mags which have salaries to pay, offices to rent, and Lincoln Towncars at their disposal to do the same thing we’re trying to do, we’ve got minimal overheads and opinions a-plenty. Bloggers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So we might as well learn to work together and respect what we all bring to the table.
OK, now I can come off my soapbox and I apologize if any of this comes across as rude or entitled or whiny or negative. Lately I’ve been hit by a barrage of news that made me realize, I really need to take this all more seriously. And apparently, I have much more to learn about the business of blogging. But at the end of the day, I’m not angry about any of this. If my biggest complaint is that some anonymous PR firm is telling people they’re sending me to freakin’ Milan, then I really have nothing to complain about. I just want to make sure that everything I’m working on now, is something I’m aware of, and proud to be a part of as well.
I appreciate and respect your feedback, especially from my fellow bloggers. Do you notice a sea-change in how bloggers are being treated, or the kinds of offers you’re getting? What are your views? How are you dealing with it all?
Above image is from Geek Girl Chic.