MOANFACE: Bloggers Blogging on Blogs

As a preamble, I don’t profess to hold myself above or below other bloggers but there are certain things that really “Grind My Gears” when it comes to the world of blogging as I’m sure they do to you too. If you’re reading this not as a blogger, but as a fabulous reader, PR or professional, then I’m sure you’ll have encountered some of these things along the way.

The following will be preceded by about 10, badly shot, low light photographs:

So I bought this today as part of a Boots 3 for 2, it smells really good. I’ve heard about it before but don’t know anything about it or what it will do to my skin/face/body but the packaging is really pretty and it was really cheap so I’m not that bothered anyway. Tried it on and don’t know what it’s doing but I’ve used it once and it feels really nice and obviously because it smells so good then I’m going to recommend it to all my friends. By the way, I love candy drops, rainbows, unicorns and paper doilies because they’re so cute.

Please pay attention the the central alignment and the lack of any real paragraphing or punctuation.

Now, I’m not wanting to discourage anyone from blogging. When I started out, my writing was, to be kind, appallingly horrific (and sometimes, when I’m typing tired, it still is). But what makes this Manface moan, is that blogs are set up and delivering what is presented as authority on topics which the blogger has no real knowledge of.

I’m not going to play the same old tune about how many bloggers set up sites just for the samples because that’s been excellently vocalised many, many times. Actually, yes I am. STOP sending PR’s shopping lists, they hate it and it’s damn rude; if you’re determined to do it, send in your analytics data and if you don’t have it, have a word with yourself and put your life in order. It’s exceedingly difficult for PR firms to spot the crap from the cream and I have been shown some of the nasty things bloggers send out, particularly if they don’t get what they want. PR is a business, so act professional goddamnit!

I guess the crux of what I have to say in regards to undeserving authority is that just because, from time to time, I take medicine bought from the pharmacy, it doesn’t make me a pharmacist or medical practitioner.

Then following on from this, what aggravates me even more is the number of hits these sites and vlogs get. I just don’t understand it. It’s hardly SEO worthy content? I have to finally pin my colours to the board here and say I’m insanely put out by Google Blogger, it’s not fair (spits the dummy out). 9/10 these sites gain hits through the forced community of Google Blogger and that Google obviously optimises its own content to suit its own search engine. Anyone who uses WordPress, especially self hosted, will know when starting out that it can be a very cold and lonely place out here.

With the champions of the blogging world being the likes of Lee (Grooming Guru), Jane  (British Beauty Blogger) and Ree (Really Ree), you can see how much love, care and attention as well as ACTUAL INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE AND INSIGHT goes into their work. However the rest of the industry is cluttered like a jungle of, well, crap – making it harder and harder to find these deserving gems.

At the same time, the more successful blogs can’t hold a monopoly over the industry. Site hits don’t mean everything; for instance, if someone comes onto your blog, takes one scan at your opening line or image and thinks it’s rubbish and clicks off, this is a totally irrelevant hit, but a hit all the same. It’s hard for everyone involved to find a consistent and reliable metric across all platforms.

Rant over… for now. Would love to hear your comments on this or any other issues that really make you #moanface

Posted at 10:05 June 27, 2013

Firstly Thom, I’m flattered to have been mentioned in your post (and in such good company too!) and you may find it ironic that yours is probably my favourite male grooming blog! LOL. Anyway, regarding the other points raised in your post, here are my thoughts…

1. From day one I have always maintained that the views of someone who spends an afternoon in a department store somewhere trying out products so they can write about them when they get home are just as valid as those from people who’ve worked in the industry for years and get all the media blurb. Frankly, they’re more valid sometimes because they come free of any “industry baggage”!
2. The obsession with stats is ridiculous. GQ is not the UK’s best selling men’s magazine and yet it still attracts lucrative advertising because of its point of view and the environment it creates for brands. Brands need to wake up to the subtleties of blogging and not think purely in terms of hits which, as you pointed out, can be misleading anyway. If I was a brand I would also be thinking “whose point of view/opinion/writing style/blog design/insight and degree of influence do I like?”
3. Who cares if bloggers don’t write like trained journalists? Not me. If the content is interesting I’ll read it. And people who get hung up on grammar and spelling are like those idiots who can’t enjoy a great meal if it’s not beautifully presented!

Posted at 20:37 June 26, 2013

I love your blog Thom and I always enjoy your posts. I am far past the age where it’s cute to be ditzy, and I envy your intelligent writing style. I used to think blogs were just entertainment, and didn’t give a fig what pap other people wrote, but that was before I realised how influential some bloggers are. I like skincare, but I will never be an authority to challenge dermatologists. I have actually had people message me saying bloggers have told them to stop taking medication or using prescription creams. I advised them to go back to the doctor, only to be told the bloggers stats/superstar status. It’s irrelevant though.No amount of followers will make you a doctor. Blogs are a great source of advice, but some people obviously need reminding to keep it in perspective.

Posted at 20:10 June 26, 2013

Eesh. How’s the view up there from your ivory tower? Your article does smack a little of elitism – creating a them and us in the blogger community – the “experts” and the blebs who clearly know nothing. None of the blogs I follow claim to be experts in the industry – a few state they are insiders but that’s about it.

Yes, most bloggers are not qualified journalists and therefore have poorer grammar and knowledge of how to make a captivating article than your average Times journo. Isn’t that what the readers like about them? The honesty, the down to earth nature of their reviews, the non perfect, unedited and uncensored copy.

I agree lots are also not qualified skincare or cosmetologists. Do you think if they were in a nice high flying job like that they would have the time or desire to blog? Lots are students or makeup artists, making their way in the world and sharing their experience with products. Of course there are the irritating wannabes with their glitter, xo’s, unicorns and other such childish call signs of whom I just sigh and bleep over. I’m a bit too long in the tooth to be saying xo, xo to people and cannot identify with these bloggers.

People choose to read blogs they enjoy – I agree about the aggressiveness of the above comment – no need for that – but if he/she doesn’t like Ree, then that’s their choice. I don’t like her blog either – all I see are self shots of something she’s wearing – it’s not for me and I find it tedious. Jane, on the other hand is excellent. However that is MY opinion and I am entitled to it.

The reason PR can’t spot the cream from the crop is because they can’t be bothered to;

*check out the twitter feed for fakes
*Has the person got a domain name they pay for? Prob more professional than a .blogspot
*Have they bought and paid for a layout. (will be signed at the bottom)
*Read the about us, what is the background and motivations? Who are their target audience?
*Read a few posts. If they are crap, pass over.
*Check out any comments – do they bother to engage with their readers? How much do they care.

before chucking out the entire A/W colour collection in the post. Or they think GFC is some kind of reader indication. Generally GFC is other bloggers not the “general public”

I decided to remain anon as these sorts of comments, although inflammatory to some, are my honest opinion that I am entitled to and I’ve seen well presented, well thought out comments in the past that go against the grain turned into a bit of a witch hunt.

Have a nice night.

    Posted at 22:32 June 26, 2013
    Thom Watson

    Thank you for your comment and I didn’t find it inflammatory whatsoever. I tried to keep it less about “them and us” and particularly, as in my open statement, tried not to align myself on the scale whatsoever. However I fully accept that’s how it may have come across and you make some excellent points.

    In regards to the woes of PR, I’m only reiterating feedback I’ve received directly but yes, I would agree that what you have listed goes a long way to determining the good from the bad. Anyway, thanks for your insight, great comment and was a very interesting read! Thom

Posted at 19:51 June 26, 2013

I think we have to remember that there is a space for everyone in the blogosphere but Lee and I have been blogging for five years or so, not five minutes. Call it good timing but we were part of the early adopting of blogs and that, combined with exceptionally hard work (because it genuinely is) to stay in the same place, never mind grow, is why we are able to comment on the blogosphere and understand our audiences. We’ve learned it from the ground up. I never, ever take my good luck (because there is an element of that, too) for granted. Let’s not be too hard on the bloggers doing their best in their own way to be part of this, but at the same time, if they looked and learned they’d see there are better ways to do things than the shopping list, call-me-a-car and general entitlement attitude. Ree’s blog hasn’t been going quite as long but she is an exceptional example of someone who did look and did learn and is one of the most dedicated bloggers that I know, who understands who she is talking to and why. I think we can safely say she’d never leave a bitter, anon comment on anyone’s blog and I’ll leave it there.

Things are skewed in favour of Blogger stats, without a doubt (I am now WordPress but was Blogger) but since my GA counter on my blog fell off without warning, I actually have no clue what my stats are! Learning to live more with how and why you influence is better than relying on stats.. it’s certainly very freeing.

You are spot on about the relevance of hits Thom – it’s taking the marketing departments a very, very long time to do some simple calculations. 12 year olds don’t buy anti-ageing products. What else can I say!

Posted at 17:25 June 26, 2013
Sophia Ford (@TattooedTeaLady)

I also wish I could like Bare Faced Chic comment!

OK so, I for one am not an expert when it comes to beauty, but I have a bit of knowledge behind me – I am a fully qualified hairdresser and have also been trained in (whilst working, did not receive qualifications for it) nails (manicures, pedicures, acrylics, gel etc etc), facials (basic, basic facials), some skincare training (for the specific brand the salon stocked) waxing, massage etc. So I know a little bit and try when I can to use that knowledge in reviews to back ‘stuff’ up, if that makes sense? But I try and look at my blog as a blog that yes, I want people to come to my blog and find helpful reviews which help them. But at the same time, I can only provide reviews of products based on my skin/hair type, my personal preferences etc. I think sometimes people forget that where one product works for one person, it won’t for another. This is why I often turn to some of the well established bloggers you have mentioned, as well as Caroline Hirons particularly for skincare, because I know I can turn to these bloggers and get detailed, honest reviews but with the knowledge there that these people know their stuff. I love reading reviews from all kinds of blogs, but I personally am more likely to buy a product recommended from someone with ‘insider knowledge’ as they know their stuff. Sometimes I worry my posts are too long. I look at other blogs sometimes and I can sometimes write 2, 3 or even 4 times more in a post than others, and I often wonder if anyone bothers to read such long posts! But I try and put as much detail in reviews as I can and I often find blogs who put an equal amount and more of detail about the product (even if they are better at writing than me and can be concise and to the point whereas I ramble on like no tomorrow haha) as I like to read everything possible about a product and that persons experiences. But for some, a quick, not very detailed review is enough and I suppose that is the beauty of beauty blogs – There is enough variety for 99% of people to be pleased.

Although I’m on Blogger myself, it never occurred to me that Google would up Blogger blogs in searches over other platforms. I actually think that is incredibly unfair and something Google and Blogger should amend. Just because you use a different blogging platform doesn’t mean you’re blog should be harder to find or come up later in searches.

On a more positive note, I know I’ve said this in short on Twitter but – I really love reading your blog Thom. I think your photos are wonderful, your reviews are easy to read, but informative and detailed (and you don’t take several paragraphs to get your point across like I do – totally done that with this comment haven’t I? Rambler!) and you’re one of the few blogs I check daily now. It’s evident to anyone the hard work and dedication which goes into your blog and not as a blogger, but as a reader, I want to say that that is so appreciated and is the reason I come back day after day. xo

Posted at 08:21 June 26, 2013
Sarah (@sugarpuffish)

What can I say Thom, I’m battling away at my own little corner of the blogging world and I see what you say about Google Blogger but it’s lonely over here too. If you are not blogging the same as everyone else it’s hard to find readership. I know my writing isn’t perfect but I try and keep to sentences & paragraphs lol. Love this post & you make some valid points :)

Posted at 23:33 June 25, 2013
Andrew James

I totally agree i hate the false sense of “i blog so i know everything there is about makeup” where as im an actually pro as in i work in the industry i see people giving out almost dangerous “advice”

i even had one time where someone argued with me saying that primer should be put on before moisturiser or that bronzer is a contour and i was totally wrong

when comes the point when enough is enough yes everyone has a right to their own opinion but when it comes to blogging and having such a vast influence on people bloggers need to be careful about what they say and what advice they give out because it can end up being really harmful or dangerous in some situations

    Posted at 07:30 June 26, 2013
    Thom Watson

    I agree with your comments here Andii. I think bloggers need to be much more careful and I’m hugely surprised we don’t hear of lawsuits where a reader has used their misguided advice and had a severe reaction because of it.

Posted at 23:28 June 25, 2013

I have taken the decision, under advisement, that even though the message in this comment was heavily defended by myself and others, it was not appropriate for this to be visible to other readers. I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion and do not believe in heavy censorship, but in this case it wasn’t right for this to be left up, particularly as it was posted anonymously. Any comments directed at me are fine, but as this was in regards to someone of whom I admire, it wasn’t right. Thank you for understanding.

    Posted at 07:28 June 26, 2013
    Thom Watson

    Hi. Obviously everyone’s entitled to have their say, but I can’t agree with you on that. I’ve followed Ree’s blog for the last year or so and find her very ‘up’ and knowledgable on the subjects she blogs about. I can also unequivocally say that she isn’t a moron.

    Posted at 15:35 June 26, 2013
    Bare faced chic

    Boots evidently disagree with you given that she is currently reviewing some of their latest finds over in the states. In addition, if you are gong to post something as rude as this, please at least put your name to it. If you haven’t got the balls to put your name to it then don’t post it!

    Posted at 15:45 June 26, 2013
    Thom Watson – Manface

    I wish you could ‘like’ comments on here because I definitely ‘like’ the comment above from Bare Faced Chic.

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