The blogging industry is unlike any other I have ever been a part of. It’s fast-paced and a dream job in so many aspects, but with all of the excitement and exposure comes added responsibility to be more mindful of what you are creating on the Internet. Right now our industry is at a tipping point. Blogging content has gotten so repetitive and contrived. Hearing the word “influencer” is like nails on a chalkboard. Some how, an industry that began with the best intentions–to share authentic stories from far-flung places around the world–has become an industry that is sometimes difficult for me to identify with. But we as creators have the power to change it. If I can impart any wisdom from my successes and missteps in the blogging industry it would be the following eleven tips for being a more mindful blogger or influencer. New bloggers especially, please read on.
- Don’t become a walking billboard. If every single Instagram post is sponsored, how do you expect your audience to really trust what you are telling them?
- Be aware of blogger burnout. You WILL get burnt out if you go nonstop on social. It’s just a matter of how and when. When this happens your creativity will suffer. Take breaks. Go dark. Your fans will still be there when you get back.
- Speaking of creativity – go outside of the box. Way outside. Stop posing or vlogging like you think a blogger should. You are an artist and you have a blank canvas. Create content that feeds your soul. That is the only way this industry will experience a shift.
- Stop breakfast goals: Real talk about breakfast spreads with 25 plates for one person…what is happening to all of the food we don’t eat? Hotel/restaurant staff is not allowed to eat food once it has been plated so it’s likely going straight into the garbage. Who is with me in eliminating those “breakfast goals” photos altogether? Or if you are going to order the entire menu, ask for it to be boxed up and take it out to the street where I’m sure you’ll find a hungry person who will gladly eat your avo toast, blueberry pancakes and eggs Benedict.
- Don’t celebrate followers and likes. Celebrate experiences and authenticity. Lately I’ve seen hotels throwing bloggers big bashes when they reach a certain threshold of followers. Maybe it’s just me, but elaborate “follower” celebrations feel icky to me. Partly because so many bloggers have botted and bought their way to the top. And partly because, in my opinion, we should be celebrating innovative ideas and creative expression. If you reach 100,000 followers and a hotel wants to throw you a party, why not ask them to donate that money to your favorite charity instead?
- Be mindful of how much time you are spending editing one photo. What could you do with that time if you weren’t a slave to Lightroom? Set a limit for yourself.
- Stop comparing yourself to other bloggers. So much of what you see is smoke and mirrors. Nobody has it all together. Everybody is insecure about something. One of my favorite quotes as it relates to this industry is by Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Just do you!
- Eliminate the ego. Instagram is the most narcissistic destination I have ever been to. You can help shift that mentality by sharing more stories and experiences of the people you encounter, or brands that have a really beautiful mission. Or even if you are posting a photo of you, use the caption as an opportunity to spread a message that will make people think or trigger a dialogue.
- Don’t rely solely on Instagram as your career. What if one day someone pulls the plug? Then what? Set yourself up for success by having a well-rounded resume that doesn’t lead off with “Instagrammer” or “Influencer”.
- Advocate for your work. Get paid. The blogging industry has often been referred to as the “Wild West” when it comes to payment terms and infrastructure. So many bloggers work for barter that it drives down the industry as a whole. A brand can always find a content creator who will do it for cheaper or for free so why would they pay you to do it? In order to change this we all most approach blogging as a business and eliminate the notion that bloggers should work for free. Here’s a perfect example, if a hotel hires a production company to shoot a new advertisement for their hotel, there would be no question that the film crew get’s flown to the destination and the production company would get paid a substantial fee to shoot, edit and license the video for commercial use. But for some reason it is assumed that you would execute that very some project for free as a blogger. There is a double standard that has to change.
- Trust your intuition. Don’t just post something for the sake of a like or to make a brand happy.
I hope this post sparks some dialogue. It’s as much a list for me to refer back to and know that I’m on the right track as it is advice for others. I am by no means the perfect content creator and I have definitely contributed my fair share of bad content throughout the years. One of the best parts of the blogging community is that we can learn so much from each other and define the next generation of blogging on our own terms. What does that look like for you?