Blogging Is Not A Competition

Todays post was originally going to be an entry into a competition by a company to win a ridiculous amount of shoes.

But obviously, its not. (I think I just heard Alex breathe a sigh of relief.)

Recently, there have been so many “competitions” and “awards” where the main objective for the company has seemed to be to get as many incoming links and mentions on Twitter, increasing their own visibility whilst masquerading as giving something to the blogging community. That may be a very cynical way of looking at things, but before this shoe company (I won’t put the name here, but I think most of you will know – and really, if you don’t, its irrelevant anyway) started their “ambassador scheme”, I doubt many people had even heard of them, and before their competition was announced, I hadn’t even been to the site. The competition is to write about a pair of shoes from their site – before I started this post, I was intending to enter and spent a few hours idly browsing their website and even contemplated a purchase. Job well done, shoe company.

Before Big Fashionista posted her post yesterday about the popularity contest side of things, the shoe company intended to narrow down the hundreds of entries down to 5, then “let the public decide”. My least favourite part of any competition. Y’see, companies have realized that instead of getting a small team together in house to pick a winner based on their actual entry for something, they can instead get the finalists themselves to hunt for votes, whoring themselves as much as possible. You may remember last year, I was one of the final four in a competition to write for a lingerie company website. I felt incredibly uncomfortable asking people to vote for me (I’ve blogged recently about how I dislike promoting myself) but I did as much as I felt comfortable with. I didn’t think I had the best entry, but I didn’t think that the eventual winner was the best out of the four. Does being able to ask for votes really qualify someone to write well?

Which kinda brings me on to blog awards. I’ve made comments on Twitter (of course, its where I get my bitchyness out!) but haven’t really had a chance to get things out properly. Cosmopolitan, Marie Clare, More, Company, Look, Glamour…the list of magazines starting to use bloggers as features is increasing. A number of these magazines have blog awards, and two of them are ongoing at the moment. While I am pleased for my friends who are nominated, it feels quite uncomfortable to me that the prizes in these awards is often the “chance” to write for the magazine. You win the chance to provide them with free content? It just doesn’t seem much of a prize for those of us that blogging and writing is a hobby rather than a career. However much I would love some recognition that non blogging friends would understand, the truth is in my industry, an award for blogging is about as useful as that 400m swimming badge I got when I was…um…15.

The worst part about these awards is when there is more than one person in the category that you like a lot. I ended up registering with a few different email addresses for the Cosmo awards recently so I could vote for each of the lovely ladies in the fashion blogger category – which seems rather pointless!

Blogging is not a competition. We shouldn’t be fighting (politely, of course, but still fighting) over something, but working together. Instead of being evasive over what you’ve said to a company or something, what is wrong with sharing the knowledge? (I’ve gone all evangelical, I do apologise – but I never know how to respond to emails about my blog and I would find it so useful to be able to get help from other people besides poor ol’ Sarah.)

I don’t know. I’ve spilled out my thoughts on this, but I don’t feel any better for it! Am I just burbling away crap to myself, or do you guys agree? Are awards and competitions actually beneficial to the blogger who wins in the end?

Comments

  1. ahh this is so true, i absolutely am not comfortable with the vote-begging side of things, and in fact was planning to give that contest a miss until they took that side of things out. i know i don’t have a hope in hell of winning, but i feel more comfortable being judged on the content of a post, than on how many people on twitter i can persuade to vote for me. i don’t like the fact that these magazines do this either – i’m not one of the people out htere who want their blog to be the biggest or the most popular in the world, but some seem to, and for those i think it’s sad that they will spend so much time fighting against other bloggers instead of being creative and spending the enjoyable time on their blogs which i am sure was the reason they started them in the first place. if i wanted to see ad after ad (whether it’s in the form of a sponsored post, or a banner ad, or an embedded link about the free clothes they have been sent for being one of the most popular in the bloggers’ playground) i would watch tv, or pick up a mag where you expect to see ad after ad. i read blogs because i’m interested in the person behind them, not so i can discover what shoes to buy to become like that person.
    i don’t think my comment is making much sense, so i shall stop – but i agree that the rise in competition style ‘events’ is bringing about the decline of the blogging community spirit which i so loved to begin with.

  2. I don’t think you’re the only person thinking this :) While it would be great to have some recognition for the hard work we put into our blogs, or to win one of the great prizes on offer… the chance of winning will be tiny. At the end of the day, all we’ll have done is produce some free (and probably really good) advertising to help a big company make a whole load more money out of – what do we get in return? Instead of fighting, I agree with you that we should be competing less and sharing more, if you find a blog you like tell your friends, if you love a post on someone’s blog, share it. For me, if another blogger says they like my blog that’s awesome and means much more than an award that you’ve had to fight for and beg to get the votes for.

  3. Bravo! I completely agree with you.

    I would never enter a competition where you have to bang on about a brand in a blog post to enter, it’s a very smart and cheap way for the brand to get a shitload of coverage that they probably don’t really deserve! I am lucky enough to be approached every so often by brands who offer me goods or money in return for coverage (I have strong feelings about this too and only ever work with brands I believe in) and giving away free PR like in these sorts of competitions just completely devalues work with other brands.

  4. I’ve won a couple of blogger votey type competitions on the past, so I guess I’m a bit biased really (although still don’t understand how or why) but the real rise of them lately, that doesn’t sit well with me. The occasional vote request…fine…a constant bombardment of the same bloggers clamouring for votes/being pitched against one another…not so fine.

  5. I was very wary about entering that competition in the first place and, as other people have said, it was because of the voting element. In the end I thought “sod it, I probably won’t even get to the shortlist, Might as well enter”, so I did. I’m delighted they’ve got rid of that voting part because it makes me feel like I’m back at school in an embarassing popularity contest to go “vote for me!” constantly. (Incidentally, I hate companies who only offer up comps on Facebook, so using only Twitter for a similar purpose wasn’t perfect either).

    I don’t mind the fact that they’ve offered it up in the format they have – after all, they’re not looking to hire a pro copywriter, they presumably want a blogger with a decent following who matches their style or it’s not worth their while having them as an Ambassador, is it? It’s a good way to suss out the blog content and style overall. I don’t expect to get chosen but I’d love it if I did and I thought it was worth taking a chance on. If they like me, fantastic. If not, it’s not the end of the world. It was entirely my choice to write the post and insert the links to their site.

    At least they’re offering the opportunity up for general attention! Some of the big company/blogger links can seem a tad cliquey. Some are totally justified and I can see exactly why brands want to work with the blogger in question but a lot of the time it seems like unless you’re in that hallowed circle already, you haven’t got a chance of ever being invited to an event/doing a sponsored post/being sent something for review. I’m honestly not bitter about not being one of the lucky few (my blog isn’t solely fashion focused anyway) so I hope it’s not coming across that way…

    I can see how it might annoy people who are pro bloggers to see so many amateur bloggers taking part in things like this and giving companies free publicity, but honestly that attitude does irk me a little. The vast majority of us do this as a hobby. Our blog is our space. If we want to charge for placing company links, fine, but don’t expect most of us to either know how to or want to do this in the first place. If we want to write a blog post for free which mentions a company by name, that’s fine too. No-one’s making us do it.

    The magazine awards, ugh, that’s a different matter. I steer clear of them where possible. I don’t read the mags, I’m not the sort of blogger they like and it makes me feel very uncomfortable to choose between people I like to think of as friends when it comes to the voting element.

    I have rambled far, far too much here. I shall shut up now.

    • I think its a good thing that the spot is open to all – but if its being based on writing, why not get all ambassadors to enter to keep their spots? While there are some excellent ones (Laura and Jen instantly spring to mind) who’s posts don’t seem too contrived, there are others where you can’t click “Next” fast enough in your reader. If the spirit of the competition is to keep it “fair” – is it fair that while others keep to their contracted posts (and there must be some sort of contract in place – which I’ve not seen mentioned? A little odd that theres no small print?) I have seen some where the blogger has done one post about 6 months worth of shoes. I find that frustrating when I see so many people putting in quite a bit of effort.

      Sorry, ramble.

      (Also, I think your post is bloody ace, and your Irregular Choice habit is going to go insane :D)

  6. Oh that’s a good point – I hadn’t even considered that element of it. I’m not actually sure who all of the Ambassadors are. Can’t seem to find a list anywhere. The ones that I follow already (Laura and Jen definitely included) do a great job. I’m intrigued as to who the boring ones are!

  7. I have to say I totally agree. I have taken part in one bloggers competition, but I felt so embarassed asking people to vote for me that I wouldn’t do it again. I feel a bit like, if you want to work with me work with me, don’t make me beg for it! I really don’t think a competition is the best way to find the right fit between a blogger and a brand.

  8. I think as blogging has developed, so have 3 different types of bloggers. The ones like me who do it as a hobby and enjoy the community side of things, the ones who do it for popularity and winning competitions and the ‘opportunity’ to write for magazines for ‘free’ and all the freebies from PR companies, and the ones who take it very seriously and do it as a job and complain about PRs expecting them to do too much for free or on the cheap because other bloggers do. I am sure we are all committed and passionate, but every blogger does do it for different reasons.

    It’s all very hard because to a company and PR, we all seem the same. It takes a lot of reading between the lines to find out a bloggers motivation behind the blog. I do feel like I’m left out of the loop sometimes with these competitions, but it is just a popularity competition isn’t it? Every week there seems to be a new ‘vote for me, vote for me’ competition going around.

    I do feel sometimes like bloggers are being taken advantage of and I agree with the pro-bloggers who complain about bloggers ‘winning’ the chance to write an article for a magazine. That is no way to nurture new writing talent for those who want a career in it. I get the feeling that it is causing some discontent among the majority of the blogging community though and the bubble may pop soon…

  9. You’ve hit the nail on the head Hayley. Quite often companies see bloggers as a free resource, using them as free traffic and in some cases, free writers. While I’m all for the promotion of blogs as a new force in media, it is frustrating when companies want bloggers to do all the leg-work, as it were. It is especially irksome, as you say, when, after all that hard work, the vote comes down the public. A lot of these competitions also involve sending in photos – giving the impression that the more photogenic you are, the more likely you might win something. While photography and visual emlements are crucial to fashion blogs, this ‘popularity contest’ does always make me feel like we’re back at school. Great post, interesting comments from everyone. x

  10. Hmm I kind if agree, but what must be remembered is that yes, companies do have a job to do, and yes, that involves publicising themselves. If the end goal is absolutely nothing for the blogger, then it’s a bit out of order, but the shoe competition winner would end up with £150 to spend on shoes a month. I don’t thing that is unfair at all, and that anyone could complain about that.

 

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