Is It Just Me: That Actually Kind Of, Sort Of, Agrees with JosiDenise?

I could’ve actually put this post under the #BlogSchool tag as it’s a bit of both that and Is It Just Me to be fair.

Its (another) howling at the moon, bloggers up in arms moment in the old homestead of Blogland, this time an American blogger has managed to rattle the collective chains of many thousands of bloggers across the UK and US.

Her post “Dear Mommy Blogger” has certainly divided opinion, but for the most part the post has gone down like the lack of wine at a blogger event- not well indeed.

She’s not a blogger I was aware of, I don’t think many people were over here, but her click bait and rant fueled letter of anger towards all thing Mum Blog has certainly brought her front and center now.

I first heard about it on facebook but the site had been suspended, probably because it had been shared around 16.1K times and had countless and relentless traffic. I was given the abridged notes that basically it was rather derogatory to parent bloggers, especially those who review, so I waited to see if it came back online and prepared myself to be as cross as a lot of my peers.

I read it twice, at about 6.30am.

At first, I read it and read the angry bits, and the swearing, and the waffle bits and thought, well, this is a bit off isn’t it?

But, as I was only on my first coffee, I made another and read it again.

The point is, and I think the point that is lost due to the righteous indignation of people who don’t like being called out by anyone, much less a fellow blogger and the fact it is so in your face and directly put, there are several issues brought up that are spot on if you remove the swearing.

If you take out the fist shaking, in need of Valium and a nice sit down of it, I found myself nodding along and recognising some of the things she said that I had said myself many times in the last 5 years. All be it in a less shouting Harridan way.

I have often lamented the old days when we would comment because we actually liked a post or had an opposing viewpoint to express politely to that in the post. I have noticed that, since DA reared its ugly, manipulative head and ruined blogging forever, as my blogs are either on WordPress or a vanity url which has shit DA, I barely get a sniff of a comment, even from people who regularly commented on every post I ever posted before. Despite the fact that my writing style and my debate and opinion fueling posts are still here, it seems that the DA rule has meant my blog is not worth bothering to comment on as it wont allow someone to get a hit off my virtual stats.

I agreed 100% that the idea that anyone actually reads every single post we post is a daft notion- even Elder doesn’t read my blog, his sisters probably don’t get the blogging thing so don’t, in fact, I bet the fact my DA here is WordPress and not therefore good enough to bother with means I barely get a sniff of the action anymore, unless I write something which could be a bit controversial (to Mumsnet) and then I get thrown a bone. I don’t check my stats, so I don’t care, or bother to care, as my blog is my space to unleash the stuff in my head so I would write it anyway.

I agreed too that, actually, sometimes going to upteen conferences, and following advice from “experts” (most of whom are self appointed) can be very tiring, very expensive and get you precisely nowhere fast. I have long since gone to conferences to see people I haven’t see since the year before, drink gin with adults away from the kids, get a goodie bag and then I might, might, just take home some knowledge in the form of notes which I will be unable to decipher or cant be arsed to implicate once I get home hungover. BlogOn was the only conference I’ve been to recently where I actually learned anything, and that was down to the fact it was done in a fun, non preaching way. However, a lot of bloggers are still caught up by these (again, self appointed) better blogging Gurus and their lists, awards and seminars that are better than another, similar seminar run by another, similar outfit.

The best person to know how to do stuff on your blog that works for you and is your style and niche? Is it these outfits cashing in on blogger outreach, working as middle men? Is it old skool bloggers who have had varying degrees of success? Is it online marketers who will make your blog work and get you meaningless numbers of fake followers?

No.

Its you.

You write it, you put your personality into it. No one can know how you want to portray yourself online better than you.

I cannot even begin to imagine how needy someone would be to buy fake followers and comments. Seriously. I guess this is more of an American Mom Blog thing, as the stakes seem to be infinitely higher over there. But no doubt, give it a while and it will happen here too.

Once something becomes more drama, more cost, and more aggro than fun, that’s when we need to reevaluate if we don’t need to find a better hobby.

You only have to look at “issue threads” and comment rings where people are really pissed off with one of the chain for not commenting back. Why would you care? Because it hits your DA, that’s why you care, if you’re the type of blogger who possibly didn’t set up with the ideal of telling the web about your day or getting stuff off your chest. If I comment on someone’s blog, I don’t chase them over social media to bitch them for not commenting back. I just think perhaps they didn’t catch my post, or they didn’t have anything to add. And that’s fine by me.

Blogging should not cost more than a domain, should you wish to monetise your blog. It should not cost x amount of pounds for layouts, or y amount of pounds for fake followers and hits.

Yes, its frustrating when you read a blog where the effort has gone more into the layout than the content, and these blogs are the one’s I tend to avoid going back to.But never would I ever buy my way up the ladder.

When all this batshit crazy stuff in blogging has gone, I’ll still be here, tapping away at my blog, with it’s wonky layouts and its shit DA score.

So, whilst it’s hard to read what Josidenise says in her OTT, smack you in the face way, some of what she says is bang on the mark.

Perhaps its time for the Blogland massive to reflect on why it pissed them off so much?

 

 

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Taking People’s Photos Is Not OK, OK? #BestBuggy

I’m going to file the shenanigans of the last few days under #Drama with a capital D people.

I did mention this in passing yesterday on my Britmums Live post, but it escalated rather quickly as these things tend to the scary point where me and someone who I really do not get on with (fuck knows why, its been so long I can barely remember but there you go) were actually unwittingly agreeing (me being unable to see what the usually toxic one was saying and vice versus due to blocks).

Which made me slightly scared and others in the know realise how much this shit had gotten real.

Basically, it opened up a debate on where we post our images and what rights other’s have to use them, with or without permission and in what context.

A site I had not heard of owing to the lack of need for buggies these days had, inexplicably, allowed/used themselves (its a grey area as it was posted on their Facebook page using their banner, not a members banner but they deny this and have since removed it) a photo, taken from The Montcalm, of some of the Babes with Babes in arms Mummies and their gorgeous and well behaved offspring outside in the courtyard.

This meet was pre-planned to take a memento photo of the babies in their Doola pushchairs together. It was planned on the Facebook BML page so a lot of us knew it was happening.

The issue started as this person clearly knew this was happening, and took a snap from above. They did not ask to do so. They then, further inexplicably, posted it under the banner of the group page (so an admin of the page then), slating to death the Mums. It had lots of false allegations, such as the babies were in the car seat part of the pushchairs “for two whole days”.

No they weren’t. BML is not a whole two day event, and even if it was, and they would know this having been there, there is no sodding room for buggies, prams and the like in the place as its positively heaving from 2pm Friday onwards. Not only that, another image lifted from one of their pages showed that, yes, baby was in the car seat bit for a photo, but you could clearly see Mum had a sling on- as that’s where the babies were.

Worse than that, this snide and sensationalist stat chaser had spoken to them over the weekend and had posted that she was told by one of the ladies that she did not have a car with her. So? Some folk cannot afford some spacious mini caravan on wheels for their child. Buggies go through rigorous safety checks, or they would not be on sale.

The killer line though, which made me seethe was they had accused the Mums, wrongly, of not caring that their child could suffer growth problems amongst others. And SIDS.

Now, SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is an emotive topic in society anyway, but none more so than with us bloggers. We have jumped out of planes, lit up Instagram and Twitter with purple and rainbows and stars, and have supported at least one member through something not one sane parent ever wants to experience. We have fund raised and blogged tirelessly for the Lullaby Trust.

YOU JUST DON’T DO THAT, YOU DON’T ACCUSE A FELLOW PARENT OF TRYING TO CAUSE SIDS TO THEIR  CHILD, YOU BLOODY MORON.

Its not clever, funny, appropriate, right, legitimate or many other words I could use to ever, dare, say that, accuse that, or mention that in a sentence unless you want people with more brains than you in their arse to tell you you actually suck.

Which, of course, we did. Cos we are like that.

They then ignored us and removed comments like mine, and pretty much though allowed their members to keep on re-sharing on their pages instead.

It then turned out that this is not the first time this page had pinched photos used by bloggers who were reviewing or had bought the Doola pram and included their child in the picture. All without permission and all whilst slating parent’s including them for using it.

They have done this quite a few times. They don’t ask to, they certainly do not pay.

Its not unusual of course for the uninitiated or down right ignorant to pinch a picture found on Google images and not realise/not care this is totally and utterly against the law.

But this bunch have been told time and time and again and they simply deny, block and ignore the person who, quite rightly, gets the hump.

You cannot be spouting (in caps of all things) that you are concerned for a child’s welfare and then blatantly post an image, taken from above without consent or taken from a blog, google images, Instagram, Pinterest, or anywhere else with the child in it. You are a tool if you think you can.

They however, do not see or simply don’t wish to that they are in the wrong. They finally responded last night on twitter, and it was the same old rubbish about how the image was in the public domain, their site had not shown it just linked to it (rubbish as they did use it on their Facebook page under their banner), blah, blah, blah.

I tried to be polite, saying to them along with other knowledgeable folk that you cannot do this, you can use stock images (free or otherwise and readily available) but linking to, or posting images without consent is blatant theft. They did not want to know.

The other issue here is, as a parent with an 8 and 6 year old, its  not like them good old days when your parent’s rocked up to the school play armed with a shaky old camera (with film- remember them?) or a Camcorder the size of a BBC outdoor broadcast camera and in some cases with a boom attached and plot out and take whatever images and film you like.

You have to wait until the end, collar your over stimulated child and pose them away from everyone else. Or ask permission of their mates parent’s to have them in the photo.

You cannot simply take images with other people’s children in and not be in line for having your collar felt by the Local Police, should someone complain that you accidentally got their cherub in (and it’s happened).

So, taking a photo, above, without telling the parent’s involved and then posting it online publicly in a forum, and expecting and encouraging others to share their post and accompanying braying mob mentality, is totally and utterly, unquestionably something you can, and should you weird bugger, get yourself in massive piles of shite for.

Taking photos is fine. Of your own kid. Off a free to use stock image site. With permission from someone else.

Taking photos from someone else’s site, or social media, or above like some weird stalker person, is never, ever OK.

And I hope the person responsible is dealt with soon.

🙂

Can Blogging Ever Bring Happiness Or Are We Too Hard to Please?

Blogging, its a funny old hobby.

When I started in 2006, before twitter was even around, when MySpace ruled the internet, it was just a place to write and air your views, whatever these were.

It was very much like an old school diary but online where, if you chose, people could get a window into your life. Of course, you could lock other’s out and keep it private, but I never saw the point of that- surely it was just simpler to write it on Wordpad?

I used to enjoy blogging a lot, if there was something on my mind, or a problem or a thought I wanted to share, I switched on my net, got it down on the page and pressed post. I have, and still have had, lots of support at hard times and at good times too.

As with anything though, blogging has become something massive. As Emma Freud told us at her keynote at Britmums Live earlier on in the year, we are the “new media” and journo’s are keeping an eye on us.

We can break stories quicker than traditional print media can- that’s why most newspapers are now online too. My local newspapers are among a group owned by Trinity Mirror which are about to close their paper edition in favor of going digital instead.

The issue is, as time has gone on, blogging has ceased to be simply a case of writing down your thoughts and posting them. Now, there is (self imposed in most cases) pressure to get those stats up sky high, to enter and be nominated in a host of awards. To make every list. To get a higher Moz Rank and Domain Authority and to employ the services of designers to keep your blog looking fresh. In most cases, blogs have ceased to look like blogs. They look like ad filled sites akin to major retailers and magazines.

That’s no bad thing, but it certainly hits at the self esteem if you allow it.

And sadly, more and more, it doesn’t matter what you do, helping other bloggers, making links for other’s via Facebook Communities and the like, nothing can please anyone.

Family Panel is fast approaching it’s 5th birthday, and back at the start I used to offer guest post review slots if a product I was asked to try didn’t suit my family. I used to do this on twitter as a “first shout gets it” thing, which worked well. Until it got to the point in 2012 where I stopped as I was sick of the sulking that happened if someone got in too late. I got trolled so many times afterwards I just thought, well sod it. I didn’t need the grief!

It seems that, now, something as simple as posting, without being paid, review and ad opps can cause all out drama and grief for the poor soul who simply wants to help out others in between housework and jobs. And don’t even consider mentioning something fun, or your whole reason for breathing will be brought into question until you wonder why you bother.

As women- and yes, it is us girls responsible- we fail to stand with each other. We would rather bemoan everything that goes on, and question anyone who does better than you do.

There will always be the one’s everyone tags as being a bit of a cow, who further themselves by belittling everyone else publicly. But we do give them ammo when the very Facebook communities they slate and eyebrow raise and  which can run happily and encourage blog help and support, turn into viper nests of resentment, anger, and feelings of “why do I bother?” from the admins.

It can be so different. Yes, its competitive, but a sense of healthy and friendly competition is actually good and can spur you on to do better yourself or to learn from others you admire. Support, not negativity for the sake of it.

It feels we are in danger of losing sight of the fact we can help each other out, we can look like a slick, happy community. We are also in danger of losing touch with some of our best and most helpful members forever as they become sick of the bitching and back biting and infighting.

Its also worth remembering that a number of SEO’s and PRs are also bloggers and members of groups online too, so they see who is and isn’t playing fair and behaving nicely.

We have reached an interesting cross roads with traditional blogging, where you either keep your blog as it is and write, or link up with vlogging and others forms of expression as well. It is hard for us old timers enough without having to referee yet another pointless and unnecessary spat.

Blogging can make you happy. It can do so much to improve your day from the usual boring round of chores and nappies and loneliness in some cases.

But, if you do need to rant, do it over the right things, and think before you bitch.

Ambassadors Are They Spoiling Us? Well, No Actually.

As a blogger who has been reviewing and the like since 2009 (in fact January marks the 5th anniversary of Family Panel’s launch, which is crazy), I’ve been part of lots of different schemes and brand link ups.

Some have been great, others, not so much.

In the beginning when brands and PRs first started to engage with the very small amount of us there were back then, we all learned how it could work together. It was easy back then to say what we liked and what we didn’t like, how often we expected to engage with a brand and its programme and likewise PR’s and Brands could tell us what they wanted to see in return.

Now, Ambassador programmes are everywhere, run by brands and, in some cases, third party groups who have sprung up offering blogger engagement and signing up as many bloggers as they can find to bump up their virtual address book.

In this third party and Brand race to sign up interested bloggers though, we have, all of us, created an issue with the quality of engagement and the ability to be mutually beneficial. This has left some feeling programmes are no longer for them, and are run from a one sided viewpoint weighing heavily towards only the Brands benefit.

I’m not going to name and shame here, and anyone reading this who blogs and reviews probably has a good idea of who they feel offer worthwhile engagement and who to avoid.

Blogger groups from Facebook and beyond offer the ideal place for writers to vent- and vent they do with gusto, telling each other who not to be bothered with and who is the most coveted to become involved with if your name gets passed to them.

Of course, what works for the vast amount of bloggers may not work for others.
On venting about one such third party group, I received a mixed response, with just as many agreeing with me as disagreeing.

Its true that as with anything in life, what works well for some will be a complete waste of time for others. Third Party Ambassador programmes are great for new bloggers or for bloggers just getting started in brand engagement. To more established bloggers, more used to doing things for themselves and not waiting in line to be contacted, they can be nothing more than a click through ad nuisance which takes up blog space which could be sold off for a real advert.

That’s another problem with certain programmes. The “I’m a Member” badge.

Some programmes only ask you nicely to display the badge, but don’t count you out for not. Others make it part of your sign up to display the badge and wont put you forward for opportunities if you refuse.

Which is fine, but what happens if you display this badge, offering an advert that you endorse this site (and which could normally be sold for Affiliate or direct marketing) and then receive nothing in return?

The same group I vented about asks that bloggers involved display the badge. Yet despite doing so for a year plus, I have not actually received anything in return for space which could have earned me actual cash. In fact, the first I knew the programme had actually started was during a chat about the wait for anything to happen with another blogger!

It turns out this third party, who made massive promises and who wanted me to join as they felt my being involved as a well known blogger would be great and persuade others to join too, have had days out, parties and adverts running through other blogs for months, not to mention reviews and brand engagement.

What have I had? One email. Nothing else.

What its worth remembering with third party groups is that the more of us that sign up, the better they look. It can be lucrative for those who are happy to set up a cheap website, and pretty easy to make cash doing so. The more of us they get to sign up, which is as simple as sending out a #BloggerRequest on Twitter for free, the better the return when it’s time to contact brands who will pay to let someone take out the hassle of blogger engagement. Who wants to spend hours scouring the net for bloggers, rake through dead sites, or input lots of web addresses into a Page Rank checker when they can pay these third parties to do it for them (who, in turn, have already gained this info for free from the blogger on them signing up).

On contacting the Third Party to ask what gives, and why I have not got so much as a tweet from them,  did they apologise or offer to look into it? You’d think after the email I got from them asking me to get involved with them they would bend over backwards right?

Nope. They blamed me, saying my blog obviously wasn’t quality enough for their clients and my stats are clearly rubbish.

It was pretty much a standard email too- saying I needed to bring my Page Rank up from low (mine is 3, which is pretty much great for a blog, and the average for bloggers who covert a decent number).

To me, I laughed and ditched the badge. But if it’s not bad enough to swallow up as many bloggers as they can find, when they fail to come good on their promise to work with us all in equal measure they blame the blogger! And to some newer bloggers, this can, of course, make them wonder why they bother.

With many schemes, even those not run by a third party, many feel they grow tired of seeing the same old faces working with the brand and being lavished with gifts as promised to all  and grow disillusioned.

So, why do some programmes find it so hard to work with bloggers fairly? Have they got too big? And what would you like to see to bring them back to a fair for all, small scheme?

What programmes work for you and which don’t? Or do you refuse to work with any at all? Let me know in the comments.

Bloggers: When Its Time to Disregard the Negative and Concentrate on the Positive

I’ve been around in blogging circles, both parent and otherwise, on and off (briefly off mind) since 2006 (I know right? Before Twitter and everything).

So, I’ve kind of seen a lot in that time, drama, spats, unhappiness, passive aggressive fuckery, the whole nine yards.

I’ve joined in with my fair bit of what I like to term “bitch blogger baiting” and I’ve had differing levels of success. Sometimes I have felt justified (and still do, cough, holiday camp, cough), other times, I have woken up the next day, and thought “well that was a bit daft” and done a mouthing off walk of shame back on to Twitter to apologise.

But you carry on.

In blogging, as in life, you cannot possibly please all the people all the time. Whereas you may have 100,000 followers and hits per month, there will always be a few nay sayers who hate you, your blog, your cat and anything else you hold dear.

Its how we deal with these moaning minis and trolls that counts. Trust me, I have had enough of these to know what I’m talking about. I’ve been called, thick, unintelligent, a shit blogger, a blagger, mentally unstable, ugly, fat and my own personal fave, a chav. I laughed.

I don’t really believe in don’t feed the troll, cos to me, in my position, I love them, they are bloody great for stats after all! No I’m kidding. Really.
What I feel more like is that, if this troll is so intent on making you miserable, that actually, rather than slipping away from my blog and my twitter and retreating to a safe distance (or Facebook) the best course of action is to ramp up your blogging. Go out of your way to be all over social media like a persistent rash.

I know far too many bloggers who are lovely ladies (and gents) but each and every week one of them is attacked in some way. Sometimes its a comment, other times a tweet.

However, I think that to write a nasty comment without writing your name smacks of a lack of bravery and acute awareness that they are, in fact, a fuckwit. And that’s how we should all see these people. Fuckwits, causing fuckwittage, to be fucking fuckwits and to make people as fuckwitty as they are.

I also feel that, actually, these said fuckwits should be patted on the head, told “there there” and laughed at. Not gotten worked up over. I would even go as far as to say that, should you have a fuckwit at your virtual door, you have truly made it in terms of blogging, its like being in a boyband and having a crazy stalker, but in a virtual sense.

Clearly, such is what you are doing, and doing well, that these much maligned , and clearly delusional, people are that jealous as to try and knock you enough to even out the playing field. Rather than, say, improving their own space online, writing good content, and engaging in a positive sense, they would much rather act in a childish way. They aren’t here to make friends, and even if they are, they are so scared of being found out for what they really are behind the cloak of anonymous that they do just that- write anonymous. Or Guest. Or something similar.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have bad days when we hate the world and we find ourselves jumping feet first and end up insulting people. Its those who do it all the time and think they are clever about it (when actually, one such troll is so well known in a certain blogging community (cough parent bloggers, cough) that it makes a mockery of her use of “anon”) that are the problem.

So, keep doing what you do, write for you and those who like what you write, disregard those who don’t and keep on keeping on.

And let those trolls up your stats whenever they like.
 

It’s Not Like the Old Days….

I know that title makes me sound like a Granny, but it’s the best way to put it without swearing, frankly.

My last post touched on how I feel, as someone who has been around for quite some time, that blogging is not what it was when I first started out back in 2006.

I didn’t touch on what really peeves me about it, as I was trying to be polite, but after yesterday, the hell with that.

Yes, I do host and write sponsored posts. At the moment, like most families, times are tough, the budget is tight. We are moving as soon as we can, to a place where rents are far, far cheaper (we’re talking thousand pound per month difference), and where the area is nicer despite the lower rents. Our town is a crap hole full of pretentious twats who love themselves far too much. Not all of them, I have met some amazing people who are down to earth, have no airs and graces and who are great folk to be around. But sadly, the above themselves idiots far outweigh them. Mini is miserable here, we all are.

So, any tiny bit of extra cash- and it is tiny, not enough to live on, not enough for a holiday every five minutes- goes into the deposit fund.

I always felt back between 2006 and 2010 that bloggers were a bunch who, despite a few arsehats, and every group big or small has a few, looked out for each other. If they’d had a bad experience online or in shops or with brands or PR folk (as we approached a time of change where money began to play a part and change things), we would mention it and most would sympathise, and campaign with us and retweet and such.

Not anymore.

I have done a few posts now, for different companies. You all know I’m no genius at html and the like, but I know when a post has a no follow or follow link, and when it has .html in the address its basically a html post. I also have great people in second command on Family Panel and friends who blog and are old skool in attitude who can have a look if someone is attempting to take the pee.

No one has ever had an issue with my blogs html, no one has ever come back and been as ignorant, unhelpful and rude as one person who I’ve been, well, basically ripped off by. I’m not the only person who has been ripped off either.

So, I decided to warn others not to approach. We need to stamp out piss takers, frankly, not big them up and allow others to fall into the same trap.

Or so you’d think.

All I got was “newer” bloggers, who I don’t know (and after their attitude of “I’m alright Jack” I don’t wish to), have a go at me for voicing my anger and annoyance at being conned. 

I got told off for swearing. In a group of adults. I mean, grow the hell up, right?

Half of these self absorbed, self appointed “Head teachers” patronising me have blogs which aren’t of the caliber of some of us old timers and who clearly don’t put the effort in. The sort which started as band wagon jumpers who found out they may score a free buggy so jumped in, but who don’t do it for the real passion of writing.

Where has the support network gone?

No doubt a few will have run to this con artist non payer to bitch and whine and get their heads patted. I hope karma bites them and next time they try and extract the promised payment out of this person they get the same bull that I have.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some great, utterly brill, new blogs or newer blogs who are actually worth reading, who yes, like me do get a few posts paid for but that’s secondary to the love they have for their craft. Then there are those who when a friend voices disappointment at not being picked for an ambassador programme bitch about a free Vacuum they got and this person didn’t. 

This is not what I signed up for. And it’s not what a fair few others who remember how it used to be did either. I end up scoffing in disbelief most days at the attitude of some people. 

No doubt trolls will rear their sad act heads, but I have simply gotten sick of being a good little girl and keeping it to myself. 

Some of the new breed are the problem, not all but a big majority, with their selfish me me me attitudes. That is what has killed blogging. 

And I only hope they get bored and jump on the next fashionable bandwagon soon as.