I guess I wonder where all of this will lead eventually. All of these people, all of these influencers, all of EVERYTHING. In the magazine world, there was always some kind of "cap", right? I mean, magazines are expensive and not just anyone can start one without a chunk of cash, which means exactly that: not everyone can start one. Which almost helped the masses to be able to find a favorite title more easily and to stay loyal to the content longer. Also, magazines fade and die if they're not relevant any longer yet bloggers and influencers tend to keep going even long after their popularity has waned. Magazines cannot buy followers and subscribers, Instagram influencers can. So much about the online world, with its lack of rules, prices, guilds, associations, and everything else that is lacking online (a lot!), also means anyone can and will be anything and say they are anything, even when they are still learning or perhaps, totally unqualified.
NOT TO SAY THAT EVERYTHING ONLINE IS A LIE.
Or fake. Or not to be trusted. Not at all. I'm online and I consider myself to be transparent and honest. But, from my 12+ years working full-time in new media, I can honestly say that so much of what we are exposed to each day is not exactly realistic, honest, or even good for us on so many levels. So many reviews are dishonest or definitely hyped up because the brand paid for the trip or the hotel experience or the yoga retreat. And don't get me started on how many recipes I've used from "experts" online that forgot a core ingredient or that resulted in a lasagna that tasted like dog food.
I love bloggers and influencers and this whole online world namely because in the design/decor genre, I helped to form it. I was one of the first group of bloggers in the United States who had a design blog and today, I'm still part of the less than 1% of bloggers who can make a living from blogging. I am proud of the community and of the hard-earned success so many of us have found. Overall, I cannot complain too much. It's been an amazing journey and I plan to stay in it for at least another decade, if not longer. I love the friends and "family" I've made online, I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I also see a lot of bullsh*t and sometimes, l want to scream from the rooftops like my friend Sandra says so bluntly, everyone please, "CUT THE CRAP!".
Do you get what I'm saying here?
Like I just want more honest conversations, and well, conversations in general that aren't fluffy nonsense. And I don't want people commenting just to gain a comment from me in return on my Insta. And I don't want to see a blogger whom I respect online today only to learn that tomorrow, she bought Insta followers. I don't want to follow people who are show-offs, obsessed with their appearance, shallow, or who claim to be the best parent or super clean eater only to find out that in real life, they're just the opposite.
I also want more critical conversations too. In fact, my friend Stefan recently mentioned this on his blog and it really resonated with me because most conversations are always about what we love and support but how about saying that we went to a design fair and we weren't so impressed because things felt the same and looked the same as last year. What's wrong with saying we stayed at some hip hotel and it really wasn't what we expected? In some cases, bloggers can't and won't because that hotel or fair paid them to be there in the first place. But, isn't it sort of sad to think that the online world has become exactly what the early bloggers were seeking to break away from - namely, content that felt fake, sales-y and well, lacking real truth and/or a clear, honest voice, and opinion?
Maybe some of us should try a little harder to go back to our roots. What do you think? Maybe we should stop trying to mimic everything and everyone else and these antiquated models for doing business online and change things up a bit and get back to reality. To show more than the sponsored post and the paid-for stuff on Instagram?
Maybe this is going to actually kill blogs and even, in time, kill influencers. Have you ever thought of that, how this model may actually be what eventually weakens the strength of influencers and sinks the opinions of some of our favorite bloggers? Because eventually everything evolves and moves on. How can we evolve "this" and move on and become even stronger as, not only new media writers and content creators but as influencers, tastemakers, trend experts and all of the other things so many of us rightly are and have earned throughout the years?
How can we evolve? Any thoughts?
I know one thing for sure. Bloggers and influencers should get on board with providing paid content and try to break away more from always dealing with sponsored content from brands. It's okay to have sponsored content as part of our model, but why not consider new ways to monetize our sites and utilize our online influence in a positive way to strengthen our brand, gain greater respect from our followers and to also simply do work that we find a lot more meaningful to us personally.
There are so many brands that I love and want to support, but there are billions that I don't and they approach me frequently. I turn them down, but on a few occasions, because I needed to pay the bills, I accepted the work and always felt strange about it afterward. Not because I was dishonest, I picked and liked the product I reviewed or whatever... It was more because I felt like I didn't really want to do the job because I wasn't passionate about the overall brand and their philosophy or production or whatever. Again, I loved the product I shared but I didn't really love the brand and that's when I find it difficult and uncomfortable... And I know I could have avoided those kinds of jobs simply by being more clever, restructuring my revenue model and thinking of new streams that I've not tapped into yet that would have allowed me to simply say, "No thank you."
I've been thinking so much recently about the business of blogging and of this funny word, "Influencer", that I still think sounds so manipulative and strange, though I am an influencer and this is always listed next to my name as almost a title whenever I'm working professionally for fairs or in magazines, etc. I guess it is what it is, and I accept it and feel honored on one side, but is it what I really want for myself - to influence people? And if so, how?
In many ways, I only want to influence people to be HAPPY and to LIVE A GOOD LIFE and to be honest and always realistic while at the same time, dreaming big and reaching for a better life, always.
I want to "influence" people to think in new directions, to stop following the crowd, to CUT THE CRAP and be honest to themselves and others (because that is when you really start to live and feel joy in your life) and to use the home as the base to build your wildest dreams and as the base to be loved, secure, happy and bask in the beauty there that only you and your loved ones have created.
I also want to "influence" people to take breaks away from devices and be closer to their family, friends and most importantly, their little children who love them enormously. You can NEVER get back the precious childhood years with little ones - so if you have your phone in your hand constantly remember that this isn't creating intimacy or a bond with them - it's creating distance, insecurity (in them) and also you are simply missing out on them and their cute little inner world, the things they say, and the sweetness and beauty that comes with youth - that innocence. It's gorgeous. And I'm a mom who is always close to my phone, so I'm #justsayin all of this because I'm guilty as charged, and I'm working on putting the damn phone down a lot more often.
So, my dear friends, this is my little, "Letter from the Editor", from me to all of you. I care for you all so much and I'm always so touched when you read and share my posts and follow my content elsewhere online.
If you think of some thoughts to leave me today, I'd love to read them. Did anything I say resonate? Have you been thinking similarly too?