About The Borg and why 'freebies' aren't free


Plus size blogger land seems full of simmering tension at the moment, and I think I *might* have an idea why.

I've been blogging about plus size fashion for a couple of years now, so I'm not one of the original plus size bloggers by any stretch of the imagination. There are some bloggers out there who've been ploughing the field for years, who I'll refer to as the uber bloggers. When they started there wasn't much competition around, there were few people putting themselves out there and this created a very tight knit community.

Then there are some middlies like me, who've been around a couple of years and are just starting to get noticed by companies and are building a slow but steady following. We came along when the uber bloggers were already well established, but generally there was room for us all so there were no major issues. There are also the newer bloggers, who've been around for weeks/months, who I'll call newbies, and there are a huge amount of them cropping up recently. They might not have done their dues yet, but some see everything the uber bloggers are getting (and maybe to a lesser extent the middlies) and want it all yesterday, without understanding what needs to be done to WORK for it.

The thing about the plus size community - on the whole - is it's very welcoming. Anyone who says 'I might start a blog, is it a good idea?' will most often get a resounding 'Yes!' and be welcomed into the collective bosom (hence The Borg reference - more on that later.) We're a pretty open bunch - most of our chat is done on Twitter where anyone can see it, or on Facebook in blogger groups, so it's easy for jealousy and resentment to fester. All three types of bloggers - the uber bloggers, the middlies like me and the newbies interact and know everyone else's business, and there's the rub. It's as incestuous as hell. 

I think plus size blogging has been a success because it's such a welcoming community, and now there are SO many of us. Companies are smelling new blood in the water and sending middlies and a few chosen newbies items for review and inviting them to events, which may occasionally upset an uber blogger who has a good relationship with them. But far more often than that I'm hearing whispers about grasping behaviour from some newer bloggers who haven't done any of the ground work, but want everything on a plate. Maybe that's because they don't know how it works yet, but it can come over a bit ugly.

When you are first starting out in blogging, you'll probably look up to the people who are more established and more successful than you, but you have no idea of the work behind the scenes - the hours preparing, the constant battling through a blog inbox full of crap to find the odd gem which actually has any relevance to your blog. You just see the end result, not what goes into it, and it's one of those things which you can only find out through experience. There seems to be barely veiled tension in blogger land about 'freebies' and events at the moment - who's getting them and who's not, and I think this is down to the melting pot of three different levels of bloggers co-existing in a tight space.

For a start, freebies aren't free. 

To get to the point where you're being noticed by companies and given things to review/invited to events you're either:

A - really good looking (companies love a pretty face as much as anyone else and want young, pretty girls to wear their items - shit but true)
B - plain ol' lucky
C - have put a shitload of effort in since your blog began to be picking up interest/be on the radar

Assuming the answer is C and you've worked on your blog day in day out, it's nice to be noticed by companies, but you get nothing in this life for free.

So you've been sent something to review. Grand. Now the work begins. There is an expectation you HAVE to write about it, of course, that goes without saying. Now you balance the knife edge between being true to your audience, and the company whose item(s) you're reviewing. Where does your loyalty lay - with your readers or the company? Do you like the item? Does it fit well, is it true to size, is it worth the money, does it look good? Have you photographed it to show it off to its best? Have you worded any problems with the item in such a way as to be honest to your readers without upsetting the company who sent you it? Do you feel you owe the company something now? Will you have a good working relationship with the PR or company contact if you're brutally honest? Will you be happy to answer questions about the item by your readers and thus act as a representative for the company who sent you it? Does it still feel free to you now?!

It's not free. It comes with consequences. 

So, what's the answer to the tension in blogger land? For me, it's about disengaging slightly from the Collective. I'm an individual and I have no wish to be assimilated into The Borg. ;) I think if things carry on as they are it'll go two ways - it'll get really ugly and there will be a divide between blogging factions, or else everyone will dig their elbows in to make a bit of room for themselves and after some grumbling and adjustment it will be fine. The simple fact is there aren't enough 'free' items or event invites to go around, and the more bloggers that come along, the more this will be obvious. It's fantastic that we're there for each other, but sometimes the act of blogging is enough - the planning, the photographs, the writing, the email answering, the work of it. I don't want to TALK about it and THINK about it (let alone what everyone else is doing!) all day long. It's really not healthy to make blogging your entire life. It'll drive you crazy. While I was away on my birthday weekend it was lovely to ignore the Facebook notifications and stop checking Twitter. I've carried on ignoring it all and I feel so much better for it!

Our community is wonderful, and it's a safe space for us from a world which is harsh towards those in larger bodies, but all things must come in moderation. If you're finding jealousy is creeping in or you feel 'less than' compared to someone else or their blog, I heartily recommend concentrating on what you're doing right now and shutting out some of the 'noise' which comes with such a tight knit community. Ignore Twitter and Facebook for a while and spend time on your blog instead and before you know it, you'll be in a better place.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

Sorry for all the wordy posts recently. I'll have some more juicy content soon - I'm still pole axed from my birthday weekend.

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