So by now I assume we’ve all heard about That Mumsnet Thread. I imagine a lot of you are like me and spent way too long ignoring your kids to read it, because who doesn’t enjoy a hate read? (I am convinced this is the answer to Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins having so many followers on Twitter). There was a level of nastiness that genuinely made me gasp – if you’re going to insult the physical appearance of a child on the internet you are worse than a giant slug that has managed to get indoors – and no matter how many times it was denied an awful lot of it sounded like jealousy.
One thing I didn’t expect was to read my own name amongst the hate being spewed. I’ll be honest as much as I was terrified to see what was being said, it did make me feel a bit special in a LOOK MUM I’M FAMOUS kind of way! Big up to the one person who believes me big enough to warrant being slagged off (FTR I’ve addressed why I call my daughter Tiny Idiot here – as well as the dislike some people have shown for this moniker), more big ups to the other person who defended me. You’re the best.
One thing was questioned by the two people on Mumsnet who have heard of me (and was the main point of the thread, though it could certainly have been addressed with less spite) – #ad, #spon, promoted posts, and whether or not I will be partaking in them. So I thought I’d put my two cents in to the conversation. Because who doesn’t love hundreds of overly-thought out blog posts in reaction to a bunch of hot takes that I guarantee weren’t thought about for more than 10 seconds before they were sent?!
I have blogged under a number of guises for years. Whether it was self-indulgent posts about unrequited love on MySpace, or sporadic posts when my anxiety peaked on an old (now non-existent WordPress). I always (and to be honest, still do) fancied the idea of being a writer. I used to dream about writing a tell-all collection of essays about the men I’ve dated, hated, and been dumped by.
When I started this blog I had a specific aim – to try and monetise it eventually. I never hid that fact, if you ask me I will always be honest about that. It it now – nearly two years later – starting to become a reality.
I am still feeling a huge amount of imposter syndrome, I’ve started to have brands approach me and have posted a few pictures on Instagram in exchange for products. As yet I haven’t been paid for anything – although I have started to make it clear I will be charging for such posts in the future.
One of the main points on the thread was about these not being made clear enough, there are actually guidelines for this from the ASA which can be found really easily with a quick Google. You can also report influencers to the ASA if you do not feel they are being transparent about what they are being paid to promote. I completely agree that there are a lot of bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers who are not clear enough about when and where they are being paid, this isn’t ok (and y’know, can get them a hefty fine…) and is something I won’t do.
The posts on my feed where I have been sent something I very clearly write ‘I was sent this by…’. If and when anybody agrees to pay me I will 100% be using the #ad and I won’t be ‘hiding’ it amongst other hashtags as some brands and bloggers prefer. I won’t hide it because I’m not in the business of lying to people who choose to follow me and I also refuse to be ashamed of making money to provide over-priced leggings for my family.
Then there is the question of how you can still find a blogger genuine once they start accepting paid promotions. Personally I wouldn’t promote something that I don’t think is a good product, I already use myself, or I fell completely in love with after trying. If it has been agreed that I will review a product and I don’t love it – I’ll be honest. Because I am more than aware of the fact that the only reasons I’m being offered these opportunities is entirely down to you guys – my loyal, nutty, wonderful followers and readers. And not just the fact you’re there, the fact you react, respond, and engage so regularly. Lying to you isn’t going to encourage an ongoing relationship is it?!
I have turned down collaborations with numerous brands because it wouldn’t fit with me and you. Or because they’re total tosh. No, I won’t be advertising Skinny Coffee any time soon, nor will you ever see me putting a rose in a jar of water (don’t get me started on that one!). It’s exciting when you start being offered freebies, but that excitement doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything, it’s tempting but unless you make well thought-out decisions about the brands you’re willing to represent your own brand will fall apart.
The defence that was given of me was that I shouldn’t be considered ‘one of the annoying mum bloggers’ which is nice and all, but the other women being discussed are all complete and utter legends in my mind. I am in awe of the work they have put in to create the empires they have. If you think it looks easy, then you are wrong. If you think they palm their kids off on nannies while they work then you are wrong but also why would that be a bad thing? Working mothers use childcare.
There is no law stating you have to like everything on the internet, nor is there one saying you have to read it all. If you don’t like something don’t read it. We all like a rage read once in a while but you should also note that by engaging, you are helping to make their brand bigger. I refuse to click on a Daily Fail article, no matter how much everybody is talking about it, or how clickbaity the headline, because I know that each click generates ad revenue and therefore puts money in their pockets. The same goes for bloggers, the more engagement they get, the more promotions they are offered. If you hate them that much, unfollow. It rids you of the toxic thoughts and means women who are simply trying to make a living don’t have to read hundreds of women discussing how awful they are.
Social influencers (yes, that is a job title now, no matter how much it bugs you) are a relatively new and huge industry. That’s not about to change any time soon. Just like some people don’t like Vogue or watch Channel Five because it’s all adverts, some Instagram feeds will be the same. I agree with the discussion of being transparent in promotions, and that is something I will always do, however I don’t, and never will, agree with the nastiness that was the backbone of that thread. The idea of The Sisterhood may irritate you, but women supporting women is a wonderful thing, and one more of us need to be a part of. That doesn’t mean you can’t criticise, criticism is a good thing, just put a bit more thought into how you do it. There is constructive criticism and there is bullying.