5 Lies Bloggers Tell

After blogging for 4 years, I've recently taken a break to reflect on why I blog and shift back to what really mattered to me because blogging had become a chore, rather than a gift of sharing.  I've held onto this article for about 3 months leery to publish because I'm not sure if the ramifications will be damning or glowing...it's likely to make some people mad.

In this article I'm going to talk about some lies that bloggers perpetuate and what I'm doing about my own site.   What does this mean for you?  Well, if you are a blogger: stop it or beware of the traps; if you are a reader of blogs, consider this an education so you can spot the fakes from the authentic.

Lies Bloggers and Media Perpetuate

Pretty harsh title, but it is true.  Here are specific lies that I've come across over the years.  Why do I know they are lies? Because I tried them or witnessed them - all because I wanted to share, write and be part of the blogging community. 

Lie #1: To be a "serious" blogger you have to be on Wordpress.

Here is the truth: It depends on what you intend to do with your website.  Wordpress is a very nice software that gives you a TON of flexibility to add forums, ability to require people to sign in to read your blog or sign up for classes, fancy things for developers to code against - stuff like that.  The reality is, most people do not need a fancy website to blog.  Blogger, by Google, will allow you to create a website, have shopping widgets, have multiple pages, some really nice themes etc.  And guess what, it's free and easy.

My experience:  I started on Blogger to see if blogging was something that I would actually stick with (I have a tendency to start something and give it up shortly thereafter).  And the "to be a serious blogger you have to be on Wordpress" comment was spoken to me by a blogger who is easily making 6 figures - so I thought, she knows what she is talking about - 'oh,ok'.  
As a result of this advice, I spent $150 to have the website converted from Blogger to Wordpress, then continued to pay $250 a year in hosting fees, plus $150 for a Thesis software, plus $35 for a Thesis theme.  
After 3 years of this, I thought, 'well this is just stupid, I had better SEO (search engine optimization) and better traffic when I was on Blogger.  
And now, I've switched back to Blogger and as a result: blogging is much easier, lower maintenance and nicer!  Have you seen this theme and how fast my site goes?  LOVE IT!

Lie #2: The comments on blogs indicate engagement between readers and the writers; you have to comment on other people's blogs to start engaging and develop a community. 

Here is the truth: Have you ever looked at someone's blog to gather a recipe for dinner?  I do all the time and what pisses me off more than anything in the world are comments like these:
  • Oh that just sounds wonderful, my husband loves anything with cream cheese.
  • Stunning pictures as always! 
  • Love your pictures. Thank you.
  • Oh.my.word. What have you done?  My family would love these.  I think I would have to make it for a huge crowd so there be non left over. 
When you read comments like these a red flag should go off for you because the comment lacks quality content! These comments are often written by other bloggers.  The reality is, there are secret or private Facebook forums that bloggers belong where they post links on a daily basis so bloggers comment on each others posts.

Why, you might ask?  It is believed that PR firms look for engagement.  This is not true.  PR firms care about statistics and those numbers they can find out themselves. 

My experience:  I too belonged to these Facebook forums that perpetuates the 'let's support our fellow bloggers' and write comments on each other's posts, retweet, show love on Instagram etc.  I also belong to blogging forums for help/advice.  
The reality is, while it is nice to get a comment, especially when you can tell they are sincere, it irks me to no end when I get crap comments like the ones above.  The comments are not helpful, insightful or meaningful to anyone else who may or may not try the recipe/DIY/etc.  
Further, being part of those commenting forums results in taking up to 3 hours a week of time that could be better suited to writing long winded and insightful posts like this one. :).
The bottom line, my message to bloggers -  don't waste your time writing comments on posts unless your comments are sincere or insightful and my message to readers - skip those sites that have fake comments (you'll start spotting them now). 

Lie #3: To get more traffic you need sponsored posts, giveaways, and freebees.  Traffic will increase and so will your revenue and you'll get more sponsors.

Here is the truth: From what I'm reading in the Facebook forums a lot of the bloggers are not financially well off. They are often stay-at-home moms looking for a means to bring in a little extra money or a means to get free stuff to write about, turn around and sell or use in there homes.   Very rare is the blogger who makes it big and makes the six figure incomes that the media recently discussed.  
The truth is, a lot of the bloggers pitch companies to get free stuff in exchange for an article that will be "forever available" on their website, tweet, Instagram etc, to help increase their traffic and revenue.  What ends up happening is PR companies are now expecting bloggers to write and take pictures for very little compensation. As a result, the small bloggers struggle and the big bloggers (who became big bloggers 5 years ago) are the ones actually making money and use little bloggers to write their articles.   

My Experience: I believed that I did have to have sponsored posts, giveaways etc.  So I did several with some large firms.  I also guest posted on several large websites with the premise that traffic would be driven to my site... and do you know what I found?   The posts were a big-ole-pain in the butt and totally not worth my time and effort.  
Think about it for a second: the PR folks contact you or you them, then you negotiate (and when you are beginning blogger you'll pretty much take whatever), the company sends you the product for review, you make the stuff, take pictures, then set up Rafflecopter, promote the post through the Facebook forums who tweet and retweet, comment on Facebook, comment on Instagram etc.  All-in-all you can spend about 8 - 16 hours on one giveaway post.  Now for the big time bloggers, who have Virtual Assistants, or who have these SAHM guest posters to do the reviews and writing for them, it's no big deal because it is all advertising revenue for them - someone else did the work.  But the small time blogger 8 - 16 hours of writing/editing/photography etc., type is simply not worth it.
I've seen my stats, for every guest post I've written posted to someone else's site I have seen a max of 1 person travel back to my site to see more about me.  Not worth my time.  However, when another blogger wrote about me or one of my posts with a link to my site, then there are conversions.   How did conversions happen?  I wrote something useful! - Go figure {sarcasm}.

Lie #4: Don't trust the pictures to tell the story of whether the food is fantastic or not or whether the place is a fantastic vacation spot.

Here is the truth: Just because the picture is pretty doesn't mean the food is good and opposite, just because the food looks awful doesn't mean it isn't good.  

My Experience: I traveled with one blogger where we stopped off to get some cupcakes.  Before we even ate one to see if it was any good, it became whole elaborate camera action scene where we had to "food style" it, bring out this massive camera - which caught the attention of the staff who asked who she was - is this for a magazine - blah blah blah.  And let me tell you: the pictures came out beautiful, "Pinterest worthy" - the cupcake, on the other-hand, was horrible.  The blogger said herself; the cupcake wasn't good and you can tell it was a "box" cake mix {whatever that means to a non foodie like me :)}.  But none of the honesty came into the post, only the pretty pictures and the location of where to get these cupcakes. 
In another example, I tried a recipe from another blog -  the pictures were good technically, but the food itself looked icky. The comments at the top were written by bloggers and completely useless, but once you scrolled down there were real-people comments who made it, it had positive reviews.  I made the recipe (prepared to order pizza that night) and was happily surprised it was very tasty - looked nasty just like the pictures, but tasted great - even the kids liked it! Give it a whirl (looks gross but tasted really good! (www.bakeaholicmama.com/2014/03/knock-your-socks-off-slow-cooker.html)

Lie #5: The person writing is an expert.

Here is the truth: So, if you've made it this far into the post you've probably come to this conclusion yourself: most of the people writing blogs are writing opinions, they are writing their experiences (some true and some not), and they are just individuals.  People have faults and most of them are strongly influenced by money.  Just because they post a DIY or a recipe doesn't make them an craftsman or chef; it makes their website a good place to start.  Read more, don't trust the first thing that pops up on a Google search - more than likely, the first thing that pops up in a Google search gained that spot using Google search Facebook forum, or manipulation by comment forums. 

My experience: 
Prior to the FCC's requirement for bloggers to identify that they were provided the products or received compensation for the post (it's called a sponsored post), bloggers were getting paid to write about products.  I actually bought a $1200 mattress based off of a bloggers review - the mattress is a HORRIBLE mattress and several years later I'm still angry about believing that blogger.  
I'm telling you, you can't even trust the Amazon comments - there are forums for that too! Heck, that's even a part time job to do all of these things - Virtual Assistants write comments, retweet, manipulate the Google search engine optimization, write Amazon comments and book reviews so that the book the blogger wrote will come up in the top search criteria!    So again, readers, a single blog is a great place to start, but definitely not the final word. 

So what am I doing different?

When I first told my husband about this post, he said "you sound bitter", and the truth is, I am bitter, I am mad at myself for being manipulated.  I've spent countless hours, a large sum of money trying to keep up with what everyone recommends and haven't gained the ground they said I would, because I LET THEM define what was a successful website for ME.  That changes NOW!
The several months off from writing and contributing to the blogging world has caused me to refocus on what is important to me, and that's sharing my experiences and my opinions in a low cost fashion.  As a result, I've made some significant changes to how I blog and my website:
  • I've completely moved my website from Wordpress back to Blogger.  (I'll write about that since apparently no one has done it before and, while it was long process that I did myself, it was worth it. )
  • I've removed most sponsored posts (I kept a few that I just loved) - yep, I deleted them during the migration from Wordpress to Blogger. No where did the sponsor specify a duration for the post and they certainly didn't pay for a 'forever' time slot. 
  • I've removed the pop-up advertising and the pop-up 'subscribe now' boxes. They are ANNOYING and slow the site down.
  • I'm not accepting comments on the blog posts or participating in the comment forums. (If you'd like to comment/engage with me please visit my Facebook page or tweet me).  I'm not participating in the retweet forums because those caused my twitter feed to be junk mail and not meaningful (seriously, I got so burned out on seeing all of those feminine product tweets - it was ridiculous), I'm not participating in Facebook like and comment forums - if I like something I'll LIKE it {period} and sometimes share if I think you guys would like it.  
  • I AM and WILL provide authentic content.  My blog posts may be random topics, but guess what, I'm pretty random myself. :)
I hope this post enlightens true readers and is a warning to other bloggers to be authentic, it's just aggravating to real people like me.  

And just so you guys know, my next post is a DIY post - something useful!!!!  Stay tuned!!!! :)


Grinning Like An Idiot: Create your Happiness. I'm a stay-at-home mom who doesn't 'stay' very well. I like to provide everyone with resources and ideas for crafts, painting and DIY!