Yesterday I read a blog post from Sasy Scarborough titled Blogger, Blogga! Bloggrrr that I’ve been thinking about ever since. It focuses on the reality of fashion blogging in SL through the opinions of a fashion blogger who’s been around for a while. As of this writing there are over 60 comments on Sasy’s post including her continued discussion with her readers through her replies. I highly encourage all fashion bloggers to read through the post and even those who aren’t into blogging themselves or don’t blog fashion in particular should also take a moment to check out the post and comments. I think it’s interesting to garner insight on another part of the SL community and the troubles they face since it just goes to show that you never really know what someone else is dealing with in all areas of their lives.
Now a little background on me and why I keep thinking about this post. I am a fashion blogger (6 months) and I am also a blogger manager for the events held at Cleavage (2 months). I also manage the Cleavage region as a whole (1 year) so I’ve seen both sides of the fashion blogging coin firsthand from both designers and bloggers. I’ve even called it the “blogger situation” on more than one occasion when brainstorming ways to make blogging more effective for everyone involved. We haven’t figured it out yet and a lot of the points made in Sasy’s post regarding bloggrrrrs are the reasons why. Following Sasy’s original post and format, I’m going to add my 2 cents to the discussion here since I’m way to chatty for the comment section. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Chattiness ahead!
* Start up their blogs because they want to be part of something in their community. This was me in a nutshell when I first started blogging. On a personal level I loved taking pictures and was just learning Photoshop and all the fun things you can do with an editing program to really make pictures POP (I’m still learning this one). I also owned a residential region with parcels available for rent and at that time it was a real community where we hung out together on the region’s common areas and even had weekly parties to catch up with each other and just be together. Then I saw the blog posts coming out of the Cleavage events I managed and thought, “I can do that!” So Decadent Dreaming in SL was born to share all aspects of my SL with anyone who wanted to read about it.
* Have a definite joy in sharing information and content with their readers. They think of their readers, and how what they do effects them. I know there are a few people who go out and buy items they see in my blog without trying demos just because they see it in my blog. I know this because they’ve told me. They do this because they know me personally and know how particular I am about the items I wear or tools I use. So what I put in my blog has a definite impact on them and their wallets. For that reason alone, I am sticking with my own personal standards for quality and will not blog items that fall short of that benchmark. I admit, I’m a stickler when it comes to the details of edging and lines and even how a texture is portrayed across the avi clothing layers and mesh parts (one texture does not fit all). At one point in my SL I was the “final perver” for a designer and saw for myself how a piece of clothing is created, how it goes through the stages and comes out clean and beautiful to wear. For that reason, I also know when something has been put out too quickly, with no attention to detail or care for the quality of an item. I may love a store to pieces on a whole but will refuse to blog an item I feel is not up to my quality standards. I won’t wear hair that covers a flaw, bracelets or anklets that cover seams or do any of the other tricks bloggers use to make a shoddy item look pretty. I barely edit my fashion pics at all other than to smooth out the avi “pointies” like shoulders and elbows and I never fix a problem with an outfit through Photoshop. When a reader buys the outfit, they will see for themselves the lack of quality you hid behind your photo tricks and then never read your blog again since it was misleading. You can’t share information and content with your readers if they don’t come back and don’t trust you.
* Building honest relationships with Designers/Creators, over time, and caring about their content…such as letting a Designer know if there are errors in packaging, sizing, fit, and any feedback that may be helpful. I’ve never had a problem letting a designer know when something wasn’t right, even before I was a blogger, because SL happens, mistakes happen, and the next person to buy the item should get the correct version. Not all designers have acknowledged those NCs and IMs, but most do when it’s a genuine error and move to correct it right away with redeliveries or refunds. I can’t imagine any designer would knowingly leave a flawed product on the market since it could impact future sales, so if you buy something in red and receive it in blue, let them know!
* They CREDIT ALL. I make a conscious effort to do this in all my posts. If it’s on my avi, it’s in the credits section. I do struggle a little with scene items, especially if I’m on location or just shooting around my SL house, but will make a renewed effort to credit everything you see in a post in case it happens to be a picture hanging on a wall that you want to find.
Now this is a category I don’t fall into. I don’t know how to make the tutorials I see on other sites. I focus on fashion blogging. The only time I’ve ventured away from that was in a meme from Strawberry focused around sharing information on the tools used in your SL. I take pics of myself in outfits I put together and occasionally I take pics of friends who request it, but that’s the extent of my blog as a whole. Maybe I’ll venture out and start being even more chatty and sharing more information past the clothes I’m wearing that day. In the meantime I’m creating pages on this blog directing you to pages of other blogs where you can get some really fabulous information. Maybe I’ll even be a blogga! when I grow up.
Now here come the items that lead to the “blogger situation” I alluded to before. There are a lot of bloggrrrs out there tarnishing the blogger communities’ relevance as a whole. These are the bad apples designers tend to focus on because it makes them feel upset or angry or taken advantage of. As they should! But not all bloggers are bloggrrrs and the differences should be easily identified.
* A person that starts a blog because they think it is a way to get all the things they want to wear in their day to day, but not actually spend any lindens. … Blogging should not be a shortcut to amassing inventory. I have a love/hate relationship with my inventory and have a magic number I try to never go over. I’m over that number now (it’s 30,000 btw) so I’ll be having a stern sorting session soon where I simply trash items I don’t like, won’t wear, won’t wear again or don’t use. Having a big inventory in SL can actually hurt your experience in the way of lag so if all you want is more stuff, you’re not doing yourselves any favors. You’re also doing a disservice to your readers if you won’t buy anything for yourself. If you like it, you should buy it, blog it and credit it. If all you’ll blog is what’s been given to you, you’re limiting yourself and that leads to those “torn up from the floor up” posts we’ve all seen where it looks like an inventory exploded on a person with no regard for anything actually going together.
* IM Designers/Creators with Hi, Hello, you there, or even straight to the point of ‘ Send me new items” I can’t even imagine doing this! Not even to the designers where I’m in their blogger group and receive free items will I blatantly ask them to give me things! What a designer wants to share is up to them and if you like something else in their store that hasn’t been sent out, BUY IT! I’ve been caught a few times buying items at a store and there are some designers who slap my wrist or even refund my money, but I never ever expect them to do that and have even learned to shop when one particular designer is offline to avoid being reimbursed. I want to support these creators because I LIKE THEM and not because they give me things. I believe asking for items out of the blue is just tacky and we even have a rule with Cleavage events that if a blogger is found to be asking for review copies they will be removed. If you like it and want to blog it but it hasn’t been sent out for review, I will say it again… BUY IT!
* A Bloggrrr does not credit all items. I actually can’t stand this when it comes to an outfit. I’ve seen many posts where only the outfit from their “sponsor” is credited and nothing else. Not the hair, makeup, shoes, jewelry, nothing. If all you’re going to do is credit one store, post their vendor pic. I have no use for this kind of blogging at all.
* Taking time to learn how to do things that are part of a bloggers must know tools of the trade. If you cannot tint your feet, hands, bottom, mouth, ears etc go away and learn how to do so, it is readers that rely on you to know how to do that. I actually love this statement! Since I’m a boobie blogger, the mesh breasts are my sticking point. Don’t wear them if you can’t match your skin. Period. Just looks bad. Another pet peeve of mine is feet and stockings. If you’re wearing stockings for an outfit and then add shoes with prim feet, match the feet to the stockings and not your skin color! Stockings don’t just end like that, it doesn’t look right when they just end like that and shows you’re too lazy to fix it or even change it. If you can’t get feet to match the stockings, wear different shoes!
* Event blogging and getting into an event earlier than others is great. But if you apply for an event or miss the deadline on applying for an event, do not boycott the event. I’ve actually seen this first hand in blogger rants. They apply and are not accepted into an event therefore they bad mouth the organizers and the event as a whole. Why would you do that? Why are you really blogging in the first place? Do you like the items or just want the “prestige” of being on an event blogger list or is it something else entirely? We can’t all be chosen as official bloggers for an event, but we can all blog for an event by participating, buying and sharing our finds! Who knows, maybe even the posts you do on your own and post to Flickr will get noticed and you’ll be chosen next time. If you bad mouth the event, however, you are ensuring you won’t.
* Blogging obviously stolen copyright infringing items. This is a good one and speaks to a bigger issue in the SL fashion community. Pulling images off the internet and slapping them on a texture in SL then calling your item Sponge Boy instead of Sponge Bob is still copyright infringement. Call it whatever you want, but if you didn’t hand draw an original creative rendition of a known icon and instead pull the likeness directly from the source, don’t use it. So many designers do this tho and don’t seem to get in trouble for it. Why? Is it because they are so “big” in the SL world that people are afraid to speak out? Is it because designers are so concerned with the number of items they release and the number of events they are in that they are willing to take shortcuts that are illegal just to keep up? What is it? Copyright infringement happens in SL and it’ll only stop when people regularly report it and stores are held accountable for their actions.
I don’t see the “blogger situation” resolving itself any time soon. Bloggers will continue to do what they do because they love it. Blogga!s will continue to share their information with anyone who wants to learn or be informed. Bloggrrrs will continue to whine and complain and act childish when they don’t get their way making designers less likely to work with anyone calling themselves a blogger. It’s really a shame it’s come to this and I wish I knew the solution. Bloggers help advertise for an event, a brand, a name and are a valid part of the SL economy when done right and leads to new shoppers. Designers do need to recognize this and do their own research into who they want to work with and why. Discounting bloggers out of hand is short sighted in my opinion and openly bashing the blogger community as a whole will only gain fans in the designer community who see bloggers as freeloaders and not as the advertising tool they really are. So what’s the solution? Where do we go from here as bloggers, blogger managers and designers? What is your solution to this “blogger situation?”