Blogging is a wonderful platform to express your thoughts and views. It also is a great platform to meet like minded readers and writers and make some good friends in the bargain. I for one have made some great friends here who are very close to my heart today. Blogging has made me more aware of the world around me and has helped me grow as a writer. Thanks to various blogging and writing platforms, there are new prompts every single day in case you are struggling with a writer's block. One of the most important aspect of blogging is the monetization. Bloggers normally receive a lot of goodies. Either in the form of contest wins or products/books to review. Thanks to the advent of the Internet, there are a lot of companies willing to pay bloggers a good amount in exchange for a well written article. Sponsored posts, these are called and are a boon to many. I have made quite a lot of money through blogging and I will continue to do so.
The money per post is luring, but I would only write about things that go with the theme of my blog or with me in general. Even for product reviews, I would only agree to review a product that has use to me or something that would help me in day to day life. I get a lot of requests to review products, but some of it make absolutely no sense to me. Diapers for example. I'm not a mother and very clearly I do not like taking care of children much. How would I write a review post for a diaper on my blog? It did not make any sense to me, so I had to decline. Someone sent me a tablet to review and the people around me were thrilled and jealous about the fact that I was getting freebies. I had to take photos on the product since I'm a food blogger too and review the tablet. It made sense, so I did it. It was not a sponsored post, but they did send me a tablet in exchange for an honest review.
I see a lot of people jumping into the blogging band wagon, in anticipation of getting free stuff. Thanks to the introduction of Happy Hours by a famous blogging community, almost everyone started a blog and started writing just to win vouchers and other stuff. A blog is an extension of the writer, but when non-writers desperately try to write something in order to get something in return, it cannot be called as blogging. To be honest I have seen a lot of blogs that have posts written only for contests and reviews of almost every product under the sun. Product reviews are good, provided the product is of use to you and you feel the need to talk about it. Over the past few months I have seen some women review a feminine hygiene product and reading some of their posts made me cringe. I agree menstruation is normal and should not be hushed about. But it is not something that needs to be screamed about from the roof tops either. I could sense discomfort in every word of their writing, and yet it was out there. Maybe it was a sponsored post and maybe it needed to be spoken about. But not at the cost of one's comfort. Am I the only one who thinks so?
Book reviews are something else altogether. I wasn't too sure of doing them but once I did, I noticed that people liked it and could relate to the way I was reviewing the book. I write what I feel about the book. I have hated books that are rated four star plus on other platforms. I still go ahead and rate the book based on how I liked it. I've had authors get in touch with me to review their books. They send me a copy and I read and review it. Some authors expect me to always write good things about it, just because they are giving me a free book. Let me tell this out loud once and for all. Reading a book is a time consuming task. So the book being a free copy or something that I have paid for doesn't matter at all. When I'm spending my time to read a book, I am investing something in it. Expectations are always zero with any book, but if it doesn't appeal to me at the end I say so. I have seen people rating every book they read a four plus. Maybe they fear that they will stop receiving books once they put out a bad review. I have seen cases in which the author acknowledges a few blogger friends in the book, and these very blogger friends give the book a five star rating. Irrespective of not liking the book. They are obligated to, they say. I find this absolutely fake and bordering on the the line of sycophancy.
As a food blogger, people envy me because I get to eat at some really posh and expensive places for free. But people don't get that for a food blogger this is just 1% of what happens. Most of the places I have reviewed on my food blog or on Zomato are those that I have visited out of my own interest with my husband as we love exploring new places and food. As exciting as it seems, food reviewing comes with a set of cons as well. Some food items are not appetizing at all, and yet you have to eat it to review it. Sometimes we end up with food poisoning and other stomach related issues. But people only prefer to see the bright side of it. Free food, what else do you need eh? I have food blogger friends who talk crass about what they have eaten, because it clearly would have been terrible. But when they review the place, they talk only good about it. Again they might fear that being honest and talking about what they feel, might get them off the food scene. But aren't they getting the very definition of being a food critic wrong?
Fashion blogging is another crowded scene. After a very brief stint, I decided to opt out of it. Today, every nook and corner has a fashion blogger. Fashion bloggers get a lot of perks. First hand invites to any fashion/beauty launch, free entries to fashion week and innumerable number of free beauty products. It is good to enjoy the perks, but doing it only for the perks is clearly questionable. If fashion is a passion and you have a lot to say, then so be it. But reviewing every single product on your dressing table is something I have no interest in reading. There is this one particular blog where the lady has reviewed a kajal, an eye liner, a mascara, an eye lash curler, an eye shadow all as individual posts. And the number of posts vary with the number of brands, and yet the same product. Same with clothing brands as well. I know of lot of women who started off as content bloggers (who had some good quality posts) and now have completely ended up as fashion bloggers. And to be honest, some of them are not fashionable or presentable to say the least.
Sponsored posts and product reviews are a good way of making money or owning products, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. You can't write about anything, just because you are getting paid for it. You can contribute to other sites and magazines about anything you want. Although that is not entirely justifiable. But when you are putting up something on your blog, I think it is important to see if it would go with the topics you normally write about. Or if you can connect to it on a personal level. Else, you need to learn a new word. It's called "No". Think twice before accepting a sponsored post or writing an entry for a contest. The same thing applies to book and product reviews too. And you need to be honest and write what exactly you feel. You want to be kind and sugar coat it, fine. That is better than writing a completely made up positive review. Remember, a review can go two ways. And as a reviewer you are entitled to both.
What are your views on sponsored posts?