I started this blog just over a year ago. I had no idea what a blog was until I saw an advert pop up for a £7 course on “How to start a blog”. I was bored, curious, and had £8.45 left in my account – I was fully qualified to do this! 14 months later, and here’s what I’ve learnt. The problem with blogging is bloggers.

If you’re a blogger and you’re instantly offended here, then you’ve missed the point (shout out to those that came here from a link in a Facebook group, too!). There are zero barriers to entry with blogging now. Anyone with a computer or smartphone can do it – for free. Blogging doesn’t define you as a person like a profession or culture might – it just means you have a blog. This is not a diatribe aimed at every single blogger because that would be ridiculous; with no barriers to entry there is simply too wide a variety of people to do that. I suppose this should be titled “The problem with blogging is people”…but that’s a shit title.

The problem with blogging

I won’t be mentioning names here. It’ll just come back to bite me in the ass harder than a badly placed Direct Message screenshot, so I won’t.

When I started the blog I considered it an online diary that family/friends could read. I wasn’t aware of the communities, Facebook pages and cliques that exist for bloggers and I liked that – just doing my own thing. These groups are helpful to start with – they’re filled with experienced people and help is easy to be had in there. The politics soon take over, though, and the stagnant atmosphere becomes a breeding ground for bad feelings.

I’ve come full circle now – having dabbled in the whole community thing and sidestepped away from it, frowning and mouthing “okaaaay”, I’m happier outside of the forced politics they offer.

Besides, there are a LOT of unspoken rules in blogging, and usually those that take it upon themselves to police these are power hungry, incompetent or overcompensating for a lack of confidence. In some cases they’re all three. One admin kept telling me off like a teacher – “Mark, do you not see? Mark, I can’t have you doing this!” – behave love, you’re younger than I am and you’re allergic to fun.

“Communities”

I’ve made a lot of amazing friends through blogging communities, but they’ve also opened my eyes to just how ridiculous they can be.

Part of the aforementioned blogging course was choosing a niche. I hadn’t thought of that – so I randomly chose fatherhood. It was either that or technology, and I didn’t have the money for that. Little did I know that there are literally millions of parent blogs out there. Each one struggling to reword the posts of the other because, let’s face it, there’s only so much you can write about how you’re not getting any sleep. I found myself putting a lot of effort into a post to eventually discover that it had been written a thousand times before, only not as well (sue me) and half the time with the child’s name replaced with “Baby E” or “Toddler P”. That just makes the majority cringe. What are people going to do with the first name of your child, take out mortgages?!

Facebook groups

The blogger communities usually come in the form of Facebook groups and I’ve been a member of quite a few in the past. Those that I’ve not been banned from I’ve just abandoned. They’re all very much the same formulaic cesspit of malice, jealousy and self-promotion. I’ve never seen so many genuine smiles and sharpened daggers in one place before and it’s disconcerting. I’m not a good fit for these groups, because I have a bad habit of calling people out on bullshit, and that behaviour is frowned upon in echo chambers where bullshit is holding the walls up.

I’ve seen people chatting happily to each other in one group, then call each other’s children ugly in separate groups that they know the other isn’t a member of. Sickening. One blogger runs a blogger group on Facebook – her blog depicts a happy family full of smiles and sunshine, but that betrays the facts. The facts are that she’s literally threatened to kill an old lady, wished cancer on someone, made her husband believe the child was his when it was his best friend’s, had multiple affairs with other bloggers, and taken on the identity of other bloggers on Facebook to discredit them.

So yes, it can be pretty bad out there. You need a thick skin. I was once sent screenshots of a Facebook group where one of my cartoons was a topic of discussion. Some idiot thought it was about her and decided to tell everyone in the group. I had a load of vanilla mum bloggers drop their draft recipe posts and come at me on my Facebook page. Rolling pins in their hand – glimpses of “LOVE, LAUGH, LIVE” as their aprons flapped about in the wind.

I prefer to make my friends outside an environment of forced and controlled engagement. Facebook communities feel like a play date where the admins are pushy parents barking orders on how to play.

Pods

Let me explain this in honest terms for you. With blogging comes opportunities from companies. They want exposure – essentially to advertise their product through you. In return bloggers get money and/or products – and this is why the blogging community has become saturated and bastardised – a lot of people are starting blogs up with the sole intention of getting these opportunities.

Pods help the lesser able bloggers with this. A pod is a group of bloggers, usually on Facebook, and they agree to like/comment on/share each other’s posts on various social media platforms in return for reciprocation. They’re nothing but fraud, it’s as simple as that. The partakers want companies to think that they have an active audience who engage with them. They don’t. You can spot people in pods because they have the same people retweeting/liking/sharing their content when you know yourself it doesn’t deserve it. Pods are the blogger equivalent of lying on your CV.

Pods are the blogger equivalent of lying on your CV Click To Tweet

Let’s be honest – if the content was good – the posts would get likes and shares anyway. Just let natural selection take its course here.

Linkies/Linkys

These are essentially the same as pods, except directly on someone’s website/blog rather than social media. A group of bloggers post links to their latest blog post. They must read at least one other blog post on there and leave a comment. The same is done for them.

“But Mark – isn’t this just a way to promote your stuff?”. Well, yes – but you’re literally forcing people to read your stuff when they don’t particularly want to, and the only thing they get in return is that you read their stuff when you don’t particularly want to.

It. Really. Is. That. Stupid. People who run them dress it up and give the impression they “can’t wait to read all these blog posts” and “it’s a great way to discover new blogs”, but in reality they’re dreading having to scan read 800 words of bollocks with enough accuracy to formulate a stock comment.

Awards

These piss me off. They piss many people off, truth be told. You’d think the term “awards” would imply a proper accolade. An honour bestowed amongst the truly gifted writers out there.

No.

The problem with blogging awards is that they comprise the very best and the truly illiterate in one top-10 list and they all just bleach themselves into “just another award that means nothing”. I’ve seen one award-winning blogger who would need to read The Hungry Caterpillar at least four times to get the general gist of it.

The problem with blogging awards is that they comprise the very best and the truly illiterate in one top 10 list Click To Tweet

Couple the above with the fact that some bloggers create group messages with 50+ people in and beg them all to vote for them, and you get a feel for just how meaningless these things are. It’s frustrating that I know many people who are so deserving of recognition who don’t have it, and many who have it who don’t deserve it.

Besides, if you can win a comedy blog award by slagging off your kids and throwing in the odd redeeming “aren’t they cute” instagram post, is the follow-link badge on your site really worth degrading your kids that much?

The sponsored content

This is it. The crux of it. The problem with blogging. This is why 99% of the blogs out there are created – because people want easy money and free stuff. This is why people join those pods, fake their stats, beg for award votes and force those smiles when other people get ahead of them.

Some bloggers – top bloggers at that – even buy their followers. They pay actual real money for robot accounts to follow them on social media. It’s the digital equivalent of a teddy bear’s picnic and makes you only marginally more intelligent than the stuffed toys you’re tweeting to.

Fiona Sarah of A Mum Track Mind wrote a good post on this recently: https://amumtrackmind.com/lifestyle-2/selling-stuff/ – give that a read!

I say do what you want, but stay true to yourself. Quality wins quantity every single time for me.

In summary

Stop playing games. Everybody knows.