Blogging is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to professions. Its like the literal pole of dancing, or being the drummer of Maroon 5 (what’s his name again? Case = point). Obvious Wall Street condescension aside (see recent article and ensuing apology if you missed the drama), this is not always a walk in the park. As someone who’s been working as an Op-Ed journalist since I was a precocious [that’s polite for “obnoxious”] 13 – 14 year old, I have known every side of journalism, but never found more animosity than when delving in to the field of being my own editor, coder, widget creator, tech designer, social media consultant and column writer (cough, cough…. a “blogger”).
Even worse, navigating the world of digital writing is all the more difficult because there are as many “sides” to take or “stands” to make that we might as well be talking politics and religion on the first date. Here are some insider takeaways:
* Don’t Call Us “Mommy Bloggers”: A fabulous friend of mine- Carol Cain from Girl Gone Travel– recently posted how often she corrects PR reps and brands donning her a “mommy blogger”. Why? In a sense, it’s somewhat of a derogetory term for those with journalistic backgrounds and/or editorial resumes that would blow your mind. Most truly successful bloggers were previously megas in the print world, but chose this route because virtual is virtually the new way to break boundaries. So what’s the biggest way to box ourselves in as women in the workplace? By coining ourselves as matriarch hobbyists. A lot of women truly blog for fun- it’s a way to express themselves, document memories – almost akin to scrap-booking. More power to them! But for those of us paying the bills with our internet Woodward and Bernstein-ism? Sadly, this only creates a thicker online glass ceiling for all of us combined (so speak up and politely decline potentially patronizing labels).
* Do It For The Right Reasons: We are not all Zoe Barnes (see also, my new obsession House of Cards on Netflix)- the cut throat, nudity prone, Eva Parone of the DC journalistic world. Being a writer means two things, generally: 1) you have to be prepared to have everything you create criticized by the general majority, even if said opinions are subjective or even completely wrong, and 2) you are at the hands of those around you. Get the wrong editor? You may wake up one morning to find that your words and message have run in the Sunday so twisted and distorted that you literally lose friends over an opinion that was never truly yours (this has most certainly happened to me in the past, although true friends understand professional misfire). Short story? You have to have a thick skin, and if you’re someone like me who wants to make everyone I love unbelievably happy to a fault [and who’s skin is perpetually very much thin]… this is maybe the hardest part of the gig.
* Stand Your Ground With Advertisers: Advertisers can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. They are either sending you press releases addressed to the wrong name, asking you to do 20 hours worth of work for a sample of lotion the size of your pinky toe, or writing emails in such broken English that the editorial side of you wants to send a polite, corrected response back in red ink. That being said, advertising is a necessary part of any writer’s life, and we need to stop judging each other so harshly for it. The way I see it is this: as long as we express our real opinion on a product or brand, keep our authentic tone throughout, and keep the ratio of personal recommendations gravely in advance of those sent to us for sampling… we are leagues above the magazine, print or commercial world. You’ve watched Mad Men, and Simba taught us about the orbicular nature of life… well welcome to it! (If only more Jon Hamm was involved?) Full disclosure is key… but sometimes a girl just needs to write a darn Sponsored Tweet and isn’t any lesser for it. If you clearly state the #sponsor and give your real thoughts on the matter- than I say tweet away. Why? If I wanted a hobby, I’d keep playing frisbee golf.
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