This is the first post that I have written that does not strictly apply to travel and is reflective of the blogging profession more broadly. It is something I feel very passionate about as a writer and would like to share it with you to give you further insight into my profession and the values that I uphold and apply to my work.
Bloggers have a lot of ‘power’ nowadays, sharing their thoughts and opinions to influence their audiences via multiple online/ social media platforms. As such, it should go without saying that they should be accountable for the way in which they deliver their messages. There is an expectation from our readers that we act fairly, honestly and respectfully when presenting facts and opinions, and clearly make the distinction between the two.
As a blogger, it is important to share your thoughts with your audience, however, it should be clear when they are your opinions vs. verified facts. It is ok to communicate controversial thoughts on matters, provided you ensure others know that they are strictly your opinions. You should also be up for the ensuing debate and respect that others may not hold the same views as you.
If you are reporting facts then add weight to your work by referencing your sources unless if may cause harm, in which case be honest and acknowledge your anonymous source. Seek multiple opinions that support your message, and consider including opposing views to show that your work is not biased. If you use non-royalty free images in your work, acknowledge the photographer by crediting their work – it’s only fair! Whilst imitation may be the best form of flattery, it doesn’t acknowledge your creativity as an artist or pay the bills! Treat others as you expect to be treated and reference your sources.
Tell the truth
It is the expectation of all who follow your work that you are honest in your opinions. This is incredibly important if you are working with brands and being paid for your content. If you don’t rate a product or service, you need a way, to be honest with your audience. Ultimately you are only as good as your word, and if you promote products and services that fall short, how can people trust you? I realise this may create a tricky situation if a brand does not live up to your expectations, however I would recommend that you think carefully about your brand alignment and the products and services that are relevant to your audience, ensuring that they are reputable before collaborating with them to minimise the risk of having to report a disappointing review. Or, if you do find yourself in those unfortunate circumstances, perhaps focus on giving constructive feedback and highlighting the pros and cons; your followers will be able to read between the lines.
Equally, have full disclosure with your audience – if you are working with a brand for money or gifts, acknowledge this. That said, your views should still be honest and representative.
Consider the suitability of collaborations
What is your niche? My blog focuses on affordable luxury travel, so it doesn’t make sense for me to work with brands that promote backpacking in South America for example. You can’t be everything to everyone. It makes sense to take a considered approach when reaching out to brands or assessing the suitability of the work they request from you. I once proposed an idea to a brand: Smithers and I would review a collection of their UK pet-friendly properties. When I requested to see some of them, I was told this wouldn’t be possible. I felt that I couldn’t honestly endorse the properties suitability for pet owners if I hadn’t seen any of their pet-friendly properties, so despite really wanting to work with this brand, I had to politely decline on this occasion. It’s important to be genuine.
Stand for something
As an influencer, you have the ability to affect the actions of others. That, in essence, is why brands pay big money to work with bloggers so that they can positively promote their brands to smaller engaged audiences. But, why not use the power of persuasion for bigger causes and where relevant, draw your audience’s attention to issues where they can make a difference through awareness or direct action? For example, following our recent travels in Greece, it came to my attention that the donkeys being used to transport tourists up the steep cliff face between the port and the hilltop villages were not well cared for and the well-fed tourists were causing injury to the poor animals. I was mortified by this and shared the knowledge with my followers, urging them to boycott donkey rides in Santorini. I’m pleased to report that as a result of tourists speaking out against this matter, last month Greece banned overweight tourists from riding donkeys. One small step for donkey, one giant leap for donkey kind!
Fess up if you make a mistake
We’re all human– sometimes we say things that aren’t considered and we change our minds, and sometimes we outright make mistakes. Be honest, just fess up and admit that you made a mistake. I’m sure your audiences will appreciate you respecting them enough, to be honest. Of course, you should do your best to avoid making mistakes, but just call it out and learn from it and move on if you do make one. Tomorrow is another day.
At the end of the day, blogging is a business like any other. We are a very important and impactful element of the marketing mix for brands and the community. We have the ability to reach out and engage our audiences, influencing their actions; so it goes without saying that we owe them and the brands we work with a certain level of respect and integrity. This is my ethos and the professional standards I apply to my work, so hope that you will trust in me and will return for more anecdotes from my travels along with helpful travel tips 😊
Until next time, safe travels.
*This is not an endorsed post
**I endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image I use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org