'Why do people start a blog'? This simple question has led to numerous and well-founded opinions from in-and outsiders of the universe of blogging. And to be honest, most of the conceptions aren't pretty: are bloggers in desperate need for fame, attention, front row tickets, goodies, free trips or are they pure narcissists? So did these assumptions arise from jealousy or frustration? Or are they based on facts that merged into a general truth? Unfortunately the answer to this topic isn't as simple as it looks.
Let's start with a much easier question 'why did I start a blog'? Well, because Marc didn't want me! That's right, my hero Marc Jacobs wasn't interested in me. Naive as I was I had sent him my application because I truly believed that his company was doomed without me. After all, I had just graduated from the University of Leuven, cum laude. Being an alumnus from one of the best universities in Belgium (they say) can only mean one thing: I proved the world that I was smart! Besides the fact that I officially could declare my intelligence, I was gifted with a pretty unique style (they say). So in the end, this clever and eclectic Marc Jacobs devotee would have been a perfect asset to his company. But after a few months with no answer it slowly hit me: Marc doesn't want me!
Okay, plan B! How could I convince this planet of my deeply rooted love for fashion and my peacock style? I started browsing the internet and I discovered that you can manifest your true fashion personality by posting photos of yourself wearing a certain outfit. Hallelujah, that's it, that's what I want to do, that's the answer to all of my prayers. This was a sign from god and so I became a blogger, plus I needed a hobby.
My daddy always told me that a big part of your success has a lot to do with networking! Roger that daddy-o. So I started to interact with other flemish bloggers and I adored them. But networking as a blogger also means that you need to interact with PR-companies. This was another part of blogging that I did not know of and didn't know how to handle.
My first frustration: the events. PR-agencies organize events to promote their clients or to launch new products. But how the hell do you get invited to these events? In other words, why wasn't I invented? Did they not know of my existence as a blogger, wasn't I good enough, did my photos suck or did I? Besides the fact that I wasn't invited, I realized that some bloggers who didn't fit the product (in my opinion) did manage to get an invite. The invitation became even more important than the actual event. And so as some say, the infestation of the bloggers began, unstoppably!
Besides the events, PR-agencies indulge bloggers with goodies, frustration number 2. These goodies come with an unwritten and unspoken code: you need to blog, instagram, tweet and Facebook about this treat. Au fond there is nothing wrong with this 'quid pro quo'- principle. But again, why doesn't the product always fit the blogger? This leads to all kinds of misunderstandings and misbehavior. Instead of sending the product back, I did nothing! And instead of not posting it, I did. This means that I was slowly losing my unique identity that I was so damn proud of. I promoted stuff that didn't match my personality because I wanted to get more and more and more ... . Ultimately the free stuff became my extrinsic motivation to keep on blogging. How in the world did I get into this catch-22 scheme of covetousness?
It even got worse! Not only was my need for incentives insatiable, I became jealous of those who did get the good stuff. The stuff I deserved, the city trips that related to my travel-DNA, the goodies that matched my profile and the secret projects I wasn't asked for. My god the people I adored became my enemies and the greed led to frustration and negativism. Before I knew it, I was selling my soul to the devil, frustration number 3.
All of a sudden I realized that my fellow bloggers weren't the only ones to blame! Okay, we may like to receive and ask (yes ask), but the truth is we didn't start this unflinching wave of goodies! And to be honest, there is nothing wrong with receiving gifts! Yet the modus operandi of some PR-agencies on how to handle bloggers is not always that adequate. Their gift policy seems so arbitrary, random and based on a minimum of research.
Maybe my perception is created by a misconception, but the reason for this is the lack of communication. We simply do not communicate with each other about our true identity. Unfortunately my identity is keen on high-end labels; unfortunately high-end labels (or their PR) are not keen on me as a blogger. This has probably something to do with stats and numbers and benchmarks and league tables. But being assessed on quantity instead of excellence or uniqueness is pretty denigrating and wrong. To be honest, it breaks my heart that they don't recognize my endless love for big names. Isn't this what blogging is all about, the distinctive personality of the blogger?
There is no such thing as a blogging codex and the nonexistence of it makes it even more complicated. If you go to a cattle market you know the rules and you need to live by them. However if you contact a PR-agency, or vice versa, you don't always get what you see. I'm known for the fact that I like to kick someone in the shins every once in a while. So call me the whistleblower of a kamikaze pilot who is on a suicide blogger's mission, but this system needs a wake-up call. Frankly, I am sick and tired of beating around the bush and from now on, what you see is what you get!
Do I blame those who are trying to marginalize us, the bloggers? No! Because at some point, they are right. This system of greediness has reached grotesque proportions. And we all, PR and bloggers, are in desperate need of some good old critical self-reflection! In other words this 'give and take'-system needs to be overviewed and overthought. If we want the respect we think we deserve, we have to face the truth, a reality nobody dares to talk about.
'the wrong suite' Prêt- à-Porter