Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Why blogger awards don't matter...



Dust off your finest gown and drop that gorgeous cocktail dress off at the dry-cleaners, it’s that time of year again – awards season! The awards season is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, with the Globes, SAG, Oscars and BAFTAs coming up in short succession. All eyes are on the red carpet to dissect the attendees sartorial choice and decide whether they were a hit or miss. Over the last couple of weeks though, the spotlight has been on bloggers. Two major weekly glossies have announced their shortlist for fashion and/or beauty bloggers. How exciting for those who have made the cut; time to rally up the troops (readers) and get your hard earned community to vote and spread the word, right? Actually, you might want to think twice about that.


Most of the bloggers who have made the shortlist have been around the blogging block for a couple of years. They have paid their dues and managed to walk the fine line between having a real, offline life and being a blogger – harder than it sounds. If they’re anything like me, days are extremely long and blogging is a part of daily life rather than something they do a few times a month. So it’s great to get some recognition, right? Yes. Although most of us are in it for our own satisfaction it’s lovely to feel appreciated, especially by a major glossy. Those 19 hour days suddenly don’t seem so bad; the frustrations with Blogger/Wordpress are a little more insignificant and balancing your camera on a book…on a box…on a chair for an outfit shot seems less ridiculous. The upshot from being shortlisted is sure to give you a boost in traffic and hopefully some new readers, the kudos from being crowned the winner…well, it would be amazing.

Now before you start pimping out the ‘vote for me’ links (they are always voted for by the public), take a look at what prize is actually up for grabs, the tangibles. One of the glossy mags generously allows the winner of the best blog categories to write an article for them while the winner of the best Twitter categories get to guest edit their Twitter feed. So your prize is working for free. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like such a good deal to me. I haven’t been blogging for four years to become a lacky, have you? The other glossy is slightly better, offering a feature in the magazine for the winner – great for getting your name out there and potentially tapping a whole new readership.

Still, weigh up the intangible “prize” with the time and effort it takes to blog/tweet/Facebook/harass your community into voting for you. Personally, it’s not really worth it for me. The lack of thought into the prize coupled with the careless approach to compiling the shortlist show that they don’t really “get” it. A useful prize like a paid column or a DSLR/tablet would show an understanding of what bloggers need. The nomination process could also do with some work, one glossy asked for bloggers to nominate themselves or get nominations from their community (again with the voting) while the other put together a really shabby shortlist with some blogs in there twice or with two different URLs and several inactive blogs making the cut.

I’ve spoken to a couple of my blogging peers to see what they think:

Muireann from Bangs and a Bun: I mainly think that these are first and foremost, a cheap tactic. While bloggers are gaining in popularity and working our asses off to gain an audience, the reality is, mainstream national press coverage is still seen as quite a coop. 
I understand why people want to enter them. Let's be honest, blogging is an egotistical industry and we want the recognition! However, these awards do far more for the magazines than they do for the blogger. 

Reality check: magazine sales are slumping. Online media is thriving. So sure, while us bloggers may not get as many hits as the big mags, our readers are fiercely loyal. They trust us and our motives and viewpoints more. With every blogger tweeting begging to win votes for an award, all that happens is we see the mag's name more and they get more hits. 

And when the 'prize' is to win the opportunity to write for them, for NO PAY? Get outta here! Where is the benefit for me? I take what I do seriously. It's my business, it's my job. If they valued what we do at all, they'd run a competition for a blogger to have a paid monthly column on their site or something. 

The way most of these are currently set up, I see very little benefit to the blogger. But it has to be said, until bloggers see the value in themselves and what they have to offer, it will continue. Unless we're all united in saying this is nonsense and we deserve more, we will continue to be treated like to sappy little sisters of mainstream media. 

Jenny from The Style PABy and large these campaigns provide a lot more for the magazine than they do the bloggers. Bloggers have to badger their audiences for votes which may in fact put readers off their blog, rather than turn them on to it. I don't like the idea of begging for clicks or votes, as much as I'd love to win a prize. The prizes should be worthwhile too, a top of the range digital camera or holiday seem to be easy to negotiate for reader giveaways, why not do that for the bloggers who are being advocates for the magazine's brand. Work experience is all well and good, but it should be paid. Running a competition shouldn't be an opportunity to save of contributor fees. 

Don’t get me wrong, blogger awards could be great and very beneficial for the winner and nominees but at the moment, the glossy mags are the real winners what with the increased traffic and social media buzz. I remember the days of old school blogger awards; made by bloggers and given to a select five whom you usually knew well. They were heartfelt and genuine, which is exactly what we need from magazine blogger awards. I’ve been shortlisted for a few of the awards and of course I’m incredibly flattered but I’m not going to canvass my community for votes. But that’s just me though, major props to those who have been shortlisted and best of luck. But before you drum up support from your lovely community, just think about the prize and whether it’s all worth it. 
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