This week, I had the pleasure of discovering that this blog currently ranks in the top 20 in the Australian Women Bloggers Directory! Wowsers, that was quite a shock – but a nice shock. I’m on there with a LOT of other women bloggers I admire.
I am chuffed that so many of you enjoy popping by my blog to see what I’ve been up to – I love the fact that what I have to say and share seems to connect with and inspire so many wonderful people!
I really value the fact that my voice has reach, and I also value each and every one of you – because without you, I’d be talking into the void (and hey, I’m an only child, I talk to myself enough as it is).
And it’s because I value you – and me – that you will never find a post about a generic big-name brand on Epheriell Designs. Oh, you know the ones I mean (I’m not going to name any). The brands that court bloggers. The ones that sponsor bloggers to attend events and focus groups and whatever else, because they want a cheap (yep, cheap – do you know how much it costs to run a TV ad?!?!) and ‘authentic’ way to get their brand in front of their target market.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there are bloggers who fit right in with those big brands. A mummy blogger, for example, being sponsored by a nappy brand. That makes sense. Working with the big brands fits with their message and their voice.
However, I am not one of those bloggers.
And I kinda wish that PR companies realised that before they e-mailed me. Because oh yes, I get plenty of e-mails from brands and PR people asking me if I want to write about this or sample that.
My standard reply is a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’, though occasionally I really want to write “really, mister or miss PR person? Really? Have you even spent 10 seconds looking at my content, or have you just checked out my traffic and stats?”
I am a craft blogger. I am a lifestyle blogger. I love handmade, and vintage, and art, and pretty things. And whenever someone who owns their own little indie business e-mails me, I love it.
I don’t always end up featuring them (and, due to my absent-minded nature and eleventy billion e-mails) I don’t always get back to them, though I try. But they are awesome. They are the people I want to share with you – to talk about.
People like me, who are going out on a limb to build a tiny little business. People who are invested in what they do, heart and soul. Those are the people I want to support. Not a huge company that has an advertising budget in the millions, and who really doesn’t need my little ol’ blog post about them.
In the early days, when I first started getting contacted by PR firms and brands, I was quite excited. It felt like validation. Like someone was taking notice of me. But even then, I hesitated to say yes. And you know why?
Because the idea of saying yes gave me a squicky feeling. Which is just another way to say it felt wrong – I felt like I’d be compromising my integrity and my voice by blogging about those brands. And luckily, I listened to that squicky feeling, and refrained from going down that path. And I am so damn glad that I did.
Yes, I accept sponsors here – but only ones who fit my aforementioned requirements (passionate, smart, driven, indie biz). The people who I accept as sponsors have a business I love and want to support.
Yes, this is a for-profit blog. But over the time I’ve been blogging, I have turned down a LOT of opportunities to just ‘make money’ or get free stuff. And not only do I not regret that – I am positively proud of myself for it.
Oh, I feel the pressure. I see other bloggers working with those brands – I see other blogs with a huge list of sponsors – and it makes me feel a little threatened. I worry… “will people see my blog, and see that I don’t work with big brands, and think my blog is unpopular?” I know – lame, right?
But I refuse to take that path, because I don’t feel that is what I – as a person – or I – as a blogger – am about. I have never been interested in the newest, shiniest thing. I have never wanted to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. My cars have always been second-hand. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs. I’ve never been interested in buying something because it’s the ‘newest model’ or because of the brand emblazoned on it.
Epheriell Designs is about living your own DIY life – working it out for yourself, making it yourself, taking the old and making it new… it’s about making do with what you have, and if you can’t, buying it from someone who has crafted what you’re buying with love.
It’s about breaking out of the traditional way of living – about thinking differently, and striving for your perfect life, not someone else’s vision of what it might be. It’s about following your passion, and being happy, and living within your means.
Maybe I’m just a bad capitalist.
But I’d rather be that than compromise my message, my voice, and the feeling in my heart. And so I come to my last point – maybe you, like me, have questioned this move to work with brands. It’s big in the US, and it seems to be making inroads here, too.
Maybe you don’t feel that it’s something you want to do. So don’t! Don’t let the shiny buzz of being ‘noticed’ by big brands distract you from your message – from your voice.
Because if you compromise your integrity, you lose your voice, and your message has less power. Do what feels right for you, and you won’t go wrong.
Have you ever felt (or caved to) this pressure as a blogger?
P.S. You MUST visit Yellow Bug Boutique and read their profile. They are the ones who make that pillow up there. It’s hilarious, and a perfect example of everything I want to support. I promise you will NOT be disappointed.