It’s not just bloggers. I’ve spoken to marketers and publicists who don’t understand why I would have a blog other than to fish for free stuff. When I try to talk about my big picture, why I’ve bothered to blog for so long and why I choose to focus on helping fellow creatives, rather than getting free crap, it’s as if I’m talking another language.
This is, of course, a very short sighted approach. Blogging is really just a subset of a much bigger and more fundamental digital revolution that is changing every field of work, or at least every field that depends on the sharing (or concealing) of information, the formation of ideas and the trading of good and services.
Blogging for free stuff is short-sighted; eventually readers will see the reviews are fuelled only by basic exchange, a free meal for a positive write-up, free web hosting for some glowing appraisals, a new shirt for a retweet. The credibility gap will catch bloggers out, unless of course, they give up before they get found out.
It’s probably not a coincidence the bloggers I admire, the ones who seem to consistently inspire me with their words and the way they handle themselves online, are playing the long game. They connect their activity online to long term hopes and dreams they have for themselves and those around them. These might be artistic endeavour, career, family, education, personal or spiritual growth. The specifics of the work don’t matter as much as the connection to the long game. They blog as a way to demonstrate their skill, experience and credibility.
Blogging was never just about the blog itself and certainly not about getting free stuff. Blogging was about being able to get your ideas and your work out into the world, without having to rely on pleasing institutional gatekeepers or having to overcome the massive financial and regulatory hurdles that existed in the old systems of publishing and distributing creative work. This once in a thousand year opportunity to take your career destiny into your own hands is worth a hell of a lot more than a free meal.