My Thoughts on Blogger Transparency

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Navigating this digital landscape of blogging and influencing can be a tricky thing. Here’s my thoughts on blogger/influencer transparency.

Ok friends, I’ve been meaning to write a response to the big article in the Washington Post that caused quite a lot of conversation in the blogger and influencer community these past few weeks, for a while – but alas, we got hit with the flu, so it slowed me down. The thing is: this isn’t just a conversation for bloggers and influencers, it’s important for all of us, anyone that’s reading content online, because it impacts us all. So that’s why I’m addressing it again here. I did do a quick chat on my Instagram stories a couple weeks ago (let me know if you caught it), but I want to dig a little deeper. (And I’ve also shared many unedited, pictures from inside our tiny, messy, NYC apartment from over the years.)

First, this isn’t the first time that transparency about what we’re sharing online made headlines. Almost three years ago, there was an article about these double lives that some live in the New York Post, that I wrote a full response to here. The short of it is that we tend to show what is beautiful and happy in our lives on our social media profiles instead of what’s real, and only showing these spotless perfections has a very harmful impact on everyone around us – because we all start playing the compare game. This then happens ten fold in the blogger/influencer community, which brings us to the Washington Post article of this year.

The article basically accuses everyone who works in the the blogger/influencer world of creating this spotless, sponsored internet void where no parts of our real lives are shown. We only show the shiny. We create staged photos for campaigns and you never see anything out of order in our lives. We exude perfection and nothing else. I think this is only a half truth, and in order to explain why, I’m going to share a little bit of background on my blogger journey.

I am a writer at heart. I started freelance writing whenever I was in college and I did my college internship with an up and coming fashion blog and learned how to run a blog from the ground up. I managed a team and I learned what it took to make money in this business right from the beginning, and the “entrepreneurship bug” got me. I knew once I graduated that I could do the same thing and be good at it – but it doesn’t just happen over night. I couldn’t do anything that I do with my blog today if I didn’t spend day and night connecting with you all in an authentic way. I shared stories in the beginning like poop and boy, boys, boys that had bad pictures or small pictures or no pictures at all – but they told the story of my life as a mom and gave me a platform to voice my opinions, struggles and share my personality.

As time has passed, this platform has evolved. Heck, I’ve evolved.  And while I’ve always known that I wanted to be able to be a WAHM and make money from telling these stories of our lives, I think I’ve done it in a way that this is honest and true to myself and my readers – with the right balance of sponsored and non-sponsored content. But I’m also not naive enough to think that everyone handles their business that way, and this is where things get complicated.

I think that the rise of the influencer really came about with the creation of the Instagram platform, which we all do need to keep in mind is an artistic space. Unlike twitter where we write with character limitations and facebook where video and articles are king, Instagram is a grid where we place these images in the most beautiful way possible to showcase our experiences. First came the photographers, then the travelers and then eventually the influential moms. But there was a shift here: so many of these mom influencers on Instagram didn’t have blogs where they were sharing lengthier stories, just this visual platform in an artsy space. So ya…they are going to be pretty images.

But, to me, the accounts and images in question are the perfectly curated ones. I’m not here to name names, but you know them, you’ve seen them. They show nothing but crisp white hues, homes that are completely color coordinated to match their Instagram colors and the clothing that every family member wears is somehow how magically color coordinated, too. And they look like this no matter how far back you scroll and scroll. These are the ones that I find myself going down that dark hole of comparison with. They are the ones that make me feel like my life is boring, messy and that I am anything but a perfect mom. To this I simply say stop following, because they will only get the best of you.

Then of course, there’s the element of advertising to take into consideration. Since the beginning of time, advertising is about showing the beautiful “what can be” when you use a certain product and when we accept a sponsored post, that is an element we must take into consideration. There is a lot of time spent talking with brands, brainstorming ideas, working on content in the most authentic way possible that happens behind the scenes that you don’t see. There is so much time that goes into the final product and we really do try to make everything as relatable as possible while still getting the brand’s message through. At the end of the day, for many of us, these platforms help pay our bills and this is a business for us, so striking a balance is crucial. And I think (hope?) that most blogger/influencers understand that.

My friends over at Everywhere Agency wrote a great article with their response, too – so much of which I agree with whole heartedly. They argue that the mom internet isn’t dead, it’s just evolving and this is so, incredibly, true. They said, “At the end of the day, we find that the best influencers are authentic, real, aspirational, and strike a good balance between sponsored and non-sponsored content. Yes, their images might be staged. Yes, that’s probably not what their kitchen looks like 100% of the time. Yes, their kid probably spilled apple juice all over themselves two minutes after the photo was taken. And yes, they are compensated for some of their posts. You can say all the above. But you can’t say these women don’t tell meaningful stories, tackle serious issues, or have real opinions.” Heck yes!!

Looking for similar articles? Here’s some you’ll love:

Overall, I think it’s possible to be both pretty and transparent. And just because we choose to upload what we think is the cutest of 25 pictures we took of our kids to Instagram doesn’t make us an inauthentic blogger or influencer.

Fashionably Yours,

Allison

Comments

  1. Kelly Dye says:

    Thanks for giving love to Everywhere Agency!!! We appreciate you and love that you are telling it like it is! Your take on authentic content is what keeps us in business!

    • Allison Cooper says:

      Love working with you guys always! You’re response was very inspiring to read and love how you showed so much support for the blogging community!

  2. I’ve been thinking about if I wanted to write a response since reading that article andI’m happy to have read yours. I’m a huge believer of #transparentparenting. In fact, it is one of my favorite hashtags to use. I had to stop following a bunch of those perfect accounts so that I wouldn’t feel inferior with my less than perfect IG. Yet, I wouldn’t change my space on the internet because I love connecting to other real moms and sometimes I appreciate those perfect images and the work that goes into creating them!

    • Allison Cooper says:

      I agree with you Melissa! I need to go follow the #transparentparenting hashtag because I didn’t even know that was a thing! Exactly – you hit the nail on the head with the appreciation factor that goes along with the work that these amazing mamas put into what their doing. And at the end of the day, some people just aren’t ok with sharing the negative and that’s okay, too – but balance is everything.

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