“Making a business off of documenting your life on social media is an unsustainable model, simply because of the toll it takes on your life, on your relationships, on your psyche, on your physical and emotional stability,”
This was a quote from Heather B Armstrong speaking to CBC Radio last week. I stayed in the car to listen to her. Heather – Dooce – was one of the pantheon of ‘big’ bloggers that I followed when I started on my blogging journey way way way back when.
Blogging was very new and her getting herself fired over her blog was what cast a HUGE spotlight on the new “hobby.” It was also what transformed her hobby into basically her entire life. Even today her following is enormous (1.5 million on Twitter alone) despite the fact that she claims to have walked away from it all. She is still here. Still writing and still -but now apparently, on her own terms – working with sponsors.
As a pioneer “mommy” blogger she was also one of the first to have every aspect of her life shared and gossiped about and many of those so-called fans relished in her personal pain (divorce) and rubbed their hands in glee to see the ‘Queen’ dethroned. And therein was the crux of her problem. What happens when real life clashes too much with the life the paying brands want you to ‘pretend’ to be? What happens when the digital self is just NOT the same as your real self?
I am sorry to totally agree with Heather. I also think that it is an unsustainable business model. But I am sure I will be unfriended and blocked by the many bloggers who are deep in it and disagree with me entirely. The other influencers that were interviewed by CBC were too deep in it still. Their kids young and their husbands enthusiastic about the fame and fortune now knocking at their doorsteps. Sadly the interviewer didn’t know enough about marketing to ask better questions to them or Heather. Many influencers today won’t care what Heather B Armstrong has to say about the industry. She made big dollars and is still supporting her lifestyle due to her influence. She got her piece of the pie and so why can’t everyone else go for it right?
During my blogging life, the model has barely changed at all when it comes to ‘influencer’ marketing. And it won’t change, not while the brands feel they are getting the results they want and there are plenty of influencers waiting in the wings to replace those who do bow out or don’t fit the model. Until we stop being influenced by the influencers, this form of marketing will not go away.
I am not slamming the bloggers and other influencers who are successful. I envy those who have been able to fully commit themselves and their families and I hope in these uncertain times that their digital careers sustain them. I was never able to fully ‘commit’ to the lifestyle. I never felt that I could easily lay the veneer that the brands wanted over myself and my family. Too much of ‘me’ oozed out and my writing failed me when it was too far from the truth. My family and home is also just not pretty enough for anything more than a blog. I can’t honestly imagine putting even more of my life into a job like the Instagrammers do. When is the downtime? When are you not on?
I worry about those that share ‘too much.’ I see the glee that people have when yet another YouTuber is brought down from their pedestals due to some scandal or another. Living in the spotlight has many negatives and the brands won’t be there to help, they will just move on to the next one and unlike an individual ‘stars,’ parental influencers are sharing their entire families with their audiences.
What do you think? When your job is your life basically….how do you step away from the limelight? How do you protect yourself and your family from the negatives? What do you do when there are no more perks like new toys to review or vacations? How do the kids deal with that?