The Blogging Bamboozle: We don't review the market, we ARE the market
Every week, millions of bloggers upload their creations to cyberspace. I doubt there is a single topic or product that has not, in some way, been mentioned by the army of us. In fact, I'm sure you know a handful of prospective bloggers personally, or like me, are a self-professed blogger yourself.
This ever-growing demographic has not gone unnoticed by businesses. Take Saint Laurent (YSL) for example. Earlier this year, Saint Laurent released their 'Monogramme Blogger' bag for an eye-watering £470. Predictably, the blogosphere lapped up this little bag. It was featured on hundreds of blogposts, YouTube Accounts and Instagram feeds. I am completely convinced that it's popularity owed almost entirely to the novelty value and clever branding of the bag - this is a blogger's designer handbag.
Similarly, Paperchase recently brought out their 'Let's Squawk Blogger's Journal'. The journal is marketed solely at bloggers, "Become a super-star blogger with this stylish journal from our Let's Squawk collection, it contains...160 pages of paper specially printed with monthly views, daily maintenance, ideas pages and expenses trackers'. Clearly, companies are able to produce these products because there are so many of us.
I may be reading too much into this phenomenon, but whilst researching, I found that the blogger's journal was much more expensive than other journals in the range. Although this could be because Paperchase expect less people to buy the journal, I'm going to approach this occurrence more cynically. Yes - products designed exclusively for bloggers further emphasise the power of the 21st century blogger, as well as validating the profession to it's many critics (hi Vogue). However, I can't help but feel businesses are exploiting us too.
I was recently contacted by a company that asked me to review one of their handbags in return for 30% discount. I did a quick Google search and found a couple of reviews that claimed the company was specifically targeting new bloggers (with small followings). The company's (pretty obvious and pretty exploitative) business plan went as followed:
1) Approach new blogger about a business opportunity. This will most likely be the first time they are contacted by a brand (true in my case) and will be delighted at the opportunity.
2) Give them 30% discount to help persuade them to buy the bag & ask them to do a blogpost.
3) They've bought the bag. Target new blogger.
Similar stories can be found amongst businesses offering extortionately-priced courses that claim to sell 'that ONE secret tip no-one tells you about blogging' to 'dramatically boost' your following. The same goes for over-priced 'How to get 500-followers-a-week' ebooks and Etsy designers that sell all-white, minimalist blog templates that can't have taken more than five minutes to create for hundreds of pounds.
Ultimately, we don't simply review the market, we ARE the market. And don't forget it - or you could find yourself bamboozled, blogger-style.