Just Breathe…. Discussing Bloggers, Designers, and Sponsorship

It’s been an emotional day.

Even now, I’m not sure what I’m going to write or how I’m going to begin. There are a few things I’d like to discuss in this post but I want to approach them gently, as gently as possible, anyway.

I was removed from one of my blogger groups this afternoon. No warning, no offlines, no “hey, Portia, I noticed you haven’t posted in a while” or even a “thanks for doing what you did but we need to keep our roster super-active,” kind of message. There was nothing and, I’m not going to lie, I took it hard as I have been covering this brand unofficially for many years. I’m still taking it hard, trying to get through the night by reminding myself to breathe through the ache in my throat and the stinging in the corners of my eyes.

Breathe.png

It’s been hard for me to find the time to blog this month. All of us get busy and sometimes I’m jealous of the fact that many of the bloggers I admire find the time to post regularly, even frequently, when it’s been so hard for me to carve out a few hours to sit down and work on a picture. That’s what it is for me: hours. The picture you see above, which I love, took about three hours from start to finish, maybe a little longer because I had to reinstall Photoshop (thank you, Life). This post will take another hour to write because I’m not interested in posting a picture and credits. I won’t do it. It breaks my heart a little bit to think that if I’d just bent a little bit on that ‘rule’ of mine in the past, Mask and Mien could be doing better than it is now. I wouldn’t have let one of my favourite people in SL down the way I did.

Bloggers have a bad reputation in a lot of places, I know it, and I’ve listened to people characterizing bloggers as little more than lazy hangers-on that are only in it for ‘free stuff.’ I’ve heard models described in the same manner and with worse language. This is a subject that arises constantly regarding sponsorship of bloggers and models; some people are for it and some are against and, honestly, there are valid points on either side of the debate. What most of us forget sometimes is the fact that we’re all human. There are real, live people on the other side of the group chat box you’re typing into, ranting about this or that and their experiences factor into how they respond to your words. The avatar you’re complaining about isn’t just pixels – they’re human beings with lives that extend beyond the online world. They need to eat and sleep, work and play, just like everyone else. They have families and friends. Hell, sometimes they just want to watch tv or sit down and read a blog post. Just like you.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own realities, so easy to dismiss other opinions and methods as simply wrong because they’re different from our own. I struggle with this on a regular basis, especially when it comes to fashion, blogging, and photography because I do put so much time and effort into my hobby. Every shot I take is the result of a ridiculous amount of scene styling and fiddling for just the right angle, just the right windlight to set the mood for my pictures. Accessories are fitted and resized, rotated and adjusted for gravity because 1) I know how to do these things and 2) I care about the images I present to the world. I take time to flip through (sometimes hundreds of) poses to find the one that best represents the outfit I’m showing and, again, the mood and theme of that styling. For a fashion show or a competition this takes even more work because there’s no photoshop to fall back to on the runway; the poses I choose need to be ‘prim perfect’ from every conceivable angle.

“Defensive much?” you might wonder – and the simple answer is .. well, kind of, actually.

Blogging isn’t easy, not even a little bit. I have a blog because I love writing, styling, and photography. I enjoy having a place to share my thoughts and, believe me, if I was looking for any way to save money in SL, fashion blogging and modelling wouldn’t be the way I’d choose to go. For every item that’s been passed to me for review I’ve purchased many more to bring that item to life, not because I’ve had to but because I love to do it. The creative process is what drives me and having or not having sponsors won’t change the quality of what I bring to Mask and Mien. It makes it easier, sure, but I believe in supporting talent over kissing ass. When I take the time to style an outfit or work on a blog post it’s because I care enough to take hours out of my day to make these words and images happen. In one year or in ten, I want to be able to look back over this blog and be proud of what Lucky and I have accomplished here.

I regret that this post isn’t especially happy and I regret even more that  it’s been so long since my last entry. Mostly I’ve been sleeping at night like a regular person so I’m not terribly upset about it.😉 I’ve been playing with my nephews and cuddling their adorable little faces off at every opportunity.

How do you feel about sponsorship? Have you thought about what it means for both bloggers and designers? How much control should designers have over the content of a blogger’s post? Where should we draw the line when bloggers fail to perform and meet their ‘blogligations?’ How do you think the partnership should be dissolved if and when it becomes necessary to part ways?

~ Credits ~

Skin Appliers: Lara Hurley-Christy Rose Pale *Catwa Appliers* ~ Lara Hurley
Head: CATWA HEAD Annie 4.9 ~ Catwa Clip
Mesh Ears: [MANDALA]STEKING_EARS_Season5 ~ Yokonosuke Eel
Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Lara V3.5 ~ Onyx LeShelle
Mesh Hands: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands – Elegant1 ~ Siddean Munro
Makeup Appliers: Izzie’s – Catwa Tears ~ Izzie Button

Hair: .LeLutka.Clarice hair. ~ Thora Charron

Shirt: *COCO*_OffShoulderShirt(White)_Fitted_Maitreya_Lara ~ Cocoro Lemon
Skirt: PEQE – Indian Princess (Blue) ~ Inex Hax

Earrings: Chop Zuey ~ Mbielu Earrings ~ Belle Roussell

Pose: *PosESioN* Lingerie 1 ~ Dahriel

~ Set ~

Windmill: Wind water pump [G&S] ~ Sombra Magic
Grapes Trellis: Botanical – Grapevine Trellis Long ~ Kriss Lehmann
Bee Skeps: Infused Bee Hive [G&S] ~ Sahiela Lavendel

Grass: [we’re CLOSED] grass field lush ~ Wendy Xeno
Wildflowers 1: Heart Plants – Loosestrife – Summer ~ Lilith Heart
Wildflowers 2: Heart Plants – Daisies – Summer ~ Lilith Heart
Wildflowers 3: [we’re CLOSED] wild flowers ~ Wendy Xeno
Trees 1: Ka-la-na tree [G&S] ~ Sombra Magic
Trees 2: Jian – Ash Tree (Large) ~ Kalia Firelyte
Trees 3: Arbol / Tree [G&S] (V.1.2) ~ Sombra Magic

Y.B – sim surround landscape Dolin ~ Yony Bing

11 thoughts on “Just Breathe…. Discussing Bloggers, Designers, and Sponsorship

  1. I prefer to keep myself completely independent, and we buy everything we write about at Around the Grid, which means that (at least at the time) we like what we’re modeling. I’ve not been thrilled with the growing trend of bloggers turning into, essentially, staff writers for designers, because (a) I don’t have the time or ability to do the required amount of writing; and (b) if they didn’t put out anything I liked, I wouldn’t want to write about it. Of course, the odds are that, if I applied to some designer, it would be because I liked their work; but then there’s still the time constraint. I don’t publish much — especially during the summer, when the kids are out of school and it’s harder to find time — but what I do publish is, hopefully, well written and photographed; and I ask that of Jem and Conan as well in our partnership.

    1. Thank you, Harper, for responding to this post! You make completely fair points and the more time Lucky and I spend blogging here, the more we’re starting to feel the pressure of publishing posts that our sponsors are going to enjoy because, yes, we’ve applied to those groups because we want to work more closely with those designers. It’s becoming harder to find time to cover the things that we just really love outside of those obligations.

      It’s a trend, though, and by submitting those blogger applications, we’re agreeing to write a certain number of posts every month regardless of what’s being released and when. Not a problem, ideally, but what happens when it becomes an issue?

      You give good blog, honey, and I’m proud of the fact that you and your team are doing it -your- way. Kudos and much love, always.❤

  2. Your words are so thoughtful and ring so true, Portia. Blogging in SL can be an expensive, time consuming, challenging pursuit, and should only be taken up by those who have a sincere passion for styling, fashion, photography, attention to detail, forging connections, and so many other details that go into making it a successful endeavor. When the effort isn’t appreciated, or is diminished, it’s immensely hurtful and discouraging. I’m so sorry about the group who let you go, and I hope it doesn’t dull your shine, beautiful lady. You put your heart and a lot of effort into your blogging and pictures, and it always shows. Sending great big hugs your way! ♥

    1. I’ve got to say that it did more than dull my shine initially because, as you say, it was a hurtful thing to experience. I’ve always cared about what I do here and I feel awful when time doesn’t allow for more than a post or two in a month, not because I feel obligated (which I do) but I hate feeling like I’m letting anyone down. Relationships are reciprocal whether we’re friends or colleagues, family or acquaintances or ships passing in the night. It feels wrong for me to accept more than I give and, INFP Lady, I think this is a thing you understand.

      I didn’t mind so much that I was out because I knew it was a possibility. I know what I signed up to do. The delivery method was the problem. We’re all people. However I feel about certain individuals in Second Life, it’s important to treat everyone with kindness, even (and probably especially) when we’d rather not.

      Thank you so much for your words, Ever. Lucky told me you’d been over here tonight and even before I read your comment, I smiled. You have that power.

      SO many hugs!❤

  3. I’m sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, it’s so regular. There needs to be common courtesy on both ends, but it doesn’t exist because SL is a wild west of sorts. I have come to agree with those that blog for themselves and at some point I’ll go in that direction. Balancing all the demands isn’t easy. For what it’s worth, your photos and blogging/writing is wonderful and anyone would be lucky to have their creations featured here.

  4. I briefly dabbled in fashion blogging and decided very early on that it was definitely not for me. Free stuff, yes, great – but for the few events I did, I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of items I received. Some were definitely not my style, and it was a struggle to blog them – not because they were bad, but because they just weren’t me. I gained a whole new level of respect for those who are fashion bloggers in SL, because it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The free stuff is nice, but honestly, most bloggers wear it once or twice and then are on to the next event/item. Add in setting a scene (and buying the items for that), the poses (which are also usually purchased), and all the photography skills involved – if it was that easy, the designers would be doing it themselves!
    I’ve seen some pretty vicious behavior and it’s just sad. How long would it have taken for someone to just drop an IM with a ‘thank you, but we need to remove you for X reason’? RL always comes first, whether it’s an emergency or someone who just wants to spend a bit more time with their family. I personally don’t feel that designers should have a say at all over what goes into someone’s blog. Are they taking input from bloggers when they are designing? If you are meeting the obligations you agreed to, then you have fulfilled your part of the bargain.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing – work that you are proud of. That shows, and it’s what drew me to your blog in the first place!

  5. I love the shot. I know it was an emotional one for you and I think it came out very well. We’ve talked about the post so you know the details to my opinions on things.

    In short it’s a double edged sword. It’s great to have sponsors as it can definitely aid in growing your “brand” as well as a cost save from time to time. We all know it’s minimal because I’m sure most do as we do, finding things to use with it (poses, hair, etc.) usually means there isn’t a large gain if any at all.

    At the same time, when RL gets hectic or other things come up it can be a ball of stress to sit and think “Damn I have to do so many posts for this, and some for that, and oh crap that too.” It’s a balancing act.

    When it comes to meeting the obligations and how to deal with it I would say communication should be the first option. Both from the blogger and the designer/manager. As you said even just a “Hey we really need to keep the list super active” is understandable to me.

    For most people blogging for a brand means they most likely love the brand and they want the best for them. If they’re not meeting it then they /should/ understand hearing that. I agree on being kind about things because you never know what someone else is dealing with at the time. We’re all spread across the world and each person has their own issues in their lives. While we can say we understand what someone else is going through I don’t think you can ever really understand it 100%. Everyone deals with things differently.

    I know the love and appreciation you have for the brands that are sponsors and how much it matters to you to do right by them. It shows in the work that you do and I would like to think that they see it as well. In the end though you have to do what is best for you. Because really, if you’re not happy, what’s the point of it.

  6. Your blog, photos and taste is impeccable . Booting you from their blog roll was a mistake on the designer or the manager’s side, not yours. We never know what goes on on the other side of one’s computer screen, which is why it is so important for everyone to be patient with each other. I keep my *sponsors* ( I wish there was a better word, I hate that one ) very low, 2 or 3 . I used to apply to tons of events and those looking to fill their blogger list but I stopped a few years ago because it sucked the fun out of SL and blogging for me.

    Look at it like this , you may have lost ONE sponsor but now you have several hours that you can spend at RL OR enjoying some SL play time!

  7. I read your post several times, and I think for many of your points, I could have written something very similar. I told a friend the other day that I did 10 blog posts and I think one repost for the month of June. She said that’s great…but I still felt like I didn’t do a good job because it’s not 20+ posts a month like some others can do.

    I always see blogging as 3 components: styling, photography, and (blog) presentation. It is difficult at times to do all 3, especially when you are weak in one area or pressed for time. I have had times where I had to do a quick post to make sure I met my obligations…but I don’t like that. It’s unsatisfying. And it doesn’t help me grow. So I try to give myself more time to do posts…even if it means making a calendar that has deadlines so I know how much time I have. And I only have 5 (I think 5) stores who I blog for, and no ongoing events. I may do RFL stuff or special interest events, but that’s it.

    The blogger-designer relationship can be a wonderful thing, if both sides take the time to develop it. I have spoken about it on my blog and other platforms in detail. But if we are all caught up running on the hamster wheel so to speak, we don’t even have a good sense of ourselves. And also, we don’t know where we are in relation to others that are involved. Unfortunately, there are bloggers who abuse the relationship, and there are store brands (designers, blogger managers, etc.) who do the same. As a result, the rest of us suffer, and we as bloggers (and models) miss out or get removed from opportunities. And the brands miss out on wonderful people because they can’t or do not have time to see the difference.

    Once bloggers understand who they are as bloggers, what they want to present to their readers, and how to present their content, this should be good enough. If a brand wants a blogger to blog their items, they should like their work enough to trust them with it. Sometimes bloggers may need feedback, but if brands want bloggers to do something that is not typical of them (or what they originally agreed to), then bloggers need to be able to say, “Thanks, but no thanks”. And walk away with their heads up high. I do think store brands need to inform bloggers about not being in the group. Some brands will say “We don’t have the time”, “Bloggers should already know”, or “Bloggers react negatively and we don’t want the backlash”. But that is a cop-out.

    On the other hand, if we didn’t have people who take items with no intention to blog them, maybe bloggers would get more respect. We do need to stop calling these people bloggers, though. A designer would not want to be in the same category as a copybotter that sells stolen goods. So why do we allow people to group bloggers and thieves together? We are worth more than that.

    I have no doubt that your break will allow you to come back with even better posts, and I look forward to reading them 🙂

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