Today I considered packing it in with Second Life completely.
These past few weeks have been very difficult and my real life has required almost my full and constant attention. Normally I would not even give a second thought to SL at a time like this but I have. When I could, I blogged. I did that, not because I am addicted to SL and NEED to be here, or even because I was having a blast. I did it because I am the beneficiary of review copies from some designers and I take my commitments seriously. I know how tough things are right now for many of them and I wanted to at least do what I could. It meant getting out of bed when I was sick and staying up some nights wayy later than I do or wanted to.
I suppose I should have let them know, but I had a couple of problems with that - taking the time to find out who I was allowed to contact and how I was to contact them, and then knowing if they even got my note was one. The second being I honestly had no idea of time frame, each day, what was going to happen tomorrow. It is hard to know what to say to even explain what happened and much of it was nothing that was known or planned, it just all cannon balled.
I will take full responsibility for myself. I should have tried to say something.
I was dropped by one of the designers I blog for. I am assuming she is upset that I did not blog enough these past few weeks and she is right, I didn't. I managed to get about 4 posts up a week, which is not anywhere near my normal production. I had blogged this designer almost 3 years. I blogged them when they were starting and many would not blog them. I counted my flickr pics and found over 230 pics for them over that time - pics I used in my blogs. I would have thought, the amount of blogging in the past, the loyalty, would have bought me the decency of at least a discussion.
Apparently neither loyalty or past experience are worth much.
Suddenly my efforts seem kind of pointless.
I am not writing about THIS designer, the name is irrelevant, and the issues of this one incident is not the point. I am writing about general attitudes that are going to destroy us.
Awhile ago I wrote a piece on how ridiculous some of the designers were becoming with their demands on bloggers about what they are required to do to be on their bloggers list.
I am a firm believer that the designer/blogger relationship is a symbiotic one and that they both have to work together to be fair and achieve results. A blogger has followers that may like their blog or style even if they are not in the elite fashion grouping and lets face it, writing blogs and having fashion shows for just other designers, bloggers and models is like preaching to the choir. These people may be your customers, they may not be, but they have already made that decision. If you want to grow, you have to reach the people who don't really care who any of the fashion people are, who just want to play the game and look nice.
I have listened to designers talk about how bloggers abuse them and therefore they have a long list of rules that we need to follow in order to be considered to blog for them. That is fair. It is their designs, you decide if you want to blog for them and you agree to that. However once joined to a group, the rules often change and more is expected. Further, the designers do not pay the same courtesy by taking the time to read the bloggers "rules" which almost every one of us has and is usually only one. It is a statement that conveys some version of "we blog what we love and while we will accept review copies from a designer, we reserve the right to choose what we will or will not blog." In other words, we aren't going to love everything you give us and we can't possibly blog everything you give us.
A blogger is a good blogger because they blog a variety of items that makes their taking the time to blog you noticeable to their followers. If you are going to limit their ability to blog other clothes the end result is they will lose followers which has a direct impact on their ability to be of any use to a designer.
A designer provides a copy of a file to a blogger. It has not cost them a single penny to copy that file. I am saying that because in the real world, for a designer to provide an outfit for someone to advertise for them, they actually do have the cost of materials and staff etc to produce that item. That is not the case in SL. The cost of that item then, for the designer, is the value they would have been reimbursed for that blogger to have purchased it instead of being given the item. So, in order for the designer to not be out of pocket, one penny for that item, the blogger has only to "sell" one copy. If one person buys the item because they saw the blog, it has not cost the designer anything to provide a demo copy.
As for people receiving free items and benefitting from it, any blogger, who blogs regularly, has a couple of hurdles. One, despite the free samples provided by some designers, we require a constant source of NEW clothes. We probably are fashion's biggest customers and spend, per month, a much higher proportion of money on fashion than anyone else. The second is, we don't often get to wear many of the things more than once. Once we have blogged a gorgeous dress, we can't blog it again. We often only get to wear the skins once or twice, because new ones have come out and we have to get to them. So we are not running around "benefitting" from the freebies to a great degree. We usually wear the item the one time we blog it. That is it. Most of us don't even have time to play Second Life anymore because we are so busy doing our blogs. So while it may seem like there is some huge benefit from having something from a designer without having to pay for it, we really don't gain a whole lot.
Bloggers have a life. They have commitments in the real world. They have unforeseeable emergencies. They have to blog a number of differing items in SL. A designer thinks nothing of taking significant time off where there is nothing for the blogger to blog. But now some designers are even starting to demand that their old items be blogged while they are away. They clearly have no idea what blogging is about.
Some of us take our responsibilities very seriously and surely that is of more value than measuring us moment to moment by our "production." That kind of makes me feel like a machine and not a human being using my creative abilities to earn you money. I am not getting paid here. And if you read what I just wrote, benefit for me in getting review items, is not as much as you might assume.
It would be nice for a designer to consider the quality of the work being done along with the quantity. Some bloggers are so talented as photographers that a single picture they put up is going to get many more views than a dozen quickly snapped and posted from other bloggers. Some bloggers can blog 4 or 5 times a day and they are going to get traffic a single post can not. In other words, maybe there isn't a set formula for deciding if a blogger stays or goes, that being how many times did you blog me THIS month.
And, of course, bloggers have to continue to conduct themselves responsibly, as a designer has many options, and they are counting on you fulfilling your obligation to them. It has to work both ways.
I know my being outspoken costs me and I will undoubtedly be kicked out of more groups and taken to task for having an opinion that steps on toes. I know you can't see me or hear the tone of my voice as I write this but someone has to say something. I am not angry or being snipey. I care about the success of SL Fashion because I have invested in it as much as any of the rest of you. I admire and respect many of you. We can all pretend everything is wonderful and not look at the real issues and lose it all or we can start having some meaningful dialogue.
I am hearing people complaining big time. I am hearing customers, and bloggers and players, all saying they are fed up. I am seeing people leaving. Many of them are not people any of you will know or care about but if enough people we don't know and don't care about leave, it will impact all of us.
Sadly, the people who will probably read this are not the people who need to read it. There are so many people out there really trying to keep going and also trying to change their way of doing business, taking into consideration the world economy and the need for new practices. As part of this I think it is important to take a moment and let those designers know how much you appreciate them. It is not enough to complain about problems, we have to be more proactive about voicing our appreciation. AND remember your shopping dollars speak volumes. No-one deserves to be treated like crap ... Not the designers, not the bloggers and not the customers. We have to find a way to work together.
I hope that we can work this out and we can find even ground to mutually respect one another and achieve the continued success and viability of our Second Life. It really is going to be up to all of us to make the effort but you can't make money if you are not going to pay attention to the people attached to that money. And maybe, it is time to start looking at some different ways of interacting.
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