First up, thank you to everyone that took the time to answer the questions in the Big Blogger Questions Survey. Secondly, I did mean to have this collated out by last weekend but as you can see there was a lot of information gleaned and I wanted to be as thorough as possible with the responses. Many of you made very detailed, passionate and informed responses and I read every single one of them. I’m so grateful for the detail I’ve been able to establish. Many of the responses have clarified my thinking on a lot of the points. Sometimes my gut instinct has been borne out and sometimes I have been surprised that my opinion has differed so wildly. I’ve learned a lot from your responses and I thank you all for that. I hope you find the collation of the responses as fascinating as I did.
In total there were 225 responses with the majority answering all of the relevant questions.
Question 1 was What do you blog? I was interested here to find out how bloggers define themselves and whether they consider themselves to blog in a specific niche or more generally. 74 Bloggers identified themselves as Fashion only bloggers but interestingly only 7 of the respondents described themselves as a Decor blogger…if you’re looking to niche your blog decor might be the way to go! 138 bloggers considered themselves to blog both or all and 6 bloggers identified themselves in niches such as Roleplay, Destination, Travel and Lifestyle bloggers.
Question 2 was Do you have a blog. I see a lot of people asking about whether it’s necessary to have a blog these days or rely solely on Flickr. 209 of the 225 respondents do in fact keep a blog active.
Question 3. How many hours a week approximately do you spend blogging (including prep, taking a photo and writing blog or Flickr post). I personally was surprised to see the average 7-10 hours a week being the norm… and my preconception was to see 19 hours plus higher (though one respondent did report 70 hours a week blogging!). Most bloggers fell into the 7-10 hours a week which should be noted is still the equivalent of one full working day a week.
Question 4. On average, how long does each post take from start to finish? (In hours). This was an open question and I had probably 225 different responses so I have tried to collate the most common answers. The answers varied wildly on this one from 25 mins through to 48 hours. (NB: This may have been time from start to publish and not the actual time taken to complete the post in some respondents)
Question 5. Do you video blog? I wasn’t unsurprised by this answer as video blogging can be time-consuming and a steep learning curve. If you’re doing well as a photographic blogger there can be a reticence to rock the boat and try something new, in my opinion. I’d love to see more bloggers incorporating some element of video blogging into their blogs…and as the answer to this question shows there is a gap in the market to do so.
Question 6. How long have you been blogging in SL? The vast majority of respondents had been long-term bloggers in Second Life, blogging for more than 2 years…some having been blogging since the mid-2000’s. I was expecting the ‘less than 6 months’ to be higher, especially from the respondents in BVN but I am actually happy to see that a large core of bloggers stick to it for a long time.
Question 7. How many times a week do you post a blog/Flickr post?
Question 8. Do you blog for stores and or events in returns for goods? I asked this question to ascertain what levels of ‘independent’ bloggers were out there that were not receiving review copies in return for featuring them in their photographs. 13% of the respondents don’t take any goods for varying reasons including a decision to be independent, or being a new blogger and not having yet applied to any stores. Approximately 10% of the 87% also only blogged for one store where they were a friend of the creator.
Question 9. What Influences Your Decision to apply for a brand. Of the people that responded yes to the above question, I was keen to understand what drives someone to apply for a particular brand, and not for another. The top three answers were all fairly equal as you can tell.
Question 10 If you have stores you blog for, what is most important to you? I know what is important to me as a blogger. One of the reasons I love Blogotex so much is the ability to get feedback and constructive criticism from the stores I blog for quickly and easily. The creativity is obviously as important to us as bloggers as it is to the designers we blog for. The challenge as always is to be creative within time pressures and while showing the items we are blogging in the best possible way.
Question 11 What factors influence your decision to leave a brand? This was an interesting result in light of the above question. While everything is going along tickety-boo it seems the relationship with the store owner or blogger manager isn’t all that important. However, that same relationship is cited as the most common reason for leaving a brand. This highlights to me that the professionalism, fairness and integrity of a good blog manager is essential to maintaining and retaining bloggers for the brand.
Question 12 Would you rather blog for stores or events?
Question 13 – Have you ever stayed with a brand solely because of your relationship with the store owner or blogger manager? This further highlights the importance of the relationship between the team/bloggers and management of the brand as seen in Question 10 and 11. In summary, for the majority of us that relationship is the key to staying or going.
Question 14 – Do you like Blogotex? Undecided included respondents that don’t blog for a brand or have never used Blogotex. Some respondents have only used Blogotex as a manager and not as a blogger.
I was very pleased personally to see Supportive win out as I do believe overall that it is. As with any community, there are always people that will abuse friendships, support and look to foster friendships for their own aims and objectives. I really have never seen that personally but examples of these things were given in the feedback. A lot of people thought that there was a healthy mix of Competition and Support in our community. Some responded that there isn’t a community at all, or that they avoid it and keep to themselves because they have been burnt in the past.
Question 16 Which platform do you use for your blog if you have one
Question 17 What social media do you use to promote your blog? All respondents used Flickr and 176 of those used Facebook in addition to Flickr. After that the different social media platforms are a general mix. The majority of ‘others’ is Google Plus with in-world groups and discord a close second to Google Plus in the others category.
Question 18 Have you ever found blogging stressful?
Question 19 If you answered yes to the above question, what do you find most stressful? Many respondents pointed out that it’s a combination of an impending deadline along with disliking an item and/or lack of inspiration that really starts to build the stress levels.
Question 20 Do you credit, with slurls, everything that appears in your photographs? The next two answers fit together in my mind. If you are really considering your readers, yourself and the creators you are featuring then, in my opinion, you would credit and provide slurls for EVERYTHING in your photographs (within reason). Thankfully, it seems the majority of bloggers agree with 67% doing just that. A large chunk of bloggers still only supply credits for items they are ‘featuring’ on behalf of stores they blog for and many admit to crediting but not providing slurls/LM’s. I try to provide all pertinent information in my blog posts…I slurl and credit where the item is available now (if it’s an event) but also the store LM/slurl so that people can find it in the future once the event is over. From my discussions with designers and creators this is considered best practice and some have gone as far as to say that they won’t consider a blogger who doesn’t do this.
Question 21. When you blog, who do you have mainly in mind? See commentary on Question 20.
Question 22 What do you enjoy most about blogging? Almost 100% of respondents mentioned creativity in one form or another. I loved reading all the reasons love this outlet of ours and whether people write stories or poems, just enjoy the photography or more the creative outlet that blogging provides. I created a word cloud of the key words that came out of the responses.
Now, I have included it in the word pool because there was more than one answer that mentioned ‘free stuff’ and I want to address that before moving on to the next question. Remember what felt like a couple of weeks ago when you read the response to Question 9? Why do you want to blog for certain stores. 25% of us said because we buy a lot from that store. I am sure a lot of us appreciate the items we receive because we would have bought them anyway but they aren’t free! Check back on how many hours of time we’re working on posts, producing photographs, sharing social media. We’re not getting ‘free stuff’, we’re being provided with the tools to do our ‘job’.
Question 23 – What misconceptions about blogging frustrate or irritate you the most?
Around 80% of the respondents to this question cited their biggest frustration as the misconception that bloggers are “only in it for the free stuff”. I’ve addressed this a little in the previous commentary and the previous answers all bear out why this is untrue. The things people love most about blogging is the creativity and inspiration for others of sharing their photographs and work with other people. If bloggers really were only in it for the free stuff there would be a lot fewer bloggers having blogged for 6 months to 12 years in Second Life as a blogger. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rules and a short conversation with any designer will prove those exceptions…they all have a story about ‘this one blogger who did this….” but they will also have had hundreds of bloggers over the year who have worked incredibly hard and been dedicated and professional. Here are some of the other responses to this question:
- The judging of photographic quality based on use, or not, of Photoshop
- Lack of knowledge of how much work and time goes into consistently blogging
- That all bloggers are entitled, lazy and only do it to be friends with Designers
- That we all hate each other.
- That blogging is not stressful
- We all just want attention
Question 24 Do you think there are too many, too few or just enough bloggers in Second Life?
Question 25. If you have been a blogger in the past and given up blogging, what was the main reason you ceased?
Around 100 people responded to this and the vast majority cited real life as the reason. This was usually family and relationship reasons. However, there was a significant number that cited real-life physical or mental health issues as the reason for stopping. Within SL lack of enthusiasm and inspiration was the most common SL reason.
Question 26. What support do you wish there was for bloggers, and vloggers, that doesn’t already exist in Second Life.
As many of you know I am one of the founders of Blogger & Vlogger Network in Second Life so I asked this question from a curiosity and interest in what we could be doing more. I will be discussing the common themes with my fellow co-founder and we will look to act on as many of them as can, time and resources allowing. I’ll also be trying to provide links to resources that already exist where they were mentioned.
The majority of feedback on this question was centred around additional tutorials, how-to’s, workshops and presentations…however there were very few specific examples other than:
- workshops/roundtables with experienced bloggers to share their tips and tricks
- tutorial basics on colour, light and product placement.
- more photoshop tutorials
- how to live stream or video blog workshops and tutorials
- how to give and receive feedback and critiques
I am sure there are lots more ideas so please feel free to leave a comment on this post with any other ideas and I promise we will look into it for the Blogger & Vlogger Network.
Other suggestions/requests include:
- in world hangout for bloggers (this semi exists now as the new BVN Photo Area has seating and a gacha swap area for you to pick up and drop gacha items)
- more community events and meets and greets (We’re on it!)
- more feedback from managers and designers. Designers and managers people are asking for this a lot! Bloggers ask for feedback if you want it…your blogger managers are there to support you and should be able to provide you with some critique of your work and areas where they would like to see a difference. Just bear in mind that what one designer wants might be different from another designer so you still need to do you first and foremost.
- Collaboration website. There is a discord server for BVN (Blogger & Vlogger Network) which includes a collaboration channel. I have also seen people ask in group chat and find someone to hook up with a photo!
- Platform to build on. Members of BVN do get access to a building platform for setting up scenes. We also have a new photo area on the BVN sim.
- Mentors and peer critique – This is something I’m interested in looking into more and will share with BVN when we’ve got some news.
- List of photogenic spots. This already exists on the BVN Website. In addition, it includes information on whether you can rez, if you need to join a group, the group join fee and if you can record machinima.
- Event Calendar and Directory of Stores and Slurls. I’m not ruling anything out but both of these would be time-consuming and need a lot of resource to keep updated.
For the two people who requested a magic inventory organiser and a psychiatrist couch, thank you for the laugh!
Question 27. Do you have anything else you would like to add about blogging in Second Life?
This question got well over 100 comments, and nearly all of them were different. I’ve tried to look at the general ‘themes’ that arose from those comments and have listed some of those below:
- A lot of people commented on how much they enjoy blogging, the word love used numerous times. There is a definite feeling that it’s an outlet creatively and emotionally for a lot of people.
- There were several comments around the theme of wishing creators had different requirements around quality and quantity. For e.g. less than 100 faves per pic, or considering bloggers that don’t use photoshop. My commentary on this is, I understand it’s frustrating if you fall outside of the requirements for a brand that you really want to blog for but if you really want to blog for them badly it’s you who is going to have to change what you do because they aren’t going to and they don’t have to. Review your blog, watch tutorials, make the changes you need to do to qualify…if you want to. Just as much as what you do is your choice, what they ask for is their choice.
- Keep it fun, fun and more fun!
- The Blogger Clique – Same bloggers who are blogging for all the best events. Again, my commentary on this might be unpopular and for the sake of transparency I would state right now that I do not blog for any of the ‘Big 5’ events (C88, Uber, FaMESHed, The Arcade or Kustom9). Earlier on we talked about nearly everyone stated that they hate the misconception that we all just blog for free stuff. I dislike the misconception that a blogger, at the top of their game, working damn hard, doing all the right things, probably for years, is automatically part of some clique just because they are successful. In any community there are groups of friends, the word clique is often used to disparage something we have also touched on today…supporting each other. Although I don’t blog for FaMESHed I am part of the management team of the event and while not directly involved in the blogger side I know we have a thorough and transparent process that is based on quality, hard work, commitment and creativity. Many of the comments in this last section are about being less bitchy too….we could start by applauding the most successful amongst us instead of implying they got there because of who they know and not how good they are. Sometimes, it’s because people have built a reputation for being good and adhering to rules and producing the quality of work. They have grown their name recognition to a point where it’s synonymous with ‘good blogger’ and that’s why they are at the top of peoples list when selecting bloggers. Anyways, I’m not saying it never happens, but I think it happens less than people assume based on my own experience of working for an event.
- There is a lot of comments and love for the supportiveness of the community and thank you to everyone who specifically mentioned BVN amongst your comments. I am delighted to hear that so many of you find the resources invaluable.
Ok, I am sure you are bored of reading this now so I’ll wrap up. There is room for everyone. Independent bloggers, Flickr only, narrative bloggers, journal bloggers, destination bloggers, home and garden bloggers, fashion bloggers, tech bloggers…HQ PS Photobloggers, In-world Snapshot bloggers…each to their own. It’s a big world and no one should be disparaged for doing it the way they want. The resources are there for those that want to change but if you are happy and don’t want to change how you do things, that is ok too! There is no right or wrong.
Thank you again for taking part or for reading the results. As I said at the start I hope you found this as interesting as I did. Also, if you have any specific suggestions for BVN or you would like to volunteer helping in our community we do have several openings to get more involved with BVN. Please feel free to contact me in-world, on Facebook or leave a comment here!