As still a relative newbie to the blogging world, it is easy to underestimate your worth and your power as a writer. When your blogging is merely a hobby and not a career or money-making venture, it can be easy to forget that others are reading the words your produce and sometimes placing great importance on them. It is important for all bloggers to remember that every word they type and publish is something that will be read by people across the globe, whether it is something that is a private diary, or a huge site that you aim to share. Either way, as writers we must take care.
With great power comes great responsibility. Voltaire
I have not noticed many bloggers out there who forget this, in fact, most seem to be very careful about what they post, but I did spot one not too long ago who appeared to be endorsing the use of juice-only diets as a good way to lose weight – this is ludicrous and terribly unhealthy. This is such a good example of the responsibility that comes with publishing your own work – there is no-one there to proofread or copy check it so the responsibility falls upon the writer. Every time you publish, it is important to remember that anyone could be reading your blog – even an impressionable teen who hates their body and is desperate to lose weight. The blogger mentioned previously could have contributed to someone’s eating disorder by backing a product that could be used to dangerously limit weight. This is obviously just one example of the power of publishing.
As a full-time journalist, this is something I have learnt all too well after having a couple of early slip-ups that caused readers to complain where simple mistakes had been make – it was a lack of training and unfortunately hadn’t been picked up by my editors before they went to print. Luckily nothing that caused any huge problems, but it makes you very aware of how careful you must be in terms of the law when speaking about products, companies or individuals. It would be good for any blogger out there to look into the laws surrounding defamation and libel to help protect themselves.
This is not just a warning to bloggers of the care they must take when constructing a post, it actually started out as a celebration of the power we wield in our fingers when we sit down to type. Bloggers, as a steadily growing community, now hold immense power when it comes to brands, advertising and the sale of products. Just look at those bloggers whose YouTube videos advertising products cost advertisers thousands and reach out to audiences of thousands. And what about those bloggers who have hundreds of thousands visiting their sites every day to pick up fashion and beauty tips, or find out the latest book review? All of these bloggers are reaching out to massive audiences on a daily basis and this is what makes the words that they publish so important. The size of their audience determines the value of their posts to advertisers and merchandisers.
When you add in the hundreds following your own blog, plus all your Facebook friends and Twitter followers, without even going further afield to other social media, you could be reaching thousands instantly with your review of the latest beauty product/fashion item/book/theatre show/gig whatever you write about. This is positive or negative advertising that the advertisers cannot control which gives the bloggers the power.
I saw the power of this recently when I was struggling with my mobile phone company and found that despite phone calls explaining what I was after (reducing my contract) that they kept trying to sell me on to a more expensive one – they refused to listen to me. Despite multiple conversations that all went the same way, them failing to come back to me with a solution and complaints expressing this, I got nowhere. I then went to another company and was instantly given a better option. When I tweeted and posted on my blog about the incident, I instantly had a response and several grovelling tweets asking how they could help me or fix my situation. It just shows you that certain companies are not bothered about customers service or bad treatment until it goes public and the fact that this was going out to hundreds of people scared them.
So, there you go. You’re more powerful than you think. Whether you’ve got one follower or 300,000, your voice is reaching someone and that person will be taking something away from what you write – you just have to remember that when lowering your fingers to the keyboard. Use this power responsibly and be sure to protect yourself.