Integrity in blogging

What is it and is it important for bloggers?

integrity ɪnˈtɛɡrɪti/ (noun)

The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Alfie the blog dog

Alfie pondering integrity while writing his next blog post

“Honesty is the best policy” as the old saying goes. So why would it be any different for bloggers? Whether you are writing an opinion piece, reviewing a product or working with brands on events or partnerships – why can’t we all be honest?

I’ve been blogging for a long time but have only recently started taking a closer look at other people’s blogs and making an effort to read a diverse range of posts. The points I’m going to make probably apply to anyone that writes (including journalists), but I’m not sending shots at anyone in particular for not showing integrity.

It’s now an official guideline that people must disclose when they have worked with brands or received free products. It’s obviously very important, and brands only really give things away for free to get something back in return – be it coverage, increased awareness or a boost in sales.

If only people would stick to their guns when considering doing sponsored posts with an asterisk * or #ad. If you have an opinion don’t tone it down, shout it loud and proud! If you’re on the fence about an issue, don’t jump on the controversial side just for views! And most importantly, if you get a product to review do not lie about it.

The numbers game

It’s all getting a bit crazy in the world of “influencers” – bloggers and vloggers are getting hung up on their number of followers to the extent that some are buying followers or likes on social media and using “bots” to boost their profile. What a sad, sorry existence, but it didn’t anger me to the extent I saw it blowing up on my Twitter and Facebook timelines.

A website called Social Blade was showing follower counts bobbing up and down like yo-yos and people were publicly outing others in fits of untamed outrage on one sunny Sunday afternoon.

People can do what they want and be dishonest in life but who am I to be judge and jury? Plus, you can’t beat real engagement from real followers.

If brands will fall for someone with fake followers, they’re probably choosing the wrong people to work with anyway and are not companies that I would aim to work with. Some of these people did massage their stats and it meant some of them got paid opportunities or free products fraudulently.

Don’t bitch and moan online though – step your game up.

Making the right choices

Fake brands, companies with substandard products, organisations that go against your ethics or beliefs or ones that simply don’t fit with your blog may contact you as a blogger if you’re “PR Friendly” (or even if you just have an email address listed somewhere on the internet). Remember you can always say NO.

Your blog is the shop window to your personal brand so my advice is to only put in what you’d actually sell. I’ve previously been asked to promote payday lending and turned it down as it’s something that I don’t personally agree with.

Some brands have also taken bloggers along to horse racing days. I used to be naïve to animal “sports” and even used to place bets on them. Over the past few years and after visiting Scooby Medina animal rescue in Spain my outlook has really changed on things like this that I would now turn down but previously may have gone along to (perhaps a topic for another post).

Convincing people to buy something that is no good or bigging something up as treasure when in actual fact it’s trash, is misleading. In the long-term, it may also damage your brand or blog as you may upset people by promoting the latest “hot right now” product that didn’t work or fell to pieces after being used twice.

I’m in a few blogger Facebook Groups and it’s been refreshing to see people actively saying when they don’t like companies, products or apps. This allows them to give constructive feedback to help improve the service or product rather than posting something full of lies or promoting something that they’d never use.

Believe in YOUR brand. Stay true to yourself and keep up the hard work #positivity.

What do you think? Is integrity that important or have I gone all Judgemental Josh? Let me know in the comments below, on my new Facebook page (LOOKDWN) or tweet me @jb_new.

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18 Comments

  1. July 12, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    Wow this is a great post and despite blogging for almost a year now, this is the first time I have come across a post that talks about this topic. Well done!

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:24 pm

      Thanks for reading Sujal. Glad I could touch on the topic – Josh

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:24 pm

      Fake followers are just more numbers. They’re not going to support you or respond to you like real people will

  2. June 30, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Love this. I decided a few days ago to leave a few facebook groups. I don’t want to do ‘like for like’ threads. How can it be real engagement if I need to comment on something I have no interest in? I would rather people reading my blogs had interest too. We might grow slower but if you are truly passionate about writing then it shouldn’t matter. Thanks for writing this!
    Laura x
    http://lauraoverthinksit.com

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:25 pm

      I’m still in loads of them but getting disillusioned by them and Instagram pods. I’m all for the slow growth – Josh

  3. June 30, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    100% agree! Especially about making the right choices when it comes to blogging and social media…. The fake followers scheme gets on my nerves. I do not understand why someone would want fake followers. It is much better to gain followers organically.

    -Danielle Ruppert ~ http://danielleruppert.com

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:28 pm

      Organic following is best! I think fakes are a waste of money too as they can be picked out too – Josh

  4. June 29, 2017 / 6:39 am

    This is so great. I’ve had blog integrity on the brain lately. I replied to my first ever inquiry from an organization this past week. I asked question about the project to ensure it would be consistent with my blog content and about my compensation. As expected, I’ve heard nothing. I vastly prefer this than caving and saying I’d do anything to make them happy. I feel like I’m respecting myself and other bloggers by sticking to what’s right for me and my personal brand. Building a respectable personal brand depends on your integrity. You nailed it with this.

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:29 pm

      Always best to stay true to yourself and your blog. Did you ever hear back about the organisation enquiry? – Josh

  5. Charlotte
    June 26, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    Agree with this 100%. Buying followers or getting fake ones is totally sad in my opinion, I’d rather have a few followers genuinely interested in my content than thousands of followers who weren’t real/didn’t care. Staying true to yourself and your blog is also hugely important in my opinion, definitely something we should focus on!

    Charlotte xx

    theassortedwriter.blogspot.co.uk

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks for reading Charlotte. Hope your blogging is going well and you stick to your principles! The real, appreciative followers matter the most – Josh

  6. May 11, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Buying followers is so sad. Agree 100% with this post! People like us work hard for our readers x

    • August 1, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks for the comment – and yes we’ll feel even better that we’ve put in the hard work. Josh

  7. May 2, 2017 / 3:03 am

    Agree – buying followers is sad. I’d 100% rather have the small, genuine following that I do than 1000s of fake ones. I didn’t even know fake brands were a thing!

    • May 4, 2017 / 10:18 am

      One day with hard work I’m sure you’ll have a large genuine following too! Keep up the good writing

  8. Gene
    May 1, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    I have heard about buying followers.
    Such is the playing field these days.

    Nice one.

    Mike Mako Gene

    • May 4, 2017 / 10:19 am

      It’s such a silly practice and one investment I won’t be making for my blog. It is bordering on fraud in some cases with people getting free gifts and holidays that they haven’t earned

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