The other day I was reading a comment thread about an Instagram think piece, and a fellow blogger commented about how unrealistic the standard has become these days. How can a newbie, without a photography studio, 4 unpaid interns, a PR department and 15 sales staff possibly create enough high quality content to keep up with other full time influencers these days?

Never mind the cost of running an Instagram empire solo, and the simple fact that, in 2017, it’s hard to decide when the tipping point comes. When do you give up your job to create pretty flatlays, sponsored by various brands? How do you determine when a “blogger” becomes an “influencer” – or even a publisher in their own right?

Is the term “blogger” so out-dated that it has lost all meaning in 2017?

The state of blogging, and on a smaller scale, Instagram blogging, has changed. I remember when making money from your blog was a faraway dream – like actually owning a Chanel bag, rather than borrowing one from an online shopfront.

And kind of like that Chanel bag, making money from your blog came from hard work, many years of blood, sweat and tears, and a whole lot of canned spaghetti dinners so you could actually pay your bills.

Don’t get me wrong, bloggers earning money from all their hard work is an amazing thing (just like journalists earning money for theirs), but at what point does it all stop being a ‘blog’ – and start becoming a filtered, faux feed of professionally styled fashion shoots and advertorial?

Perhaps we should draw the nomenclature line in the sand here, now: those with huge followings, creating a bunch of paid advertorial, and featuring professional shoots made with teams of people? Let’s call them influencers. Their focus is on influencing others to purchase items they are wearing, or trends they are championing.

Bloggers? Well that’s an entirely different thing. First of all, to be a blogger, don’t you actually have to have a BLOG? Like, with more than 50 words of writing on it? After all, a series of curated images does not a blog make.

This isn’t a judgement of one or the other, it’s more a call to divide and conquer. As a blogger, I hate being called an influencer – it’s just not what I do. I write about what interests me, and my Instagram exists solely to promote that. My Instagram is, for lack of better words, about my ‘real’ life – for the good AND the bad.

And I’m sure a bunch of influencers out there hate being tarnished with the general (and often negative) broad brushstrokes of ‘blogger’. They *are* the creative directors of their world, curating beautiful images to inspire and influence. It’s not necessarily ‘real’ – and just like the pages of a glossy magazine, it’s not meant to be.

Those conflating these two pursuits are at best lazy, and at worst, damaging.

One moment, they claim bloggers aren’t disclosing rampant gifting and advertising clearly enough on their feeds, which are raking in sweet, sweet marketing dollaz due to huge amounts of engagement on their Instagram accounts – and therefore, none of it is ‘real’.

The next minute they’re saying we don’t have the same extensive reach as them, that we’re just ‘real people with a phone’, and as such, shouldn’t be invited to participate wholly in fashion events.

Well, which is it?

Confusingly, it’s actually both at the moment. Influencers do see huge engagement, and work closely with advertisers to create amazing, native campaigns that deliver product placement to huge amounts of followers. They often work with teams to deliver astute marketing moments, and are legally required to disclose those on their feed.

Bloggers, however, are focused on a niche audience, and as such have targeted follower counts who care what they do, and care what they say.

Think of an influencer as MTV – it covers all types of music, and has a general audience that is advertised to, on a broad spectrum. The reach is large, but varied, and the content is delivered for mass appeal. They can run an ad about Metallica one minute, and Beyoncé the next – and it still makes sense to their audience.

Think of a blogger as SBS Pop Asia. The audience is niche, there’s a definite point of view that never wavers, and it’s not for everyone. However, if you are a K-pop lover, then it’s clearly the place to be.

The more we are able to adequately define the difference between these two very distinct subcultures, the more the industry will be able to understand what makes us both so unique in an ever-changing and exciting media landscape.

This isn’t about war – this is about understanding where we all fit into the puzzle, together, to deliver amazing content that speaks to our audience.

Whoever they are.

-Bianca O’Neill / Instagram, Twitter.


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