Saturday 16 May 2015

Reclaim That Domain! An Ode To My Inbox

The blogger phenomenon of 'Oh I don't remember signing up for this' and why 3rd party PR companies need to be put back in their place 

"The days of being just a blogger are GONE," 

I blink, reading my screen through a squinted gaze of early morning grogginess. I feel an eyebrow raise instantly.

"It's VLOGGERS who are hugely influential when it comes to their fans purchasing decisions. Now with us, you can take control of your sales made through your vlogs for the first time ever!"

As with almost every morning now, I roll my eyes and right-swipe that shit into my trash folder pronto. I don't even need to open the next email, with the subject field in block capitals reading


And for not the first time, the first words I speak in a day are:

'Oh do fuck off.'


Now, I always try and do my bit to inject positivity into this world, and try to preserve this blog as a place of inspiration and courage. But I'm not going to be afraid to speak with equal passion and conviction about something which irritates me, as something which inspires me. 

Something like this.

So I'm gonna bite the bullet here and say I am sick and goddamn tired of middle-man companies and organisations that are built on the basis of using bloggers as cash cows to generate profit for themselves, and the way they try and bribe new and naive bloggers into thinking they need them, when it's the complete opposite. 

And there are some days I feel my email inbox is the perfect analogy for everything I resent about this industry.

It's almost become comical the classic characters and angles you find with these ceaseless PR emails, something I'm sure almost all bloggers can empathise with:

Exhibit A) The Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V Chancer:
Hi (uses your blog URL instead of real name)! Hope you've been well since we last spoke! (despite you never having spoken before) Been loving your blog lately, and came across this infographic I knew would be PERFECT for your content! (attached infographic of local farming methods over the past 40 years)

Exhibit B) The 'You Need Me Man I Don't Need You':

Subject header: How One Blogger Turned Her Passion Into a Six-Figure Income, And You Can Too. 

Message Content (between the lines): We've got a bursting list of struggling brands who will pay us a butt load of money to help boost their popularity and exposure online. All you gotta do is let us harvest your little cyber world into our database, and you'll be bestowed with heaps of each company's finest tat for you to review, while the company gets their link and we get the dollar. Win, win, win, right? RIGHT? Oh, I guess we'll just go and find someone ELSE who wants BUCKET LOADS of FREE STUFF... yeah... that's what I thought. Now, just fill in this little form here...

Exhibit C) The Overseas Opportunist:
Dear Sir/Madam. Firstly this is not an automated email, this is sent only to the highest most eligible members of the web. My name is Guthral and from Innovative Web Design in New Delhi. I have found your website and found it not very responsive with many problems that can be easily fixed with a special SEO proposal designed  just for you at very competitive prices.... 

Exhibit D) The Blunt & Relentless:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Cara Delevigne spotted in Calvin Klein whilst out in NYC. Further photos and press kit available on request. Credit all photos to source.

(This. Around 12 times a week, ft varying celebrities in varying outfits, endorsing varying products. Like, what exactly are you expecting me to do with this information? What process involved them deciding I was the ideal candidate to receive this?!) 

And by far the worst,

Exhibit E) The Faux-Friendly False Hoper
Hey (has gone to the minimal effort to find your real name), I just want to say I stumbled across your blog recently and found you effortlessly engaging, your words enthralling. I really fell in love with how unique your tone was, especially your post about (references an important and personal recent blog post, one that was deep and close to the heart) It really resonated with me as someone who's experienced something similar (shares intimate life moment to bond with, moment of solemn, hand to chest contemplation).

....But my reason for getting in touch is actually because we've got a great new competition with Charmin we'd love you to promote on your blog, for people to send in their best #onthetoiletselfie to win a years supply of toilet roll! We'll also be pushing all blog posts out on our socials too, so it's great exposure for you... (hopes shatter like a clay pigeon shot from the sky)


What truly fucks me off about this situation is not just the clearly audacious manner in which PR's have simply trawled the web for blogs with high Domain Authorities and harvested their contact details into a database without the bloggers knowledge or consent to then sell on to companies for a tasty profit - it's the way this whole industry now perpetuates this idea of a 'blogger' as being this desperate fame-and-fortune-hungry sell out who will do anything to feel like they're important, including whoring out their influence/audience to whoever wishes to take advantage of it for profitable gain. 

It is not true AT ALL, yet this is the impression that continues to be reinforced by companies and PR's treating us like commodities, squeezing every little drop of potential profit and exposure out of the naive and wringing them dry. 

Now, don't get me wrong here, I know there are many who have made highly successful, glittering careers out of being full time bloggers, and I seriously respect that. Nothing inspires me more than a home-grown success story and a powerful woman combined. The REAL opportunities that blogging provide are absoloutely amazing, and I know that professional bloggers rely on Press Releases to base their reviews and content around. 

For them, their blog is not just their baby, it's their business, their brand. And that's awesome.

It's at this I'm reminded of a line from Amy Poehler's book in which she uses as a mantra to keep her perspective on things; 

"Good for you, not for me."

Because, personally,  I don't have any interest in becoming a professional blogger. I really appreciate and respect those who wish to pursue that career because I've seen how tough it is to garner respect - hence why I'm so irate about this - but personally that's not an avenue I'd like to venture down.

My blog is not my business, it's my art. 

I don't have adverts, I don't do product reviews and I don't make any money from blogging, bar the very rare collaboration from VICE. The intention was ever to start a business, my blog is for self-expression and self-exploration, a portfolio of writing, a diary and a creative home to share life's little wonders. And that's okay too. 

But what I fucking reject, is the notion that if you're not making money, then what you're doing is not important. 

That it's just not good enough and you'll never achieve anything, if you're not at some point down the line, making someone rich.

I wanna make this clear here, I'm hardly someone brands are grappling to get their hands and I'm not saying gosh it's a hard life when you're so influential that EVERYONE wants to work with you, because that is categorically NOT what this is. These are emails spammed out to thousands of bloggers under the guise of mutually beneficial opportunities, that so many new and inexperienced bloggers will fall for and post, and the middle man will get their link and their paycheck, and the blogger receives nothing but the empty promise of 'exposure'.

Just another way the traditional media have been able to cash in on and regain control over the once-threatening rise of personal, independent media.

I may be small and meager, but I am so intensely proud and protective over Scarphelia and the Silverhood of extraordinary people I've been lucky enough to come into contact with since I started it. I feel it is something so pure and so strong, built on the foundations of a philosophy that is so intrinsically good and important and powerful completely independent of me, that I want to share it with the world. I want to inspire people. I want to connect with and collaborate with people across the world who just get it. 

And in among all the crap filling up my inbox - something you apparently invisibly sign up for when you become a blogger - there lies those tiny hidden little gems that you almost miss, a heartfelt message from someone so genuine and beautifully-spirited that it fills me with such extraordinary hope and light and I know I will always do this, just for that feeling, that connection alone.

But then waking up every morning to a daily slog of bullshit emails effectively asking me to exploit the world I've spent so much time and heart carefully cultivating, to sell off the attention of my friends or fake an opinion on something I don't care about for some pocket money, press releases of the most irrelevant trivialities and newsletters I never signed up for, PR's trying to convince me that I'm nothing without them and promising me they can provide me with 'great exposure' if I do as they ask, despite me repeatedly asking for no further contact, I've been pushed to the point of saying; 


 Count me officially OUT.

I could not care less about what celebrity is wearing which designer. Forgive my brusqueness, but I don't give a shit about your new competition or a perfume launch, and I'm not gonna blog about your new kickstarter campaign to build an Asteroid Defence League (genuine email I received) or a review of the best Pakistani Mangoes money can buy (also real).

I am just tryna do my thing and create something over here so BACK UP with your goddamn emails I never asked for in the first place. Delete me from your databases. Blacklist me, block me, do what you wish, 'cause there are plenty of people who are the kinds of people you are looking for but I ain't one of them.

This is me reclaiming my domain, bitch.

Scarphelia will never prioritise business over the fundamental importance of art, and if comes the day I should ever earn money from Scarphelia, it won't be from effectively handing over the reins and letting someone else come in and plaster billboards everywhere. 

It will be from something I genuinely care about or believe in, a creation or idea deeply rooted and born from this philosophy, a little piece of purpose.

Because that, is the silver way.

And that silver will always run like mercury through my bloodstream.

So to these companies who bestow upon me the honour of their harassment - discount me, discredit me, disregard me however you want, because your ignorance will be a genuine blessing.

My little world is steadily growing without making anyone a penny, and I hope that makes you uncomfortable.