I am terrible at receiving criticism. Even constructive, valid feedback feels like a knife in my soul. I usually go through about 5 stages of acceptance:
- What the? They don’t know me. They don’t get me. They’re wrong and what’s more, they’re jerks. I hope they get a flat tire today.
- I can’t believe they think/said that about me/to me. I mean, maybe they meant it to be helpful, but seriously, they’re way off-base. I don’t want them to get a flat tire, but I wouldn’t mind if they stubbed their toe or something today.
- Maybe I misunderstood what they were telling me. I still think they’re wrong, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Wow…now that I think about it…their criticism had a few valid points. Mostly, it was crap, but there was one nugget of truth in there.
- HOLY CRAP EVERYTHING THEY SAID WAS RIGHT AND HOW DID I MISS IT??
I’m especially bad because for the most part, I try my level best to make smart choices, especially when it comes to blogging. I’m not an authority on any topic, and a self-admitted hack at the stuff I do share, but I’ve made a name for myself on playing by the rules. So when someone calls me out (or, like in this case, I eavesdrop on a conversation about bloggers on the whole) it really kind of stops me in my tracks.
The thing is — the critics can be right. The jerks, even when being jerky, often have really valid points.
There’s a nasty forum and several Twitter accounts whose sole purpose is to attack bloggers on the basis of their looks, their lives, their posts, etc. I don’t go there because it hurts my heart, whether I read something about myself or someone else. But when I have, I’ve often left thinking:
“Man, they’re right about A, B and C. If only it wasn’t hidden in so much garbage.”
That’s a lot of lead up to tell you that I’m vowing to make a change in the way that I disclose posts, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pictures (et al.) to make it crystal clear when I have received free product, compensation, etc. I always do it on the blog (see: http://katywidrick.com/about/disclosure-policy/) but have been less diligent on social media accounts.
I’m not alone, as the Twitter account @FatFluential noted in a series of tweets about how bloggers choose opportunities and at the lack of transparency (it wasn’t directed to me, but I watched it unfold with great interest).
So, I’m vowing to do a better job on all platforms. And I hope you’ll join me.
Examples of this disclosure:
- #spon, #paid, #ad
- notes about free items that have been sent (I get goodies by mail a lot)
A year ago, I tried to give you full transparency on why I do accept some (recently, a LOT) of sponsored opportunities: “Why I Sometimes Post Sponsored Content.” I know that it’s not always the best content to read, but I give as much — often more — of my energy to those posts because I don’t want to just be another shill. I want to give you relatable, interesting, entertaining posts that also help me justify an often expensive hobby.
Help me help you. If you ever question one of my posts — why I agreed to it, who paid me, what I got — holler. I may not always like the criticism, but if you are respectful and professional, I promise to listen and learn.
UPDATE: Just hours after posting this, I was hit with a conundrum: I was out running errands in an Ergo Baby carrier that I’d been provided months ago for review. At the time, I disclosed. But in the time since, I’ve snapped pictures of myself using it, sent tweets about how much I love it, etc. Those updates were not sponsored nor were they a requirement of the review. I just love the product and use it all the time! So, what’s the half life for disclosure? I’m still working on it, but I’m moving forward with this: when the posts are directly related to a sponsored post, review, giveaway, etc., OR for the first mention — a free case of Chobani, etc. — I will disclose. But updates past that don’t necessarily need to be disclosed. Agree? Disagree?