‘Values’ is such a funny word, isn’t it?
It means very different things to different people.
One summer, a long time ago, I had a part time job at one of the Edinburgh Festivals. It was nothing very glamorous – just some front-of-house work – but I remember overhearing my manager talking about me to another staff member and saying that I had ‘good values’. It remains one of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid.
I think very often when we talk about our blogs, and question what the ‘value’ of our blog is, we usually mean in a monetary sense. There was a great post about that over at Geekalicious the other week, written by Molly from Mothers Always Right
But I think it can also be useful sometimes to consider the other meaning of the word. Are we blogging with integrity? Are we staying true to ourselves? Does the image of us that our blog projects align with what our values are?
I hope mine does, but I can’t be sure.
I’ve been all over the place recently trying to pin down my blog identity. After getting slightly overwhelmed and disillusioned by the massive commercial presence at BritMums Live, I decided not to do any reviews on my blog at all for a while. I’ve relaxed that self imposed rule now, and have recently run a couple of reviews… but I still question myself quite strongly before saying yes to PR requests.
If I’m honest, I think I can probably write one vaguely entertaining review of a craft box, or a photo book, or some cosmetics, but if I tried to do it every week it would become boring for me as a writer, and boring for you as a reader. No matter what the request is – however big or small it is – if I say yes to things just to get a freebie, rather than because I think I can write something interesting about it, I see that as compromising my values.
Similarly, I would struggle to write about a product or attend an event if the company producing it didn’t share my values.
Recently I’ve had to start asking those questions in relation to journalist requests too. At least once or twice a week I get an email or a tweet asking if I would be happy to be featured in this or that magazine or newspaper, talking about this or that issue. Sometimes the opportunities are brilliant – I spent this morning having my photo taken and taking part on a roundtable discussion with some incredibly inspirational women for an upcoming feature in a women’s glossy– but very often they’re not.
Every time an older male celebrity marries a younger woman, I can guarantee my inbox will be flooded with interview requests… and every time I turn them down. I chose to write about that aspect of our marriage once – and was lucky enough to have it published in a newspaper whose values mainly align with mine.
But even when the financial rewards would be high, I don’t want to repeat that in other publications. I feel like it would be hugely hypocritical of me to write a lefty, green, feminist blog, and then promote that blog in papers with an opposing agenda.
We all have different principles, and priorities, and that diversity is part of what makes the blogging community so interesting. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing to step back sometimes and ask ourselves what the values are that define us, so that we are better able to stay true to them, and to try and blog in a way that reflects them.