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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


Bringing bloggers to heel Part 1

I want to be a lifestyle blogger. I will call my blog High Heels. It is intended for working women between 30 and 55. I picked this age group because I belong in it, and because this is when women most worry about their spouses being distracted by younger women of foreign extraction.

So I want to do my fellow females some good by talking about good skincare, how cosmetics can cover up blemishes on the face and how to lose the jelly belly. I will put myself up as an example, after I have taken a subsidized SkillsFuture course on expert photoshop skills.

I am not a fashion “maven’’ – my clothes are cheap and I can pass off as someone’s domestic help any day except Sunday, when they all look better-dressed than me. So I think it’s time I start looking at fashion magazines, websites and attended a fashion festival or too. (Is Milan expensive?) This is not just to gain some expert knowledge but also in the hope that big brands like Prada or Chanel or the $2 shop will use me to endorse their designer wear. My wardrobe has a lot of space.

I will swear till I’m blue in the face that the cosmetic brand has gained me admirers, so long as I am compensated for my face-painting pains. I will even  swear that a certain slimming programme works, after I have fixed my faulty weighing scale. Because I tell you, in all honesty, that I am an honest blogger, and you will know this if you click through to my sponsor’s site and try the product or service yourself. I do NOT lie, although I might sometimes be prone to exaggeration.

I did think of becoming a food blogger since I already serve breakfast, lunch, tea and even supper sometimes.  But instead of cooking a lot, I would have to EAT a lot – and what will that do for my slimming sponsors? Still, it is a nice thought to be feted and fed for free at fancy restaurants that I can’t afford. I might learn the names of some European cuisine beyond pasta and laksana. I might even learn to write and pronounce them right.

Maybe I should join some network like Hushcloud or enuffnag. I gather that membership earns me the privilege of being known as a social or marketing “influencer’’. I am quite sure I wield a lot of influence due to my age and experience. My face-painting experience spans more than 30 years, more than the life-time of typical lifestyle blogger. Plus I have eaten more salt than rice than most of them, and even know the colloquial local names of vegetables and fish. Batang fish, I assure you, is not a bad name.

But I would be in a bit of a pickle if I really hate the product or service that I have been paid to review. Would it help if I tell the sponsor right from the beginning  that I can’t guarantee a favorable review? I will insist that it is paying me for my time and writing skills, rather than a positive outcome. In other words, you’re taking a risk hiring me. But… I won’t get repeat business after I have slammed the product leh…. Never mind, I can always focus on its positive points. I will cherry-pick. I will say: “The restaurant has a wonderful ambience and the food looks good. Great cutlery and crockery too.’’ That’s still being honest…

Or maybe the product or service is so bad that I don’t have anything good to say. Then I guess I just won’t write anything at all. I will return the cash, discount voucher, freebie or whatever I’ve been given. Does that sound honest? Or stupid? Sheesh. Maybe I should only work for established names with established products that are universally acclaimed. I’m sure they pay better too.

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Oh no! Wait a minute. Do I have to tell people that I’m being paid to write something? Do I have to say it right up front and attach the sponsor’s logo as well? Won’t readers be turned off by this? They will assume I am being paid to be positive, even though, I swear, sumpah, hand-on-heart, that I am giving my honest opinion. Hey, I can’t lose my readers because my sponsors will lose interest and I will lose…everything!

Can’t I just say that I “stumbled’’ while in high heels (must brand…) on this restaurant or that “a friend’’ recommended me this product? After all, what is more important is the content of my review, rather than how I came to review it. So, it’s still honest right? But what if some pesky people ask me how I stumbled on it, what day and what time and to name the “friend’’ who recommended the product? What if they want silly things like attribution, comparisons and whether that bit of info was a cut-and-paste job from the company brochure? And whether my review is based on technical expertise or just whether I “like’’ it or not?

These silly questions…You just want my opinion right? That’s what really matters right? That’s what a review is about right? Why are you trying to flat-foot me? After all, YOU are not paying me for what I do. I’m just a social influencer…

Part 2 coming up. Promise to be serious.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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