A lot of talk has been going on lately on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook about a call to create a National Bloggers Association here in the Philippines. This effort is primarily spearheaded by DigitalFilipino’s Janette Toral and online journalist Tonyo Cruz. After reading through the reactions of several bloggers and talking with some of my friends in the digital marketing industry, I’ve come to the conclusion that we do need some sort of association for bloggers. In the manifesto published by Janette and Tonyo, they state the following as the main reasons for the NBA:
- The promotion and defense of the right to free expression
- The promotion and development of blogging, vlogging, photoblogging, microblogging and other online creative and expressive forms in all their diverse categories, topics and types
- The gathering and sharing of Philippine blogging’s best practices that reflect our contributions to ourselves and our online communities, media, causes, organizations and businesses, government, the nation and the world.
- The drafting and adoption of a code of ethics that underscore the community’s responsibility and maturity; and
- The discussion of issues and concerns that confront the community and members of the community
- The promotion of more affordable, reliable and better internet access in the country
I am all for numbers 1, 2, and 3. I feel that the last item might be too much of a stretch because this will just politicize the group. I strongly urge them to take that item out.
Dangers for Filipino Bloggers Today
The association was basically brought about for a need of representation for bloggers in the marketing and political foras. Right now bloggers are being “represented” and “voiced” by consultants, PR firms, and ad agencies. I honestly still believe that the Big Bad Blogger issue was nothing more than a PR Firm claiming that they represent the blogger but in truth they just invite him/her every now and then to events. I’ve been in the industry for a couple of years now both as a client and as the agency and I can say without hesitation that some groups misrepresent the interests of bloggers.
Next, not all bloggers make money from blogging, but they want to. There is nothing wrong with making money from blogs. It’s just a matter of disclosure and transparency to make sure that your content is not deceptively planted in exchange for cash or gadgets. I honestly believe that blogging can help uplift the lives of a lot of Filipinos in the form of personal branding or advertising revenue. The challenge is knowledge sharing.
So what’s my suggestion?
More than representation and politics, I want an association that promotes development of bloggers. I will fully support, join, and speak for any group that primarily just wants to help bloggers become better bloggers or invites non-bloggers to be bloggers. Blogging has radically changed my life for the better and I feel like this blessing is something that should be shared! My dream? An association that’s main purpose is to care, support, and just help bloggers become better bloggers.
Imagine how many bloggers will appreciate free knowledge sharing on Search Engine Optimization, improving Google Adsense revenues, different forms of money-making tools, content generation, writing training in English and Filipino, personal branding (for career leveraging and selling), e-commerce opportunities, and ramping up traffic? We can even include other online money making ventures like freelancing (via o-desk, etc). Reading is not enough though. It would be great to have some form of mentorship programs, meet-ups, and conferences.
The internet is too big for one person or a group of people to monopolize! Let’s share the knowledge. Let’s pass on the blessing to others. Let’s teach others how to make money and how to build their personal brands effectively through blogging and social media. You know what would be nice? 90% of Filipino bloggers making the monthly $100 USD minimum checkout for Google. That’s actually you helping the country because you’re getting US dollars into the Philippines, haha.
The challenge for the blogging industry shouldn’t be just how to talk with agencies and draft policies (that’s important too though, hehe). The challenge is to elevate the level of blogging so that we can inspire and attract others to blog. I remember a good friend who used to be an OFW as a graphic designer. He eventually split up with his wife and family because the social cost of being an OFW was just too much. Later on he discovered blogging and online freelancing. It started as a sideline but it eventually blossomed and actually matched his salary! He came back home and now makes the same amount of money as an OFW. He just renewed his vows with his wife a few months ago. That’s just one story. I have so much more! I should really get around to writing that eBook, haha.
Personally, blogging changed my life. It gave me a career, a business, and the means to have the best wedding ever. If ever I’m going to join and support an association for bloggers it will be because I want more people to experience that and more.