Being Hard to Get

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I don’t want to beg.

I have a weird relationship with blogging. I want my blog to grow and give me cool opportunities, but I don’t want it to grow because I fear it will lose its original direction and get too commercial. Of course I’d like to make more money from the blog, but I don’t want to be a sell-out. In a dream world, I’ll keep doing what I do now, and great brands will find me and ask me to partner with them. A magazine I respect will contact me and ask me to write for them. I will have a door open for me at the right point in life, and it will be a door I will want to walk through.

I’ve always been a hard to get kind of gal. I smile a lot, I flirt a bit, but if you want me you have to come get me. I rarely am the first to ask a new friend to coffee, I have sent a total of three cold pitches in my blog career, and most of my jobs and opportunities have come because I have been sought out or through an established connection.

I should know better, the one time I didn’t play hard to get was when I met Karl. I was so smitten I chased him down, I told mutual friends I liked him, I visited him at work, and pretty much forced him to call me. Even with the great success of being bold with Karl, I still am a hard to get kind of gal.

The thing is, in this field you're expected to beg. Amy Odell recently wrote about this, and every blogger is grabbing that post, seeing it as gospel, and running to her computer to send begging emails to Vogue, Lucky, and Cosmo. They're running to New York to see how much attention they can get, how in your face they can be, so they can get their big break. 

And I see the success of begging every day – weird brand/blog partnerships, bloggers who half-ass it getting crazy sponsorships, crappy writers getting amazing writing opportunities with great publications.  It's not the quality of the product, it's the quantity of begging.

By choosing to not beg, I know the opportunities I receive are based upon merit, not my groveling skills. I’ll network, I’ll reply to emails, I’ll follow up and be smart, but I do hold back from making the first move because I want to be sure the opportunity is deserved, not just convenient. I

know, I know, I'm shooting myself in the foot.  I know the only reason I am married to an amazing man is because I put myself out there and made sure he knew I existed; the only way I can get opportunities is if companies know I exist. But still I hold back. I always preach quality not quantity, I live by it in regard to clothing and the business of blogging.

Maybe I’m being stupid and hard headed, but life has been pretty good for me being hard to get. I know where I stand, I have quality friendships and business relationships I trust, and I am not constantly panicking over networking and branding and getting to the next level. The blog has grown organically, the opportunities I have received have been amazing and a good fit for me and for the site. I don’t make as much money as blogs with half the audience size, but instead, I have some serenity, control, and freedom.

Being hard to get isn’t so bad. It’s a calmer existence, though it may not be as fruitful. It gives one time to make it far more worthwhile when someone else decides to make the first move. I may never get that dream opportunity, but I will always know where I stand and that I am liked and wanted for who I am, not how well I beg.

I can't beg, I won't beg.  I'll just preach quality over quantity, live by it, and see where life takes me.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I do think there’s a big difference between begging and promoting yourself, though. Different field, I know, but I work in radio, and there’s so much music that wouldn’t have gotten played if people hadn’t contacted us and made themselves sound like something we wanted to hear. (As opposed, of course, to the people who literally beg and whine – that just says that’s something I don’t want to hear!)

    No matter what field you’re in, you’re not likely to be the only one doing what you do, so I think you will miss out on things if you always wait for people to come to you.

  2. I love your blog, and you seem to be a totally lovely person. I keep coming back because you obviously put quality first; I quit reading blogs/sites on the regular when it becomes clear that sponsors are more important than readers. I really hope you keep things just as they are and that opportunities just fall upon you.
    And I don’t like that Amy chose to use the word “beg”. It gives the impression that you don’t need to actually earn it, you just need to pour all your efforts into tricking people into thinking that you have.

  3. I have no experience as a blogger. I just love to read them. So please excuse my lack of knowledge regarding the particulars of the field.

    But it sounds like you just need a good agent or publicist. Someone who can handle the marketing while you work on your craft. Perhaps someone who is commission only, that way the only way they get paid is if you get work/sponsorships. Just a thought 🙂

  4. What a great response to that article. I’ve heard about it through the blogging universe and I think it totally sends the wrong message. I think it all comes down to staying true to your vision of what you want your blog to be and pursue those avenues that stay true to it. For me I’ve been deliberating for awhile if I want to monetize my blog because I am afraid I will lose the authentic voice I worked so hard to create. I’ve decided to make the leap but very, very cautiously. I’m gonna be super picky about the opportunities I’m presented with and even more picky about the ones I go after.

  5. Thank you for writing this, Allie. I really respect you, not only as a blogger, but also as a wife, mother, career woman, and person in general. I appreciate your honesty on the blog. I, too, play “hard to get” in pretty much all aspects of my life, so I can relate. My blog is tiny and I’m definitely not doing it for the money (I still take my pictures with my iPhone because I can’t afford/justify a nice camera for heaven’s sake…), but I can still hear where you’re coming from. I say, keep doing what you’re doing, and be gentle with yourself. Your readers love you and I know I’ll keep coming back for more!!

  6. Totally up to you how you take your blog, but one point I do want to make: asking for opportunities, promoting yourself and your work IS NOT begging! Begging implies a pathetic, desperate, plea from an inferior. We can clearly and passionately promote ourselves without verging into begging.

    An example from me – I got my first job in England when I spotted the ideal job with a closing date only a couple of hours away. I phoned them and explained I’d be ideal for the job so could I please put my application in the next morning. They agreed, I got the interview and got the job. Now I’ve been promoted in the same company. No begging, but plenty of confident (but reasonably subtle) self-marketing.

  7. Agreed. I think the emphasis on begging for anything – and Imean ANYTHING – you can get for bloggers is really unsettling and drives me, at least, away. I stopped following a blog when she had three sponsored posts in a row, and none of them really made sense for her as a blogger. Later she did something like FIVE posts sponsored by Wendy’s, and while I had been still clicking on her off and on (I really liked her as a person!) I just could not STAND a whole week’s worth of discussing a chicken sandwich from a fast-food restaurant from a blogger who purported to write a lot about simplified living and health-focused motherhood.

    The last time I looked at her stuff, I saw a post on reasons she stops following people, and I found the lack of self-awareness (she’s writing about not following people because of the EXACT STUFF SHE DOES, what the hell) and the irony overwhelming. I just… shrugged, haven’t been back since. It’s been a couple of months, and I just feel completely uninterested.

    I wonder if blogging as something you can actually make a ‘living’ at is going to fall apart in the next year or so. There are always fifteen thousand new bloggers begging for everything and anything, and I feel like the companies are going to be exhausted, worn out with all this relentless “let me shill for you!” But it’s gone on way longer than I thought it would already, so I’m not sure what will really happen.

    I don’t think blogging itself will burn out, but I think these opportunities will become far more selectively placed int he next couple of years.

  8. Such a great topic! I am a firm believer that the quality of work will ALWAYS (in time usually) trump those that take the short cuts, those that do sloppy or stolen work, or who complain about not getting things without putting in the work. Your’s is a favorite blog to read because of how you let it grow organically and are not pursuing partnerships or collaborations that aren’t a natural fit. You are a blogging role model. 🙂

  9. This is such a great post, as usual, Alison. I also believe in the idea of growing my blog organically, not buying followers or asking readers to follow me on 10 platforms in hopes of winning a giveaway. I want readers to like my blog or read my blog because the quality and or content is what is bringing them back. I want to be a fabulous writer like you and engage audiences like you… and maybe one day I will. But for now, I am not of the mindset of “selling” my blog just for some extra money. Oh, and I am still working on that blog post that you inspired weeks ago. I am just waiting for the right time to post it. Thanks again for always inspiring me!

  10. Stay hard to get. What you’ve done is picked quality over quantity.

    ” It’s a calmer existence, though it may not be as fruitful. It gives one time to make it far more worthwhile when someone else decides to make the first move”

  11. Wonderful. I struggle a bit with blogging for the same reasons. I’m not comfortable begging or, as Ashe says, showing more initiative. I’d like to be recognized for what I do not because I’m the squeaky wheel. That hasn’t gotten me very far as of yet, but I’m okay with it. I don’t want to take sponsorships that have nothing to do with my style, blog or readership just so I can say I have one.

    Anyway. Thank you again for writing this.

  12. I have taken a similar path in blogging. I wait for things to come to me, in most cases. I’m very glad that I asked if anyone wanted to meet for drinks or dinner before the fashion show more than two years ago and I’m glad you didn’t play too hard to get. I didn’t just meet another blogger, I made a friend. 🙂

  13. I love your blog because I do sense that you’re not a sellout. I see the clothes you wear as part of your carefully picked wardrobe (like us normal people who aren’t bloggers). You wear repeats, you have some misses, and you have your favorite looks. This blog wouldn’t be the same if you started wearing freebies and giving fake reviews to keep getting more freebies and giving more fake reviews. I think the the right opportunities will come, just keep being you!

  14. Allie, you have expressed beautifully my reasons for coming back to read you every day. Sounds as if you will always keep it real, instead of joining the career blogging rat race and sacrificing the high quality of your viewpoint and writing. Just look at all your readers who depend on your honesty.

  15. I think every blogger struggles with this to some extent. I write a money / shopping blog, and I don’t want to de-anonymize myself which hurts my chances of making money.. but in the same vein, I don’t want to come out and reveal who I am because I love my actual career (consulting) and don’t want to mix the two.

    Still, it’d be nice if this “hobby” paid more, but.. ultimately I am doing this for me. 🙂

    A great post.

  16. I’ve been a blogger since 2007. I had a few good years, since I got in while my niche was still fairly small. A few changes in my life, plus changes to my business model have pretty much shifted my blog to hobby only. It’s good and bad. It was nice for it to make some money when it did, but now it’s nice not to have any self-imposed pressure.

      1. ditto, ladyface!
        ive been kinda disappointed in myself that ive let my blog get dusty… i want to have the motivation, but i just cant be bothered — all the more reason i have so much respect for those of you who keep it going!
        but anywho, would love to meet up again sometime. 🙂

  17. Great post. Thank you. I do want to say that I don’t think it is “hard to get”. I think it is “discernment”. And that can be a tough place to get to sometimes. Cheers.

  18. You go!! I could have written exactly what you have, substitute blog for career…I wanted opportunities based on merit, not based on whose ass I kissed, etc. I am now 58, and I’ve had a stellar career in my view, and I am content and proud. I know it would have been possible to have made more money or risen higher, but I am high enough and very satisfied with that, and most important, I have never not been true to myself. I admire you completely.

  19. I seriously cannot get enough of you and your blog! This is so beautifully written and exactly how I’ve been feeling as of late. My blog is my hobby but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want that ‘hobby’ to grow, to flurish, and to gain recognition from brands and publications. I feel like many of the blog that get that recognition have sold out. You can read it on their posts with a trillion c/o items, by their empty praise about a product, etc. And that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.
    Such a great post and message!! Keep it up, girlfriend:)

  20. I think the quality over quantity message is such an important one, and one that is too often left unsaid. Even if I don’t have as many things/sponsors/whatevers as I’d like, I want to love the ones I have and know that I chose them with purpose and intention rather than simpl because they were available in the moment I thought about them. I don’t want to have to compromise for something that’s convenient or easy but ultimately isn’t right for me.

  21. I do think (or would like to think) that playing hard to get and a concern with quality are generally compatible with very selectively putting yourself out there to pitch an article to Vogue, ask for a sponsorship that would really complement the philosophy of the blog, etc. It’s true that life is in many ways a numbers game (if you pitch enough articles or date enough people something is more likely to stick), and things often work out well for people who play the numbers. Yay for them, but for the reasons you mention, I’m glad not to be one of them. Still, I wouldn’t be closed to the idea of occasionally drawing my expertise/blog’s success to someone’s attention, provided I really believed in my proposal and thought the opportunity would be mutually beneficial.

    1. I am not closed to the idea, hence the three pitches I have done so far (though one was brought back with them asking me to do ridiculous things for no money and the other two I never received a response), and even though those didn’t go well I will do again if there’s the right opportunity. However, I do think with so many people begging and pitching, it’s like how it was in the day of the paper resume – you need to have SOMETHING to make you stick out, and that often matters more than what you are offering. Until I can think of that SOMETHING to say LOOK AT ME while being true to myself along with the right situation, I’ll sit back and watch the show. 🙂

  22. Thank you for writing this! As we chatted about on Twitter, I so relate – in every aspect of my life. Somehow I grew up with the idea that strength came from not asking for help (even when it’s needed), so begging? Completely out of the question. I like to hope my work, achievements, and energy speak for me.

    To be honest, like the main commentor on that Cosmo post, I hate the use of the word beg. Surely there has to be something more beneficial – such as ambitious, hardworking, focused, dedicated, or having initiative. That’s the one word I heard often in college + in my early jobs – “take more initiative.” Surely that quality is just as strong and memorable as begging?

    Random tangent aside, we’re birds of a feather in this regard (though perhaps I need a take inspiration from you and buy a few bit more quality basics and fewer gold/black shoes). Thank you for writing this!

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