Last Updated on June 24, 2020 by Chris
We started This Week in Blogging with the idea that it was our duty to cover what was happening in the blogging world week by week. During this past week, of course, we've seen the meteoric rise of the Black Lives Matter movement – a movement that we at This Week in Blogging fervently support.
As we began to write about the movement in this week's newsletter, as well as the coverage of the BLM movement, it quickly became apparent that our voices, as two white males, weren't the ones that needed to be heard at this particular moment. In short, it was easy for us both to recognize that there are so many individuals, particularly bloggers of color, that could speak to how this movement connects to blogging at large better than either of us could.
We are committed to using our platform to highlight that which needs to be highlighted, and understand that sometimes that simply means making space for the right voices to be heard.
In light of that, we reached out to Carol Cain, an award-winning blogger and founder of Girl Gone Travel, as well as Cofounder of Brave World Media to discuss how bloggers can use their platforms to promote positive change in the world.
We're grateful to Carol for taking time to so thoroughly and thoughtfully answer our questions, and we're honoured to use This Week in Blogging to share her thoughts and comments.
1. Blogs have, historically, given a voice to people who, for a variety of reasons, were excluded from the canon. Do you think blogs still serve that same function or could in the future?
Blogs still serve that function, and can serve that function.
The problem is that once monetizing the blog became the main goal and focus, people not only started censoring themselves to appeal to an industry that struggles with diversity and fails at representation, but they started following “trends” led by mainstream bloggers who were seemingly succeeding and attracting funded opportunities.
So, where there was room to be different, and brave, and unique, people veered towards conformity so as to appeal to the status quo for money.
2. Do you feel like blogs and bloggers can have an impact on the Black Lives Matter movement?
Anyone willing to use their platform to highlight the struggles and realities of others can use it for social justice, education, and reform.
But, again, if their platform is how they get to travel, or pay their bills, they most likely will only go so far and not be willing to take the steps to shake and change the system. For some the BLM movement remains a controversial and uncomfortable topic, most issues around racism and social justice are. So for many balancing that commitment and advocacy with their professional blogs is challenging.
3.There are many bloggers and content creators who support the Black Lives Matter movement and human rights at large, but are unsure of how they can be an ally. Do you have any recommendations?
Sure. Activism and advocacy aren’t a one size fits all. There are some who are willing to be and can be more outspoken than others, but you can also use your platform to highlight organizations and groups that fund, support, and organize around social justice causes.
Another way is to use your voice and platforms to promote and give space to Black voices, and other voices of color. If there is a conference that has a line up of white speakers, use your voice to challenge them on that, or present them with more diverse options.
If there is a campaign that you are working on and don’t see diverse representation, push back on that and offer suggestions and ask for diversity. Advocacy isn’t just being out protesting, it is for many people a lifelong commitment that can be realized in many different ways.
4. As you know, there are a plethora of blogs in existence, some of which are more personality driven, while others are more thematic. Do you feel like all blogs and bloggers can be a part of this moment, or are some blogs better suited to engage in these discussions?
Like I said, I think that this is something that everyone can do in many different ways.
Some of us are louder and more outspoken than others, some of us have the financial means or professional connections to work from, and so on. I don’t think that everyone who has a blog should use it or speak out, especially if they need education on an issue, or don’t fully understand the ways in which they can be more harmful than helpful.
Like, for example, the fashion blogger who did a shoot in the middle of a protest she jumped into just for a photo with her sign – maybe she needs to sit it out. Or the businesses who put out statements saying they support their cause but nothing about how they are structured or operate communicates that.
We can all do better, but it’s important to be thoughtful and careful of how you choose to engage.
5. Are there any organizations that bloggers could get involved with to show their support and/or learn more?
I am a huge supporter of organizations that work hard to protect the legal rights of not just the protestors, but also marginalized communities. This comes from my own work with asylum seekers and seeing how truly incredible these legal volunteers are and how selfless and committed they are. So, the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law are of course a huge resource, but so is the National Lawyers Guild and Amnesty international.
These organizations also guide people wanting to volunteer to groups meeting targeted needs with their communities or around opportunities based on their skills or strengths.
6. In your opinion, how has blogging changed over the years, and what are some things that bloggers of the present should note if they want to be successful bloggers of the future?
What I have learned over the year is that “success” is relative.
For some being a successful blogger means you have a lot of followers and are featured as a “must follow” blogger in publications – but then you don’t have two pennies to rub together during a crisis. For others, it’s based on how much money they make, whether it is from selling make-up or securing highly paid campaigns. So, it’s hard for me to answer that.
Personally, I would say, a successful blogger is one who can leverage their voice, their community, and their brand into a long-lasting, profitable business that allows for independence and flexibility. But, again, for some success is traveling to x-amount of countries in one year.
We all have different ambitions, so I guess whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn’t infringe upon or hurt others. I wish I could also say, whatever makes you useful to society as a whole, but that’s again, my personal opinion.
7. At their core, what are blogs meant to do, and how might that apply to the current world climate?
Well, initially blogs were meant to connect. It gave a voice to average people who had something to say and they served as a resource for those who didn’t feel spoken to. For people of color, they can be a way to represent themselves and their communities in spaces where traditional media continues to ignore them, and in turn gives their audience a way to see others like them living and moving in the world in ways no one told them they could.
There is power in words and imagery and stories. But, I am afraid those are sometimes lost in the journey. I hope that as we move forward more and more bloggers will return to the importance of blogging to serve the community as a whole, even if they have to find other ways outside their blogs to make money.
8. You’ve been around content creators in some capacity for a very long time, first as a blogger and now with your own PR company. In your current role, where you’re actively looking to work with bloggers, what sorts of bloggers do you aim to work with and why?
I started the agency because I got tired of complaining about the things that bothered me, both from the blogger side and the industry side, so I thought, with my own agency I will have a seat closer to the decision-making table, if not at it, and influence how money is spent, and on whom.
My goal is always to show and reward representation, but also quality and professionalism in the space. I try to gear my clients away from the metrics game, and into a more organic and authentic narrative and I believe in long term investment in people.
I want to not only change how brands work with influencers, but also the kind of influencer that gets the opportunities. It is very personal to me and work I am very committed to.
9. Do you feel as if one blog or blogger can make a difference in this world?
No. I think it is important to take away the impression that one blogger, one blog, and one voice can be THE voice for all things.
I think one blog can definitely help change one life or more. But the true global impact of a blogger is in its community and how they work together, with each other, for each other and for others.
Once we start believing that one blogger is the one, we fall into the trap of celebritism and though celebrities are great, very rarely has one made an impact on anything without the help and support of others like them.
No social justice progress is done by one person. If the past few weeks have proven anything, it is how many voices it really takes to invoke change.
Carol Cain is the founder of Brave World Media. We want to thank Carol for taking the time to participate in this interview!