Expat Life in Qatar

Are You A Blogger or A Free-Rider?

February 21, 2016

Along with the growth of Doha in terms of hotels and dining scene, a huge influx of new bloggers has come along with it. New names, new websites and new faces – it’s quite hard to keep up with all of them specially since they are way too many these days. I’m glad though that the blogging community is growing and that Doha is finally keeping up with the power of social media and bloggers to help their businesses grow.

I have been observing the blogging scene from afar and I noticed one thing, some are obviously in it just for the freebies. Tagging every single establishments on each posts that they do in the hopes of getting noticed or some even go as far as blatantly kissing someone’s ass publicly on their social media channels in the hopes of scoring a freebie. To be very frank, it is quite disgusting to see as to where blogging has come to. It is no longer a channel to give out honest reviews and experiences, it is now a way to get free stuff by writing content which lacks quality.

I have been contemplating about this for quite a long time now and very recently, another blogger has voiced out the same concern during a random conversation that we had. While discussing about the things we’re doing to grow our blogs in the hopes of learning from each other, we realized that not everyone has the same agenda when it comes to blogging. Some bloggers doesn’t even know the statistics of their blog or how to even check it. They don’t care because whatever their statistics is, they will still get invited to attend an event or a complimentary meal for review. With or without audience reach, an invitation will come.

This makes me lose my motivation in some ways. I guess some establishments are to blame too since this is all new to them, they don’t really have a way or doesn’t know how to do a quality check for each websites that they are inviting. In one year that I’ve been blogging here in Doha, I have only been asked for my google analytics by 4 companies. The Entertainer and Doha Marriott are two of them which I will have to specifically mention since they’ve asked for it a couple of times to update their records.

For the new bloggers, focusing on one topic alone is a thing of the past. Bloggers these days will cover just about anything to be able to maximize all the free stuff they can get out of it. One can be a fashion, food, beauty, travel and even car bloggers even if they know nothing about the topic. I have always avoided fashion and beauty events because I’m not really into these kinds of things. I don’t think the readers that I have will benefit from it and I, myself don’t find the value of such things for me or my blog. A lot of people though have decided to take that route even if they know nothing about it. I think they ought to be reminded that being able to dress and prettify yourself doesn’t make you a fashion or beauty blogger. Just the same, enjoying to eat food doesn’t make you a food blogger.

I love to eat so anything that is food-related is a good invitation for me but I can’t really categorize myself as a food blogger because I don’t really have an expertise on it. I can honestly say that I’m a glutton, not a food blogger and I would most likely write about my experience as a whole and not about the food itself when visiting a restaurant. I’m not like Gerry of Boulangerry who can recognize a certain spice used in a food just by having a small taste of it (sometimes, just by smelling it) nor am I like Rachel of Life On The Wedge whose name became synonymous to cheese in the food blogging scene of Doha because of her passion for it.

I may not be like any of them but what I do have a passion for is this blog, Pinay Flying High. This is my baby and I have created a name from it. I have met a few people who recognized me as “the Entertainer girl” as I keep on promoting this app even before becoming their brand ambassador and very recently, someone referred to me as “the girl who wrote about Streetfood Doha” a blog post about this phenomenal Thursday night dining concept which was widely shared on social media right after hitting the publish button. I will of course take care of my name by only giving out honest reviews (in the nicest way possible) and will keep on trying to give high quality posts with photos to go along with it. I never use anyone else’s photos on my reviews, not even photos given by the establishment itself and that I think has become my signature too in the blogging scene of Doha.

The internet is huge, of course there is space for everyone. I’m very happy to see new names, new faces and new websites – one year ago, I was in the exact same position as they are. The only difference is, I had a 7-year blogging experience from Dubai which is a much tougher crowd. I’m seriously hoping though that the space they now occupy in the interwebs will not be wasted and they can only do this by being a blogger, not a free rider.


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  • Reply Ezekiel Amor July 4, 2016 at 10:12

    Good Reads !! This article really is a must-red for starting bloggers specially in the Philippines. Thanks for inspiring me and my partner orly with blogging etiquettes.
    Ezekiel Amor recently posted…MiG and Tanya team up for a night of musical theater in CURTAINS UP!My Profile

  • Reply Joy Generoso April 22, 2016 at 17:42

    This is spot on. I’ve noticed that too… many bloggers in the Philippines are doing this blogging thing to get freebies. And they are swarming in Instagram tagging here and there to get attention. I love reading blogs that can give me a real experience, tips and information that are not in any way influenced. Which I can use in my future travels.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High April 24, 2016 at 18:19

      I’ve heard the stories of the bloggers in the Philippines, thankfully – I don’t experience it first-hand. Lol. Yes, blogs which offer honest opinion of services they paid for is what I prefer reading as well. 🙂

  • Reply Khansa April 14, 2016 at 10:26

    Just read this post now. I don’t define myself as a food blogger. I blog about my lifestyle more so – food I like , places I go to, books I read, products I love and so forth.
    I have a strict policy of reviewing only positive experiences as I don’t really like negative vibes on my blog. Even if I do get a lot of invites I make sure to say no even if it’s a great place if it doesn’t fit into my way of life. I am very conscious of what I promote in terms of lifestyle. But then since doha is a lot of food my blog ultimately ends up looking like one. That aside I don’t understand how a so called instablogger who posts 1 picture on instagram which will more likely be a selfie can be compared to a blogger who spends so much time on a writeup, good pictures, and promote the post on social media.
    I’d just stay on neutral grounds in most cases but putting a blogger and an instagrammer on the same level is frustrating !

    • Reply Pinay Flying High April 16, 2016 at 13:53

      Yes, I also somehow associate my blog as a lifestyle but then your life in Doha will feature food at some point which makes it look like a food blog. Lol. Apparently for some bloggers here, if you’re not going to call yourself a food blogger then you don’t have a right to write about food which I think is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of. What’s the need for all the labels?

      We all have our own way to maintain our blogs and while I do respect that you would only write positive experiences, I on the other hand would write everything. Life, after all, is a combination of positive and negative things and I guess, I’m just being transparent like that.

      Well I’ve already made peace with the instabloggers – if that’s how they want to promote themselves as then so be it. I think it all boils down to the companies as to who they want to work with – bloggers who promotes their work on all social media channels or those who are experts in only one? Anyway, it’s a crazy world out there. After writing this blog post, I somehow found a solution to what I’m feeling – I’ll stop looking at others and just focus on my blog. I’ve unfollowed so many people and life has been more fun since then. :p

  • Reply Marissa My Greece My Travels February 23, 2016 at 20:20

    Wow, really interesting to see how the blogger scene is in Doha. I agree that the bloggers that just do it to “free-riders” won’t last. Blogging is hard work and you need to have a passion and drive behind what you blog about to do it right — and to maintain clients. Too bad the companies and restaurants in Doha don’t do a bit more fact checking. Its a waste for them really.
    Marissa My Greece My Travels recently posted…UK to Greece: Top Greek Island HolidaysMy Profile

  • Reply Photo Cache February 22, 2016 at 20:26

    How do you get invited? LOL!

    I tell my husband when we go out to sample something, a new restaurant or something not to mention that I blog, because I do this as anonymously as possible. None of “real-life friends” know I blog 🙂 and that’s the way I like it.
    Photo Cache recently posted…The Marvelous Malaga CathedralMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 27, 2016 at 09:11

      It is kind of hard to keep your animosity here because one restaurant review will get the restaurant’s radar right away. :p

  • Reply Linda Bibb February 22, 2016 at 04:13

    This post is spot on. As a travel blogger who values her reputation, I was appalled when I read a “how to travel free” article that specifically mentioned using a travel blog to score food and lodging gratis. To my way of thinking, when bloggers with no readership ask for freebies they are promising publicity they can’t deliver. It may not be lying or stealing in the traditional sense, but it seems extremely unethical to me.

    That said, it’s hard to feel too sorry for a hotel or restaurant that doesn’t do its due diligence.
    Linda Bibb recently posted…One Day in Amsterdam Walking With a CameraMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 22, 2016 at 08:50

      That is very true Linda. There are so many blog posts out there which are in this line “how to travel for free”. In a Facebook group that I am in, everyone is obsessed with getting free anything which I think is just way too tacky! If I get invited for a comped stay, then it’s good and I will have to admit as well that I do approach hotel properties from time to time for comped stay but not everytime because I do want to enjoy my vacation instead of taking millions of photos, updating my social media channels and thinking of how to write about it when on holiday. :p

      The blogging thing has taken a very different road these days.

  • Reply Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi February 22, 2016 at 01:10

    Sometimes you just have to stick to your own reasons for blogging & keep enjoying them – the blaggers won’t last out…

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 22, 2016 at 08:52

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s the case here. The blaggers are getting confused as bloggers by establishments themselves. :-/

  • Reply Sahar (Oryx Land Life) February 21, 2016 at 21:09

    I want to tell that I am As a new Blogger, not a ‘Freebie’, infact I just wrote one or 2 posts that I was invited into. I write about what I love and I am a foodie at heart! I can say ingredients by smelling/ tasting and sometimes by looking at foods. I love luxuries too and I think I am working hard to become a good blogger in Qatar. Connecting with all of you has given me so much happiness! You are a honest girl which I love. I hate people that are fake.
    Sahar (Oryx Land Life) recently posted…AMO Abayas~ A luxury Abaya brand from ItalyMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 22, 2016 at 08:56

      You mean free rider not freebie? :p
      That is awesome that you can identify ingredients by smelling/tasting. I don’t really know how to do that but very recently, I was able to taste a hint of coriander in a dish so yay for me. 🙂

  • Reply Tami February 21, 2016 at 20:41

    I hear you!! What’s also hard here is that instagrammers are now also being compared to bloggers, and people just don’t get the difference! But it’s easy enough to weed out those who are just in it for the (free) ride by really reading the posts and seeing how passionate they are about what they do. 🙂

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 21, 2016 at 20:47

      Ohhh trust me, people are so lazy here that they don’t even try to differentiate the good and the bad ones when it comes to inviting bloggers. I once had a meeting with someone who has not even read my blog and doesn’t even know what my blog is. He let his secretary do all the job including looking for bloggers and setting an appointment – the guy had no clue what I write about. And yep, he’s in Doha. :p

  • Reply Bee February 21, 2016 at 18:40

    Love love love this!!!!! So well said, it is quality and consistency that proves who is truly passionate about blogging.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 22, 2016 at 08:58

      Thank you Bee! 🙂
      Unfortunately, not every establishments think the same way. :-/

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