Yesterday I wrote about the Finnish blog portal Bella-blogit, whose ethics and business model leaves a lot to be desired. Apparently this has been their modus operandi for a quite some time as I found out from the blog Mami GoGo. As per usual, I’m translating the story (very poorly) and I think it’s worth the read. The Finnish readers can go and have a look at the original write up.
When I was originally asked to join Bella, which by then had been operating for 6 months, I was very pleased and flattered. I made new friends and we had very good group of people there, at least we new ones did. Back then I didn’t wonder why one of the original team members of Bella had just upped and left, without any explanations whatsoever. Later, after I’ve seen how things were ran, I wasn’t surprised. I also was told, that there had been trouble with some of the older bloggers and it was because “they weren’t easy to work with”. Even later I realized that the things were other way around. Either case, I was enjoying blogging and our blogs grew and developed, and some of us bloggers became very professional with it.
At the same time Bella-blogit grew and became more known. One of the original bloggers began doing the ad sales. That’s when everything changed. The good atmosphere disappeared. Everything we had agreed to in writing and verbally, were changed with one announcement. Because the portal was small, and the financial compensation wasn’t huge, at least for me it wasn’t, I made most of my income with the blog co-operations I arranged myself. Bella hadn’t brought any campaigns for me within the first year. We had to cut contact with our long-term and important partners. I understand the point that when the campaigns come via business sales, they are a part of bigger picture and therefore the financial perks are also bigger. In long-term it is more beneficial for bloggers, when companies realize they can’t buy visibility with just few products. Well, that’s all about for that now. But with Bella, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. We weren’t notified professionally but with one, very abrupt e-mail. For six months, all my contact with the business sales were more or less aggressive towards me. Me and my blogger friend Riikka were publicly called on Facebook greedy and selfish materialistic shits. By a person we thought was our friend. The CEO of Bella didn’t do anything about this even though I asked her repeatedly. She also treated Riikka very coldly, I got some lukewarm placating. Riikka gave her notice, I wanted to give them second chance. I was offered a raise and even a part in a new TV-series Bastella Media was going to start producing. Neither one materialized. It didn’t take me long to realize, the promises was Bella’s attempt to keep me on leash, I was one of the most read blogs on Bella. We didn’t receive any apologies either, even though at this point I had been receiving more than a fair share of shit from them. I also was very upset from how they had treated my friend.
Spring and summer came and went, and nothing changed. Toxic language, minimizing, bad communication, accusations of poorly made blog posts, calling me names to clients, yelling on the phone, putting down my self-esteem…There was a point, when my hands shook every time I had to open my e-mail. I was so afraid of what I was going to have to read next. Blogging, which used to be my passion and source of joy, became a revolting chore because of them. People, who were supposed to support me and work with us. I still can’t understand why we were treated this way. What was the point of making our blogging harder and treat us so badly? I can’t understand how an adult human being can treat another one such way. And even harder is to understand, how year after year things continue the same. Not for all of them but for some.
Around the same time, another blogging friend of mine, Essi, decided to stop blogging completely. Her contract was broken for many parts. For example, she should have been receiving help to transfer her blog, but she still hasn’t received her files. All the texts and images have disappeared.
I had written and re-written my notice letter for many times over, when finally the day came when I couldn’t do it anymore. I was afraid, what was going to happen after I gave my notice but in the end, I just had to bite the bullet. It was awful. I got ignored completely. I was left out from the campaigns, my posts were no longer pulled on the front page of Bella nor on Facebook. CEO went and changed the password to my personal e-mail so I couldn’t access it. Yes, at this point I found out she had had access to it for two years…My phone calls and e-mails were left unanswered. But later I received a screaming phone call where I was threatened with lawyers and contract breaks and whatnot. For no reason. You can believe me I was spent after being abused for months. After I switched blogs, all my blog pictures were gone. They had been removed from Bella’s server, against the contract, and they had disappeared permanently. Luckily the Indiedays’ IT-guy had experience with blog transfers and he had coded a back up earlier and could bring them in couple of hours. Phew. But what if I had moved to blog independently? I wouldn’t have any of the pictures anymore. One of my last posts on Bella describe my feelings and they weren’t happy.
Most insane thing to see is how everything fell apart. All the nice things became meaningless, when the true side of those people was revealed. I found out that the people, who used to work with them, had to go through similar things. Things got so bad that they are still afraid to talk about them. “I know what kind of web sleuths they have in there and how much energy they use on sabotaging other people. That’s why I haven’t spoken about this publicly”, I was told by someone. “Every time a new blogger joins them, I want to scream don’t do it, it’s a trap!”, says another. There was an explanation why this ex-friend of mine had no long-term friends. All the bridges were burned. I should have know from the way she spoke about other people. But I wanted to believe the best.
It’s unbelievable how unprofessionally everything was handled. Now that I’ve heard the latest scandal a la Shitty Thrift Store Finds, it’s clear they are still unprofessional. Contractual issues are contractual issues, and business is business, but where are the courtesy and manners?
The latest scandal puts down all the portals. The actions of one, or two people shouldn’t ruin the reputation of other portals. Me and many others find that being part of the portal is for the best. I like having a team of people behind me for help and support. Even if it is in the middle of the night. I never would be able to pull of campaigns of this magnitude or even make a living of this by myself. There isn’t enough hours in the day for it. What about all the technical stuff! Support, help and tips from my colleagues too! It’s very important to know there are others in the same boat. Blogging can get lonely.
I don’t mean to put anyone down with this post. Me and many others were wronged, and I don’t think it’s right to be silent about this anymore – especially now, when it’s clear they’ve been continuing doing this. I hope this helps others in the same situation and in the best case scenario, stops this kind of thing happening completely. I know a lot of people on Bella and I wish them all the best. This probably doesn’t feel too good for them and I hope you understand my reasons to write about this and won’t take it personally. I know that many of you have a really good thing going on at Bella. I’m not encouraging people to join barricades in boycotting Bella. The bloggers and the staff are not responsible for the actions of these two people. The purpose of this text is to lift the weight of my shoulders and to tell my story. As well as defend blog portals. If they work well, there’s no better place to blog at :-)
Wow. I don’t know what to say. I only have a note about the portal wide campaigns. Sure, they probably are lucrative but as a reader, they’ve become embarrassing. The most recent example was a Lidl-meat campaign. I don’t remember in which portal it was but it was weird seeing write-ups how Lidl-meat is the most delicious and how they always buy Lidl-meat but at the same they never before once had a blog post about Lidl nor even about eating meat. Like I said, embarrassing. It’s a hard balance, making money and trying to stay original and personal. Most campaigns these days fail to do so.