Hello and Welcome!
Today’s post is going to be a little bit different. As you can tell from the title, I’m going to be discussing my personal experience with, and all of my thoughts about, The UK Blog Awards (UKBA) 2019. I don’t usually write posts like this but felt compelled.
You’ll probably know (or be able to guess) that I was nominated for The UKBA this year.
I wasn’t actually going to write this post, despite really wanting to, because I didn’t want to burn any bridges. However, I saw that Ruth in Revolt wrote a post about the whole experience yesterday and I decided it was time for me to talk too.
When I was first nominated I was pretty excited but equally nervous. When I saw it was a public vote I knew that there was not a chance I was going to get through. However, I still wanted to try and I encouraged my followers to vote – which I know a lot of them did. The UKBA said that, despite this vote, it wasn’t a popularity contest and the vote would only make up 40% of the score, with the judges making the remaining 60%. Whilst this did make me feel a little more at ease, I couldn’t help but think that 40% of my score would still be really low, especially compared to others.
I was nominated for the Beauty category, with Lifestyle as a secondary.
Before getting into this post I just want to say that it’s going to be long, there’s going to be a lot of screenshots, and I’m going to be thorough. This isn’t me being salty about not getting through, I had these thoughts before the finalists were announced and I was commenting to people the whole way through. I just want to put it into a post because I know that other bloggers feel the same way (many have voiced the same concerns), but also if you’re someone who wasn’t part of this, you’re not going to know everything that happened and I wanted to share.
I also hope that this post (and other posts) might help the UKBA improve in the future. I know its difficult to read tone in posts and if you’re someone who’s reading from the UKBA you might get offended. I fully understand that people want to protect and defend their businesses but if you can’t take criticism and you can’t see where your consumers/readers are coming from then you’re going to have a hard time. I’ve seen Tweets from the UKBA to individuals who have given feedback or showed concern, that are borderline rude, so I’m fully prepared for this post to go down like a lead balloon with the UKBA but fingers crossed it doesn’t.
I have to say my first impressions were pretty good. I received an email when I was nominated, which asked me to then fill out a form to nominate myself (this information would be used on my profile).
The dates for when everything would happen were clearly laid out on their website, making it easy to follow.
Everything seemed like smooth sailing. Until the voting opened.
The Voting Process
Voting was due to open on November 2nd 2018 (we weren’t told what time that day, just any time I guess). I posted on my Instagram story on November 2nd saying that I would drop the link to the voting page the next day. However, the UKBA then Tweeted saying that the voting would be delayed by 24 hours.
During the whole voting process they were also repeatedly Tweeting a link to ‘everything you need to know‘. I’m not sure how a series of dates (that changed but weren’t edited on their website) is everything I could possibly need to know about the process. However, I still gave them the benefit of the doubt. They said they’d changed their voting system, so they might just have teething issues.
On the 5th November we received an email stating that they were ‘putting the finishing touches on our new and improved voting system that promises to showcase your work and efforts are being made to ensure the voting process goes smoothly’ and that’s why it was taking so long. They said they’d rather put out a good system that works well than something with issues which is absolutely understandable, it would be worse to put out a bad system than no system at all. They also promised to send a ‘vote me’ badge out, their exact words were ‘it’ll be out soon – we promise’ (spoiler: it never came). On the 9th November they also Tweeted saying we’d get our badges the next day (see previous spoiler).
Finally on the 14th November, 12 days after the original date, the voting was live! Until, it wasn’t again. The site completely crashed. Here’s their series of Tweets:
Now I’m going to be super skeptical but, as an outsider, it seems kind of strange that there was a hack attempt at the exact moment they decided to make the voting live. Bearing in mind that this wasn’t the actual date the vote was scheduled. You’re telling me that someone wanted to hack the UKBA’s website so badly that they waited around for 12 days after the original launch date to carry it out? What would they even be getting from the site? This is me just being skeptical, of course there’s no way for me (or anyone other than people working at the UKBA) to know if there was an actual hacking attempt, it just seems very convenient.
Finally, on the 15th the site was live and voting was go.
Would I say the voting was smooth from here? Not really. They promised that the system would be easier but, to me, it was horrible. It was just pages and pages of bloggers (lifestyle had 44 pages) with around 10 bloggers per page. It would be the blogger’s name (which to begin with was their actual name until bloggers complained that most didn’t use their real names) with a small blurb about the blogger. Then you could either click the heart to vote for them or read more by clicking on their name which brought up a ‘profile’. You could only vote once per category though so 44 pages of lifestyle bloggers with 10 bloggers per page? pick ONE.
When I saw that system, any tiny hope of me getting through was gone. Luckily I was the first person on the first page so MAYBE I might have got a few organic votes but honestly it’s highly unlikely and anyone who was a few pages deep wouldn’t have got a chance. If you’re someone who doesn’t really know bloggers but wanted to go on and vote, you’re not going to click through 20+ pages looking at each blogger.
I honestly think the voting should be scrapped. There’s no way you can say it isn’t a popularity contest if you have a vote. You just can’t. You can’t see bloggers with 500,000+ followers vs bloggers with 1,000 followers and say ‘that’s fair’, or ‘that’s not a popularity contest’.
Also, my blog name was spelled wrong. Just a minor thing really because literally EVERYONE does it (whoever is reading this, hello, I’m Multibendybeauty, all one word). However, I know this was a common problem with a lot of people, which I’m not sure how it even happened considering we had to fill out a form where we typed our own names.
Anyway, all in all, the vote was an absolute mess. There’s no sugar coating it, it was a mess, and I’m sure the UKBA know that. I can’t comment on what the old system was, but this one wasn’t good.
Oh also, they moved the closing date for the vote from the 21st December to the 24th December. However, they didn’t say what time it closed so by the time I went to promote to do a final vote on the 24th, it was already closed.
The Finalists Reveal
With the voting issues out of the way I was ready for the finalists to be revealed. In my mind, nothing could go wrong. I thought the voting issues were just a one-off and I was ready to put it behind me and excited to know the finalists.
The finalists were to be revealed on Friday 4th January (again, what time? we do not know). I had it in my diary, I was ready, I was on Twitter, I was refreshing my email.
This Tweet went out and I was thinking ‘yes, see it’s fine’:
I waited for many hours. We were told that if we would receive an email whether we were a finalist or not so I was waiting.
Then they Tweeted:
You’ll notice that beauty isn’t in this list. However, my secondary (lifestyle) was. I hadn’t received an email telling me if I was, or wasn’t, a finalist for that category. A LOT of people also said they received no emails, despite us being told that we would get an email to tell us if we weren’t successful.
The phrase ‘we are still working on the results for the rest’ to me at the time said the rest would be released later that day. I was incorrect. I was just about to head out of the house so decided to tweet:
That’s right folk, the remaining 16 categories wouldn’t be announced on the day they were scheduled to be. It was like the voting all over again. Weirdly the fact I had to wait a few days completely wiped out my nerves. I knew I wasn’t getting through and honestly I was losing the will with the whole process. By the time Monday the 7th rolled around (they actually stuck to this) I just didn’t care any more.
However, I didn’t receive an email saying that I wasn’t through on that category either. I had to find out via the finalists list online.
My question is that if everyone had to just find out via a list uploaded to your website anyway, why not just do that and save all the faff of trying to email people/saying you’re going to email people/people asking questions about emails and just set a date and time to release the list and tell people to check it. Send just emails to the finalists as a personal touch to say congratulations and save yourself all the fuss.
The reasoning behind the late 16 categories was the following:
This, and the previous Tweet about their IT telling them to stop asking, makes me feel a bit weird.
Put yourself in their shoes, you’re running a business and your own IT department tells you (the boss) to stop pestering them? Seems a bit off. I’m not sure about you but I wouldn’t ever tell my boss to stop asking me something (unless the bosses work in the IT department?). Then this second Tweet about waiting for the judges for the remaining categories also feels a bit off. You’re waiting on judges scores for 16 categories? You didn’t even manage to get half the categories’ scores back? Why set a date if more than half of your judges are allowed to be late? I’d understand if it were a couple of categories, people might be sick, there might be circumstances out of the UKBA’s control meaning that judges can’t get back to them with scores, but 16/27 categories? That seems wild to me. Especially as the category with the most bloggers in it, lifestyle, was back on time.
All in all the results announcement was slightly smoother than the voting but still not great.
The Judging Criteria
I wasn’t actually aware that they’d released the judging criteria until I read Ruth’s post yesterday but here it is:
Criteria 1 – We’re looking at ‘first impressions’ of a blog. What dis the judge think the MINUTE they land on a bloggers’ page.
- Aesthetically what is the judges’ impression? Does the blog have a clear brand/style?
- Is the layout clear and simple? Is it easy to figure out where to go on the site?
Criteria 2 – This is all about content – our judges read the bloggers’ latest 3 blogs on their site. What’s the content like?
- Are all 3 blogs uniform in their writing? Is there a clear writing style?
- Are there any clear errors? Is the actual language used correct and
Criteria 3 – This is all about the relevancy to the category a blogger is in. If a blogger is calling themselves a culinary blogger then does their content really feature this topic?
- The judges looked at the last 3 blogs, to see if there was a link between them and the category they’re in?
- If the judges looked at the bloggers’ site and looked at any images is it
clear that their blog is a ‘category x’ blog.
So if we’re being picky, like they were on our sites, how can they judge for ‘any clear errors’ when in their first criteria they have a typo ‘What dis the judge think the MINUTE they land on a bloggers’ page’?
Also here’s a screenshot in case they read this and edit it (which they should):
Oh also the ‘you can find the finalists here’ has no hyperlink.
Anyway, nitpicking aside, let’s get into the actual criteria.
First impressions of the blog is fair enough but I do sort of think, based on looking at the finalists’ blog, they should have been a bit broader with this. Most of the finalists’ blogs are laid out in exactly the same way and, if you took their titles out, would be difficult to distinguish. Whilst I understand the look of a blog is important, as long as it isn’t absolutely hideous and is easy to get around, surely it should be more about the content? No one is going to subscribe to a blog because they think it looks pretty, but never read any posts. Every finalist for the beauty category, apart from one, has some kind of scrolling picture feature on their blog and small, black, clickable social media buttons at the top.
The second criteria I’ve already touched on a little. I do think this is fair enough but equally using the wrong ‘to’ doesn’t mean you’re a bad blogger. Having poor grammar or using commas incorrectly doesn’t make you a bad blogger. I have a degree in English and you best bet my spelling is still terrible, I still make typos, I still use punctuation incorrectly sometimes. We aren’t perfect and clearly neither is the UKBA. Also, does this mean you’re not going to allow foreign language bloggers?
Onto the third criteria. I understand that the judges can’t go through every blog on someone’s page but taking the last 3 is not fair at all. Especially as we have absolutely no idea when they were looking at our blogs. If a judge landed on my blog in the middle of my Christmas content then they aren’t going to judge me as a beauty blogger. Posting about gin crackers or doing a Christmas tag probably isn’t going to impress a beauty judge. However, I’m beauty AND lifestyle so how can you judge my beauty content based on my last three posts when I’m two types of blogger? Why only read the last three (and not tell us you’re going to do that). Why not get bloggers to submit their favourite three posts when they complete the registration, or the three THEY THINK best showcase their writing. Everyone has off days, not every post is going to be as good as each other, and not every post is going to fit in with whatever definition you’re using of the category you’re assessing. Also looking at photos and being able to tell what someone’s blog is about I don’t think is a fair way to judge a blog.
To be honest, looking at this judging criteria, and then looking at the bloggers through as finalists, makes sense, but I still have questions. For example, did the judges look at EVERY blog in that category, including those who had that category as a secondary (e.g. 44 pages of lifestyle)? Or did they only look at blogs who had the category as their primary?
Based on the voting criteria, no one who had a secondary category would go through on that category. Even if they were 50/50 for each of their two blog types, the judges only looking at 3 of their posts surely would mean they wouldn’t go through on either category since you wouldn’t be able to tell that their blog is 100% the one category being judged at that time? For example say the beauty judges looked at my blogs during Christmas when it was mostly lifestyle posts – I’m not going to be put through on beauty. Equally, I don’t post lifestyle that often so, chances are, the judges would look at my blog for lifestyle when I’m posting beauty (which is the majority of the time). It’s confusing that they allow two categories if they want judges to be able to look at any images on a site and be ‘clear that their blog is a ‘category x’ blog’, but they wouldn’t be a ‘category x’ blog, they’d be a category x and category y blog (e.g. beauty and lifestyle, or fashion and beauty, or mental health and arts and culture, etc.). So how can they be judged only on one category at a time?
There are some cool blogs out there and I feel that this judging criteria narrows bloggers into a really small box and certainly doesn’t celebrate all bloggers, like the UKBA claim they aim to.
My Main Issue with The UK Blog Awards 2019
Put simply my issue is lack of communication.
All of the problems above wouldn’t really have been large issues if they just communicated well. Every time I logged onto Twitter during the problems with the voting, or the finalists being announced, people were confused. This could have been avoided if the UKBA were more transparent.
Yes the issues with the website were possibly unavoidable but people were concerned and it took the UKBA far too long to answer their concerns. The vote was late but don’t announce on the day that it’s going to be postponed. Based on the series of events the website wasn’t anywhere near ready by the 2nd, so why not announce it before then instead of on the day when people had no idea that there were issues.
If the votes haven’t come back yet for most of the categories, then announce that before the day! No one had any sign that more than half of the categories wouldn’t be announced that day.
If emails were only going out to winners then just say that, don’t say everyone will get emails when they wont. If it’s easier just put a list up on the website and direct people to that, as I mentioned earlier, then do that.
Announce the voting criteria ahead of time, not only when people demand it! People may not have had so many questions and concerns if they’d know what their blogs were being marked on.
It’s customer service 101 to make people feel like they’re valued. If people are sitting and not getting any replies and no extra information then they’re going to feel stressed and look for answers elsewhere. For example, imagine you go into a restaurant and sit down, the staff are really busy and don’t speak to you, you have no idea what’s going on, when you’re going to get served, or even if they know you’re there. This doesn’t tend to happen in restaurants as someone will say ‘I’ll be right with you’. That isn’t just a weird thing people do, it’s a genuine customer service tactic and there’s been actual research on it. Staying silent about something makes people nervous, the more information you can give, the better, and the more you interact with people, the more valued they’ll feel.
Do I think the UK Blog Awards 2019 was a complete disaster? No. Was it handled poorly and could it have been done better? Yes.
It’s inevitable that problems are going to arise and things are going to go wrong but it’s how you handle it that matters. The main issue I had was the lack of communication. I’m a patient person, I don’t mind if things take longer and don’t go to schedule, but I like to be kept in the loop with what’s going on!
The UKBA don’t seem to take kindly to criticism which, as I said at the beginning, I understand to an extent as businesses can be touchy subjects when you’ve put a lot of time and energy into them. However, you do need to listen to the criticism in order to make improvements. If you don’t then you’ll keep making the same mistakes and receive more criticism. Brands and businesses who do well are the ones who listen to their consumers and I hope that the UKBA follow suit.
This was my first year as part of the UK Blog Awards and I’m not sure if I would do it again. I think they might need a few more years to really iron out the issues they have. Whilst I won’t be joining in 2020, I can’t say that I’ll never apply again (although I’ve probably fully burned that bridge with this post).
Anyway, this is the end of this post! I hope you enjoyed reading it, if you did then I’d appreciate if you gave this post a quick like. Additionally, I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts so please comment below! Finally, please follow my blog if you aren’t already – I post twice a week.
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