Have I sold out too?
Since 2015, when I first started posting and writing about riding my bike, a lot has changed. I first started my Instagram account, website and twitter as a chronicle of memories; a way of looking back and enjoying good times all over again. Even though I’ve had several other ideas along the way, the idea of recording what I’ve been up to, well, that hasn’t changed. I flicked through my blog just the other day and read about the Brenin meet-up that happened years ago. I still post about my rides, I still share my photos and I still look back with a big smile each time I find something I’d forgotten about. That’s never going to change.
What has changed is some of the content I post about. Especially over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some brands and I’ve been posting about it on social media and writing about it on my blog. It’s become part of my mountain biking experience, in the same way photography has become part of the fun too.
Not everyone seems thrilled about people doing this though. I’m amongst them actually, hypocritically sat here thinking ‘ugh, more posts that are about more stuff I don’t want’ whenever I flick through Instagram. It’s especially bad on there; there are loads of accounts with 16000+ followers who seem to post nothing but bike product shots. Some accounts are ones where I’ve not actually ever seen riding happen, or even the person behind the account. Yet, I’m posting about stuff I’ve got – and some of it I’ve been given for free in return for a review or some social media exposure. Some of that stuff might be stuff you don’t want. Have I sold out too?
Of course, I’m biased. I don’t think I’ve sold out. I still write about rides. I still post photos of rides. And, as far as reviews are concerned, I’ve never said anything that I don’t believe to be true. I’ve also never bigged up something I’ve not used throughly – if I’m posting about a product I want to be sure it’s right. My whole ethos has always been (and will always be) that I’m just a regular guy posting about bike things. From time to time, I’ll get in touch with a brand and post about them but only if I think they’re decent in the first place. For me, it’s part of the fun of writing about biking.
More than that, I’ve swapped stuff with brands before (and will keep doing this). Often, they’re looking for photos and I’m looking for their stuff. It makes sense to me to swap some photography for the product. It also helps me build a bit of a photography portfolio within the bike industry which, hopefully, will help me unlock future work. Since I’ve got something I was after, I may as well write about it too.
I’m aware it may well look like my feed is becoming more and more a place of promotion, especially during this lockdown situation, but I hope this has gone some way to reassure you (and future me, when I come to read this back) that actually writing and reviewing is just another thing I enjoy alongside actually riding my bike and I haven’t sold out.