Are Blogger Friends Real? Or Strictly Business?


When I worked as a science writer and editor for an online tech publication, my work and my social life were pretty separate. I did make some lasting friendships—I even met my husband at that job. But the lines between professional and personal were pretty clear. We did after work happy hours maybe once a month and when I got dressed up to go out it rarely involved work.

Fast forward six years and things sure have changed. I now write about fashion and lifestyle and have a blog, and the lines between personal and professional are often blurred. I'm invited to lots of events—the type I dreamed of attending back when I was writing about stem cell research—and all of them are work related.

But they feel so … friendly. And therein lies the problem. I see many of the same bloggers and fashion writers at parties around the city, and they're all very nice and ask about my daughter and sometimes we go grab a bite afterwards. Maybe it's the small town girl in me, but it took me a while to realize that while we are friendly, we are not necessarily friends.

To be honest, I always think of people as friends first. I don't like doing business or socializing, even if it's a professional event, with people who are rude or mean or otherwise make me not want to be friends with them. So if you're a cool person and we hang out, I am probably going to assume you are my friend. That just seems normal to me.

But it's not normal to everyone. Some folks can be pretty opportunistic and calculated in their professional relationships—anything for more Instagram followers or write-ups or bylines. They may even use the F word (friend), only to disappear once you change jobs and no longer have the potential to benefit their career.

So it's up to you to determine who you can actually rely on when your cat dies, or you break your ankle, or you're having relationship problems. Friends will graduate from text to voice call late at night, or bring you a pint of ice cream IRL.

I see two ways of making this determination: you can be like me and give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume the people you seem to be getting along well with are your friends. That can lead to hurt feelings when that turns out to be false, but I can't help it. Or, if you're smarter than me and prefer to avoid feeling spurned, you can try to get really good at identifying a real friend before that happens.

Demetria Irwin puts it thusly in Clutch magazine:

I work in media and I live in New York. There are a few people in this industry who I consider to be actual friends and there are even more people who I like as people and professionals and I immensely enjoy their company, but we’re not friends—just friendly colleagues. And that’s fine as long as we both treat each other as such and do not conflate being friendly with being friends. The list of folks who I can enjoy brunch with on any given Sunday is quite long, but the list of people who I know will take a call from me at 3 am is much shorter.

It's tough when everyone has a personal brand. It's basically everyone's job to be friendly. And so many people work from home those days, so events are a way to not go insane in your pajamas. And to get more social media followers. They can also be a way to make friends! May all of yours be the real kind.

[Image credit:]

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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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7 Responses

  1. Alison

    What a great post, and an important thing for new bloggers especially to realize. The blogosphere can be the most inclusive community, but it can also be a bunch of fame-reaching mean girls. I feel oh so lucky to have made true friends with bloggers, and also have many who I find to be very fun and awesome friendly colleagues, but have met many that I only air kiss and move on because I’ve seen how they work, and how they’ve hurt others for fame and glory. Blogging is a great way to meet people, but for many it’s a business. It’s best to treat each blogging contact as you would a work contact, and just like a job you’ll find some you want to spend your off hours with, and some that are just event/business partners!

  2. Kosta Karakashyan

    I think blogger contacts should be treated as regular work contacts from any other industry. It’s important to be polite and helpful, but of course, we need to be very selective who we actually trust as friends. That’s the beauty of it though. We don’t click with every person we meet, so we should be happy when we make a real friend from blogging. It happens rarely, but when it does, it’s great.

    Cool Gear Cavalier // Men’s Style and Lifestyle

  3. Parimita

    Friendship should not be confused with professional relationships. It’s nearly impossible to make friends with people who are your competitors. Moreover, business is usually give and take. It is best to keep emotional exchanges out of the system. Its usually this way but exceptions are always there. I have seen enough events and celebs in my life that now until it is absolutely required, I don’t go to events. Fashion shows are repetitive. And product reviews are painfully rigged. Be nice to people who endorse you, and when the right time comes do the same for them. It makes life much simpler.

    Parimita from

  4. Sabina @Oceanblue Style

    I find that really useful not only as far as blogging and social media is concerned. And helpful. I prefer keeping my spheres separate and have decided to regard colleagues or contacts as partners to cooperate with. I do not share my personal life even less so online. But every now and then I will get things mixed up and need to remind myself that these are friendly people not friends. This article reached me just at the perfect time. I guess I have never been to a city other than to New York where you can feel just how much everyone is trying to sell him/herself and scanning you for the potential that you may carry. A sales guy at GAP even was networking while handling a customer inside the changing room and I was like- is this for real? Sabina OceanblueStyle

  5. Sheela Goh

    The world of blogging is very similar to the world of Public Relations. I was in the PR field for 15 years and I still call it the plastic fantastic world. One always felt the hugs and air kisses were somewhat suspect. I don’t, however, find much disparity between making actual friends in the blogosphere versus the real world. As with all things that matter, friendships require work. While we may come across a few like-minded souls at social events with whom we can huddle and share notes, ultimately, we need to invest time in cultivating relationships to the point that 3am calls would be oh so the norm. Don’t you agree, dahlink? 🙂

  6. Carina

    Great post and quote. Like you, I used to assume that friendliness automatically equated to friendship, and I had to learn that that is not always the case, and it took me even longer to realize that it’s OK. 🙂