If you do a search of the social networks, you'll likely find the term 'blog award' somewhere nestled within. It's a growing phenomena, with online retailers and the printed media (most often) offering fame and fortune to blogs up and down the country. Is it a good thing? Well…
Yes, it can be. If you have a blog, getting picked out or shortlisted by a larger corporation has to be a positive. You get the extra traffic, some added publicity and something to throw at a potential advertiser if or when it comes knocking. There might even be a cash prize and a 'swanky' do to attend. None of that can be argued against.
But it is also a very good thing for the people running the awards too.
For example, if you were a magazine and wanted to run a promotional campaign over a a large number of high-profile blogs, you would have to dig deep, either with advertising or with some kind of giveaways. You might be limited to a small number of sites (due to budget) and it might be limited promotion, due to the length of the promotion on the site.
Running a blog award means ongoing publicity over a longer period of time and it also means free advertising, as the blogs push their users to nominate them at those sites and (in some cases) host promotions around the awards. In short, it is free marketing and advertising for those running the awards.
Not only that, it is also free brand association with blogs. It might not be as obvious as it once was, but blogs are still cutting edge. Online retailers and magazines are often seen as the establishment. By associating with relevant blogs, these people get their edge - and you do the leg work.
Also, there is rarely a criteria for judging these awards, so it's never quite clear why sites win and why sites lose.
One of my sites once got shortlisted for the National Web Awards back in the day. I think I beat the BBC on the night, picking up a runner's up spot for best arts and entertainment site. I was as bemused as anyone, but went along with it. All awards are like that. Essentially, the winner is likely to be the blog that the organisers feel most in-tune with or feel is the zeitgeist. Got a baking blog right now? You're half way there.
So good or bad? I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Everyone loves a pat on the back for their efforts, even more so if the other hand is passing over some cash. The bump in traffic might be useful too, especially if you are starting out and want to get noticed.
But perhaps the whole process needs to be a little more transparent. If you are shortlisting and judging, the committees really need to be clear on the criteria they are using or have used. Otherwise it just sounds like the personal opinion of one or two people, which is bound to differ from the next two along.
Also, it would be nice to see some of these magazines/corporations employing more of the winning bloggers. If they're good enough to talk up at an awards ceremony, they're good enough to be paid a wage.
After all, the better bloggers are usually great writers with a very good knowledge of the area they cover. They aren't just people you want to be associated with. These are people you should be working with.