One of the great things about blogging is that you don’t need to have a reason to write a post. You can just write a stream of thoughts and if people like what you write, or it resonates in some way, they’ll say so – also if they don’t like it, they’ll say so too. That, funnily enough is a more common thing – disagreeing or not liking something seems more motivating to commenters than liking or agreeing. So, you can do a hundred things right and one thing wrong and it’s the wrong thing that get noticed!
Anyway, this is one of those ‘whirl of thoughts’ posts about blogging because it’s been a while since I’ve done one. Even though it’s only April, this year has been quite a journey. My stats have come back (remember the post where I told you the blog broke and I couldn’t stop crying at a launch – awkward!) thank goodness, but to be honest, the lesson from that is that I am so much more grateful for the readers that stuck with all the breakage and move to WP than I ever am for the accidentals that add nicely to my stats. I am absolutely sure that being ill in February was related to all the stress of the blog, and I’m having to be more careful about how much I’m investing in blogging so it doesn’t happen again. I think unless you are a blogger, you do not truly know the horror of potentially losing your blog.
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It’s not a financial investment (I can do other things to earn money so while it’s a factor, it isn’t the b-all and end-all of why I blog) but an emotional one. BBB has been going for five years and I can say I have never worked so hard in my life. As a beauty writer for mainstream press, I never connected with readers – there was never an opportunity for anyone to feedback and say whether they liked a thing or not. So, it would be fair to say that some features were done quite carelessly (if I knew then what I know now, they wouldn’t have been). I would actually not know if a thing worked or not, but would just go with what was on the press release. These days, I still write for a paper, and HowToSpendIt.com, but I am SO much more conscious of not blindly parroting things I’m told. Someone tweeted me not so long ago to let me know they thought one of my posts was lazy and that I was wasting nail varnish. Now, I am quite good at taking flak but I did lose my cool over that one, because you cannot blog at this level if you are lazy. LAZY!! Urgh.
I was contacted recently by a PR asking me to feature a new hair range; I said I didn’t want to as it was already in the shops and I like to preview products. The response was that it wasn’t their strategy to let me preview (more or less). But, the point is it’s not about their strategy. It’s about what I want for my readers because it’s MY blog! Why should I want any less for the people who read BBB than any magazine editor would want it for hers/his? I am constantly looking for new information because that’s kind of what BBB has become known for – and many a PR probably is cursing the moment I email or phone – but you do have to hustle if you want the best. And I do really hustle for it.
Behind the scenes at BBB, I am not being spoon-fed information; I’m researching as much as I can to find news that isn’t widely covered already because I want BBB to have a point of difference. There are many, many conversations that go on with me negotiating to show some or all of a collection as soon as I possibly can. But, it’s not straightforward. Recently, some pictures of a very much hyped collaboration surfaced that I wanted to immediately blog about. Instead, I had a long conversation with the PR and we’ve sort of worked out a compromise, but it’s done knowing that other images will surface first. So, she’s not happy and I’m not happy but this time around, it’s better to try and be agreeable with each other for the future of an on-going relationship where maybe I can snag something fabulous for BBB readers that’s even more exciting and relevant.
I don’t like brands that try and pull the wool over my eyes, I don’t like brands that don’t play fair with social media (stats grabbers) and I don’t like PRs who allow all the energy to drop out of their voice when they hear I’m asking for an image for the blog and not the paper. I don’t like having to explain what my blog is to those PRs who have no idea about it but it’s certainly a humbling experience and gives me a proper insight into what it’s like being a new beauty blogger. I don’t like seeing tweets from superior beauty editors who think bloggers are a lower form of life. I don’t like any of these things, but they happen ALL the time.
So, I probably should stop my ramble, because I could go on for pages and pages, but here are some of the things I do like and that I appreciate every day. I love the immediacy and interactivity of blogging; every comment (positive or negative) is a validation that something is going right. I love that I can give exact feedback to brands based on actual stats and not some woolly figures. I love that my Twitter timeline is a diverse, happy place with interesting people that I actively like following. I like how, despite the incredible changes in beauty blogging over the years, bloggers will and can pull together. I like it when PRs come to me with an exclusive – that’s the ultimate compliment and I’m thrilled when it happens. I like it that I think brands and PRs are starting to realise that beauty bloggers are walking in un-trodden footsteps.. nobody knows what will happen or what the future evolution will be – I don’t know – I’ve never had a blog at this stage before; few of us have. I like the fact that some brands have supported my blog, and other bloggers, unquestioningly from the beginning – they took a leap of faith and they have their PRs to thank for that.
So there you go.. an aimless ramble that I feel much better for!
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