Impostor Syndrome: The Curse of The Blogger
I’ve just read the most fabulous feature by Kevan Lee, at BufferSocial (HERE) via a chance tweet from @curlywurlygirl. He has put into words what I’ve been grappling with all my blogging life. Impostor Syndrome, via the Crew Blog (HERE). It’s recognised by psychologists and applies to those of us who are not able to recognise our accomplishments; despite appearances, we’re convinced that we are undeserving of our place. We assume that everyone knows more than we do and that somehow, we’re just ‘getting away’ with what we’re doing.
There’s even a legitimate survey, the Clance Impostor Scale Survey, that gives you questions to answer to find out just how much of an imposter you think you are! Does this sound like you?
- I tend to remember the incidents in which I have not done my best more than those times I have done my best.
- I often compare my ability to those around me and think they may be more intelligent than I am.
- At times, I feel my success has been due to some kind of luck.
I’m guessing that at various points, those of us with a blog have had these thoughts. The challenges, the competitiveness, the constant requirement for new and varied content, the unending feeling that everyone is doing bigger, better and more brilliantly than you – they’re all familiar feelings to bloggers. For some, it’s the fuel that lights their blogs and keeps them sparking amazing content, for others it’s a weight around their necks. For me, it’s a bit of both.
Both Jen at BeautyJunkieLondon (HERE) and Hayley at LBQ.com (HERE) have both hit the nail on the head with their predictions and summaries of the current state of play in beauty blogging. They’re words to listen to and both are a highly recommended read.
I think where Impost0r Syndrome really hits hard is when you’re earning money from your blog. It’s a constant justification of why what you’re doing has a value. You have to justify to readers (or feel that you have to) that you can still have an honest opinion, or give information on products (clearly marked as sponsored, obviously), without detracting from your integrity as a blogger. Feeling guilty about sponsored posts is a ‘thing’ but I don’t think there’s a psychology test for it yet ;-).
Justifying, too, to PRs and brands, why they may have to pay for content to appear on your site also chips away at your blog confidence. Some PRs and brands get it – they really do. They know that to reach our entirely beauty relevant, completely engaged and beauty hungry audiences, sometimes there has to be money on the table. We can’t maintain, never mind build, our strong relationships with readers on thin air. I’m always completely open that, where appropriate, BBB does take sponsored posts. Most bloggers are completely open about it. I think I have the trust of my readers, enough, that they’ll understand, and also know that the opinion expressed cannot be bought. It’s the space that’s being bought.
I had a situation before Christmas that is a prime example of how Impostor Syndrome can creep up on you. A brand (a big one) wanted to use words of praise that I’d used on my blog in their consumer outreach emails, and across all their social media channels. I said that social media channels was fine, because it’s a continuation of the social media circle, but that to use my words as a sales tool would need to be paid for. You would think I had asked to float their firstborn down a river. I asked, “If my words have no value, why do you want them to help you sell product?” It’s not resolved and they didn’t pay.
This is not an uncommon situation and a perfect example of PRs assuming you’re sitting in your bedroom faffing about with lipstick all day without a care in the world or a mortgage to pay. Making money, for everyday jobbing bloggers, isn’t an easy thing, and constantly justifying why what you do has any value at all is perfect breeding ground for Impostor Syndrome.
But before this descends into all doom and gloom, Jen and Hayley’s predictions for the year ahead present challenges that I’m actually looking forward to. You have to head into them with a lion’s roar, not a mouse’s squeak, otherwise that bloody Impostor will have won the day.