The Trouble With Blogging….
When you set out to write a feature like this, there’s a massive temptation to over-share, pour out all your woes and use it as a way to make yourself feel better – or worse, depending upon the outcome!
But, it’s definitely not just me that’s really feeling the strain of blogging – there’s a mood across the blogosphere that you’d probably only sense if you’re either a regular reader of many blogs or you are a blogger yourself.
When you work on-line all the time, mood shifts are common – it’s hard to explain – but you can just feel it and chances are, if you’re feeling it, everyone else is too.
So rather than just a woe-is-me post, I’m trying to really understand what’s caused it. Most of the bloggers I know work really, really hard – it might look all glitz and glam but often the reality is very different. And that’s a key part of the problem – there is no switch off. You need to be a very confident blogger indeed to decide that you can’t really be bothered to post for a few days.
PRs are in despair at how to get key bloggers to go to launches – their clients set the bars far too high in expectation thinking they can cherry pick their desired guest list and bloggers will come running. It’s almost impossible for many reasons – one of which is that we’re at overload. Not a day passes when someone doesn’t want something from you. I have one or two PR friends that I’d consider actual friends – that I see ‘out of school’ so to speak, but on the whole the subtext to any meeting, event or conversation is that they want something. The upshot of pretend friends is that you end up trusting nobody – and I never used to be this person! When I worked in print, it didn’t feel like this, although as many an ex-editor has discovered, your ‘friends’ flee when your job title disappears.
Instead of launches being exciting and fun, I find them difficult. I’m neither fish nor fowl at press events or blog events. I used to find blog events invigorating; especially watching younger bloggers starting their blog journeys because enthusiasm and excitement is always contagious, but now I feel as though I can’t find my place. I’m an older blogger compared to the average and while blogging should be a leveller (because beauty is one of the greatest of all levellers) I feel that maybe I’m actually too much older for this. I’m very well aware that a lot of commercial opportunities pass me by because of my (older) face and that’s quite disconcerting to be on the receiving end of.. or not, as it is!
Bloggers naturally split into groups – partially, the cause of this is whether you’re with an agency or not. Bloggers at the same agencies tend to support each other only which means if you’re not part of that particular group, it can feel that you are being excluded. I have had nominal agent representation but have never been part of a commercial agency, which means that I set my own worth. And, when you constantly have to assess your own worth, more often than not you estimate you are worth less than you think. I don’t know if that’s part of being a self-deprecating Brit but it’s easier, I think, if someone else decides. I think many bloggers, quite naturally, feel happier and more supported if they’re part of a key friendship group within the community. However, I’ve seen some horrible bullying and exclusion as a result of that – it can be like being back at school. Not all bloggers get along – and that’s a completely normal, natural part of any industry, but because it’s all played out in subtext across social media, there really is no getting away from it. From being a very happy bunch of people all on the same journey, commercialisation has changed it to a group where everyone’s after a slice of the pie.
When it comes to what I transmit to readers – that’s my perfect comfort zone. I know that, to my bones, I’m doing my best to talk about beauty in real terms, to undo the PR and get to the reality of a product, to be a bridge between brand and consumer and to ensure that nobody throws good money on bad product. I’m not the selfie generation – I find it incomprehensible that anyone would want to know what I’m wearing today but that also means a quiet confidence that because I’m not the face of, er, me, so to speak, I can go about my business without having to worry what anyone else thinks of my shoes.
There’s a general shift in the industry regarding YouTube – a kind of lethargy, I think you might say. The only place that I’m seeing any kind of real buzz is Instagram still and an early buzz about Periscope, which I think digital industry insiders are tipping to outstrip – eventually – YT. Brands, PRs, influencers are all starting to yearn for the next big thing, whatever that might be.
I think it might be a question of digital fatigue, both for those of us putting it out there and those consuming it. Losing your blogging mojo has always been a thing, but this time it’s for very different reasons.
On the absolute up, I love reading comments from readers and interaction in general; that’s the thing for most bloggers and anyone in the digital space that keeps us going! I have readers that have been with me for years; sometimes I’m lucky enough to meet them in real life and that’s always an absolute delight (except when they hug me ;-)) to have these relationships. Despite the fact they’re on-line, they’re very real to me. I don’t write for brands or for PRs (sponsored posts aside, and always clearly labelled) – I’m writing to, and for, people just like me.
I don’t know what the future holds – whether blogging will be more enduring than YouTube or Snapchat or Periscope, Meerkat, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine or any of the other millions of social channels. All I know is that a lot of us feel uncertainty about our place.