Sunday, 14 April 2013

Battle Of The Blogs: Why Blogging Is Like High School

A note (more like an essay this time!) from Joelle...
You might want to grab a cuppa or a slice of cake for this one - it's a very long post!
I am beginning to think that the world of (fashion, beauty ans lifestyle) blogging is turning into high school. Want to know what I mean by that? Well, I am referring to the dramas, the virtual bitchiness, the cliques (online and at events), the ones who rush into things too quickly, the ones who can't say anything nice about others, the completely insecure bloggers and the show-offs. Do any of these remind you of people from your school, college or uni? It does for me and that is why I am writing this post to address my concerns and I  honestly don't mean to offend y'all - promise!
Firstly, we all started our blogs in different ways. In case you didn't know, here's an intro into how/why I started mine... (you can skip this bit if you want)
I started my blog (not this one, but another one) at 15. I had just been on a trip to China and wanted the entire world to now how great it was and give people the names of the locations in case they were planning a trip there. I chose Blogger as my base because it was the first thing that popped up in the search engine and away I went. I wrote about the trip and then gave up as I had nothing else to talk about. I then started uploading poems and short stories onto my blog and loved getting the positive feedback from people I had never even met. Twitter was only just set up and I got an account. There were no #bbloggers or #fbloggers and my only followers were a few random companies and pals from school.
I then, gained an interest in fashion and blogged about once or twice about a necklace and jacket I bought from Camden market. Again, lots of readers liked my posts and I felt good. At this time, I had 30 loyal followers, which made me happy because I knew I wasn't just talking to myself. This did not mean that I  blogged for them though. Their comments were lovely, but my blog was still about me showcasing my passion - the way it should be!

I don't intend on this being a rant, but some things do have to be said (or typed) in order to highlight concerns and keep the peace in the bloggersphere. I am no blogger 'guru' (no one is!) or anything like that. All I want is a place where people can write about their passions without feeling the need to conform to a certain mainstream style or change themselves to make their blogs like other's.
Time and time again, I stumble upon girls (and some guys, but mostly girls) who are OBSESSED with getting their literally two-month-old blog 'recognized' online. They want so many followers/comments, PR contacts and freebies but often refuse advice/tips to help their blog grow organically. These impatient (and often jealous) souls stick to spamming twitter with their links on purpose and often ridicule 'big bloggers' for their success, instead of taking time to improve the quality of their own content. When did this start happening in the blogging world? And why aren't people doing something about it?
Sure, it's great to have followers as you probably spend a lot of your time taking pictures, compiling posts and coming up with ideas. But ridiculing bloggers with a larger following is pathetic and totally wrong in my opinion. I am sure that the majority of 'big bloggers' have been blogging for YEARS and have worked up relationships with readers and companies through lots and lots of hard work. That cannot be copied in just a few months - sorry to break that to you guys, but it is common sense. It is also common sense that they are approached my companies and get to attend events - why shouldn't they? Companies are there to make money and to gain exposure for their business/client, so obviously they would only choose to work with bloggers that have a large following. I get sooooo annoyed on Twitter when I see the same bitchy bloggers dissing companies for doing this. IT'S A BUSINESS after all, so it's only natural that they use a majority of well-known bloggers to front campaigns. Their blog brand reaches a wider audience and the blogger's ego inflates - so it's a win-win. 
With that said, It is not a rite of passage for bloggers to start a blog to get invites, freebies and invites to events or to get 'famous'. Sure, there can be perks, but you should not be blogging with only those things being your goal.
I do, however don't agree with these bloggers selling their souls (and blogs) to the commercial world - you know, those blog with irrelevant ads plastered all over the sides of their blog. But that's a whole other ball game, which I won't go into.
While we are touching on this 'big blogger'/ 'little blogger' thing, let me just clear things up...
Why does there need to be such an emphasis on this? And why does it matter if your blog is big or small? How do you even measure whether a blog is 'big' or not? Through GFC and twitter follower count? Nah, I don't think so. You may be thinking 'Joelle, you are an idiot, of course it's through follower count!' but it's really not. The truth is, there is no such thing as a 'big' or 'small' blog because it can't really be defined or measured. Your blog is only as big as you believe it is. This means that if you start to believe that you are a great blogger and a fabulous writer, others will too and your positivity will spread around the bloggershpere like wildfire. You may even get more readers/comments as a bonus. 
Don't think no one cares about your site just because you have under 1000 followers or don't get that many comments. Some readers may even be too shy to comment and sometimes it's hard to find the 'follow' button too! It takes time to built up a loyal  readership!
It should only really be a concern of your if you are wanting to turn your blog into a brand/business - then and only then should getting more readers and page-views be your prime goal. If you blog for a hobby, then just DO YOUR THING and in time, readers will come to you and love your writing style.

Secondly, I don't think there is such thing as a 'Superblogger'. It just reminds me of the lame labels like 'popular' and 'nerd' that were thrust upon us without our consent in school. This term was spread around the web like herpes after that awful Company Magazine issue where they used the term about a million times. It was not well received by most bloggers because they (and myself) thought that they did not inspire people to take up blogging and instead used the same boring bloggers that everyone had heard of and even made a crude 'Shit Blogz' article that poked fun at some blogging styles. I hoped that an entire issue about blogging would be about inspiring bloggers to keep at it and make friends with other like-minded bloggers, but I was wrong. It did piss me off at the time, thus making me write my alternative A-Z of Blogging, but then I also realised that it's just a word and should not be taken that seriously. The only people that really care about being 'Superbloggers' are the ones that were called it in the magazine issue. 

Saying that, I have a huge respect for Susie from Style Bubble, Zoe from Zoella, Tanya Burr and loads more. They keep it real and can tell are still humbled by the success of their sites. They (and loads more that I have not mentioned) are incredibly talented at what they do and deserve a lot of recognition.

Somehow, certain magazines and companies have tried to catch on to the blogging phenomenon but don't realise that they are not inspiring people to take up the hobby and are instead creating this unhelpful hierarchy. Some are just putting certain already well-known bloggers on virtual pedestals that we should all bow down to. This is creating a massive divide in the community, which is causing not only elitism, but inverted snobbery and a lot of unnecessary tension. 
These blogger labels such a 'guru' and 'superblogger' don't really mean anything outside of the virtual world, if I'm honest and I really hope that people aren't writing these words on CVs and stuff... Blogger popularity rankings, features and blog awards, do not actually determine your blog's real worth and/or value (not talking about money here!) although they might feel great at the time.
I know that there are so many people blogging these days, it's hard to find where you fit in or your niche. I have come to realise that writing about what you love IS your niche. No one in the entire world is the same as you, so why make your blog look/sound/feel like someone else's? I ask for people to send me their links on twitter so I can find new gems to follow and be inspired from. But I am finding it so incredibly hard to click the follow button these days as most blogs look the same, have the same 'unhealthy obsession with...' tag and pictures of bunting and French macarons everywhere. Is this really what blogging is all about these days?

Now onto the new bloggers thing: I know that starting a blog is exciting (wow, that sounded really patronising. Sorry about that!) but you have to make sure that you don't change your writing/fashion/beauty style just to get followers, comments and invites to events. Like I said earlier, you simply cannot judge the success and value of your blog by how many followers, comments and page-views you get! Please, please, please remember that, even though it's such a cringy thing to say. It really does take a lot of hard work and time to keep a blog going, but you can do it if you set just let it flow and do your own thing.
Also, have you noticed that I do not display my GFC followers on my blog? I just have a follow button as I like to keep things like that private. I can tell others judge others on how many followers they have and I don't want my blog to be about the numbers. I am very happy to have the number I do after four year of blogging, but I don't think it's anyone else's business.
Finally, if you are a blogger, all I can say is don't take it too seriously. Blog about what you want and don't believe the hype. Your site is yours and yours alone and that's a brilliant thing, everything will fall into place for you because readers will see how great/creative you are in time.
So to conclude, is blogging turning into high school (in terms of labels and copying? Yes, but only if we let it by accepting defeat before we actually do stuff! 
We are all individuals, but we are in one massive blogging community that is supportive of one another - the way it should and always be.
We all started at 0 followers, so follow count should not consume all your blogging thoughts! :)
Do you agree with any of the points I have raised, or am I going a bit loopy? I would love to know your views in the comments section! And if you are in any way offended by this post then... I'm sorry (just kidding, I'm not).

Sorry that this post isn't as light-hearted as normal. To make up for it, here's a picture of a dachshund puppy! Am I forgiven? ;)

If you have a further questions please tweet me at @joelle_o or email me at febgirl@hotmail.co.uk - would love to know your thoughts! 
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