Blogging has always been something deeply personal to me. It's a place for me to document the things I love in life and be a little creative, and I don't ever see that changing or my blog becoming something other than a true reflection of myself. I love expressing my personality whether it be through my photos or my writing, I love telling you about my life, I love hearing about yours and it's definitely the most fun creative outlet I've ever had. There's no denying we've seen a huge shift in blogging becoming a form of marketing due to its incredible growth and influence, and in the early days, I often wondered how the hell people could afford to buy all the latest releases and found the time to blog everyday. I wasn't aware of PR companies and blogging as a job being an actual thing. I'm not going to lie, in the past, I've wondered what it would be like to have PR companies representing amazing brands contacting me and having lots of followers, but I think over the course of this year, I have developed a much better relationship with my blog and an understanding of what blogging means to me - and it's actually far from free products and numbers.
Over the past few years, I've watched my blog slowly grow and it makes me so happy that so many of you enjoy something I really love and take pride in. By today's blogging standards, it's a small number, but every now and then, a company will contact me. At first, I found it really exciting, but then soon realised I didn't need validation from PR companies in order to feel confident in my blog. To tell you the truth, I delete a good majority of them without ever replying and I don't know whether you'd consider that bad blog etiquette or not, but I simply don't have the patience to reply to e-mails saying that I'm not interested. That's not why I blog and if something that's merely a hobby for me becomes a drag, why would I do it? Sometimes I feel bad about it, but when you blog as a hobby, you have to ask yourself at what point does it begin to feel like a job and where to draw the line. As a blogger, is this my obligation when all I want to do is create content? Of course, if this was my job, I would have the time to make more of an effort in replying to e-mails and if you are making money from your blog, you probably do hold a bit more accountability, but as a hobby I've never earned a cent from, I want to be able to spend my time taking photos, writing up posts, coming up with ideas and reading other blogs.
By all means, I don't think PR companies are a negative aspect of blogging, but when companies e-mail me spelling my name wrong, request something for nothing in return or ask me to talk about spring makeup when it's the middle of freaking autumn where I live, it really puts me off. Plus, talking about new product releases and launches just isn't the route I want to go down with my blog. As much as I love hearing about them, I think it would overwhelm me to receive such a sheer volume of beauty products. Yes, I love makeup, skincare and everything in between, but I don't ever feel the need to try out every single item out there on the market because it can just get too much. I only have one face, I'm not a makeup artist building up a kit and let's be real here, I already buy enough myself! Those blogs exist with a purpose, and I can enjoy those kinds of blogs and take what I want from them, but it's not what I aspire for my own blog. I guess it would be cool to work with my favourite brands if given the opportunity, but it's not something I actively seek out. I can relate more to bloggers who buy things themselves and I get just as excited for my blog friends' purchases as much as my own. Perhaps this comes from my days on LiveJournal, but I enjoy blogging as something more personal as opposed to something that's going to sell.
I have had a few PR companies representing beauty brands contact me, however, the majority have actually been clothing brands. While I would like to focus a bit more on fashion-y things on my blog, it's predominantly beauty and I often question whether my blog is even right for these brands because I certainly would never promote something that I didn't feel was fitting with my blog and therefore, myself. Do these companies actually "get" my blog or are they just looking for exposure no matter where it comes from? My blog is about luxury beauty because that's what I enjoy and I don't want to accept just anything simply because it's free. Receiving free products is definitely a perk, though it's not the be all and end all of blogging and if you do, I think you should have the decency to respect your readers by acknowledging what was gifted, regardless of whatever laws and regulations exist in your country. I have a lot more trust and respect for bloggers who are honest.
Sometimes I feel disheartened that I can't keep up with people who come up with amazing content and blog everyday. It can make me feel like I'm behind everyone else and I worry that my blog isn't growing as fast, but the thing about blogging is that it's so dynamic. We aren't all the same (wouldn't it be boring if we were?) and I enjoy blogging with the freedom to be able to post whenever I want. Creativity doesn't haven't a set schedule (neither does my job or good natural lighting!) and there's no reason why I should force it. While I sometimes may work on multiple blog posts at a time, I rarely ever schedule them and when I do decide I want to get a post up, it's usually a spontaneous decision. Sometimes I just want to be lazy on my day off and watch movies or catch up on my e-mails. Other times, errands and general life stuff take priority. I've now realised that you don't need to blog everyday nor talk about the latest beauty releases in order to stay relevant. The majority of us don't do this for a living, so you'd just burn yourself out trying to keep up. I admire those with better time management skills than I to be able to fit it all in, but for me, it actually feels more rewarding to have my blog grow organically the way I enjoy blogging rather than trying to keep up with everyone else and wear myself out. If you're blogging as a hobby, don't put so much pressure on yourself and compare yourself to others because as I've read, "comparison is the thief of all joy". As long as you're creating blog posts that you enjoy, everything else will naturally fall into place. Sure, my blog hasn't grown as fast as others, but that's okay because that's not why I blog and I'm not competing against anyone here. I love having a blogging notebook to jot down ideas (plus, it gives me an excuse to buy cute stationery) and when the creative juices are flowing, I could sit and type for hours, but simply put, if I don't feel like blogging, I won't.
Another point I want to make is spelling, grammar and punctuation. I try my best to be approachable through my writing, but presenting myself in a professional manner is something I aim for too. As someone trying to gain employment in social media, writing skills are vital, but more than that, it's really important that I feel proud of what I put up here. In a single blog post, I could take twenty photos until I'm satisfied and read and re-read my blog posts over and over until I've practically memorised them. Even then, I could still probably have sentences that don't make sense, are too long or have the occasional typo. I don't think it happens too often, but when it does, you're more than welcome to point them out to me. I don't think you should beat yourself up if you make a few mistakes here and there, but I also think we should learn from them. No one's perfect, including myself, and regardless of whether you blog for a living or not, it's something I feel is so important. If you write, it only makes sense to be aware of your spelling and grammar. Perhaps I'm a grammar Nazi and I know I'm definitely a perfectionist, but this is a basic requirement of any profession and it generally makes for a more pleasurable read. Sometimes I may vent about it on Twitter and I guess I may sound like a snob, but it's something I value quite highly and I really do mean it as constructive criticism. I don't think it hurts us to take a little more care. Visuals are nice, but words are just as important and to me, it's about presenting your best self.
No matter whether your blog is your job, a hobby, how often you post or what you blog about, I think the most important thing to remember is to just have fun. After all, I think that's the reason why we all started. It's only natural to not feel good enough at times and feel the pressure, but when that happens, I take a step back and remember why I began blogging in the first place. I absolutely love the beauty blogging community and despite the negativity that can arise, I've made some really lovely friends here, which is by far more worthwhile than the numbers or any free product. I don't have any particular aspirations for my blog other than to keep doing what I do and to enjoy every moment of it, and with time, I think that's how I will grow and better myself creatively. Even now when I look back through the archives of my blog, while I do cringe a little, it's fun to see how far I've come - not only with my blog, but personally too. With time, we grow, we change and we evolve, and blogging is an amazing medium to be able to document our journey and share that with people. My blog isn't something I view as a brand or a business, but simply a representation of me.