The evolution of blogging is something I've documented numerous times on my blog and as I've reading them and writing my own for a number of years now, it’s a topic I find quite fascinating. What once started out as a bedroom hobby simply for the fun of it has become a full blown professional job, but for myself and many others, the commercialised shift it's taken feels too far removed from what it was in the beginning. Unable to keep up with its magazine-like quality, I've often doubted myself and questioned the point of it all, but the longer I’ve had this little online space of mine, the more self-assured I become and the less I concern myself with what everyone else is doing. A post I'd had in the works for over two months, I was inspired to finally finish it after reading Jess' similar post, On Being a Slow Blogger, and I know I'm not alone in my feelings towards the way blogging has changed. I've learnt a lot over the years, and if you've ever found yourself feeling a little lost or like you no longer fit in like I have, hopefully this post can help you find your feet again.
Not everything is about PR samples, lavish trips and designer handbags
When you're watching Instagram Stories or YouTube videos of PR mail hauls, trips paid for by brands and the unboxing of a bloggers' latest Gucci bag, it's all too easy to form a narrow-minded perspective of what blogging should look like. I limit myself to how much of this aspirational content I consume not necessarily because it leads to social comparison, but more because it's completely out of touch with reality and too far removed from what I actually enjoy about social media. I don't mind watching a PR mail haul or two simply out of curiosity about new products being released, but beyond that, I'm not really interested in receiving them myself even if they are free. I already have enough and there's only so much I can use on my one face until it all becomes a hoarding issue. Of course, Jo Malone and Diptyque can holler at me if they want to send me free shit (lol), but the sheer volume of the majority of it would be overwhelming and only make blogging stressful for me. Nobody needs the whole shade range of a lipstick launch or the box it came in to play a fucking video, and buying my own products with my own money means I can dedicate my time and my blog to the things I'm genuinely interested in, which is all blogging has ever really meant to me.
Lavish trips and designer handbags aren't things I really care for either, and it's an ostentatious lifestyle I simply cannot relate to or that I even find appealing. The way I love to travel and explore the world certainly doesn't look like how it's portrayed on Instagram and I'm not interested in designer handbags because I don't even like the look of the majority of them. There are definitely more sound investments I could make with that kind of money and it’s only a matter of time before they end up listed on Depop, anyway.
But beyond the hoards of free makeup, holidays taken every single month of the year and designer handbags for every day of the week, there is so much more to blogging and it doesn't all have to be so one-dimensional and superficial. Blogging can be insightful, educational and thought-provoking, or it can simply be about the things you like and your regular day-to-day life. While a lot of what blogging represents now can feel unattainable, there are so many amazing bloggers out there still keeping it real and doing their own thing. Blogging is truly whatever you want it to be and you don't have to shape yourself to fit into a generic blogger mould.
Blogging niches are stupid
In the early days of blogging, creating a blog post was something of a spontaneous nature and you really didn't have to define what kind of blogger you were; you just wrote about whatever you felt like at the time. Nowadays, people have a clear-cut vision for their blog and have really specific categories, and though I get why bloggers may feel the need to define their blog by a niche, to me, it's always felt too limiting and restrictive. I realise that my blog is predominantly about beauty, but I also want to my blog to be able to encompass me as a whole person and I'd get bored if I didn't explore other topics. I'm certainly not going to confine myself to a particular niche just because it's more marketable or profitable or whatever.
A few months ago, I wrote about My Favourite Coming-of-Age Films and it was a post I'd been thinking about writing for almost two years. I had my particular reservations about this post because I wasn't sure how well received it would be, but when I reminded myself that as long as I was proud of what I was publishing, that's all that really mattered. If I blogged about what's popular, on trend or anything I wasn't passionate about, it wouldn't be coming from a place of authenticity and I probably wouldn't be happy blogging either. Much to my surprise, I received some really great comments on that post and it felt really nice to have a different discussion and connect with you all in another way. I love beauty, but it has become increasingly difficult to come up new post ideas when I don't buy as much of it now and it's certainly not my whole life either. I have interests beyond makeup and skincare that I'd say I love equally and my favourite blogs have always been the ones that feel like you're catching up with a friend as opposed to reading a magazine. I love getting to know bloggers beyond the products they own and when you blog with a niche, you lose that uniqueness that sets you apart from others and it also doesn't really give you much room to grow. Writing about other topics allows me to challenge myself and open my mind, plus there's only so much I can say about makeup and skincare until it all begins to read like every other beauty blog. The only way I want to define my blog is by it simply being a representation of me.
Find your community
Blogging hasn't always been the most conventional hobby - in fact, for the first two years, no one in my real life even knew I had a blog because I was afraid of what they might think (I talked about this in depth in my Being Proud to Be a Blogger post) - but as blogging becomes more mainstream and more people join the blogosphere everyday now, the vaster it all feels and the more difficult it can be to find your place in a space where there is room for literally anyone and everyone. It often felt like I was talking to myself when I first started blogging, but slowly, I began to connect with fellow bloggers and eventually, I found myself a small community of girls who make this whole blogging thing so much more fun and so much more meaningful. I'm lucky that I can call some of these girls real life friends of mine and there are others who I can't wait to travel to the other side of the world and meet one day.
Blogging and being surrounded by so many talented, creative and driven women is something that never ceases to inspire me or feel grateful to be a part of, and I wouldn't be the blogger I am today without the support of my community. It's impossible to form friendships with everyone you encounter online and not everyone is going to like you either, but having those few meaningful friendships and interactions are really all you need to feel a sense of belonging in this boundless, expansive and ever-growing culture. It's comforting to have made friends with like-minded people with similar interests, but being exposed to a lot of different voices can also challenge the way you think. I've learnt a lot by interacting with people from all over the world and once you find your community who'll support you and inspire you, everything else about blogging just sort of falls into place. I could sit here and write about the few PR packages I've received from brands I really love or the couple of pretty cool events I've attended in my time blogging, but the one thing that sticks out and has always felt the most rewarding is my community. I've met fellow Australian bloggers from all across the country, even a couple of online friends from overseas and if it weren't for my blogger bff, Jess, I never would've met my former Melbourne housemate (who Jess happens to be actual bffs with), which in turn lead me to form other wonderful friendships. Who knew a love of makeup could enrich my life so much and when I think of all these incredible things that blogging has given me, it all starts with you guys.
Don't give so much energy into the numbers
I'm not going to lie and say that I've never felt the slightest bit disheartened by a stagnate follower count or that reaching a new milestone isn't exciting - we've all felt this way and I think it's simply a part of human nature to want to grow - but when I stop to really think about the things that are important to me as a blogger, the amount of followers I have would rank bottom of my list. Of course, if your blog is your job, I can understand placing more significance on the numbers, but from a hobby blogger perspective, I've come to realise that they're nothing more than a mere ego boost. After all, does a higher follower count equate to higher quality content? Am I less of a blogger because I have less followers? Are numbers the only way of measuring how "good" or how "successful" someone's blog is?
Perhaps my slow growth is a direct correlation to my slow blogging (this goes for Instagram too), but I really don't think there's a feasible way for me to be able to grow my following without it detracting from or draining the joy I get from having this online space of mine. Sure, I could post x amount of times a week, at x peak time or talk about x topic that I really don't give a shit about, but why would I do that when I can focus on the things that I actually love about blogging? I'd rather place that time and energy others spend growing their platforms on crafting my posts to be the best they can possibly be, replying to my blog comments you've all taken the time to leave me, leaving comments on other bloggers' posts to show I really loved and connected with their work or even having a chat on Twitter. All in all, I'd simply rather nurture my creativity and my already exisiting community. If more people want to read my ramblings, great! The more, the merrier, but the numbers are the least of my priorities as in no way, shape or form do I believe they hold any value to my worth. Some of my favourite bloggers have 50,000+ followers, but there also those who have less than 1,000 and I love what they do all the same. It's so easy to seek out validation through numbers and feel like it's all pointless otherwise, but if I love what I'm doing and it makes me happy, then that's really all the validation I need.
It’s okay to go at your own pace
The digital world is fast-paced and constantly on the move, and with so many different platforms to scroll though, it's almost impossible to keep up. In order to stay relevant, we keep a backlog of content, work to a consistent schedule and post at peak times all in the name of page views, likes and followers, but I've never been able to blog or do social media this way and prefer taking a more slow and spontaneous approach. I only post about three to four times a month, which really doesn't sound frequent at all, but when I first learnt of the concept of slow blogging, it was something I really resonated with. It was then that I realised that there was still room for me in this instantaneous online world, and I wasn't just lazy, boring and uninspired compared to everyone else who were miles ahead of me.
The main reason why slow blogging works for me is because my writing style is descriptive and in-depth. I love storytelling and I’ve generally never been great at being succinct or concise. I enjoy taking my time, mulling over my thoughts and thinking things through so that I can express myself articulately and say all that I want to say. Not only do I find it more beneficial to my creativity, but I hope it makes my posts more useful to you guys too. Where one blogger may write a week's worth of posts in a day, I spend about a week writing one and although I post at random (bar my Life Lately posts), I like to think it provides a nice element of surprise! I know I love it when a post from a fellow slow blogger unexpectedly pops up on Bloglovin'. I have to admit, I'm also a little bit of a perfectionist and if I'm not satisfied, I'll often spend time rewriting and reshooting photos because the last thing I want to do is produce something half-hearted. Slow blogging allows me to create posts of quality rather than pressure myself into quantity (I'm in awe of the people who can do both!) and my lengthy posts also opens the door to more in-depth discussion in my comments. I absolutely love receiving long comments and nothing makes me happier than when you all really connect with what I say, and share your thoughts and opinions with me.
My life also isn't exciting or glamorous and to pretend otherwise for the sake of content would be exhausting. When it comes to Instagram, I don't have highlight reel moments to share with you every single day of the week and sometimes I just want to eat my food without taking a photo! Blogging is something I do for fun; it's not my job and I don't want it to ever feel like one (that isn't to say it's not a time consuming hobby though!). It's also not a race you should feel like you have to keep up in, and in a world that's already in a mad rush, taking it slow is never a bad thing.
Blogging is constantly evolving, but so are you
There was once a clear distinction that separated a blog from a glossy magazine, but the more money there is to be made in blogging, the more those lines are blurred. The commercialisation of blogging isn't a shift I oppose, mind you, and if a brand I really love wanted to sponsor a post of mine, I'd probably be all for it, but there's no denying that a part of it feels a lot less relatable and that integrity is sometimes compromised when money is involved. When I first started this bedroom hobby of mine, I never could've imagined what blogging has become today, but I'm certainly not the same blogger I was six years ago either. Maybe I haven't earned a cent from my blog and maybe my mailbox isn't brimming with press samples, but I've learnt a lot from being a part of this online world and when I look back through the archives of my blog, I see that I've grown up and come a long way from what I used to be. From my photography to my writing, my creative skills have flourished, I have a better relationship with beauty, I've made wonderful friends, and my blog has evolved into something I'm really proud of. I don't blog for any reason other than because I love it and I think my small achievements here say just as much as any dollar or any free product.
What has helped you find your feet in the blogging world?