Why blog? It’s a question I never used to ask myself, until recently. Spurred on by a sense of angst in the fashion blogosphere. It was unnerving to read Shini from Park & Cube – one of the most beautifully designed and photography rich blogs out there – questioning herself and her blog. Despite being perceived as an extremely successful blogger with a large and loyal following she blogged she feels foolish doing outfit posts, only makes enough from the blog to pay for her ‘dedi-server every month + snacks’ and that sponsors prefer the ‘tall, pretty ones with 6-digit followings’. It was sad reading, but quickly overturned by an overwhelming outpour of adoration from her readers who left a string of moving and supportive comments. That would be enough for many to carry on blogging. Hopefully it gave her the boost she needed. I was then reminded of Susie Bubble questioning her relevance as a fashion blogger to the fashion industry in a post late last year. From what I remember, she didn’t go much deeper than that, but it was there in plain black and white. But again, Susie’s huge and committed fanbase would be enough reason for most to blog. Finally, this article on IFB (What No One Is Talking About On Social Media) quite succinctly sums up a lot of anxieties bloggers face but rarely admit to – from Shini’s high-traffic-but-little-income conundrum and how hard it can be to work with brands to envy of more successful bloggers and how much of your personal life/problems to reveal online.
But it’s hard. Even the smallest, newest blog dreams of going pro one day and yet the majority of bloggers, even the ones with thousands of followers, don’t manage to monetize their blogs enough to quit the day job. So I guess you have to ask yourself what makes you blog. For some its an all-consuming passion for fashion that needs an outlet, being part of an online (and sometimes offline too) community, for others its a way to get their writing out there, and for some the perks and freebies are a big part. (Slight tangent: It seems to me fashion and beauty bloggers get quite a hard time over ‘being in it for the freebies’ when this kind of thing is part and parcel of the majority of journalism, PR, music and fashion jobs. Everyone appreciates the perks of their job, whatever sector they work in and most people manage to be gracious, transparent and honest in their handling of samples, gifts, press trips etc.)
So why, then, do I blog? What’s the point? Do people like what I write? Does anybody really care about my frivolous outfit posts? I’ve actually been blogging on and off for nearly five years on different platforms in a variety of formats (my first was MySpace, can you believe it?! Snippets of my personal life kind of fictionalised). I love the process of publishing, seeing copy and images bound together and given life – my first job was in book publishing if that helps explain. I love to write and more recently I love to take photographs. Blogging is the obvious way to combine all those things.
But, up until last autumn, my blogging was an ill-conceived side-kick to my freelancing. I thought it was important for a freelance journalist to be able to say “Yes, I have a blog.” And even though I’d get absorbed over quiet work periods I was never that committed and there was no real direction or purpose. Then I had a baby. With that came maternity leave and the realisation of one of my biggest fears – that, as a new mother looking after a baby and not working, my self identity and strong sense of self would quickly slip away. As soon as the first three months of baby initiation had passed, I flung myself into my blog. I re-designed, I re-focused and started posting as much as I could. Almost immediately I started seeing my traffic improve. I felt invigorated. Outside and around of the delightful but sleep deprived task of looking after a new baby I had a, albeit entirely self-defined, purpose. It slots together so easily – the journalist in me loves planning content, writing copy, meeting deadlines, networking and contacting brands and PRs; the rookie geek in me has become obsessed with tweaking blog design, embracing social media and improving my photography and photo-editing skills. And the outfit posts (‘ego-blogging’ my husband likes to call it) helped me get over a bumpy post-pregnancy self image quandary allowing me to indulge in therapeutic dressing up time when I’m not getting out to that many parties.
Of course, like most bloggers, I’d love it if my blog could make money but the reality is it probably won’t. I do use affiliate links and make the odd commission, but to make any serious money you’d need a tonne of traffic. And while I still believe running a functioning upbeat blog adds a string to your bow as a freelance journalist – it keeps your profile up and out there, gives you a focus and strengthens your idea generation for pitching, plus helps with contacts – ultimately, my blog is about something else. For me blogging has helped transition from working to mothering without having a full-on identity crisis. And that, dear readers, is reason enough to keep on going.
What about you? Why do you blog? Do you question yourself? Do you ever think of quitting? Do you feel what you ultimately want for you blog is attainable? What does blogging fulfil for you?