“I miss blogging” I write in a blog post, on a blog that I’ve now written for over two years.
What I mean when I say this is that I miss the time when blogging was new(ish) and fun and you pretty much knew every other blogger like you would the people in your street., your next door neighbour or the guy at the local shop who you by your weekly rations of wine and savoury snacks from. You would see these girls at regular meet ups, you’d RT each other’s posts, comment religiously, text, chat, share content ideas, teach one another tricks of the techy trade but slowly and surely the pool of bloggers has filled more and more and is at risk of being filled by the bloggers of a new generation.
I’ve seen a few posts recently about how much blogging has changed, mainly from friends of my “old timers club” who reference two years ago as the “good old days” or “back in my day”. Their posts have addressed the bug bears with blogging as it is today and despite feeling the icey grips temptation to quit the “blogging life” they continue to blog because they love it and it’s their creative outlet. Some people knit, we blog.
Where once upon a time you’d be merited based on your posts, your style of prose, originality of posts and pure wit and entertainment value, this day and age finds you wading through advice posts to find posts worthy of reading. Posts telling you how to be original, how to gain more readers, how often to blog, how to how to how to. I even saw one with the title… “Want to know my blogging secrets?” and I couldn’t help but guffaw at the fact that these secrets weren’t intact secrets if shared with the whole of World Wide Web.
But why so many advice posts? Easy: they’re good for traffic because everyone is absolutely desperate to find out HOW TO BE THE BEST.
Unlike when I began blogging all those years ago, running a blog now is so much more than than just writing. Granted, the running of a “successful blog” (how is successful defined?) looks good on the CV because you look like a multitasking robot goddess hero but the strains put on bloggers to maintain blogs nowadays is a full time job. Trying to understand the most complex of SEO algorithms that even the biggest SEO boffins can’t understand along with getting to grips with DA, PA, PR, Alexa Ranking, bounce rate, page views, how much to charge for sponsored posts, disclosure rules from ASA, no follow, do follow links and deadlines can be exhausting and all of that is ON TOP of editing photos, making your images big, sharp, bright, original and coming out with quality content that will make people on social media click and engage.
It can be demoralising when you’re trying to do your own thang and exist amongst a sea of girls who are doing the exact same thing as you and as much as you try to avoid the competitiveness of blogging and try tojust ENJOY it and share in the successes of fellow bloggers, you can sometimes find yourself becoming victim to jealously and comparison.
You’re made to feel under pressure because your PR, DA, PA and the rest of the acronyms aren’t as up to scratch as another blogger who has the luxury of working a part time job and still lives with parents when you’re out of the house ten hours a day and can only take photographs at the weekend, and that’s IF it’s sunny. You find yourself wondering why you weren’t picked to work with brands you already have established relationships with. You’re encouraged to post more, charge more, engage more, be more social, Pin, Stumble. It’s exhausting.
Ultimately you’re all fighting for the same bite of the same cherry and exchanging PR email addresses like they’re Pokemon cards (although it’s frowned upon) has become normal. There’s now in between companies who promise to connect bloggers with brands if they do X, Y and Z, a million different Twitter chats using a million different hashtags (whatever happened to just using #bbloggers, #psbloggers, #fbloggers and #lbloggers) and this obsession for PR samples and opportunities is turning people into materialistic crazies who would sell their own nan to be on the distribution list for the latest Benefit mascara.
Instead of forging friendships with like minded bloggers I began to notice that people were purposely engaging and establishing friendships with the foundations based on readers, followers and subscribers rather than common interests.
“She has less followers than I do, why would I want to collaborate with her?”
It truly hit me just how calculating bloggers could be when, follow the demise of a “blogger friendship” I began to receive ping back notifications on my WordPress dashboard from a particular blog to inform me that my name and blog link had been removed from each post I had been mentioned in. Instead of “I spent the day with Charl *insert link blog to my link here*” it was replaced with “I spent the day with a blogger friend”. This coming from the same blogger who once made a point of messaging me to specifically ask me to link her blog in a post where I had mentioned her. But this wasn’t just petty and immature “we’re not friends so I’m going to delete you from my phone” behaviour, this move stank of “if we’re not friends any more, I’m not going to give your blog any back links”. Did I return the pettiness? No, because I’d rather search for gifs of Taylor Swift on the Internet or watch paint dry than be so petty as to trawl my post history to make such amendments.
There’s definitely an art to blogging now, and it’s not just down to great content, amazing photos or TLC of crafting a blog that is representative of you. It’s down to being business minded, not being afraid to step on others, interject opportunities and piggy back on other peoples successes. It’s all a numbers game.
It’s certainly gotten me down in the past and I’ve even considered stopping blogging entirely because I just don’t have that killer streak in me that wants to “one up” other people all the time. Based on the number of other posts or tweets that I’ve read echoing these thoughts, it’s clear that it’s a common feeling amongst bloggers who’ve noticed this shift or change in blogging. I even think that if I were to enter the blogging world as it is today, I’d stumble at the first hurdle and be trampled on by a stampede of success thirsty girls who smack of guru wannabe-itis.
But I don’t want to be Zoella, I don’t want to be Tanya Burr. I want to Charl. Does that make me an aspirational failure or does it make me one of the many girls who blog purely because it’s cooler than knitting and not as energetic as running? I blog because I enjoy writing and I like to have my own little part of the Internet. I never wanted to work in SEO or receive snotty emails from a PR because my views aren’t as good as such and suches and my DA is 1 off their required number. If through that I receive opportunities to work with brands that I love and to collaborate and to review the latest nail polish come up than that’s the cherry on the already amazing cake.
I find that when I put myself under pressure my creativity suffers and thus my blog suffers so it’s a massive Catch 22 situation.
I’m going to begin approaching blogging with a pinch of chill the f*ck out juice, a dash of “just let it be” and a massive dollop of enjoy yourself.