I’ve had some lovely messages hit my inbox over the past month or so asking if I’m okay and whether I’m going to start posting on my blog and Instagram again. The answer is a resounding yes, but I thought I’d explain why I’ve been so quiet and where my thoughts are on it all right now.
The truth is that I’ve had a real crisis of confidence over the direction of my blog content and social media channels this year.
The Changing Face of Blogging
At the beginning of 2017 I had to take some time out for personal reasons and by the time I was ready to return to my blog I felt like instead of things just standing still, instead I’d taken a huge step backwards. A plethora of new bloggers had exploded onto the scene whilst I had been away and it seemed that with this, the motivations and directions of blogs and accompanying social media had started to shift.
Hobby Blogger Or Entrepreneur?
The new breed of blogger is ambitious, creative and savvy. Many of them have backgrounds in PR, marketing and media, some kind of education relating to social media, or have decided early on to pursue a full time career out of their blog. Personally, I think it’s absolutely brilliant that so many people are finding ways to make good money doing so, but slowly but surely it is changing the blogging experience and leaves me wondering how I fit into this new world.
I am what you’d call a ‘hobby blogger’. I started this website at a time when I was feeling incredibly lonely and it was a lovely way to connect with people who shared similar interests to me. After about a year or so I started to be contacted by PR companies and brands asking if I’d like to try out some of their products or attend events. I juggled this around a busy day job, selecting the most fun adventures and meeting lots of lovely people along the way. I joked that it was like my second full time job… except I willingly did it for free!
Returning to my blog after my break, I found that most people that I’d started out with were moving away from this relaxed approach. Many were turning it into full time careers or to launch other creative endeavours. Blogs and social media were awash with reminders that us creatives needed to know our worth, not to undercharge for posts and that we should never devalue the worth of other creatives by producing content in exchange for gifts or exposure alone!
Suddenly, my blog wasn’t just a site that I created on my sofa in a flight of fancy to fill my spare time, it was an untapped commodity; a wasted potential earner because I wasn’t tending to it properly. I felt under pressure to make more effort to monetise it, but as absurd as this may sound to people, I didn’t really want to go down this route.
There’s so much to consider and take care of when you accept payment for your content. From negotiating a price and creating an invoice, to the potential awkwardness of not getting paid on time, and the absolute terror of getting feedback that your post isn’t good enough for payment.
Oh and then there’s self employed tax returns. *shudder*
Whenever I’ve done a sponsored post I feel like I need to write an essay at the end justifying its existence to my readers, as I feel so worried that they’ll think I’m selling out and not being honest. Then I fret that they won’t believe me, like the Love Islander who cried ‘loyal’ one too many times.
Follower Counts and Engagement
Another way that the blogging industry has changed is in terms of follower counts and engagement. I used to have small goals that I wanted to reach, as did we all, such as getting to 100 Bloglovin followers, but mainly these were for our own satisfaction.
Nowadays if you don’t have 10k followers on Instagram you can’t post links, on Youtube you have to have a certain number of followers to choose your own thumbnail, and a blogger opportunity site that I used to get the odd opportunity through now tells me that I don’t fit the bill for any of their upcoming campaigns because my audience numbers don’t meet the criteria.
How do you get those crucial followers though? Well, you need engagement engagement engagement. The Instagram algorithm shows the most popular content first which means you need to have the most popular content. But I don’t have popular content because so few people get to see it, so I don’t get the engagement.
That’s okay, say the help guides, engage with others to increase your own visibility and keep yourself in people’s minds. Great. So now rather than just enjoy people’s content and press ‘like’, I have to type out a comment every single time? But then it feels like work, not fun.
Losing My Direction
Then, of course, there’s me. I’ve changed so much in the past year and a half. When I started this blog I thought vegans were a crazy minority who really needed some cheese in their life, now I’m one of them! I really want to talk about my experiences in case it helps others, but it’s such a touchy subject that I’m scared of opening myself up to judgement or alienating my readers. However without talking about it, a big chunk of my lifestyle content is gone!
Moreover, I worry that my blog doesn’t have any meaning or purpose. Is it just another carbon copy of every other lifestyle blog out there? Am I a positive influence? Or by talking about things I’ve bought and places I’ve been, am I just encouraging others to spend money or live a certain way that maybe isn’t real or attainable to them? Do I need to use it as a force for change instead?
Blimey, it’s a confusing time to be a blogger!
So What Now?
Usually, I like to wrap up a post like this with a positive spin on what I’ve decided, but the truth is that I’m still trying to work it all out. So apologies if my posts are a little sporadic at the moment…
It’s not you, it’s me!
(Photos by the super talented Sian’s Photography on a day when it actually rained. Remember them?!)