I started this blog about a year ago now. First and foremost it was a career move. I want to be a writer and in this job market it’s highly unlikely an employer will hire a writer who doesn’t have their own web address. That’s just how it works.
Most bloggers you see are always overly positive and excited about everything (probably because someone is paying them to), saying that there’s nothing that will stop them blogging and that its a major part of their life. I’m not that person. I’ve thought about quitting. I’ve gone through periods of not even thinking about blogging for a month or so but I’ve always gone back to it. Because I do enjoy it, I have a lot of ideas that I want to share, but also, because I have to.
It’s the most exposing and personal form of work experience there is. If an aspiring accountant gets an internship their successes and failures aren’t broadcast to the world. Their friends, acquaintances and strangers have no access to what happens in that office.
Blogging is different. However much you try and separate it from your life, parts are going to seep through, and a lot of people don’t understand what you’re trying to do or why you’re trying to do it. I’ve been abused both to my face and behind my back for having a blog, mainly by people wondering “who do I think I am?” and “why would people care about her opinions, what makes her so special?” yet you’d never even consider mocking someone for being proactive and getting an internship or volunteering to help their career. This is the same thing. But people don’t see it that way. This is where a lot of bloggers and writers fail. You have to grow a thick skin fast or you’re out of the game. It’s hard, especially coming from friends, but it gets easier as you earn more to show for your hard work.
But how do you take that step? How do you go from writing some silly posts that no one will ever see to having a million followers and Internet fame? I have no idea. My following has been steadily growing and I’m starting to make a little money but I am by no means successful in the blogging world. I’m not even close.
Hundreds of articles will tell you that to increase your page views and following all it takes is hard work and good quality content. Wrong. Now, maybe I’m deluding myself, but I got my job as Lifestyle Editor of The Courier because the editor liked my writing on my blog, so I like to think my content is at least readable, and I definitely work hard, yet I have a hell of a lot less followers that a lot of bloggers who post unoriginal content riddled with spelling errors and completely lacking in personality. At the start at least, you almost have to blend in to be successful.
For example, my favourite posts to write are lists, or reviews of bad places, as I feel like they let me show my personality and style off the most. However, these typically perform the worst in terms of views, shares and likes, maybe because people don’t know how to find them, but probably because restaurants etc aren’t going to share a bad review of their business. Fashion post however are easily the most successful. Even I will admit that there is nothing that sets my fashion writing apart from anyone else’s and I really don’t enjoy writing them. I’m awkward in front of a camera and cringe at what I’m writing, because really how much is there about what I wore today, it’s pyjamas 90% of the time anyway. This just shows that it pays to do what everyone else is doing until you get the exposure you need to start doing your own thing. Which is pretty awful for a something that is meant to encourage creativity.
Another thing I found after venturing into the blogging world is the importance of photography. I am not a photographer. I only bought my first camera last month. Yet photos make such a big difference to whether or not someone bothers to read your writing. I bet most people who saw this link were put off by the lack of photos, and about 80% of those who started reading haven’t got this far as lots of words in a blog post is off-putting. I understand that being visually appealing is important to draw in readers but it is sad that the best writing can be overlooked because of a lack of pictures for lazy people to look at.
Finally, and the thing I find hardest, is self promotion on social media. I refuse to share my blog on my personal accounts so I have specific blog accounts for Twitter and Instagram and what I’ve found from following other bloggers is that some people out there are so fake. 99% are genuinely fantastic people but the 1% of fakers are a vocal bunch. The best way to gain followers is to follow and talk to other bloggers, something which I like as it introduces me to new people and new articles. However, I’m not going to tell you I like your work if I don’t. That’s just not me. But a lot of people do. A lot of people are successful because there is a culture of nicety amongst bloggers on social media. Everything has to be great. Everyone has to be constantly positive. People follow other bloggers just so they’ll follow them back. It doesn’t matter how good or bad their content may be. This way, anyone can be successful, even without a basic understanding of English (or whatever language they write in) . Complimenting people is fantastic, and I do it a lot, but I just can’t get on board with the idea of giving people false feedback to make myself more successful. I’m definitely not saying people should be mean but how do I know if my content is actually good if people are going to tell me that it is regardless? Be sincere or say nothing at all.
I want to be a writer. I’m not saying I deserve to be. I’m not saying that I think I should be really successful and these things are stopping me from being a superstar. And I’m definitely not saying that successful bloggers don’t deserve to be where they are. But I read so many blogs with really talented writers and fantastic, creative content that deserve to be in the public eye but are stuck at the bottom because the system makes it hard to discover anything original. It’s so easy to search Google or WordPress for the word fashion and you’ll find thousands of, what is basically, the same blog post. It’s harder to find something that’s unique. How do you search for something if you don’t know what you’re looking for? That’s the hardest part of being a start up blogger. You can’t stand out without blending in first.