Following the bombshell reactions to Essena O’Neill leaving social media (and prompted by this blogging e-course I’m taking via The Nectar Collective), I have really started to wonder, “Am I blogging for all the wrong reasons?”
Essena says she turned to social media looking for fame and approval. She says young girls want to be bloggers so they can “get free products and get invited to parties.” IS THIS TRUE? Because if so, I’m doing it all wrong.
I, for one, am not blogging for free stuff or parties. Free stuff? Sounds cool, but there’s always a catch. Always. And as far as parties are concerned, I would panic if invited! You mean, go out and interact with people? That’s really just not my scene. My scene, for the record, is my couch, in my salsa-encrusted sweatpants. Yum.
The e-course asks me, “What is your niche?” and “Why do you blog?” And I’m really concerned that I don’t have one. I mean, I’m fairly certain I’m a “lifestyle blogger.” Isn’t that a category anymore?
Back in my day, that was all there was: lifestyle bloggers. Good writers whose online diaries you liked to read. Funny people whose stories made you laugh. I want to be one of those! I think I’m one of those?
|Dear Blog Readers: today I got a tetanus booster
and some Peanut M&Ms. How are YOU?
These days, it feels like the lifestyle bloggers are extinct, while we have more “beauty bloggers,” “fashion bloggers,” “travel bloggers,” even the rare “food bloggers” still churning out recipes out there. More interesting, also, are the “blogging bloggers,” who blog exclusively about how to blog better, marketing tips for social media and ARRRGH!
I feel more and more like a white rhino. I do want to increase my audience! I do want to engage new readers! I do want to make money blogging!
But I don’t ever want to be something I’m not. Ultimately, I don’t care if this blog never makes me a dime in revenue. I don’t care if I never see a free bath bomb come in the mail, nice as that may sound. And those party invites? I’ll enjoy deleting those emails in my salsa-encrusted sweatpants on my couch, thanks very much!
Confession: I’ve been invited to album launches. I’ve been offered opportunities to be brand representative. I’ve been contacted by companies who don’t care to know or understand why I blog. I feel for Essena when she talks about how fake it all is. My stomach flips and I don’t like it. It makes me want to shut my laptop and curl up under the covers.
And then I get another comment. Or a new follower. And I remember why I blog! I blog to share stories. To make people laugh. And every comment I get that says “This is so true!” or “I totally agree!” or even simply “Haha funny!” I remember why I blog. It’s you. All of you. You’re the reason I want to blog: I want to hear about your day. I want to feel connected, entertained, educated, inspired. I write to be one of you, I hope I am one of you, I admire you all.
So how about you: Why do you blog?
26 Comments Add yours
I miss Trader Joe's Tuesdays…
I do too! I don't live close enough to a TJ now to actually try new things. When I go now it's like a strategic mission: "As much tuna as I can carry and NO FRILLS!"
This is so completely true. I've been lucky in some of my opportunities but ultimately i blog to share my life and because i love writing. Even during a slump.
Rach // illustratedteacup.com
I don't mean to sound ungrateful – I've hosted giveaways for awesome companies who treated me nicely and were so great to work with. Lately though, all these vultures keep contacting me because of my blog asking me to review products that I have to pay for in exchange for "exposure." Back in my day (the day of the bloggers actually blogging), that was called being a paid spokesperson and YOU GOT PAID for it!
I love writing, too. I love reading other people's writing. I think it always boils down to "if nobody read your blog, would you still post in it?" and my 6 years of virtually zero readership answers that question, "ABSOLUTELY."
If I see one more article about how "you're blogging wrong" or something along those lines I might scream. I'm with you, back in MY day when you blogged it was just an online journal! You wrote about hanging out with your friends and the lame crap you did over the weekend. Now there's this pressure to actually…DO THINGS and write about that. But I just wanna chill in my bed and watch TV.
I feel like we're both talking about the same "back in my day"!! When I could sit down to my blogroll and it felt like I was catching up with friends. I didn't care that the photos were grainy, or blurry, or if the stories rambled, it was nice to just TALK. Now I see those posts so rarely that when I do, I'm SO EXCITED to get a glimpse of real human experience!! Show me what your living room looks like with piles of laundry in the corner! Tell me what your kids dressed up as for Halloween! Whine about the flu you're getting over! Just be real! I don't care about your outfit today (sorry, I don't, unless you're wearing a lobster for a hat and a traffic cone for a dress). Just talk to me!
I refuse to read curated life style blogs. My blog is not a life style blog it's a diary basically. I blog about my thoughts and my life and I don't have time to stage photos. Blogging has changed for sure and not for the better. Do you read Get off my internets? I think it showcases what blogging has become.
Ah! When I said "lifestyle blog" I think I meant more like the old LiveJournal days – people talking about their life. Is there a better term for that? Definitely not the preachy Goop-style listicle blogs of "10 Ways To Make Your Life Better" and bullshit. I guess when I think "lifestyle" blog I think like "Hey Natalie Jean" (formerly Nat the Fat Rat) and dooce, and the old-school blogging about life, family, work, homes, etc. Nowadays I feel like there's so many niche blogs: fashion, beauty, product review, entertainment news, parenting, travel, food, hairstyles, decor, DIY – I like the specialization because it gives you a feeling of reading different magazines but in all of those, I feel like mine would be the "humor" column, and I'm not sure how to deal with being a "humor" blog in a world of hand-in-hair-looking-at-your-shoe poses and and flat-lays of cosmetic bags.
Lifestyle blog is the term I would use so I don't think there is a better term. I kind of divide up as to what is a lifestyle blog (actually writing about your day to day life more like a diary) and the curated lifestyle blog (staged photos and 10 ways to make your life better). I'm not sure if I'm making sense ha ha. I think Dooce and Hey Natalie Jean went from lifestyle blog to curated lifestyle blog. Heather has talked about doing things just for the blog because a post was sponsored not because she actually wanted to do it so in my mind that's curating and not actually blogging about what your actual life is like.
As for having a niche, I feel the same. I'm like what am I? Is my niche cats and naps? Someone niche me!
In a roundabout way, I blame all these "How to Better Your Blog Content" posts for stripping away our confidence. I believe they've put it in our heads that we can't JUST WRITE anymore.
We used to sit down with a photo-dump of time-stamped, grainy photos of friends and landscapes, and now we have to spend hours arranging flat-lays and editing photos online.
We used to ramble about our weekends, our jobs, our lives, now we (at least I know I do) feel like every post is a scholarship essay: it has to be witty, well-structured, and thought-provoking. I don't know when I decided I was Carrie Bradshaw exactly, but I have to wonder…
could blogging be imploding on itself?
This is a wonderful post. I have been struggling to blog consistently, because at times it can feel driven by narcissism and consumerism. I keep reminding myself that I do it to connect to people across the interwebs, to encourage others to use their voices, talents, and creativity, and to hopefully help people feel positive about themselves and connected to others.
I don't blame the bloggers, I think we're just dreamers who have been taken advantage of by corporations attempting to exploit us for free advertising and struggling to make our way in the insta-fame world of social media. Every girl who poses with her hand in her hair dreams of being a model. Every girl with a LiveJournal wants a book deal. Every YouTuber wants a daytime talk show, and they see the offers these companies give them as a way to make that dream happen. I don't blame anyone for schilling out sponsored posts for Pampers and The Honest Company for a couple bucks and some free samples. I just wish it still meant more than that. This post itself is proving to me that it is – just these handful of thoughtful, serious comments prove to me that we still WANT that. Why are we afraid? Thank you SO MUCH for making my blogging dream come true of reaching people and sharing ideas. 🙂
I call myself a lifestyle blogger too, and I think you're right, we're a rare breed anymore. I blog because I love to write, and I have a ton of ideas that I need to get out of my head. And it's a good way to connect with other people and discuss ideas. I've never found the whole niche thing necessary to be able to do those things. 🙂
There was an amazing Twitter chat about "consistency" a few weeks ago that really got me thinking about this. In so many ways I felt like "Niche? Who needs 'em!" Until I thought about what I expect from blogs I read, and I do appreciate a fair amount of predictability from bloggers. I do get thrown when a personal blogger does a post that's all review of lipsticks, or when a DIY blogger does a bunch of style posts in a row. I don't know how much of that is "staying within a niche" and how much it "to thine own self be true," though.
I use the term "Personal Blogger" over "Lifestyle Blogger." I think it was just the term used in the group I was in — 20-Something Bloggers (which is now defunct). But it does seem to fit for me a bit better. I don't think I blog about a distinct lifestyle, just my own. Anyway. Semantics, shemantics. 😉
I do miss the days when PR and advertising companies actually acknowledged the value of bloggers. This whole "exposure" thing is complete B.S. And I let them know. I also get those who want to pay me for links in my posts… but then they don't want me to disclose that it's a sponsored post. And I'm just like yeah, no, FTC rules and all that.
Oh. And OMG YES (yes = WTF NO) to the whole blogging just to tell other people how to blog. It's like the people who coach others on how to become coaches themselves. All pyramid-y. As I always say, and love to hear from others too, you blog for you — ignore everything else.
WOW. First I have to say, I LOVE this comment. There's a LOT here I totally agree with and want to comment on!
Based on your comment, I'm starting to think that maybe "lifestyle blogger" has become an umbrella term for people who like to combine categories, and your term "personal blogger" is more of what I'm seeking? Hip hip hooray for proper terminology whut whut!
I've hosted giveaways on my blog in years past from companies with awesome products, who want a review in exchange for sending me a free product, and then they give away a freebie to one of my viewers. I LOVE that. They've always been super transparent, great service, awesome product, and with the ratio of time spent on post to value of product received makes me feel like I win in the end. But lately, all my offers have been exposure, or worse: asking me to pay for something and then review it! WHAT?!?!
I do enjoy learning how to blog and code and which platforms are great from people, but I feel like…not to be rude but…there's enough resources out there telling me to "promote posts on Twitter" and "Be myself". Like, that'll do, guys, that'll do.
Hats off to you, I love this post! I put myself in the beauty/lifestyle brackets; I love blogging about makeup as it's something I genuinely enjoy and comes naturally, but I also love sharing my stories and opinions on real life matters and it can get me down that those types of posts don't attract anywhere near as much attention as posts about lipstick! Are you kidding me?!xx
Laura | Lala London: Beauty & Lifestyle
I've been using this metaphor a lot in my defense of this post but: there's a lot of different magazines out there! Travel, beauty, fashion, LOADS. And people pick up Vogue to see pictures of clothes. People pick up Cosmo for rotten sex tips. There's something to be said for having a niche. Personally, I follow a blog because of the stories and opinions, but maybe other people follow you for the posts about lipstick? Consider me a fan of "niche" blogging because at least that way I know what to expect when I start reading your blog, aka, open your magazine.
Everyone is getting a bit to serious in this whole niche thing. I say I am a lifestyle/mummy blogger and I am completely fine with it. Like me or don't read, but I can be nothing other than who I am and if I think about it too hard I will implode. I really liked this one.
Y'know, the more we get into this discussion, the more convinced I am that niches are important! I wrote this post feeling very much like you do, "I write what I write." but now, seeing all the commenters explain their niche, I'm like, "Mm! I love mommy blogs! I want to read your blog!" I think niches just help readers find you better. They're not restricting, as nobody would ever tell a mommy blogger she can't write a post about her favourite lipstick for holiday parties (at least I wouldn't) but they are descriptive: I just clicked your link and I'm hoping to see cute pictures of your cherubs and read all about them!!!
Thank you so much for sharing this, I totally agree with every word. I blog because I enjoy it, and because for some reason people seem to like reading my nonsense. I don't really think of my blog as having a niche – I just use it as a place to write about whatever makes me happy. And maybe I won't ever become a millionaire from it – but I think maybe I prefer it that way, as at least then I can keep talking about what I want to talk about. I've only ever done reviews a couple of times and then only on products I'm really interested in, and would have paid for anyway had I not been offered the opportunity to review. Great post – I'm off to check out the rest of your blog now 🙂
That's my same point about monetizing my blog: I know that if I ever did get people interested in sponsoring my posts, my blog would no longer be my own. It's not worth the money to me to sell out, therefore. Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment on me!!!
This is a great post. It's definitely something I've been wrestling with as well. I've watched some blogs that I loved following evolve into blogs about blogs or just giant, bloggy commercials and after sorting out what works for me, what I want, and what I don't want, I know I ~don't~ want that. I think it's important to figure out what your motivation is for starting a blog, and feeling okay with saying no, even if others think you're crazy for passing on something. It's definitely a learning process, and you just have to be open to setting boundaries for yourself to stay happy. After all, what's the point of having a blog if it doesn't make you happy?
OMG "setting boundaries" 1,000,000,000%!! I'm still figuring it out – surveying the landscape and trying to figure out where I fit in, if at all – and I don't know if I have an answer yet. Thanks for coming by and commenting!
Oh gosh, it seems this post came out from my head. I TOTALLY GET WHAT YOU MEAN.
This Summer, I was joining a Periscope of one of those "Blogging bloggers" you mentioned before and she asked us what was our niche. I answered I was a lifestyle blogger and she replied me "it's a bit too general, what do you actually blog about?" I started panicking and I said the first thing that came up in my mind: geekiness and memory keeping. But it's not true! I mean, I talk about books, photos, productivity and other stuff. That was the day I started thinking what's wrong with me, why have I so many interests and I can choose a niche???
I keep supporting Lifestyle as a whole category and niche, because it is!
Ugh, those uppity blogging courses! The only thing I ever get out of them is a renewed sense of rebellion and ideas for parody. They seem to be good for the "product review" blog niche, as in to teach you how to write good advertising copy. Personally, I don't consider either of those categories ACTUAL blogging! I'm just as uppity! If you're writing commercials and not getting paid for it…then…why?