I was sat on the train earlier thinking about how much I wanted a cheese and ham toastie. I was also thinking about how much I wanted a nap and how much I wished I could teleport to my bed. And lastly, I was also thinking about my predictions for the blogging and influencer world in the coming months and years.
And y’see, I’ve got a bit of a problem, because gal pals, the longer I seem to be in this game of HEY I’M SELF-EMPLOYED AND WRITE A BLOG FOR A LIVING, the more I seem to be aware of this gigantic stonking big gap in the blogosphere.
And that gap is between what you – the readers – want, and what brands – the people who pay you if you want to make an income and a living from you blog – want.
And so it becomes harder to write blogging tips posts or to guess where the industry is heading because having a successful blog because people actually read it and engage with you seems to be very different from having a successful blog because brands want to work with you.
There are a few places where you can please both parties – clear, decent imagery in blog posts seems to be a winner all round. And words that actually make sense are a pretty good place to start. But after that it’s a bit like EY UP LADS, where do we go from here?
Take Instagram for example. The majority of Instagram ‘stars’ you follow probably have a pretty clear and crisp Instagram grid. You can tell they take pride in curating and editing it to look a certain way, to fit a certain theme.
And then there’s the other accounts, accounts who belong to people like Clemmie from Mother Of Daughters. Her images are simple and to the point and the captions v honest and realistic, but is her feed carefully curated? Does she lie in bed at night torn between which VSCO filter will get her more likes? I very much bloody doubt it.
And yet, if Clemmie buys a new Marks & Spencer dress and says it’s ace, you better bet your bottom dollar I’ll be scanning the Marks & Spencer website quicker than you can say I-HAVE-AN-ONLINE-SHOPPING-ADDICTION.
But if I saw the same dress on someone seemingly Insta perfect – probably shot on a £1k camera in front of some Notting Hill railings, ideally with a caption that includes the words ‘wanderlust’ and ‘vibes’ and 584365734 different LikeToKnow.It hashtags, it’s unlikely I’d even give it a look in.
But ask yourself which one’s more pleasing for the brand? The HEY I’M JUST A NORMAL LADY POSING IN MY GARDEN GETTING MY KID TO TAKE A PHONE SNAP or the glossy, editorial clear, and crisp high-res image that could have come straight out of one of their own campaign shoots?
I think we both know the answer.
And I think a lot of this kind of attitude lies in the difficulty there is with tracking online engagement. Yes, you can see comments and likes and that’s great and all, but are they genuine? Are they ‘hey hun, love the dress – what does the sizing come up like? I’ve got a wedding next month and this could be perfect!’ or are they ‘cute pic’? Are they spam comments? Are they paid for comments? Or are they genuine followers?
The other issue is the difficulty in tracking sales. I know a few PRs who are OBSESSED with checking where their traffic is coming from or keeping an eye on who is generating RewardStyle earnings for them – brands who are savvy and can see exactly who’s getting the click-throughs and the sales. Which is obviously mega insightful when choosing who to work with. But for the majority it’s just another task that wasn’t part of their job role when they started, so why bother?
When you’re already drowning in attempting to keep up with your to-do-list and someone says SHIT SHIT SHIT WE NEED FIVE BLOGGERS FOR THIS CAMPAIGN NEXT WEEK, who’s going to take the time to try and find out affiliate network and Google Analytics password and attempt to teach themselves how to make sense of it all?
I mean, I wouldn’t. Girl gotta date with her bed and Netflix and pizza, yknow?
So instead you go for the easier option – you think off the top of your head about who always looks good in clothes, who can take a decent photo and who has a cheeky five-figure Insta following.
You don’t think about who’s actually going to sell the product ‘cos fuck you ain’t got time to shave your legs right now, so how are you going to find the time to delve into the deepest dimensions of the blogosphere, y’know?
And so the gap grows.
And so it becomes harder to know what direction to take your content and your various channels in.
Because who is it you really want to please? Why are you even blogging in the first place? Because it’s something that brings you joy, or because you want people to like you, or because you want to make that juicy dollar?
The longer I work in this industry, the more confident I become in myself. I swear more, I talk about things like bogeys and cat poo, I show off my double chin on Instagram stories. I’ve become aware that actually, people seem to like me more when I reveal more of myself, and in doing so, I start to like me more too. Which is no bad thing.
Does that make me less of an obvious choice for brands? I dunno, maybe. But I’m OK with it. I’d rather work with people who get it. Who get me. Who get that the key to selling doesn’t just lie in the aspirational.
And so for now, I’m following my own route – because actually, staying true to myself is more important than the money. And if this time next year, no-one wants to pay me anymore, that’ll be OK, because I’ll know I gave it my best shot.
Blogging, eh? What a funny ol’ business.