My gorgeous friend Liv wrote a very thought-provoking piece the other day (which you can read here, and give her a follow while you’re at it). She discussed a topic that I’ve seen floating around more and more often lately, in regards to the ‘blogging community’ and whether such a thing exists.
Let me start with one thing: I love blogging. In fact, I have been blogging in some form or another since before blogging was a thing. Such a hipster, I know. Like many of my peers, my teens were spent creating Piczo sites about myself and my friends, with obnoxious fonts and glittery call-to-action buttons. As I grew up and got more ‘mature’, I would post long and angsty diary-like entries on Livejournal, describing my mundane day at school, which boy I was obsessed with at the time, and how no one could possibly ever understand me. And of course, there was Blogger, where arguably it all began for many online influencers. Like many others, I jumped on the beauty and fashion bandwagon because, well, there was nothing else going on at the time. Sure, there were small groups of people writing about different things, but blogging about make up and clothes was the new ‘it’ thing, and as someone who was a late bloomer when it came to all things make up, I just wanted to be involved and talk about my new passion.
Though I loved writing about the new make up I was discovering and getting creative with my OOTDs (outfit of the day, for those not in the know), I eventually realised that my heart wasn’t in it. That I loved beauty, and fashion especially, but I just didn’t have the budget for a vast make up or skincare collection, or to keep up with the latest highstreet trends. In my second year of university, I did a feature writing course, and I posited the idea of a blog with no particular ‘niche’ to my tutor, who was quick to dismiss me. “No one will be interested in a blog without a niche,” she said. After a long, long, long break to gain some perspective and figure out just what I wanted to put out in my online space, I thought, fuck it. I don’t need a ‘niche’, I just want to write about what I want, and people can like it or lump it.
So in December 2015, after actually having the blog and domain for a year without posting anything, Whimsicella emerged into the world wide web like a glorious phoenix rising from the ashes. I was ready to take the bull by the horns and tell anyone and everyone who would listen (read) what was on my mind.
Back then, I wasn’t really aware of the ‘blogging community’ per se. I knew there were other bloggers out there, obvs, who became friends with each other because of their shared interests, and got their follows by… I don’t know, tweeting a lot? Taking bomb-ass selfies? Sheer force of luck and good karma? I wasn’t quite aware of the epicentre that was the ‘blogging community’ that hosted literally thousands of other bloggers, just like me, until about February or March of last year.
And initially, I thought it was great, and still do to some extent. I think it’s great that people can get together to share their interests and lift each other up, and how there’s not only one large, catch-all blogging community, but also tiny little subsects, depending on what specifically you write about, or y’know, your ‘niche’.
Mid-late last year, I felt myself burning out. Feeling unmotivated and not ‘good enough’. I tried so hard to be a part of this community that I loved so much, admired so many other bloggers for achieving such great things, that I felt that I was drowning. I found that a lot of what I was churning out, I wasn’t really passionate about. I was trying to fulfill a certain stereotype that came with being a blogger, such as doing a blogger tag post that I wasn’t that fussed about, but just needed some content for that week. I even tried keeping up with a consistent Instagram theme for a while. But none of that was me, and I quickly realised that to be happy in blogging, I need to write about stuff I wanted to write about, not just what got me views and got me accepted into this community. Essentially, I was back to square-one after beauty blogger-gate.
So where does that leave me now? I quickly found that there isn’t really a genre that encapsulates people-who-like-writing-and-just-want-to-put-their-writing-out-there. Except there is, because a lot of the people I’ve made friends with through blogging are indeed writer types like me, who prefer writing long form posts over two paragraph product reviews. And though they are fairly prominent members of the blogging community, only few of them ascribe themselves to the label ‘blogger’, but rather ‘writer who happens to have a blog.’
I have also noticed more and more of the bigger bloggers actually distancing themselves from the ‘blogger’ label, leaning more into titles like ‘social influencer’ or ‘content creator’. If this community is so great, so welcoming, so empowering, why are many choosing to disassociate themselves from the term ‘blogger’, and instead being ‘creatives with blogs’?
Writing tends to be a very solitary activity, whereas blogging is quite interactive. If you’re not really concerned about stats, or buying a big expensive camera to take those perfect blog photos, and hate scheduling your tweets 100 times a day, blogging can feel kinda draining at times. You just want to write and get your voice heard by similar minded folks. Where is the community for us who don’t write about make up or clothes, who tend to lean into more controversial topics, or who hate seeing flatlay after flatlay on Instagram? I’m sure there is a place for us somewhere, I’ve met some people here and there, and you’re damn right I’m gonna keep looking and building that community.
I’m very aware blogging isn’t actually dead, but maybe my, and many others’, interpretation of it is.