I never saw myself as a blogger. I don't think that anybody I've ever known would have seen me as a blogger. Slightly uncool, hopelessly unfashionable and always the last to learn any beauty 'hack', I don't think this is a path that I ever envisioned myself on. But then I started a blog. At the time I literally did it because I had something to say and I needed somewhere to say it. Thankfully, some people listened and now I have a blog and I have a book coming out and when the people at the airport ask me what I do I tell them that I am a blogger. But despite this, despite the fact that I RUN A BLOG SO I AM BY DEFINITION A BLOGGER, I still don't feel like one at all. And it is something that has really started to stress me out as of late.
When I started Pretty Normal Me I was totally unaware of how massive the blogging community was. In fact, when I started it, I didn't even get a Twitter page, instead opting to share it all over my personal Facebook Newsfeed. I was very late to the party with Instagram, don't understand Snapchat and still don't have a PNM Snapchat. I didn't really see it as a forever job, or a job at all, I literally just thought it was a place where I could write without fear of rejection (as does happen when you pitch pieces to newspapers and magazines). Slowly I got into the swing of things, but totally in my own way. I still hadn't really opened my eyes to what other people were doing and I continued looking inwards, writing what I wanted to write, uploading it with photos that I had taken on my iPhone.
And then the book thing happened and it all got a bit mad and, in part due to my research and in part because I was suddenly having to up my game (trying to make blogging my full time job), I realised QUITE how massive blogging is. In that, I realised how many millions of bloggers there were out there. As far as I can tell, everyone is a sodding blogger. And yet, in my own personal life, I don't know a single one.
This threw me off I'm going to be honest. All of a sudden I looked up from what had become quite a self-focussed little life and realised that there was a LOT out there that I didn't know about. I had NEVER taken a flat-lay photo in my life. I did not use hashtags. I didn't follow blogger-RT Twitter accounts, I didn't know what #OOTD was and had never recommended any beauty product in my life, on account of the fact I wasn't entirely sure what to do with most of them. And it scared me. I went on a huge following rampage and started manically stalking every account on there, flat lay after flat lay, red lip after red lip, Lush bath bomb after Lush bath bomb and I panicked.
All of these women were SMASHING their blogs. They all had SO many more followers than me, they were collaborating with brands, they were wizards when it came to photography and they had the most beautiful damn Instagram 'themes' going. I was also aware that these bloggers all seemed to know each other, they go to the same events (events that I have no idea about), they talk in the same blogger-chats (ones that I don't know about until they are over) and comment on each other's BlogLovin' pieces (I don't understand BlogLovin').
This is when I started to find blogging stressful, this is when I started to feel myself falling out of love with it. How am I ever going to make it my full time job (which it has kind of needed to be since the book thing took over) when I don't know how to get in touch with PRs? How am I going to get noticed by anyone when I have the shittiest Instagram feed out there? How will anyone take me seriously if the only time they see photos of me on the blog are when they're selfies on my iPhone rather than candid ones set up and posed for against a wall with an ice-cream in a #primark dress with a #charlottetilbury lipstick and a #girlboss face on? I started to really feel the pressure.
So, slowly but surely, I tried to change the brand a bit. To update it. To take some good photos and start posting content that I thought other bloggers might be interested in and that would make me more marketable and relatable and popular. I basically did everything that I did at school, changed myself ever so slightly, in the hope that I might fit in.
And just like at school, it's done nothing good for me at all. Rather than suddenly seeing me being invited to hang out with amazing bloggers who will fall in love with me and take candid photos of me sipping soya-lattes, I have instead found myself surrounded by doubt: why is no one reading this? Have my hits gone down? Why didn't she reply to my DM? Is it weird to post this? Will this make me unpopular? My blog had gone from something that I totally adored doing and something that I NEEDED to be doing to something that I felt wasn't really good enough. And it has been heartbreaking.
It has also, interestingly, racked in the lowest number of hits that I have had for the last year. By almost half. And I think that has happened because I have not been doing things MY way. Sure, they're all posts that I love and that I am proud of and that I have worked hard on, but they are also ones that I think I've thought too much about. Rather than just exploding words like I used to do, I've been waiting for the right time, trying to find the right picture, doing my best to make it Instagramable.
And it's exhausting. I realise now, after writing this, that I've got to stop trying so hard. I didn't start Pretty Normal Me so that I could be just another influencer, I started it because I was genuinely passionate about what I was saying, desperate to make a difference, however small, to somebody's day. And I think it's time for me to stop trying so hard. I think it's time to take it back to basics.
BY THE WAY. Here's what my kitchen looks like behind the beaut marble shit I took ages trying to do....
Sure, I'm billy-no-mates in the blogging community, I don't get approached by PRs and yes, my flat lays are a little bit shit. But so-be-it. I'm not sure that I'm a very good blogger but I'll be damned if that will stop me from doing what I love.