When I started blogging, I had no idea that anyone else did it.
Call me ignorant, call me hopeless, call me whatever you want; as a teenager I never followed any blogs, I never dreamed of starting one.
So when I started mine, I started on the back foot. I sought no inspiration because, where would I even find it?!, I created only a Facebook account, not bothering with Twitter for another six months and Instagram for another eighteen after that. My website was terrible, my photos were appalling but, I thought, people are coming here for the words, so the pictures hardly matter anyway.
Of course fast forward four years and it’s a very different story. I realise now that everyone has a blog and that everyone is bloody brilliant. The writing is excellent, photos are exceptional, websites are mesmerising. People don’t just do it full time but are making a fortune doing it. There is a whole community of boys and (mostly) girls who spend either all of their free time of just all of their time creating.
It’s wonderful, terrifying, when you’re trying to stand out in a sea of exceptionally brilliant people, but wonderful.
I’m living my best life, I’m doing what I love, I’m just about managing to make a career out of it.
When I started blogging I did it because I wanted to make a difference. I had had a miserable time at school, not because I didn’t like my school but because I was just a bit miserable; I felt too big for my body, too loud for my voice, always out of place, not quite right. I was passionately feminist and didn’t know where I should be directing my angst, I was sick and tired of the fashion industry that made me feel like shit on a regular basis.
I wanted to make a difference and I was going to do that by blogging.
You should have seen me when I started.
Not knowing that there was anyone to compete with I threw myself into it head first. I thought I was brilliant, that what I had to say was groundbreaking, that I was going to use my little corner of the internet to shape the damn world.
And in part, I did that. I shaped my world at any rate. I used my blog as a platform to write for other publications, I used my blog to secure a book deal, A BOOK DEAL, I had a book published!!!
But the more blogging I did, the more I learnt, and the more I learnt, the worse I became.
I realised, as I joined Instagram over a year after I had started blogging, that my Instagram didn’t look like the other blogger’s Instagrams (I had, by this point, realised quite how many other bloggers there were in the world), that I wasn’t showing off outfits like they were or going to great places like they were. I realised I wasn’t creating sponsored content like them. My blog didn’t look like theirs. My writing wasn’t like theirs. My tweets weren’t like theirs.
And once I made that discovery, things only got worse.
All the bloggers are friends with each other, did you know that, non-bloggers of the world?
The girls that are so like me, but so-not-like-me, hang out all the time, they meet up, they get invited to parties together, they take photos for each other, they share contacts with one another, opportunities. ideas. They text one another, they’re all there for one another.
People from all walks of life come together and make FRIENDS. There is more than enough success to go around and it’s lonely at the top, so they work to get there t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. It’s the most beautiful industry in the world. Once you’re in it.
But what of those who aren’t in it? Who don’t know how to get in it? Or who are in it, but who don’t feel welcome or worthy?
What of these women? (read: all women, because sometimes none of us feel welcome or worthy).
I was very good at blogging when I was the only person I knew who was blogging. I became ‘terrible’ at blogging when I started comparing myself to other bloggers and worrying about other bloggers and thinking way too much about all the other bloggers.
The problem is in my head (so what else is new eh?) but there are a couple of other factors to consider.
I have experienced two problems with the blogging community thus far.
Blogging feels like you’re back in the playground again.
I wrote about this the other day in my ‘One For The Girls Who Take Things Too Personally‘ blog post. I used this exact analogy, I’m just going to copy and paste it because it was perfect and surmises exactly what I’m trying to say here: “It’s like being back in the playground except this time no one really cares if you have braces or if you are a bit overweight, they care much more about how good your content is, how hard you work, how smart you are. I was thrown back to 2005 except this time I wasn’t worrying about how pretty I was compared to everyone else, or how much pizza I ate compared to the other girls, I was worrying about how good my work was compared to everyone else’s.”
Logging onto twitter each morning can feel a bit like walking through the school gates; you sit down in your first lesson only to realise that everyone was at a sleepover last night and you weren’t invited to it. Of course if you have an anxious mind like mine, it’s only a small leap from ‘I wasn’t invited’ to ‘I wasn’t invited because they hate me’.
The first social media platform that popped up when I was a youngster was Bebo. The worst thing about Bebo was that you had to list the twelve people that you liked the most on your profile. There was nothing worse than NOT being included in the list of twelve people that your best friend allegedly loved the most. Bloggers make lists too, allllll the time, and it’s just as painful not being included in one of those (even though ten years have passed and I shouldn’t be so bloody sensitive).
It is bound to get competitive.
It’s a sad fact of life that even the biggest ‘girls girl’ you know can be a bitch from time to time. As ‘out of character’ as it may have been, not everyone shits glitter. Sometimes people are dicks. This applies in every walk of life, this is inevitable in an industry when everyone has to look out for number one.
In an industry where numbers really do matter, where we have to put our best foot forwards, work the hardest, be a bit better than our best mate because otherwise she is the one that will end up with the free holiday to the Caribbean and a year’s partnership with your favourite brand, we have to be ready to step on a few toes. As anyone does in any job.
But good god it feels personal with blogging.
No one really owes you anything, not yet. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have felt let down by someone, only to realise that that person didn’t owe me anything, that person was given the opportunity to further their career, why would they give a jot about me?
You cannot take things too personally in this industry, and that’s a pain in the tits because it’s an industry that totally relies on you laying your heart and soul out for all to see. You have to be real and honest and #authentic to make it, but then behind it all you have to be a steely eyed business woman.
It’s a fine line gals, a very fine line.
Blogging is the best job in the world, I adore what I do. I ADORE IT.
But it’s a bloody weird industry and it can leave you feeling a little lonely from time-to-time.
None of my IRL friends blog, I don’t think any of them even read blogs (mine, sadly, included) and explaining what I get up to day to day and moaning to them about the things I want to moan about can be really complicated.
I understand when they say: “my boss was a total wanker today, he made me re-do all of the spreadsheets he had fucked up and then took all of the credit for them” because a) that’s a very self explanatory example I have just given and b) I sort of know how an office works.
They do not understand me when I tell them I’m sad because a girl I thought I was mates with is now tagging another girl in tweets even though she bitched about her to me.
How do you say that to a grownup friend with a grownup job and take yourself seriously? That’s not a work problem Em, that’s a playground squabble.
And yet it feels like a work problem and, when your work is blogging, that feels a lot like a life problem.
Blogging is your life. In order to blog, you must share your life and thus, the lines blur between.
And that’s the thing about blogging…
It’s a bloody weird job. It’s a job that people who don’t do it cannot understand. It’s a job that everyone assumes to be very easy. It is very easy in a way.
It is also impossibly difficult.
And not just because you are the writer, the photographer, the copy editor, the social media manager, the PR girl, the website designer, the marketing assistant, the sales person, the intern and the boss.
But because you are working with a collection of basic strangers who are sort of your best mates but sort of not because you’ve only met them once, to carve out totally new jobs and opportunities for the people that will come after you and in order to do that you must lay your heart and soul out for all to see.
You need to be okay with the fact that you are sort of in a race but not really because no one said that you were and there was no starting pistol and you DEFINITELY DIDN’T TRAIN FOR IT.
You need to be okay with the fact that your entire life is a job that no one understands and no one will really want to because as far as they are concerned, all you really need to do is take photos of your food and buy new clothes.
You need to be okay with the fact that when you lay your heart out for the world to read about, someone is going to step on it and hurt it and do something to pull you down.
You need to be okay with the fact that you are going to work your hardest and do what you think is the right thing (although who really knows?!) and still see no growth.
You need to be okay with the fact that even though you know jealousy doesn’t look good on you and it’s an emotion that you shouldn’t bring into this job with you, it’s going to hurt a bit when you see everyone working on a campaign you’ve never even heard about.
You need to be okay with the fact that even when you get the best news in the whole world and you share it on Twitter that although everyone says they are happy for you, they will be feeling that pang of jealousy that you felt towards them last week.
You need to be okay with the fact that Daily Mail journalists spend their miserable lives disregarding blogging as a proper career and so, even when you do make it and get your opinion shared or write an article somewhere, there will be an onslaught of miserable cretins commenting ‘these snowflakes don’t know the meaning of hard work’ (two things: one I will revert you back to my first point made and two, you have time to comment on an article at 3pm on a Tuesday Martin so stfu).
You need to be okay with all of it.
And that can feel like really hard work sometimes.
For my blogging gals:
Stick with it, be nice, own the fact that you want to do better and be better, don’t act nice but play dirty, work hard, remember that you’ll get there and, as ever: not to take things too personally.
For my non blogging pals:
Never comment on a newspaper article commenting on how easy blogging is and how we are all snowflakes.