Every time I write a blog post I try and link the words to the photography in some way. As I posed for Ami Ford in this Addie Vintage Harrington Jacket from WEARLL my thought process led me to thinking about members club jackets (which I love for their style merits alone btw). In the same way wearing band merch can show allegiance to a band, artist or scene, these jackets display to all that you our part of a community. This got me thinking about my place in the blogging community, and I have to admit that after time quietly considering this, I was left me feeling sad. I realised that I don’t really feel like it’s got my back, or that I’m particularly supported or loved. In short, I’m not part of the cool bloggers club.
I’ve felt like this for a while. A few personal experience at events serving to back-up existing feelings of being excluded and not accepted. I remember at one summer event I was chatting to some bloggers and having a lovely time, and thinking we were getting on really well. A few minutes later they were all posing together for an Instagram, with me watching on in full view. Why was I not asked to pose with them? Did I not fit the aesthetic they were going for? As the considerably less followed influencer would I have been an unhelpful/redundant part of the composition, and ruin their aspirational and shareable ‘girl gang’? Did they just not like me, because I’m a bit shy, and perhaps a bit boring in their eyes? Of course my natural level of insecurity drew me to these possible conclusions. They might not have thought any of these things, and may be utterly horrified if they knew that it left me feeling so crap. Perhaps they misinterpreted my shyness as being standoffish, and thought that I wouldn’t want to be considered part of their gang. Perhaps it’s simply because they’ve been friends for a while, and it’s a tradition for them to get a snap together when they meet up. Whatever the reason, and whoever is at fault, the fact remains that I felt like the dork I’ve always been affectionally told I am, but in this case it apparently wasn’t a trait to be fond of.
This moment, and sadly many others Ive experienced during my years as a blogger, have made me apprehensive about forming and actively seeking out friendships in the community. No one likes to feel rejection and seeking it out seems to counterproductive to my mental health and confidence, particularly when I have so many beautiful mates outside of the industry. The problem is that the majority of my real life mates, the types who would support me and the work I do, aren’t even on social media, let alone read blogs or watch YouTube videos. Their lives function offline (lucky them I say), and they wouldn’t even know where to start in terms of helping to support my blogging work. For this reason I’m always posting at a bit of a disadvantage, and it’s why I need the support of online people (who get it ) even more.
I posted a new venture last week, (Sound of Mind) one that’s very close to my heart, and something I was very nervous about doing (it feels like a huge responsibility to take on) and it was a resounding radio silence from the blogging community. I know it’s not a fun clothing line, a homeware line you can buy and review, or beauty products you can incorporate into your selfie instagrams, but I hoped people would see what I am trying to do and maybe think it was a worthwhile thing. Perhaps Mental health and disability isn’t sexy or fun enough to warrant retweets, shares, or even private messages of encouragement, who knows. As disappointed as I was, it only served as proof that this (the site) is something I really need to because clearly some/a lot of people would rather these issues were still in the shadows, ignored, or at least quiet.
But I have to also consider that this may be down to me too. I know that I don’t immerse myself into the blogging community as well as I probably should, some of the things I do too little of are put of choice, but a lot are merely due to a lack of time, or energy reserved to do them. I have admitted before that I don’t really watch YouTube videos anymore. Sometimes the allure of homeware haul might suck me back, or a video that happens to arrive in my sub box and speak to me in that precise moment. It’s not that I don’t want to support my fellow creaters (of course I do), it’s a mixture of not having time to (I now try to use spare time I have to meditate, or enjoy Netflix shows that bring me lots of joy or educate me on something I want to learn more about). I’m also trying my hardest to use any other spare time I have to propel myself to a point where I’m not constantly stressed about money and to nurture/save the IRL relationships I have. I don’t want to show support for videos I haven’t watched because that seems disingenuous. I don’t want to say how amazing a post is if I haven’t been able to take the time to read it. That seems hollow and fake to me. And I often prefer to message someone privately to avoid any compliments being misconstrued as sycophantic, and to avoid any risk of it being seen to have a potential motive. Instagram is easier for me because I can digest that content in a flash, and react underneath within a few seconds, so I try to do that as much as I can. But I still find myself needing to take time out of scrolling to maintain my mentel health and to not tire myself out after a day of staring at the laptop screem. Some days, believe it or not, using my phone is actually a bit painful on my arms (CFS).
Most of the events I attend are film related which means there are little opportunities for mingling and making new friends. Sitting in cinemas in silence and in the dark isn’t exactly conducive to effect networking and establishing new mates in the industry. A lot of the events I go to are with the same people on the same network as me (who create very different content to me and are much younger than me) so again there’s not much opportunity to extend my social group. Most blogging trips these days are funded by fashion and beauty brands, and I’m not often invited on these (too small an influencer I guess), so I’m not making friends with people that way either. When I used to go on press trips back when I worked as contributor to culture and travel sites doing hotel/spa reviews, or when the industry was less saturated, I always found this a great way of making new friends. On these trips you had the gift of time to get to know each other properly – travelling with people enables you to get to know people on a whole different level and form really strong initial bonds.
I think it would be very different if I was living in London too. Hopping on the tube to meet fellow city dwelling bloggers for a coffee, to collab, or help each other with content is something I could do regularly without making to much of a dent on my energy levels, bank balance or work hours. But when a trip to London cancels out 3 hours of your day whenever you do it, it’s something that becomes harder to justify, and often completely unfeasible. You don’t need to live in London though, I see so many great communities established in places like Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Brighton too, and I see them discuss work from cafe days and meeting up before heading to their regional events. Surrey isn’t there yet sadly.
But I have to acknowledge my own faults too. I should comment on more blog posts and videos. I should share more people’s content and vocalise my love for other creaters more frequently. The main reason I don’t is because I know how isolating it can feel when someone you believed was a blogging pal frequently leaves you out of the shout-outs, and I’d hate anyone else to feel that way. And I said before, I don’t consume enough content to be able to do this equipped with knowledge to know who I should be shouting out to. Perhaps I can shout out to those that have been kind, worked hard, or even cheered me up via their tweets instead though. I definitely need to work harder on this, after all the saying goes, ‘you get what you give out’.
However, I do retweets ALL the time, and send a lot of private DM’s and emails to tell people I’m loving what they’re doing or offer support when it’s clear they need it. I think the fact that some of my encouragement and love is done quietly, and privately, is probably a big part of the problem. I’m in an industry where to tell everyone about everything, particularly if it can enhance your brand, encourage hits or follows. Perhaps because people don’t see my love and support for others, they don’t know that I’m someone that gives it. If I want people to publicly support me I guess it makes sense that I should do it this way too. Who knows?
I know people must think it’s incredibly disloyal to point out flaws in the blogging community, and maybe that effected the perception of who I am. But it’s just not being real if we pretend that everyone is always kind, and more importantly kind for the right reasons.
I think one of my pet peeves if that you’ll see a smaller blogger or someone with a quieter presence in the industry post a great blog or something incredibly heartfelt, you’ll see someone who’s big, a higher status, or in one of the cool gangs, post a similar content and there will be a huge outpouring. If it’s a post that’s required bravery, perhaps they’re talking about something extremely personal or taboo, or a subject that puts them in a vulnerable position, your followers size shouldn’t effect how deserving you are of support once it’s out there in the public domain.
It’s very obvious that some people have cottoned on to the fact that endorsing or complimenting someone with a large following can be beneficial to them too. Sometimes the big blogger will quote your content or retweet it and you might get some follows out of it. If a blogger of my size was to do the same in response to a positive comment the benefits are more modest or perhaps non existent (in terms of helping their platforms I mean).
Blogging as an industry is the perfect formula for breeding paranoia too. The lack of support from fellow bloggers on my work makes me wonder whether I’m just seen as old and irrelevent, you know ‘past it’. Perhaps my tendency to tweet when I’m struggling makes me seem like a moany and negative presence in the blogosphere – and who wants to support or endorse that?! Maybe I’m rubbish at writing or people think my style is atrocious. Perhaps because I’m too tired to tweet as much as I should I’m seen as lazy or unsupportive. All things I’ve wondered as another blog post disappears without the hug of a retweets or reply.
I was ecstatic to see the fab Rihanna Olivia launch a new fortnightly newsletter called The Uncool Club. It felt like a massive comfort (and relief) to see someone say some of the things I’ve been feeling in her mission statement, and particularly from someone who I see as popular and cool in the blogging world. Perhaps we all feel uncool at times and need to re-access what cool is and give it our own personal definitions. Maybe we need to look at our own online habits and questions why we retweet and compliment certain people, and don’t others, and question whether we’re on point morally. It means a lot when a bigger blogger, who doesn’t gain anything from doing so, like Charlotte Hole or Rhian HY (Wifelife) has told people to check out my video. But it shouldn’t feel as great as it does. It should be the norm, not a rare treat or anomaly.
I’ve been listening to Millie Cotton and Sophie Milner’s ‘Keeping it Candid’ podcast too. I found myself nodding along to everything they were saying, and just having people speak honestly about the industry and the issues that impact it, has made me feel like part of a club, even if it was somewhat remote and virtual. While I hate drama and bitchiness in the industry I do think it’s so important to talk about the conflicting, difficult, stressful, multilayered complications that exist as part of it. It’s a less obvious form or support and love. I believe if this kind of openess can get the industry functioning more honestly and fairly, we will all be happier and be in the position to support eachother more.
So I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t want to deviate from who I am and what I believe in, but I don’t want to ignore ‘the game’ so much that it’s only detrimental to me and negatively impacts the people that do choose to support me… in spite of my obvious lackings. I want to have a small but lovely bunch of supportive blogging mates I trust. I want to show love and support to all those influencers smashing it and working hard. I want to support people whose work I enjoy, small and big. But I also want to make sure I use my precious time wisely, uploading to Sound of Mind, nurturing my offline life, and looking after my health. I just don’t know whether I will ever be able to do it all.
What a shame we can’t all just be part of the gang and how much easier it would be if there were more hours in the day!
WEARALL Addie Vintage Harrington Jacket https://rstyle.me/n/cxq4cwccv6p
Keep it Candid podcast – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/keeping-it-candid/id1257944023?mt=2
Rhianna’s blog https://www.rhiannaolivia.com/