Lifestyle - January 5, 2017

How To Handle Hashtag Blogger Shame | Why I Started Blogging

When I think back to launching my little blog in September of last year *holy crap that’s weird, hey 2017* I know I had plenty of reservations. Not only is the blogosphere already oversaturated with people who have more talent than you can shake a selfie stick at, they also happen to lead very fascinating and glamorous lives, at least that’s what the videos show. What did I have to offer when up against daily Chanel shopping hauls, trips to pick up the latest Range Rover (now available in a limited edition Velvet Teddy colour, one day Mac will make that a reality) or a makeup tutorial on how to contour with a raven’s wing. Search for it, it probably exists. A girl living in a one bedroom flat in Brighton, dribbling on her commute and spending more than a quarter of her wages just getting to work – given it’s for a pretty good job in London – but beauty freebies aside, it’s more of an odorous life than a glamorous one, let’s be honest.

If I were to vlog a day in my life it would go like this. Alarm goes off 5.45am, stare into wardrobe for half an hour, out the door at 6.30 and arrive in London for 8.30. Between the hours of 8.30 and 5pm, I’ll be sat at my desk in a jumper that’s too big for me and jeans that are too small for me, treating myself to the occasional wee and maybe a leftover slice of Colin the caterpillar cake – the perils of office work, you can never be on a diet. I’d just be doing my job and then avoiding anyone with a suitcase at Victoria on my way home, ‘cos there is nothing commuters hate more than f*cking suitcases. So, correct me if I’m wrong but it hardly makes for thrilling viewing does it? Needless to say I’mma give YouTube a wide berth for a while. Fifteen seconds of sitting by the oven waiting for my garlic baguette on Insta Stories is as vloggery as I get. At the moment anyway, but who knows what 2017 will hold.

Back to starting up my blog! I would question everything and anything: What if people totally disagree with me and then I come home to find piles of hate mail addressed to the girl who talks about fat rolls and vaginas too much. And it would be penned in Nutella – ya know, as some kind of payback. Or, what if they interpret my creativity for a double denim wearing twat who has a photographer following her round everyday to capture hair flicks instead? I never stopped to think but what if they agree, what if they do connect? Or, what if in some weird and wonderful way they find something reassuring in my writing, something that helps them realise they aren’t alone and that they too have been mispronouncing quinoa all this time. I jest! I mean more important things like how they feel about themselves, family, life, growing up, jobs, the definition of beauty, loss, love and angry nipples. Better yet, I could learn from other people too.

Make the ordinary come alive for them, and the extraordinary will look after itself […]

~ William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

Some people won’t understand and that’s ok. If I didn’t do what I do for a job then I might not have grasped it either. They might question why people (people like me) feel the need to put it all out there for everyone else to see, be it on your blog, on Insta Stories or Snapchat. It is personal, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I need it to be private. I agree there needs to be boundaries of what you do and don’t share on your channels (the boyfriend needs some level of sanity after all) but I’ve just never felt fiercely protective about myself – in fact, I’m probably too open for most people to handle.

Posting on Instagram has motivated me to work on my photography and allowed me to capture significant moments, however ordinary or unimportant they seem to someone else. But mostly it’s a visual reminder of when I last washed my hair. I need to document that sh*t. Of course this doesn’t mean I’m totally deaf to the pitfalls – I definitely think content creators have a huge responsibility for what kind of message they’re sending out to young, impressionable minds. Less vagina talk in 2017? Who am I kidding.

I know the p*ss-taking undertones of the #blogger still exist. Hell! Most of them come from my best friends, but I’m not thrown off by that – people are still trying to get their heads around all this and who can blame them? Creating content for a brand, posting an image on Instagram and then earning an income from it – what fresh hell is this? My career is in online journalism, so I guess immersing myself in the digital landscape and how it’s constantly evolving has enabled me to see blogging as a reputable career path, not just a bevy of press meetings over crushed avocado and flat whites. It’s not just about faceless followers anymore, it’s about engagement, brand integrity, hard work and transparency. The ‘ordinary’ user is more savvy than ever too and maybe a little more clued up on what’s a hashtag ad and what’s genuinely got the blogger’s heartfelt approval. After all, isn’t this the original appeal of bloggers? That they wrote/vlogged about products they genuinely liked and used. That said, if it is to be treated as a career – like any other – then why should we be offended by the idea of people monetising their social reach? So many questions!

It might take a while for the rest of society (i.e my dad) to catch up and get used to stylised coffee shots and people stopping to take photos of someone else’s pretty arse door (it’s all fun and games until the posh home owner comes out, let me tell you) but however out of control you think this whole social media storm is getting, it is catching on and it’s not about to fizzle out anytime soon. I mean, I’ve seen a fully grown man in his 50s taking a ‘from where I stand’ on the yellow line at a train station because it matched his fluorescent trainers and thought to myself, sorry what are you doing Graham? Seriously Graham where did you learn that? Get it together, it’s 8.11am, think of your wife Graham, she wouldn’t want to see you like this. See, it’s not just blogger gals at it. We’re all still in the adjustment phase, baffled as to how influential social media can be and I predict that this year the hashtaggy snowball is only going to keep on rolling, rolling, rolling. Video is going to be bigger than ever – which kind of lands me in the sh*t if I was hoping to dodge YouTube – never say never.

So far I’ve found blogging and creating social content really rewarding and I’d say that if you use it wisely, it can be a great creative outlet and a unique community. Nothing compares to the feeling you get when someone leaves you comments to say they loved your latest post. After all, no one is obliged to read my blog apart from me, so when they do and they relate to it, it’s the best motivational reminder of why I started.

I missed writing. For as long as I can remember I’ve always written poetry and short stories. Even at school I’d do ‘extra homework’ because I just loved to let my imagination fly. It’s what I’ve always known and now that I’m an Editor I don’t get to write all that often, so blogging has become a bit of a treat. It’s my happy place. Even now while sat on the sofa watching Celebrity Big Brother at 11pm on a school night (judge away it’s January and I need a silver lining in the shape of car crash TV), my boyfriend stopped to ask ‘if it’s good’. *Translation: He means is my writing any good* I turned to him, sleep deprived from last night’s first-day-back-at-work anxiety and explained that you can never really tell if your own writing is ‘good’. “Maybe not,” he said, “but are you enjoying it?” And I said “yeahhh, I always enjoy it.” And as long as I enjoy it I’ll stick at it because that’s what it all boils down to. Yes, you may fall short to those with 5 years blogging experience and a knack for seamless video editing skills but you’ve gotta start somewhere. If you’re thinking of starting your own blog I say get to it. Take the leap. My only regret is not starting sooner! Love you bye X

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  • Naima

    WOAH! I love this post so much! I just started a blog and lemme tell you, the part about being beyond uncertain and being afraid of hate mail and not knowing if you even have anything to offer when there’s millions of bloggers who are so glam and seem to be able to do it all! Well basically, I am that one person who connects and agrees (among many I’m sure). Your writing is absolutely amazing! I love that it’s honest and vulnerable and way too relatable!

    • Thank you for your kind words Naima. I strive to be relatable and authentic in my writing and I’m so glad that comes across. It’s all too easy for people to say don’t compare yourself to others but when there are so many talented writers-come-photographers-come-video gurus out there, it can be difficult to find your point of difference. It’s comments like yours that make blogging such a worth while venture, so thank you again. I’m glad you’re joining me on the crazy journey X


January 5, 2017

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