With the recent schmaschmaugeration of a man my family has perfectly spoonerised as Tronald Dump (or it’s £1 in the swear jar because we’re sick of hearing his name) I’ve been thinking about his promise to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. It’s a big, impossible promise. Too big for one man in 4 years (please don’t make it 8) to fulfil, impossible because he’s already making things worse and the “problems” in America just cannot be undone. They are too entrenched in society and span far too many generations, although considering what he’s done already I wouldn’t put it past him. ANYWAY. This isn’t about him. Let’s just put a pin in America for a mo. Let’s think about something else. Something mildly related but kind of similar to the ethos of what Dump is on about and, if you’re reading this, something you’re probably interested in. Blogging.
Blogging has changed so much over the years that, just like America’s new tag line, the phrase #MakeBloggingGreatAgain seems futile and impossible. When I started my first blog, an aesthetically unpleasant, disengaging amateur attempt, six years ago, blogging was a simpler time. A time when a blog was started to express an interest and explore a nascent digital world that we knew nothing about, but couldn’t wait to be part of. Jessica McDonnell, who also started her blog, Forever Miss Vanity, 6 years ago agrees,
“It was all about having an online diary where people could have a voice, it was never really intended to be a platform for brand exposure. These days a lot of young, impressionable people are seeing magazines talking about the big bloggers and they are beginning to idolise them and wanting to create blogs that they hope have instant success so they can be sent everything like their idols.”
It’s true. As soon as a few brands saw the marketing opportunity in bloggers the whole concept started to morph and, like Jessica says, as soon as people got a whiff that free clothes and an easy buck were involved new bloggers started pouring in. Consequently, the internet is now dripping with bloggers. It seems every woman and her cat has got a blog these days. In 2016, according to Hosting Facts, over 2.7 million blog posts were published every day. EVERY DAY. With it set only to keep on risin’. Now, blogging is more common place as a lifestyle than the strange hobby it was to begin with. The admittance of being a blogger has lost its sparkle to one of embarrassed muttering. The profession many now make uninformed assumptions about as a basic bitch generalisation.
“These days everyone knows at least one blogger, whereas [before] in my peer group I was the only one,” Jessica says. “The people who blogged were in it simply because they enjoyed writing as there wasn’t as many opportunities. It took me a year to be approached by a brand and I didn’t even know bloggers were actually gifted products – it took me by surprise.” Many people then started blogging purely because they wanted freebies and not because they had a genuine passion for what they were pushing. Alex, from The Frugality, put it best in a recent post about blog authenticity, “Brands have realised the worth of ‘Influencers’ and social media brands in the last few years and as such, their advertiser spend has shifted a lot from traditional print media to digital.” But while some will sell their soul for a quick collab, many, like Alex, are steadfast in sticking to their guns and only working with brands they want to right from the get-go.
“I am lucky I get sent clothes from time to time, but I never feature anything as a ‘favour’ and am not afraid to send items back if I’m not keen or it won’t work. I also make sure I buy the bulk of what is featured so I can really and truly speak about the product from a buyer’s perspective.”
This is reflective of an increasing shift in content where bloggers are steering away from the perception of a ‘perfect life’ to one of authenticity. It is a notion that is now coursing through even the most typical social media user, and even sparking zeitgeist literature, such as the new novel by Sophie Kinsella – My Not So Perfect Life. Like many things in the digital world, blogging has almost come full circle, and followers are starting to appreciate the honesty that these influencers are beginning to exude. It is this honesty that readers of blogs originally fell in love with, but does this mean that blogging can return to its original state? Well, while many are genuinely trying to make the internet a safer and more positive place, because of the nature of blogging today, it is still laced with irony. There will always be those who use the ‘honesty’ angle to try and gain more views and followers. And the negative trickery doesn’t stop there.
As blogging gained more of a following, so came the introduction of ‘haters’. For every 3 followers, 1 one them was bound to be negative. But like the authenticity, this is also seemingly starting to dissipate. In a post about making blogging predictions for 2017, Hannah Gale, says “I get that in any industry there will always be people who just aren’t, well, very nice, but I like to think that as this industry grows up alongside us, it’ll become gentler, kinder and more supportive.” This is the best part about the original blogging that I remember. The community. A close-knit supportive group of (mainly) girls who were seriously my online buds. Now however, it’s hard to decipher the difference between a real comment and a fake one. Hosting facts also said that in 2016, ‘only 44% of web traffic is from humans; a massive 56% of web traffic is from bots, impersonators, hacking tools, scrapers and spammers.’ This is mental. The whole platform is basically dictated by algorithms and clickbait from ROBOTS. This mixed with the constant competition means it is becoming harder and harder to decide whether blogging is really worth it. Zoe London would dispute this, having made a steady career out of blogging for 4 years. “We are right in the middle of the blog and YouTube boom, so right now yes it is a stable career for me,” She said in a recent post.
Despite this, Zoe knows that the industry is only going to get more competitive. “You need to have thick skin to do this,” she continued, after likening the industry to that of modelling in its nature. “I get put up for campaigns against my best friends every single day, and I also lose jobs, experiences and amazing things to bloggers I know and bloggers who are similar to me but maybe are prettier, have a better ‘look’…”
It’s this cut-throat competitiveness that is forcing any blogger willing to give it a go to start getting really creative in their approach. Ellie from Ellie Etc, who started her blog 5 years ago, knows only too well. “There’s such an influx of new bloggers it’s become difficult to find and create original content. It’s now really hard to stand out in a crowd of white wash, marble and flat-lays.” She doesn’t take this as a threat, but rather sees it as a challenge. Still, gone are the days of being the first on the listicle scene or Top 10 mascara’s to try. There was loads that hadn’t yet been done, now it’s slim-pickings. Bloggers have to constantly seeking new ways to market themselves. While this spells more brain-work, it means the innovations are being stretched further than ever before and although it’s hard to chip away at the blogging mountain, it could spell the best generation of creative individuals yet, especially as there are more ways to market blogs than ever before.
In a sea of similarity, blogging may not get you noticed as much as it used to, but it can be such a useful tool in other ways. If kept up, it shows a genuine passion for what you believe in. It’s such hard work and employees know that, so if you’re willing to to keep it going and show it some regular love over grasping for follows, this is bound to get you noticed. Lucy from Shiny thoughts attributes her blog to her bagging her dream job in Social Media at Boden, which is pretty great.
Blogging will never become what it once was, it’s gone too far, it’s changed too much, but we gotta just roll with it, accept the changes and see what comes next. We can’t dwell on the past, because where it’s going could be pretty exciting. And while we might not be able to #MakeBloggingGreatAgain in terms of the blossoming new world it used to be, we can remember the unformatted, unedited, good times and hope the future is great for us. And if all that fails, we could always give podcasts a go.