This post has been floating around in my head for awhile now, and I wasn’t sure whether I would share it or not, as it’s a bit of a brain dump of a post. In the end though, I decided to put it out there, as I strive to be totally honest and open on the blog, and this is the reason behind my periods of negativity recently.
Lately it has started to feel like no matter how good my writing and photos are, it doesn’t matter if people aren’t seeing my work, and people just feed into this more and more by focusing solely on follower numbers. I am more than just my follower number.
I may not have hundreds of thousands hanging on my every word, but when those who do follow me take the time out to comment on a post letting me know how much it resonated with them, helped them, made them realise they weren’t alone. Surely that is important too? Surely that means something?
See, with blogging, it is no longer even just about comparing your blog to someone else’s, to their writing, it’s now comparing across all social media channels, the number of followers they have, the quality of their photos on Instagram and the subsequent number of likes a photo gets. It is never ending, relentless.
I recently saw a conversation on Twitter, with bloggers discussing how those with smaller follower numbers shouldn’t be looking to get paid for blog posts as they didn’t deserve to. Although I don’t get involved in things like this on Twitter, as I want to avoid the drama, as somebody they would consider a small blogger, it did upset me.
The thing is, I can totally see the point they were making to a certain extent, obviously brands should be getting a good ROI when working with bloggers, but the tone of these ‘bigger’ bloggers was bordering on plain nasty, and aggressive towards those below them.
Some of the things that were being said were hurtful and sadly, the general consensus seemed to be that it didn’t matter how good quality the writing and photography these bloggers were showing, if their follower number wasn’t what these people were deeming ‘high enough’, then it didn’t matter, completely reinforcing the worries I have been having.
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally understand the frustration of those who have worked hard, and for a long time to get to where they are now in the blogging world, only to have newer, often younger people come along and start getting some of the action, working with the brands these bloggers have worked up to collaborate with but unfortunately that’s life. It happens in other industries as well.
What makes it frustrating for me, personally, is that this is now my seventh year of blogging – I started my first blog in January 2011. However, unlike these bloggers with huge followings, who are annoyed at the newer bloggers coming along and threatening to take opportunities they feel they shouldn’t be able to have, I don’t have the numbers to show for my time.
I abandoned my first blog after my marriage broke down, I took several breaks over the years, I put blogging to one side whilst I focused on bringing up my children, I didn’t consistently work on one blog for all that time.
So for me, as somebody who has been in this a long time, but hasn’t got much to show for it, it’s demoralising to see those who have found success in this very competitive industry, to suggest that those without the following simply don’t matter, that we don’t count.
My passion for writing has never wavered. In all the time I have been blogging, for me sitting down to write has been the best bit. Sure, being sent items I have lusted over in magazines is a huge bonus, but it has never been the be all and end all.
But it’s hard not to get sucked into the competitive game in blogging. When follower numbers are out there for all to see, it’s hard not to constantly compare yourself to others.
When those who started a year ago, are getting double the views you get each month and working with brands you love and would love to write about, it can be hugely demotivaiting.
You end up asking yourself the question, why not me? Why don’t people like my blog? And when you are in this kind of a downward spiral, the line between your blog and you can become blurred.
As somebody who suffers from depression and anxiety, being in a situation where I am constantly being judged on the popularity of my blog, of my posts, of me myself, can be hugely dangerous and damaging.
Collaborating with PR companies and brands, I am no stranger to being rejected, and that is ok, I totally understand that my blog isn’t going to be the right fit for everyone.
This past week, though, I had two emails which stood out to me and ultimately led to me having a bit of a mini breakdown on Friday evening (sorry if you were one of the people who saw this via instastories).
One of the emails was actually pretty nasty, with the person referring to my following as ‘tiny’ and suggesting that my social media links I had provided were insignificant, being so small. I then got another email the following day, which was much nicer and in fact offering to work with me regardless of my smaller following, but both of these emails left me feeling deflated.
Why feel the need to even comment on my flaws? It made me feel a little like I was a charity case. I am fairly confident with my writing skills, despite what this post may be suggesting.
I have been writing since I was little and I love it. Through my blog I have developed my own unique writing style, which those I have collaborated with, and my readers, like. I would much prefer people to either focus on the positives when it comes to working with me, or politely decline. These backhanded compliments only reinforce the anxieties I have about myself and my abilities.
Today, whilst I was hoovering the house and having a good sing along to Britney’s greatest hits, the song Lucky came on and it made me stop and realise how futile this way of thinking was. You can be totally successful, have all the followers you desire, and yet this doesn’t guarantee your happiness.
The times I have been truly happy have mainly involved being with my little family, a glass of wine in hand and something delicious cooking for dinner. My happiness is not based on my following on social media, so why have I let it get to me so much? Why have I let it make me feel unhappy?
I read a brilliant, positive post about the situation recently by Emma from Ellemma, and it made me realise I am not alone in feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes, when it all gets too much, it is wise to switch off, to take some time out and to try and remember that everybody has a different journey, and the only path to true happiness is being happy in yourself.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I am proud of my blog, of the posts that I write and the photos that I share. Nobody can take that away from me, and ultimately that’s all that matters.