I originally wrote this post a few days ago, but it accidentally got deleted - bloggers, you know how frustrating that can be! So here I go again, on my own. (Thanks, Whitesnake.)
It seems like success in the blogosphere can result in some interesting phenomena. As a very small blogger with a small but loyal following, I creep round the fringes of the giants and I have noticed a few things:
- When a blogger becomes big, it can go to their head and they lose their humility. Ah, fame.
- Successful bloggers have to deal with haters and trolls. People dislike them for their success.
- OR - uber successful blogger retains her humanity. Is gracious and never forgets her readers or how difficult it was to get to the apex of her blogging career. Ignores the haters.
I use "her" because let's face it - the majority of lifestyle and fashion bloggers are women, as well as their readers.
It takes a LOT of work to be a serious blogger. There is so much going on behind the scenes of your favorite blogs. True, some have hired people to do their design work, but many small and medium sized blogs can't afford to do that. So, getting down and dirty and learning basic HTML5 and CSS are part of it. Most of us are self-taught, or we have researched tutorials and learned how to adapt elementary code to our needs. My husband is a programmer. Do you think he really has time to help me? No way! He's the guy making the stuff to make the stuff that we use every day. Layers deep, folks.
So, there's that - not to mention the photography skills you have to learn, the graphic design, the CONTENT. So it's a wonder anyone lasts more than three months - and in fact most blogs are abandoned within that time frame. So these giants have paid their dues.
That's why sites like GOMI really get under my skin.The negativity and gossip there can really suck you in.
I understand the place of constructive criticism and perspective within the blogosphere. But being a cyber bully is gross. These are human beings writing blogs - people with feelings and families and limitations. It's easy to hide behind an anonymous mask and throw daggers. Don't. It doesn't make you clever or cool.
Bloggers are writers. Writers are notoriously private people, yet many reveal very intimate parts of their lives. It's a strange dichotomy, and it's hard to put yourself out there to be the subject of judgement. Sure, apex bloggers seem to live in the same arena as reality TV stars. I get that being "almost famous" and narcissism go hand in hand. Who should really care what we wore yesterday, right? Except there might be a reader out there with the same body type - curvy, super thin, or plus size who is inspired by an outfit post. She dresses up for work, gets some compliments and feels much better about herself. I see this every day in the beauty industry, being a hairstylist. Shallow? Maybe not so much.
Then there are the haters that judge a blogger for wearing Prada shoes, and accuse her of being materialistic. They say she doesn't help the homeless or starving kids. Really? How do you know that? Because maybe she does - perhaps she just doesn't broadcast that to the world. Maybe her do-gooding is behind the scenes, because Lord knows if she wrote about it on her blog, people would accuse her of bragging. And then there are the bloggers who are thrifty and they too get judged - for being tacky and cheap.
You really can't win. At some point, you just have to choose to be yourself and blog about what you love, which is what drew most of us to blogging in the first place. The rest can unsubscribe if they find you so offensive.
Blogs, especially fashion blogs, are SUPPOSED to be an escape.
That being said, it does irk me when a bigger blogger neglects her readers and treats them more like fans. I get it - you're super busy. You have deadlines, press releases to send out, you have to do photoshoots and your editorial calendar. But it really impresses me when a blogger goes out of her way to reply to the majority of her comments. It lets me know she hasn't forgotten where she came from. Blogging is about community, after all. It's part of why a bunch of introverts reach out into the ether - to find people with like minds.
Here are some bloggers who are savvy:
Michelle Lara Lin of The Stranger is one high-level blogger I admire. She rarely neglects her comment field, and any time I have responded to her articles, she has replied. This girl is BIG TIME - she has an ongoing gig with Teen Vogue, she travels the world, and is in the midst of creating a start-up with her brother. She's busy. Very. She doesn't have to reply to a small-potatoes blogger from Missouri, but she does. She rocks, and I'm a loyal reader forever.
Elise Blaha of enJoy it is also a favorite. Each day, when I open up my Typepad dashboard, I'm greeted with her comment feed - Elise interacting with her readers. This is rare, guys. I can't tell you the amount of blogs I follow where I never see a comment from the author. Elise also has fabulous tutorials - most of them free - and that's how I learned to make a TypeList, make my Category buttons, and my photo nav tabs. Thanks, Elise!
Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky is a carefree girl from the Pacific Northwest with a mane full of curls and a great eye for beauty. She has lots of helpful and inspirational articles, and outfit posts that her husband photographs. Her blog feels like having coffee with an old friend that you haven't seen in years, but still have tons in common with. That takes talent!
So even if you're getting first row invitations to fashion week, free stuff in the mail, and press out the wazoo, it's good to remember your roots. You started out as a nerd with some computer skills and quirky fashion sense, and you probably burned your first few recipe post projects. Stay real. Your readers can tell.