A decade ago blogging was in its infancy. It was all blogspot addresses, photos taken with dodgy smartphones and cupcakes at launch events, but with that came a comforting sense of simplicity and purity. The birth of this new industry came from a place that was overwhelmed with curated glossy magazines and media outlets only ever showing one kind of woman, alienating the majority of the population who just couldn’t relate to what they were seeing on the pages of their favourite magazine. When we started writing about beauty, opinions were front and centre; it was all about sharing our thoughts, providing passionate recommendations and letting people know when to not bother with the latest launch – so much so that ‘cease and desist’ letters from brands not liking what we were saying were more common than they’d care to admit.
With bright shiny eyes and boundaries as yet unset, we were excited to be honest and connect with people who had similar passions – even if those passions were buying crackled nail polish or seventeen shades of green eyeshadow. Being brutally honest is something I became known for, even if it got me into trouble multiple times, and it’s what I so adored about blogging: the freedom and platform to share what I wanted, when I wanted, in the way that I wanted.
The most ‘successful’ among us were those that had experience, that knew what they were talking about or just had genuine passion. Whether that came from a place of being professionally trained, working within the industry or just spending practically every penny of your paycheck in Boots, it didn’t matter – but the sites that seemed to steam ahead and the bloggers who built a community were those with kudos and credibility. They were the sites that remained dedicated to their own platforms, that went to the effort of building a genuine community around them and those who wouldn’t hang up their integrity in return for a free mascara.
Over the years I’ve passionately tried to share my thoughts and opinions, educate and inform, and ensure my readers make the decisions that are right for them. I’ve been working within the beauty industry since 2005 (on everything from formulation development and packaging design, to in-store marketing and TV advertising,) and it’s something I’m hugely passionate about; it’s also something I’m hugely knowledgeable on – as are some of my favourite other old school bloggers (including Jane, Caroline and Ruth.) Although I’ve diversified into new areas, my priority will always be to share beauty recommendations and explanations while working with some brands I truly love.
But what’s been increasingly frustrating me over the last year or two is the fact that that experience, knowledge and opinion is being replaced by the very glossy, curated and homogeneous look we were all originally battling against.
Put simply, the focus on slim / white / blonde / twenty-something women is tiresome. If you don’t fit into a simple box then your content often isn’t visible, isn’t supported by brands and becomes deemed less valuable than a picture with 5000 likes. I’ve written recently about knowing your worth and I continue to preach the same ideology to anyone who will listen: there is life beyond a glossy Instagram account, and value has more than one way of being measured.
We’ve all been told as bloggers of the need to diversify, to not put all our eggs in the Instagram basket and to focus on building something that goes beyond the superficial, but it’s hard to do when readers are less engaged than ever with long-form content and brands only want the instant reach of an Insta Story (vs a blog post that lives indefinitely.) But alas, I keep beavering on with my blog knowing that eventually the tide is sure to turn once again and those with more than superficial knowledge return to focus. I know that my content lives on through SEO and Pinterest, and I know that my readers are a phenomenal bunch who support everything I do – it’s just a matter of continuing to let everyone else know that too.
More and more of you are telling me you’re flipping your priorities and ensuring your own channels are top of your list, and so many of you responded with a similar opinion when I shared my thoughts on this issue across my social platforms, so let us celebrate the old-school blogger together.
The blogger who can’t compete with a team of professionals; the blogger who doesn’t know how to pose like a model or perform like an actress; the blogger who doesn’t fit into the glossy world but has a lot to say; the blogger who’s been doing this a long time and doesn’t have any plans to quit soon; the blogger who’s put their blood, sweat and tears into creating free content for years – before it was cool, before you could make money out of it, and before anyone really understood what a blog was.
We see you. We appreciate you. We support you.