Rants and Whimsy

Blogging as a competitive sport

July 18, 2016
This dog has blogging to do, but would rather be outside. A tale of woe.

This dog has blogging to do, but would rather be outside. A tale of woe.

I’m back. After finishing up with all my IT drama and moving my files back to where they should be, I took some time to catch up on all the work that had fallen by the wayside during the every-computer-in-the-house-meltdown. Then my iPhone felt a little left out of the whole palaver and died. So I had to erase that and reinstall everything, thus losing all my photos (nothing too drastic, I barely use my phone camera) and phone numbers and what have you.

It’s been a month of resurrection. Right now I’m giving my iPad the side eye with a smattering of COME AT ME BITCH. It’s the only thing that hasn’t tried any funny business.

Anyway, taking all this time away from blogging has given me a chance to clear my mind and have a proper think about blogging. There’s not much else you can do while waiting for your life to reboot without proper access to What’s App.

So many bloggers write about anxiety, about blogger guilt, about looking at your follower numbers and stats and feeling that they don’t match up to where you think you should be by now. I mean hell, you’ve probably been doing this for a year, or maybe even five. You should be due an easy life and a puppy by now. The easy life would be ruined by the puppy being a rambunctious twit, but at least it would be cute and you wouldn’t ever have to do anything soulless again. Except that’s just not how life works.

Why do we give ourselves such anxiety over events and posts and clicks? Why do we care so much?

I think there’s this expectation of success that comes with blogging. I also think it’s subtly enforced when we tell non-bloggers about our new hobby. For most, the only connection they have with this idea is tales of teenage girls in their bedrooms writing about make up and filming videos and now they’re famous multi-million pound brands in their own right.

Heck, if a bunch of teenage girls can make a career out of it, why can’t you? It’s almost like it’s a foregone conclusion that if you just work hard enough, you will be Zoella, or The Londoner – or whoever it is you idolise – before year’s end. Now, I’m not saying you definitely won’t be. It’s entirely possible. I am saying that it’s no longer 2010 and while mega success is still doable you’re probably not going to get it by following the exact same route that those girls followed. The stakes are higher now. Competition is denser.  Whole industries have sprung up around blogging and learning to blog and it’s all *SERIOUS BUSINESS*.

It’s funny because for most people this is basically a hobby. Yet I still see the hobby bloggers getting caught up in the stress of it all. Again, I’m not saying “don’t have a dream”, just throwing it out there that if you started a new hobby doing cross stitch you probably wouldn’t feel pressured to make it your career. You feasibly could make it your career – people do buy cross stitch books and patterns that you could design, you could sell your work as art pieces, etc, but there’s not a pack of cross stitchers with mega fame and empires making everyone else feel inadequate.

Maybe there’s more room for movement with other hobbies. If you sense that everyone around you knows and accepts the premise that if you work hard enough you’ll be a famous blogger with a fabulous career, if those things don’t happen to you it’s almost like you’ve failed, you’ve been lazy, you’re not doing it properly and have been wasting precious time.

In a way it makes it worse that that we all get that little taste of success. A product to review, a blogger meet up with free food and drinks. Why would we get that if we weren’t fabulous? And if someone gives me a night out that must be worth about £100 per head, if I work just a little bit harder I’ll surely get a reward that’s even bigger next month. This starts off super fun with lots of new friends, but before you know it: PRESSURE!

Blogging is like a box of chocolates. Lots of surprise nuts.

Blogging is like a box of chocolates. Lots of surprise nuts.

There are a lot of bloggers now and on one hand that is good because it means we’ve got this rocking community vibe. We can all make new friends and still avoid that person we want to avoid because there are so many of us.

But on the other hand, it means that your content has to be next level good if you want to stand out. Brands are organising events, which is fun, but if everyone is blogging the same content, you are not special.

I saw someone complaining on social media the other day that their videos and content were just as good as Zoella’s, but they don’t get the same opportunities and exposure as her and isn’t it just terribly unfair. I don’t really know this person, they looked young.  Even if they were completely correct and their content was just as good, there’s no point in being just as good as your idol. You have to be better. Or if you can’t be better, you have to be different. Bring something new to the table.

I repeat, it’s not 2010 anymore. If your lack of blogging “superstar success” is getting you down, think: what is special about your blog? Why would anyone choose to view your content over <insert famous blogger here>? They have a history with <famous blogger>. They know they can rely on them for a certain kind of content. What motive do they have to switch to your content?

Alternatively, you could be like me, say, “fuck it” and decide to run free in the wind doing my own thing because my weirdo posts make me far happier than my review posts. I’m not even sure which category of (my) posts get the most clicks and I’m not going to look.

I don’t really have the definitive answer to stalling blogger guilt. I just don’t want to feel anxious about not chasing a carrot I haphazardly stumbled into following in the first place. I am not that donkey.

 

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  • Love this post, Frankie! It’s so so true. Glad to have you back from the IT dark ages – and may that iPad mess with you at its peril! xx

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Yes!!! I can’t tell you the anxiety, pressure & inadequacy I have felt wondering why I have the same crappy stats always & WTF SEO actually is. The truth is, I don’t find that stuff interesting & I have no desire to invest hours of my life into doing whatever the hell I need to do to “make it” just to to get invited on a last minute trip (which I usually either wouldn’t be able to make it to anyway because of work or could probably just pay for myself without any of the obligation that comes with it!) I don’t want or plan to do this full time, which is what so many of the biggest bloggers end up doing or decide to do to make it a big success. I took it up as a hobby and when I write the posts I want, when I want & how I want, I still love it. When I finally realised that & stopped comparing myself to others, I founded the words & passion came back.

    • Exactly! Some of these “opportunities” seem to be more of a poisoned chalice… There’s nothing more depressing than seeing some of the advertorial stuff some of your fave bloggers have to do to make a living once they go full time. Every time I see it I get a feeling of “Christ I don’t ever want to be doing that” from the pit of my stomach. Still trying to get my head around it and let all of the angst go.

  • well said!:)

  • adales8

    yes, yes, yes to absolutely all of this! xxxx

  • Bravo to this post, I wish I was famous enough to elevate it to the front page of all the blogging sharing sites.
    It’s really all a head game. You literally have to play psychological games with yourself to win at the blogging this. You literally have to tell yourself, lie to yourself, CONVINCE yourself that it’s NOT THAT SERIOUS.
    THEN you can get down to business and really enjoy being a blogger. You have to start off at ZERO expectations and STAY THERE to survive the blogosphere.

    We all want to be noted foe our blogging prowess, human nature is human nature.
    You gotta give 90% to blogging, not 100% because you need that 10% for you to live. To survive in case it doesn’t work out the way you want.

    It’s mind games.
    Really, that’s all it is, it’s all in your head.

    • I agree, it’s a head fuck. It’s such an “industry” now too. So when you’re a newbie baby blogger you don’t get left alone to find yourself, your style, your niche. You have to really fight for the space to explore all that. But you don’t know you should be fighting for that because you’re being bombarded with SEO / OPPORTUNITY / PAID FOR LINKS / SPONSORED SHITE and it’s never enough money to enrich your life, but just inauthentic enough to deaden your soul…

  • Yes, yes YES!

  • Sam

    Great post Frankie! I’ve made a conscious decision to take a step back because it all got a bit serious in the blogging world. Now I blog when I feel like it, I don’t accept very many PR invites/offers any more and I’m generally just more relaxed about it. It’s a hobby after all and I have a day job, so had to tell myself to CHILL THE FUCK OUT! 🙂

    • I’ve turned down mostly everything this year, and the stuff I’ve accepted still gives me panic attacks. Just, no.

  • I am that dog in the top picture right now – I just wanna go out and play pokemon 🙁 x

  • I am that dog in that top pic right now, I just want to go outside and play pokemon 🙁 x

  • This is a really good post. And your approach sounds like the best one: write what you want to and stop worrying so much. I don’t even count myself as a “real” blogger anymore. I started getting overwhelmed by the expectations of the invisible readers (expectations no one ever actually voiced) until it got to be too much and I ended up slowing allll the way down. Now I only post once a week, if that, on a single topic hahaha. Balance is key. This whole thing is supposed to be fun, right? Hooray for hobbies!

    • I keep saying it, and still I keep falling off the rails and failing to follow my own advice! Then when I catch a glimpse of where all this nonsense leads when it does go “well” I realise I really, really don’t want that either. Like, that version of success is not my version of success, so why can’t I just do what makes me happy?!