It’s no secret that I kind of hate what the blogging industry has become. Algorithms screwing everyone over, the fact that there is no originality anymore, and how Twitter seem to be a high school playground are just some of the few things that irritate me. After a short break earlier this year, I decided to look at blogging a different way. I’m actively trying to be the change I want to see and generally trying to care less. Which got me thinking, do bloggers really need to be a brand?
I guess we should start off by defining what a brand is
The easiest way to do this is to look at the shops you buy from. When you think about your favourite companies, it’s likely there are things that instantly spring to mind. For example when I think about Lush, I think about (or used to) colourful products, minimal packaging, celebrating alternative styles, diversity and equality. This brand has marketed themselves as a company that welcomes all. You see a Lush product and instantly recognise it. There are some bloggers out there with recognisable brands too.
Most influencer’s brands are meticulously crafted, similar and sometimes unattainable
If you take a look at some of the UK’s top influencers, you’re bound to notice some similarities. Whether it’s the similar flawless flatlays, loads of white backgrounds, or the same products being pushed, it’s becoming very tiring. There are so many smaller bloggers out there doing amazing things but not getting seen because they’re different. You only have to take a look at all of these blogger awards and you’ll see the same faces being nominated.
A lot of people have been taking to Twitter lately to air their frustrations with the blogging industry. One of the biggest things people seem to be divided on are the use of Instagram bots. There was a weekend where it just all kicked off, some people were even wrongly accused. People were frustrated by the fact that bloggers were jetting off on paid for trips and getting opportunities off of false engagement. The bots, the same boring images, promoting certain brands, it all annoyingly seems to work. Nothing will change unless we start to change.
Can having a brand be restricting?
Whilst following in similar footsteps can lead to success, I also think the downsides are starting to show. With everything that’s going on in the world, I think more people are looking to influencers. Mainstream media cannot be trusted, so this makes sense. You do take note of people you’re a fan of whether it’s for guidance or pure curiosity.
A criticism I am seeing more often is influencers not using their platforms. With the focus on young people to save us from the Tory government this coming election, people have started to call out influencers who remain silent. When things like elections and important events happen, you find that encouraging people to vote or promoting quality do not fit a lot of influencer’s brands. But here is where it gets confusing. Certain influencers have mysteriously started to write about certain topics only when they become mainstream. For example, when the news of period poverty happening right here in the UK broke, there was a sudden influx of posts/tweets from people who literally never talk about this thing. Should we be happy that they’re finally using their platform or remain skeptical? It’s a tough one. I personally just hope they continue when I see it.
On the other hand, there’s influencers who do use their platforms but irresponsibly so. Ask any smaller blogger and they will probably tell you they’ve gotten into more than one heated argument online with bigger influencers and their fans. I know I certainly have! So many people refuse to acknowledge their mistakes online and try erase any evidence of it happening. Do you want that to be your brand?
What’s my brand?
Here’s where the discussion gets uncomfortable because I’m slowly starting to hate what my brand is. When you start out as a blogger, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what your brand should be. I’ve been blogging since 2009, but didn’t really start to attract a larger audience until 2015. I protested an advert, went viral, and became a lot more outspoken. Suddenly, my reach was growing at an enormous rate in a short space of time. I started writing about topics I didn’t see elsewhere such as: periods, sex as well as general empowering content. People seemed to love my honesty and the fact I’d call people out on their bullshit. And I guess that’s how I made a name for myself. By being some ballsy dickhead who didn’t know how to pick her battles.
So what happens when your brand is something you dislike?
I am very thankful that I have a loyal readership. Most of the problems I have with blogging and social media stem from people who don’t like me. Becoming known for arguing is not only pathetic, it’s also really tiring. I used to get tagged in other people’s fights for backup. People send me stuff that annoys me because they want my opinion on it. Readers ask me to write about subjects I know will invite abuse. It’s nice to have your opinion valued but it doesn’t mean I’m available to give it 24/7. There are some things I just know are not worth commenting on.
Just the other day, I had to delete my tweets about Femfresh as they were attracting too many horrible people. There’s bloggers who don’t even follow me who will pop up in my mentions every time I post something slightly controversial. It’s exhausting and I’m seeing people follow this pattern. It’s easy to make a name for yourself this way, but I’d say it comes at a price. The reputation you’re building isn’t always a good one and also it takes a toll on your mental health. I’ve had threads dedicated to me, abusive emails, long-time followers turn on me, you name it. It’s just not worth it anymore.
What’s my brand now?
This weekend, I worked with Kaye and she took some photographs of me. When thinking about what to wear, I asked myself what my brand is now. And I guess, it’s just me. The beauty of this is that I’m always changing, constantly evolving (I hope) into a better person. There will be things I’m always going to be known for, but I’m definitely a completely different person to who I was when I first started blogging. There are some old habits I’m trying to kick but I’m definitely a lot more comfortable with who I am these days. So I put on my favourite outfit, which of course had some form of cat print on it.
My favourite kind of bloggers are those who are unapologetically themselves
My favourite bloggers are those don’t follow the norm. Their Instagram grids are themeless, their tweets are unfiltered. They’re not afraid to nerd out on their blogs about something they’re passionate about. If they comment on drama, it’s just to add something empowering. They may do product reviews and I’m always pleased to see them do well. They may have niches, they may not. The point is they’re genuine.
So if you’re worried about whether you need a brand, I say fuck it. And if you do want to work at your brand, go for it! Honestly, do what works for you. There is no right or wrong, I just want to see more honesty and something different.
It’s about time we start reclaiming what blogging means to us and letting our content speak for itself.
Jacket and dress are Lazy Oaf (past season)
Photography by Kaye Ford