The truth about the blogging community

the truth about the blogging community

I have a confession to make. A confession that will probably destroy any hopes and dreams I have of becoming a successful blogger. But this blog has always been a place for airing my slightly controversial opinions, so here it goes…

I don’t believe in the blogging community.

In fact, I don’t know if I want to be a blogger at all.

/END BOMBSHELL

Now before you all burst into tears, don’t worry. This blog isn’t going anywhere. I’ll still be bombarding you with my opinions and words three times a week. I’ll still be Tweeting every thought that comes into my head (#FollowMeOnTwitter). And I’ll definitely still be using the blogger hashtags to shamelessly promote my content, cos a girl’s gotta get dem views.

But, if I’m perfectly honest, I think the blogging community is complete bullshit.

Not because all bloggers are awful. Not because I haven’t made any friends through blogging. But because the idea of a homogenous community made up of people who also have blogs is absurd.

See, the only thing all bloggers have in common with each other is that they have a blog. Do you know who can have a blog? Literally anybody with an internet connection. Owning a blog is not grounds enough for a community.

Which is why, unsurprisingly, sub-communities spring up. You’ve got your fashion bloggers, your beauty bloggers, your student bloggers, your ‘lifestyle’ bloggers, your mental health bloggers (read: anxiety and depression bloggers), your plus size bloggers, and so on.

But what if you don’t fit into those communities? What if, like me, your blog isn’t about lipstick and self-care bubble baths (both of which are great – don’t get me wrong)? What if you blog about things that are hard to monetise. That piss people off. That don’t conform to the POSITIVITY ONLY PLEASE message that a lot of popular bloggers preach.

Well then you might find that the blogging community everybody loves so much isn’t quite as welcoming as you thought.

Because I’ll let you into a little secret. The blogging community isn’t an all accepting online bubble. It’s susceptible to the same prejudice that real-life circles are. It’s full of the same people who like to clique together cos it makes them feel safe. It’s not a safe haven, where people can let their freak flag fly.

Which is fine. I get it. No community is perfect.

But the problem with the so-called blogging community is that it presents itself as this empowering, welcoming space. Which it is. If you blog about lipstick and positivity. If the most controversial you get is stating that you didn’t like the latest Lush bath bomb. If you refuse to challenge the racism, hypocrisy, and  internalised misogyny that lie hidden beneath the surface.

The blogging community is great if you conform to the pre-determined list of blogger ideals. But if you don’t, it’s shit. It’s cold and unwelcoming and downright aggressive at times.

So that brings me to part of of my EXCLUSIVE SHOCKING CONFESSION – do I want to be a blogger at all?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my blog. Writing these posts is my favourite thing to do. To the point where I literally daydream about blogging all day during my 9-5. But when I look at the blogging community, and when I look at other successful bloggers, I don’t see myself.

I don’t see my passion for social justice. I don’t see my unapologetic feminism. I don’t see my penchant for calling out bullshit. I don’t see enough people asking the hard questions.

Do you know where I do see those people? In the writing community.

See, I realised the other day that the majority of people I’ve really connected with from the blogging community don’t actually identify as at all bloggers. They identify as writers. They submit pieces to magazines – both online and off. They’re writing long-form pieces that really go deep into difficult subjects. They’re writers who happen to use their blog to showcase their work.

So no, I don’t want to be a blogger. I don’t want to perfect the art of the flatlays. I don’t want an inspirational Instagram feed. I don’t want to collaborate with Dior or Lush.

Do you know what I want to do? I want to write pieces that make people think. I want to really challenge social norms – and surround myself by people who do the same.

So whilst, for now, blogging is my medium, I don’t think I’m a blogger. I’m a writer. And I think that’s an important differentiation to make.

Side note: Obviously I don’t hate all bloggers. I’m friends with people who do identify as bloggers. I read blogs every day – full of posts about lipstick and OOTDs. Nor do I think everyone who identifies as part of the blogging community is a hypocritical twat. But I do think a lot of people in this community are. And I think that’s something that’s not talked about enough.

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12 Comments

  1. February 21, 2017 / 13:39

    YES YES YES

    I so agree with this line: “Do you know what I want to do? I want to write pieces that make people think”

    Personally, I’m not one to write about products or anything of that sort because as a writer it doesn’t really interest me, what interests me more is making an impact with what I’m writing and allowing people to actually use their minds and think. As a reader, though, I tend to lean more towards pieces that make me think and with occasional outfit posts. As a writer I’m not sure I have a niche but more or less I literally ask myself how will someone benefit from reading what I’ve written.

    Also, yes yes yes in terms of Instagram flatlays I feel that if you’re a blogger it’s basically a known fact that you must have flatlays- honestly though I just don’t get them at all? Like I just don’t connect with them, like yes they may be at most aesthetically pleasing but that’s all they are – aesthetically pleasing.

    Literally this whole blogpost is what I’ve been thinking about for a while but more organized rather than my scrambled tangents in my mind!

    -Sahara
    http://saharas-dreams.blogspot.com

    • Liv Woodward
      February 21, 2017 / 13:43

      Mate you LITERALLY just said what is in my head! I enjoy reading a few lifestyle and beauty posts – of course I do. But that’s not I wanna do or be or define myself as – and there’s so much pressure from the ‘community’ to lean that way!

      Honestly, I like looking at flatlays and nice blog pictures, but I’m not a photographer. I hate taking photos. I’m rubbish at it and I don’t enjoy it. And yet most bloggers seem to prize nice photos above writing (which is fine – photography is an AMAZING and wonderful skill), which is another reason why I think I identify more as a blogger than a writer.

      Thank you for your comment! I’m glad the piece resonated with you 🙂

  2. February 22, 2017 / 10:53

    This is exactly what I used to find too! I always defined myself as a scribbler – an aspiring writer – never a blogger. And you put into words exactly the feeling that made me edgy about giving in to being a “blogger”.

    Writing and being a writer is the goal; blogging is just a means to that end. Struggling to define where one starts and the other begins, however, might be as tricky as defining the edges of a cloud.

    I use my blog to write about the topics that make me think. I’ve used it to vent and to explore some of my own inhibitions (such as talking about mental health and politics and feminism). I also write about my writing and books I’ve read because those are my things. But because I’ve always avoided writing typical “this book is so amazing” posts (unless they really are amazing), the book blogger community hasn’t exactly opened its welcoming arms. On the other hand, the writing community can be just as fallible. I’ve had serious struggles within writing communities who have been unwelcoming because my blog doesn’t seem to focus on one thing. Or writers who have dismissively said “oh well you’re just a blogger”.

    These days I have my core team. I move around online between some of the twitter communities as well as forums and writing sites. And there’s support and constructive criticism and inspiration to be found there. Of course, there are still occasions where I have to defend myself. But that’s ok. Perhaps it’s just a matter of building your own identity and instead of trying to find a community, letting the writing community find you. As twee as that sounds anyway!

    • Liv Woodward
      February 22, 2017 / 11:03

      I think it’s really interesting what you’ve said about writing communities looking down on bloggers. I think there’s definitely a perception that bloggers aren’t really writers – and to be honest I get where that comes from because if we’re honest a lot of big bloggers are actually not very good writers (that’s fine, they have other skills obviously, but yeah).

      You’re definitely right that you’ve just got to find your own team. No community is perfect – every group of people needs to look at itself critically. But I have noticed that since I’ve identified as a writer, I’ve felt a lot freer and a lot more motivated to write.

  3. Laura
    February 22, 2017 / 21:32

    Such an amazing post!! It really got me thinking, I’m planning to start a blog … I’ve been wanting to for a while; I just want somewhere to write some of my thoughts in my own little space, whatever that means! But I guess that I’m a bit scared! What if I don’t do it right according to the community? Everything Sahara has said about flat-lays – yes!! Pretty yup but ohh I really don’t want to spend hours perfecting photos to be able to have a blog! I like to take photos to capture memories sure but that’s about it!
    Eek, I’m not even a ‘blogger’ yet and already the community is having an effect on me which I thought was pretty interesting with your post. I read a fair few blogs and i follow bloggers on Twitter and sometimes see stuff that goes on, I’m sitting on the outside of it all just now – and hey maybe my thoughts here are more my issues than anything else!! But you know, I just want a little space to write my thoughts!
    Laura 🙂

    • Liv Woodward
      February 23, 2017 / 09:36

      I’m so glad you liked the post – although I’m not glad you’re scared about starting to blog because of the community! My advice would be this: start a blog just for you. Just write whatever you want – whether that’s outfit posts or political posts. Just write for the sake of writing and enjoy it. You might find the blogging community likes it – you might not. But I can guarentee you that if you write about stuff you care about with passion, you will find an audience that is interested in your thoughts – even if the wider blogging community isn’t! I know it sounds like I hate the blogging world, but starting this blog was the best thing I ever did – even if I no longer identify as a blogger and choose to identify as a writer instead. Good luck with starting your blog!

  4. February 22, 2017 / 22:17

    I wish I could give you a high five right now because THIS. THIS SO MUCH. I used to do my own little thing on my blog but then I found out about the blogging community and so desperately wanted to fit in (I still do, to be honest) so I started posting things like Lush reviews and makeup reviews… despite getting more engagement on those kind of posts I felt like there was something missing and I started to hate those posts. There’s just no “me” to them. Anyone could’ve written that post and nothing sets them apart.

    It’s hard because I suck at writing but I do love writing my thoughts and mixing up with outfit posts, so maybe I should just focus on that.

    Thanks for reading my ramble but TDLR; I loved this post and it reminds me to always write for myself and not for others.

    • Liv Woodward
      February 23, 2017 / 09:38

      Omg YES I feel you so hard! I blogged for over a year before I realised the blogging community existed, and then once I discovered it, all I wanted to do was fit in (i literally felt like I was back at school trying to get the popular girls to notice me haha!). Although I’ve always remained largely a feminist blog, I did start posting make up posts and lifestyle posts in a hopes that it would help me integrate more with the blogging community – but I hated it. I was so bored and uninspired with the content! That’s why in September 2016 I deleted every post I’d ever written, and started over – posting only content I cared about and was proud of!

      It’s totally okay to have a mix of styles and posts. If you genuinely enjoy writing outfit posts as well as other content – do it! The issue is when you write those posts because you feel like you should because that’s what everyone else in the blogging community does.

  5. March 7, 2017 / 14:00

    “If the most controversial you get is stating that you didn’t like the latest Lush bath bomb.” Jesus Liv, that killed me.

    I had exactly the same revelation about 9 months ago when I arranged a blogger event and NO BODY turned up. Kid you not, had a mailing list of 70 and 30 confirmed. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life – and I’m pretty darn embarrassing, so that’s a really big statement,

    You’re so right in saying that every community has it’s issues. I call it ‘small town mentality’, when people get a little bit too comfortable in their bubble and except everyone to fit the norms. But I do think the blogger community hides behind this idea that we’re all power women who only ever think positively. It creates this really toxic environment because as soon as anyone says anything remotely against the grain, the pitchforks come out in force.

    I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to be associated with that.

    • Liv Woodward
      March 7, 2017 / 15:05

      Hahaha just telling it like it is!

      And that’s such a horrible thing to happen to you – I’m so sorry! Totally reveals people’s true colours though, and definitely highlights that the whole ‘supportive bloggersphere’ thing is really super fickle.

  6. March 25, 2017 / 14:08

    Hey Liv I love your blog, and the main reason I love it is because of the topics you write about. In my opinion we need more bloggers like you, who are not scared to challenge authority and the prejudices which are out there in the real world. Please keep speaking your truth and sharing your vision of the fairer society which feminism can help to create.
    Speak soon.

    Love And Best Wishes
    Gayle XXX

    • Liv Woodward
      March 29, 2017 / 09:50

      Thank you so much, that’s really kind of you to say!

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