Before writing this post, I looked up what the definition of blogger actually was. According to Google, a blogger is a person who regularly writes material for a blog. That’s it. So, why is it that we are made to feel like less of a blogger if we don’t have thousands of Twitter followers? Can’t I just write posts and call myself a blogger?
Recently I have noticed the push to build your following on social media, and I’ll admit, I have jumped on my share of “blogger trains”. I felt, since I was so new (still am, really) that this was the best way to get my presence known on social media, and honestly, it worked to a certain extent. Over the last week, however, a more competitive, and less supportive, environment in the online blogging world has come to my attention. That is what inspired me to write this post. Of course, I only have a small sample size of the blogger community on social media (seeing that I only follow about 200 people) so, my statements are based on my experiences, which may differ from yours.
A Follow for a Follow
There has been a lot of chatter on my feeds, as of late, about the decline in engagement on apps like Twitter and Instagram. I too have noticed that some mornings I may have 10+ followers less than the previous day. At first, this really bothered me. As much as I don’t believe that your amount of followers, or likes, or retweets, equal your self worth, it is a small blow to your confidence when you see that people aren’t interested in what you have to share. Now, not only am I not too worried about who doesn’t like me (something I work on in therapy *chuckles*) but I know there are a lot of “bot”, or spam, accounts floating around. These accounts will follow, and unfollow, on a regular basis; its quite annoying. But there are a handful of real accounts that play the “follow for follow” game. This means an account follows you expecting a follow in return. When you don’t follow back, they stop following you (or maybe even once you do follow back?) So, really, they weren’t even interested in my content in the first place, but just to reach their number goals? I am not just an increase in your stats, I am an individual who shares a part of their life with whoever is listening. It just doesn’t seem kind to act this way. I, personally, only follow accounts that I actually want to follow. I like to see what they are doing in their lives, I want to make sure I keep up with their recent activity, and I want to support them in whatever venture they are pursuing. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
What’s Your Theme?
Something else I have noticed, that I don’t participate in, is creating an Instagram “theme”. This is where you focus on editing all your posts to be within the same color palette, and being consistent with the same angles, lighting, and staging of your photos. Wow! That seems like a lot! I always thought Instagram was a place where you just snapped a picture of what you were doing, eating, who you were hanging out with, added a funny caption, and shared it with the world (or just your close friends and family) Of course, the filter options can be a necessity sometimes (ladies, I know you feel me) but not to the extent that it takes to have keep up with a theme. I will admit, those who do spend the time to focus on this, have very ascetically pleasing accounts. And, of course, having a theme builds your following (or so it is being promoted) So, if I don’t put the energy into creating a theme, will people not want to follow me? I have to stick to what I know, and who I am; that seems pretty simple. I decided I just didn’t want the added stress of worrying about the upkeep of an Instagram theme. I’ll deal with less followers to save myself the headache.
Narrowing Your Niche
The last thing I want to touch on is one of the first hurdles you may (or may not) deal with when creating content, and really, your blog as a whole; your niche. I knew from the start I did not want to have a specific focus for my blog. In the past, I had tried to start a few blogs with specific niches (food, weight-loss, etc.) and none of them really motivated me past the first few posts. Part of this is because I, myself, am a very indecisive person, and having to pick only one topic to focus on wasn’t really my thing. I also totally understand that niches not only help your content, but help get traffic to your page. With that said, I just went with labeling myself a “lifestyle blogger”. This left it open for me to be able to write what I wanted without having to worry about getting a recipe post up, or doing my weekly weigh-in update. However, I came across a post the other day that explained even those who refer to themselves as lifestyle bloggers, need to rein in their niche; because no one wants to just read random posts about your life (paraphrasing of course, but that was the point they were trying to get across) This upset me. Not only because I don’t think it is fair for anyone to tell someone else what they can, or cannot, blog about, but because it made me second guess myself as a blogger. Was my content too random? Do I need to put focus on one subject and try to work my blog around that? I even had a heart-to-heart with my husband about it because I was stressing on what direction I wanted to take my blog.
After our talk, and some reflection overall, I realized my blog had a specific niche; to just be! That means, I will post what I want to about whatever subject I want to. I may type up a recipe for baked doughnuts, or I might post a creative writing exercise. Point is, if your niche is “lifestyle” and you are writing about your life, then I think you’re doing it right. Of course, I did not enter to blogging world to make money and gain a ton of traffic. If that comes in the future, well that would be amazing, and I would be extremely grateful. However, if those types of opportunities come my way, I want them to be because I did it the way I felt most comfortable; by being myself.
There are a few bloggers that have really shown me some love, and have been extremely supportive from the beginning. I want to share their links below in a way to pay it forward. Because this is what the blogging community is all about!