August 2, 2009
just a thought – getting real
It is an interesting time in fashion and beauty blog land. Over the past six months, I have been watching a lot of hobby blogs take initiatives towards turning their blog into a business, and at the same time seeing both PR and advertisers start to take even smaller blogs more seriously. Besides being fascinated with the strategies of other bloggers in this regard, I have also obviously been experimenting with the same issues on Final Fashion.
Of course the major choices when it comes to dealing with advertising, sponsorship, and publicists have an effect on a blog. To get there you have to post consistently. It seems like readers and visitors can sometimes forget that a there is a person behind a personal blog. Sometimes we feel like we’re at our best selves and sometimes we feel uninspired. Sometimes we get bored of the blog, or fascinated with other things. Some days we feel good about our blogs and some days they feel like they are haunting us. But if we’re aiming for being professional, we try to post through the ups and downs and minimize the effects of our off-days (and even off-months, ugh).
The other effect of the professionalization of blogging has to do with entering a world of other professionals who have their own rules and codes that no one has taught us, sometimes with conventions that seem counter-intuitive to someone who got there blogging instead of interning. How do bloggers find out about how to sell a photo, how to pitch an editor, how to negotiate with an advertiser, how to get on a PR list or off of one? The same way they learned blogging – through trial and excruciating error.
Fashion magazines and newspapers have fairly certain if fuzzy lines drawn, in different places, between content and advertising. Blogging’s lines keep moving around. Does a blog have to be “objective”? What is the difference between an advertiser, a sponsor, and a client and where do they overlap? No one has taught us how to create a career from a blog (though we study hard to learn from blogfathers and blogmothers who came before) and so we step unsteadily, sometimes erring too far on one side or another, testing ourselves and our audience to find out what feels right. That every blogger is different and the audience is different means that an “industry-wide” standard would be meaningless, and probably rejected because part of what makes blogging so worthwhile is the ability to decide for yourself.
The third and most insidious effect of professionalizing blogs has been a tendency towards polishing images, editing ideas, and being much more deliberate when it comes to content. Much like illustration, there can be a loss of spontenaiety and incalculable “magic” which is difficult to recapture. Blogs are getting really slick – just like fashion has lately with all the latex and leather, high hard heels, spikes and warrior-women. The porousity, flexibility and natural-ness is lost.
In fashion and culture I think we are on the verge of a “getting real” phase where savvy communicators and trend leaders will attempt to strip off some of the stiff artifice. I remember reading an article in Flaunt Magazine in February about the growing resurgence of hippie ease at the expense of hipster irony. Looser hairstyles, natural skin and naturally coloured curls, and softer colours have been away for a while and are beginning to return – and feel ripe and fresh. Flats are coming back. Skinny skinny is out. Regardless of appearances, blogs with a certain candid imperfection in delivery style will fit with this mood perfectly while “real” is back in fashion.
Being held to impossible standards inspires rebellion in bloggers just like it does in any individual. The art of being both established and professional, always new but also consistent, plus being a free and flawed human being is difficult. That is why it is so hard to do well, and even more so when you have to do it publicly, and for the first time. Even the pros will get it wrong from time to time, so its not surprising that people with baby blogs of 2 or 3 years or so struggle.
So lets all have it out in the open then. Visitors and supporters, give bloggers the benefit of the doubt as they develop their blog – understand that a blog is just as cyclical as a human, capable of both brilliance and banality, creativity and confusion. Bloggers, don’t kill yourself trying to be perfect and please everyone all the time, find your own lines and go with what feels right for you and your visitors. It is the perpetuation of impossible standards of constant perfection that cause so much strife and crisis. Do not hold on to uncomfortable conventions. Let loose.
To Everyone: Do not be afraid to get real.