Wednesday, 2 March 2016

I'm a person, not a brand!


What makes a blogger?

A flair for writing and sharing lifes anecdotes, trials & tribulations, inspirational words of wisdom or just a story or two is what first comes to my mind.

But I'm sure we all have our own definition - and I wonder, for how many people is blogging about the writing? 

Do you follow your favourite bloggers because you love to read their experiences and stories, or do you follow them because you lust after their beautifully styled homes or wardrobes? Admire their beauty? Can't get enough of their cute little childrens faces?

I often wonder exactly what it is that attracts an audience to read the posts that bloggers put out there into the world, and likewise I also wonder what motivates so many of us to become bloggers.

I started blogging because I have always loved to write - ever since I was 5 years old and I learned how to spell, I would spend hours on end sitting in my bedroom, churning out "novels" from my electric typewriter - writing is therapeutic for me, it's an escape, and through this blog it's also become a chance to engage with other likeminded people, to reach out in to the big wide world out there behind this computer screen while my babies sleep soundly upstairs.

But sometimes it feels like the writing isn't enough.

Lately I feel so much pressure.

I'm not even sure if that pressure is really there or if it's all in my own mind - but I feel it just the same.

I worry that the writing is the least of what's important as a blogger these days - that it's all about the image you portray, all about the stats you pull in, all about the "Brand".

I've come to hate that word "brand" over the last few months.

I seem to see it everywhere these days.

The focus seems to be so heavily on building your social media followings, giving clients as much bang for their buck as possible - And of course that's natural in any business, it's all a numbers game - any client in any field is going to want as much impact for their money as they can possibly get. So of course stats and follower figures matter. Business is business at the end of the day.

But in order to build those stats, there's a focus on bloggers "branding" themselves.

On Instagram for example - which has fast become one of the preferred social media options for clients - it's all about building your following by focusing your brand - no more "instant" mobile phone snaps, instead DSLR photos are what's in vogue, edited and uploaded (All of which takes yet more time for the blogger, of course) - and there's been some debate about this, but like it or not those out there who follow the beautified approach to Instagram are certainly among the more successful when it comes to figures and followers.

There are so many unspoken rules to the game, too ....the time your Instagram is published is key to its success - hashtags are important but you mustn't use too many for fear of looking needy - you must keep a firm eye on your activity, find out what your followers want and share only that! 
They want your kids and not you? Give them that! 
They're not into cutesy child photos? Don't share your photos of your kids anymore...give the people what they want!
And always...engage engage engage!!!

In recent weeks Instagram has introduced the option for a user to have more than one account which may solve my problem as I could have a personal account and a separate one for my "brand"...but this feels like more work and something I need to decide upon.

However, the "Brand" approach is pretty much the same across any social media outlet - and of course the blog itself - choose your niche, focus your brand, sell yourself!

Perhaps it's just me...sometimes it feels like every other blogger out there knows exactly who they are, what their brand is, what image they're portraying ... but personally? I feel kind of lost in trying to find myself.

I seem to spend so much time asking myself the same questions...who are YOU? What is YOUR brand? What kind of blogger do you want to be?

Are you going to be a worts-and-all blogger, someone real mums can relate to, the kind that you yourself so enjoy reading and having a laugh with?

Or are you going to try and show only the happy times, share the heart-warming like-bait things that are inoffensive and ever-green?

Well I can only speak for myself on this one...and maybe everybody else does have it all figured out....but do you know what?  I am SO tired of trying.

I'm not a brand. 

I don't want to be a brand. 

I'm just a person. 

And I want to just be me sometimes.

Some days I love my life and I want to shout from the rooftops about how crazy happy my kids make me, and how ecstatic I am about it all.

Other days I want to rant and rave about how rubbish it feels that they've all done nothing but cry all day, that I've fed them Mcdonalds again and that I'm feeling like the worlds worst Mum....

Above all else, I want to have some things that are just mine - places I can share the photos that I like without worrying about how they effect my "brand" and my "following".

I want to blog about things that I want to talk about, whether or not they're big stats-pullers - and hell sometimes I don't even want to bother styling a nice photo to go with it to make it "Pinnable!" - sometimes I just want to write about my rubbish day, hit "Publish" and send it out there into the world and hope that maybe it resonates with just one other mum out there - and that maybe it makes her day feel a little bit less lonely.

It's hard when this is also what you class as your work, the bills need to be paid at the end of the day and ain't nobody gonna advertise their business on a blog with no followers! 

But a little step back is definitely called for right now where I'm concerned - I need to start measuring my success less in the follower numbers and the hits, and more in the messages I get from other mums out there - maybe that one post didn't do so well in the stats stakes, maybe it didn't get picked up by the Huffpost or shared a hundred times on Twitter or even pinned once on Pinterest - but that one Mum who sent me a quick Facebook message to say she related to it, that makes it worth the time.

I need to remember that success can be measured in different ways. And I need to appreciate more how great it is to have a place to just be myself sometimes...whether or not it's good enough to gain 9,000 Instagram followers!

So with that in mind, I want to say thank you to those people out there who take the time to send a Facebook message, email, tweet or whatever to say they're out there and they're reading - not just to me but to any blogger you enjoy reading  - it might seem like nothing to you but what you did is bound to have just made all their effort seem worthwhile.

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  1. I hear what you're saying sweetheart, and this whole 'branding' thing is taking the fun out of blogging for me. Instagram used to be such a lovely community and now it's just a money making machine full of boring and repetitive images which feels a bit soul destroying at times. You don't need to change a thing though, your blog, your honesty and your writing are your brand, which you put together fabulously
    Becca xxxx

  2. I'm sad about IG. I used to love it when it was snaps and daily lives rather than styled. Yes I do follow a few of these, but on the whole they're bland and to me have little personal feel. I do try and stick to good photos, but my life is a mix of things, so is my blog and so is my IG. Because that's what I like. I don't want to see every photo of children however cute and pretty the photo.

    As for the blog as a brand. I think our blogs are whatever we want to make them. There's a place for everyone and tbh I prefer those which are honest, down to earth, and a mix of everything. And I'm sure others will. This brand thing reminded me of the media uproar when Posh and Becks seemed to 'brand' themselves and sell themselves. Underneath they're still people and a family, I think we can all be who we want to on our blogs, and that's what others want to read, it's certainly more authentic to businesses and readers.

  3. Absolutely brilliant post, bravo.
    I know exactly how you feel. I actually work in marketing by day (though nothing to do with bloggers) so I live and breath branding... And now it feels like the space I created on the internet to share my thoughts and motherhood journey has become that too. I'm really proud of my blog and the brand that it's becoming but it's really hard to get lost in the comeptitive side of blogging. I took three months off completely last summer to reassess what I really wanted from blogging. Taking a step back really helped me see the wood for the trees and I've been a lot happier in my blogging life since then, not focussing on working with brands and getting myself out there and instead, staying true to the reasons I started blogging in the first place and writing about things I'm genuinely passionate about.

  4. I've written posts like this lately and have been unsure about posting because I feel like I don't even know what I'm saying, but you write so well.

    I've been feeling a little similar to you, but for me, I have started to question my blog in the sense of, am I writing it the way other people want to read it? I said to Adam today, after reading some of the comments on your facebook post the other day about people who post lots of happy posts being 'fake', that it kind of doesn't occur to me that other Mums are reading my blog to know that I have bad days too. I set my blog up thinking only I would read it, ever and I've been fortunate enough like you to grow a readership which I love. But I think I've always viewed my blog as my sort of keepsake box, I've tried to make it as nice as I can and record everything I want to remember, like you would in a keepsake box or a photo album. I feel like people who read my blog know that and if you like that sort of thing, then you read it, if you don't then you don't.

    But when I hear people saying that always being happy on a blog can be fake, I feel like that's so not true at all. And it makes me question if I should put out more posts about my bad days? I mean, looking through my posts I've posted a lot about anxiety and I've posted about Ethans lack of eating and phases we've been through. But now I feel odd writing about being happy, being grateful, being in love.. in case it upsets someone who doesn't want to see it because their having a bad day. I think the key going forward is balance I guess. A bit of everything, it's not just my own space, it's a blog read by Mums too.

    I know what you mean about branding, I actually wrote a post on this too, not yet published, again because I find it hard to word. I use my Instagram as a photo album too, I'm always going back through it. I would never not post a pic because it was grainy or blurry if it's a happy moment. I think it all has to be about balance. I mean, like you say we're businesses too, but also real families and real mums.

    It's all honestly something that's been on my mind a lot too lately!

    P.S. Sorry for the essay! LOL!

  5. I absolutely love this post and it all rings so true with a lot of us I'm sure xxx

  6. You are so right with this Hayley, I keep hearing about branding and niches and I don't do either as my blog is a mishmash of all sorts. My Instagram will never be branded as I don't have the time nor energy for all that. Just keep what your doing as so many people love reading your blog as it is so honest and relatabel xx


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