God, I fell out of love with blogging in a big way at the end of last year. It's been coming for a while and came to head in October(ish) when writing any blog post became a real struggle. I've never written about it for fear of sounding resentful or hard done by but then thought maybe you are feeling the same way?
Eleven years ago I was 22, just out of uni, working in publishing, living with my bestie and obsessed with make-up, beauty, skincare and writing. Clever bestie suggested I started a blog, they were reasonably new and exciting and a great way for wannabe writers to... well write. So I set up Little Miss B and write I did. I ranted and raved and enthused and eventually built up relationships with PRs and added a few affiliate accounts. Then mid-20s hit and I was having fun and blogging took a back seat and during that time beauty blogging really took off - completely unnoticed by me. Instagram happened, brands became more blogger savvy - no more having to sound apologetic on the phone there were actual 'portals' for bloggers and I blissfully missed it. By the time I got my teeth back into it I had a lot to learn.
With the advent of 'Super Bloggers' beauty blogging especially, took off. To my mind its one of the easiest to do. I wouldn't dream of taking skincare advice from someone with no training but everyone has access to make-up and for a lot of people the appeal for freebies is more than the wish to convey honest information and the writing has really taken a backseat. It seems that often PRs (and readers) will not realise when people have bought followers on social media - it's really important to check this. If in doubt you can double check - if someone has gone from 300 to 50,000 followers in the space of a few weeks it's likely that they've bought some. I may not have 100,000 followers but I love that those who follow me are genuinely intestested in the blog - what's the point in broadcasting to fake accounts? There is none unless you basically want stuff for free.
This leaves me torn. I love the fact that anyone could blog. One of my earliest memories was making my own newspapers and magazine, giving anyone I could a 'facial' (lord knows what products I was using) and recording my own radio shows. Journalism was, rightly so, difficult to get into. I didn't even try. But I could write a blog. It was mine and it could be what I wanted it to be. But having started off apologetically saying 'I'm a blogger', then loving the short-lived blissful time when there was no shame in it and it was great working with PR's (you knew their names and direct lines!), I now find myself apologising for it again. I often hear 'isn't everyone?' when I say I'm a beauty blogger. I now describe myself as a writer as that's what it all stemmed from really.
Suddenly I was feeling bad about myself. Was my writing good enough? I was too ugly to be writing about beauty. Would my lessened anxiety be worth giving up something I genuinely loved doing and had worked hard on for the last decade? So I decided that after last years 10th birthday I would stop. Enough was enough. PR's are saturated not only with requests from bloggers but, more specifically, with people who will review anything they get sent or even things they've never laid eyes on. Having written a review of a Tarte product last year I emailed the PR team asking for a picture and if stock would be returning to the site and when - I don't like to post a review if people are unable to get the product anywhere. I received a reply saying that they would review my request and get back to me if my statistics etc matched what they were looking for. I obviously wasn't up to scratch, I never had a reply, they had no qualms about adding me to their mailing list though. Thanks. So I never bothered posting the review. A simple request for a picture and stock check - can't get a reply.
Honesty and knowledge are key to London Makeup Blog and without being able to get info from PRs and the amount of Instagram make-up around that is, to me, something quite different from the make-up I do and wear it just seems to have got too far away from me. I won't review products I haven't tried. I don't review products I don't think are very good. If I do post a bad review it's often because I've seen lots saying how great the product is when they've clearly not used it or have no knowledge to back it up. That makes me cross. When I'm cross I blog. Or if there is a genuine problem with the product. I often can't make launches that are held during the day because I have two tiny children. Few brands will send me press releases for the event afterwards (Dove are fantastic for this). I also like supporting smaller brands. These posts are, for obvious reasons, less popular and get fewer views which doesn't make you popular with PRs. Some PR teams are still totally fantastic and a joy to work with.
But then January 2017 happened. And the relentless January optimism I always have appeared (to inevitably be followed by severe February horrors) and I wanted to write. I felt inspired. There were products I was loving and brands were doing fabulous things (Illamasqua not serving Trump supporters - how bloody wonderful though probably discriminating isn't the way forward...). And, as always my lovely, normal, followers were still asking my advice, tweeting me for recommendations and emailing me to tell me how much they loved products I'd advised them on. I decided to unfollow people on social media who made me feel crap. I've muted brands who insist on posting (often badly done) cut crease, over-shimmered flick liner. We've seen it so much my 4 year old can nearly do that, show me something new.
And yet I find this doubt creeping in again. Maybe it is time to stop, but what's the next thing? Live videos are all the rage but it's hard to get all the information in and it's just not the same as the written word. What do you think?