Why Personal Blogs Can Never Really Survive Monetization

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Are you a personal style blogger? Do you blog about your life in hopes of making it in the “big time?” It sounds amazing, like do a job you love and never work a day in your life, and you love your life… but in reality, blogging about yourself has a real cost. This weekend The New York Times wrote a trend piece titled “When Blogging Becomes a Slog” about a pair of DIY bloggers who burned out, “A tricky thing to avoid as a full-time blogger, considering that the Internet never sleeps, readers want fresh content daily.” Of course writing a post every day is one thing, but writing a daily post where YOU are the center of the blog's universe is another. Here is why:

 

The rate of which people consume media is faster than the rate of which you consume fashion.

I've heard people say… “Oh, you don't have to have new clothes every time you post.” But the reality is, you do have to have a new outfit every time you post. Realistically, how many people wear outfits different enough from each other to warrant a post? I'm saying this as I'm wearing a button down and jeans. I wear a button down shirt and jeans or sweatpants basically every day. For the last two years. Most people who have a signature style also wear a uniform, it is great when you have it, but it's also interesting for one or two posts.

If your life is busy enough to be “Interesting” chances are, it's also too busy to maintain a blog.

If you have a fabulous life, great! But between all those parties, spa visits, shopping trips, and of course your life… when are you going to blog? Blogging does take work and it does take energy, so you'll need a lot of energy to balance both blog and fabulous life.

There will be times when your life is a mess.

No one's life is perfect all the time. If your life is the subject of your blog, even if what you're wearing is the subject of your blog, there will be times when your life is turned upside down. You won't feel like dressing up. Do you share your sweatpants and hoodie with your readers as you hide under the covers?

There will be times when your life is “Boring.”

I LOVE when my life is boring. Boring in other people's opinion anyway. Give me an iPad, a comfy sofa, and a bowl of guacamole and I'm happy as a clam. I'd chose that night over any night out on the town. That said, it doesn't make for interesting outfits or blog content.

Even if you love a brand, talking about it “Authentically” will always seem inauthentic to your readers.

No matter how much you LOVE working with brands, or how much you love a particular brand you work with… sponsored content will always be taken with a grain of salt by your readers. It won't fair as well as your “editorial content.”

Your friends and family may come to resent that your life has become your job.

Does your significant other roll their eyes when you won't let anyone eat before you photograph and tag the brunch on social media? Does your friend stand there awkwardly when you have to take a million photos to get that perfect selfie for your Instagram? Does everyone in your life say, “Don't put that on your blog!” This may happen. And if it does… you've blurred the lines from life to blog, and it's time to draw some boundaries.

YOU, your life, will be open to criticism by strangers.

Most of all, when you blog about yourself, you're putting YOU out there for strangers to judge. Most 99% of the time it's good. But there will be times when people will judge, say they don't like what you're doing, or what you're wearing and you will have to be tough enough to live with that judgement.

Your life will become your job.

Going for a brunch? Better share that with your readers on Instagram! Going on vacation? Better post your pics. Have a baby? Better share your new baby's wardrobe! Meet another blogger for lunch? Better tag them on Facebook! Your readers will want to know, and even if do keep elements your personal life private, there will be times when the lines are blurred between life and blog.

For better or worse, personal blogging is wonderful when it's authentic, but no one can be “authentic” every day, forever. It's even harder when your product is your authenticity which is free and you have to sell it to your readers. Some people have done a wonderful job with sharing authentic opinions while making a living, but they are, sadly, in the minority.

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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32 Responses

  1. Kierra

    This was such a brilliant post. My favorite is the bit about the sponsored posts! I can spot them a mile away. Especially since they are usually just good reviews and never bad. No one realllly loves Nordstrom thatttt much!. And the part about the outfits needing to be different are so true. Its one of the reasons why I haven’t incorporated that into my blog is because Its too big of a responsibility!
    XO
    http://www.hercharisma.com

    Reply
  2. Jess Zimlich

    It’s sad to think that readers will “always take your sponsored posts with a grain of salt” because other bloggers have shown they aren’t always authentic. We are punished because of other people. I run a lifestyle blog, so thankfully outfits aren’t an issue!

    I consider myself to be extremely lucky because I have incredibly supportive friends and family, and a boyfriend who understands how much my blog means to me! However, I have boundaries. One or two snaps of something while we’re out and then phones go under the table until dinner is over.

    I’m also extremely open about not so pretty things in life and I share that on my blog. I think it’s important to be real. The general consensus is that it is appreciated. But that doesn’t mean I add photos 😉

    Great write up!

    Reply
  3. Jennifer

    I think you made some excellent points and provided a lot of common sense for would-be lifestyle bloggers.
    I’m a food blogger and while I try to include a bit of myself, I really try to watch it and not even tiptoe towards oversharing.
    As a blog reader I get frustrated when my favorite food bloggers who have been blogging 99 percent of the time about food, get pregnant. Then lots of posts become about the pregnancy and the baby, which I, as a mother, completely understand. But the thing is, I’m middle-aged and my kid is in middle school now. I’m so over the baby years and it just doesn’t interest me anymore. So I really try to remember that when I’m trying to include a bit of my own life on my website. “Is there a mom or a dad out there reading this whose kids are already grown and this is going to bore?”

    Reply
    • Oh Hey Blog

      You make a fantastic point about babies coming into the mix. I personally struggle with the lifestyle/fashion/beauty/travel blogs. I get lost. Who has the time to be fantastic and RELEVANT in all of those fields at once. When you brand as one style you have to be true to that. If your life changes, awesome, just transition in a professional way. No one expect nursery decor when they log onto a food blog.

      Reply
  4. Ally

    Thank you for this!!! I’ve thought about the blurred lines between work and life when you start blogging about your life. When do you turn it off if that’s your main perspective? My husband sometimes jokes that I spend more time taking pictures than actually having fun and there’s certainly truth to it. As a new blogger, I’m still learning to draw the line behind what goes on the blog and when to “turn it off” so not to get burnt out so quickly.

    Reply
  5. grechen

    i don’t know…i think the super-huge-millionaire fashion bloggers have sort of set the expectation that this is what you have to do (be “on” all the time, and sometimes in-authentic) to monetize your blog, but it’s not true. well, maybe it is if you just want to make tons-o-money off your blog, but if you just want to do what you love and make a living, it can be done. AND you can have a very boring life 😉 BELIEVE me.

    i only tweet, instagram or post to facebook when i have something interesting to share, and it’s never brunch (because my husband thinks brunch is weird. and why don’t we just have lunch already?), and i literally today repeated an outfit exactly (except the shoes) from a couple weeks ago because that’s what i wear..

    i think the difference is in why you start your blog in the first place. and how long you can keep saying no to enticing offers that aren’t really “you” – if you started your blog for love, and you can avoid doing things that really stretch your ethics or take to much out of your LIFE, then it’s possible to avoid burnout i think. but then again, i’m only just starting year 11 😉 AND i only make a moderate living blogging, AND my life hasn’t changed much in those last 10 years…

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      Ah, but Grechen YOU are one of the FEW bloggers who has run a personal blog as a business well. I think it’s mostly because you’ve stayed away from brand partnerships, you rarely feature gifted product, and you only talk about things you buy with your own money. Most of all you have a manifesto with your blog, dress minimally, simply and with high quality. Yes your blog is about you, but mostly it’s about HOW to shop REALISTICALLY (and no I’m not talking about buying cheap shit all the time).

      Reply
  6. Anastasia

    i notice an interesting thing – normally personal bloggers have an immense sense of vanity. Otherwise it’s just weird to post each ice creme you eat. To think the world is dying to know which is your favorite flavor you should consider yourself a Very Important Person. I can be wrong of corse, it’s just my opinion.

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  7. Lauren J Parry

    There are so many good points in your article! Its true if you want to be a fashion blogger, you have to have new things, which ads up REAL fast. I can also relate to the “your life becomes your blog” statement. It can be hard to separate the two and take your mind off of the blog every once in a while. I think everyone’s life feels “boring” at some points, but for me I utilize my blog to keep my life exciting. Great read!

    Lauren
    http://www.outfitsandoutings.com

    Reply
  8. Zachary Thor

    I loved this article. With my personal blog, I keep a mindset that might be depressing sometimes, but it helps. “I’m never going to be famous.” With that phrase in mind, every word is authentic. I do my blog for me, not anyone else and sure it’s lovely when someone compliments the photographs, the outfit or the prose but I’m not in it for that. I am in it for me, and I think blogging needs to get back to that sense of personal expression rather than a 9-5.

    Reply
  9. Lynne

    These are the reasons that although my blog is about fashion, and my personal take on it, I’m not planning on loading up plenty of personal style pics. For a start I don’t have anyone to take them (and the cat has informed me that if he does develop an opposable thumb he’ll be using it to get the smoked salmon out of the fridge), and I’m not sure there is a big audience for pics of plus size vintage inspired women from Australia. I also spend a lot of time on GOMI, and every negative pointed out in this article is true. While I’m more than happy to express my opinions on fashion as an educated insider (I’ve worked in the Australian fashion industry for almost 30 years), the rest of my life isn’t that exciting. Especially not considering the amount of time I spend watching Japanese tv and talking to the cat.
    Lynne
    http://youlooklikemynanna.sidherian.com/wordpress/
    http://www.pinterest.com/sidherian/

    Reply
  10. Roxanne

    Oh my God. The story of my life. Yes the family bit was completely true and my life really has because my blog. I still however haven’t reached the extreme end yet, and still desperately drawing a balance in between.
    I upload maybe 3-7 outfit posts a month, and it really depends, I’ve recycled and repeated clothes, but yes I do sometimes stop to think why is this only an ‘I’ or a ‘Me’ always and I try and add in trend reports and other lifestyle related stuff.

    xox
    head2heels.co

    Reply
  11. Sara

    I write a 40+ blog for almost 3 years. I make a point of posting once a week and I enjoy it as much as I did the very first day. I never put a photo of my children or my husband or reveled information about their life. My husband is my photographer (he never did it before!) and photo-shoot time became a most enjoyable thing we do together every Saturday. We lough a lot and search for photo-shoot spots together. I can even say that blogging improved my marriage! I do not care so much about making money out of it… Sara

    Reply
  12. Diane Corriette

    Maybe a way around it is to be a personal blogger on a blog with 3 or 4 other personal bloggers and then it relies on 4 people blogging instead of one.
    I just started my personal blog so I guess its all new. If nothing else it is helping me stay focused on my goal, what happens long term – who knows!

    http://juicecleanseme.com

    Reply
  13. Jen

    Absolutely true! Even if you don’t blog for money, you still want to make your blog something special. So you still put your pics on IG and FB to the point where the internet consumes you anyway. That’s why it’s good for us, all of us, to have reasonable expectations when embarking on beauty blogs.

    Amazing post. Thank you!!!! 🙂

    Reply
  14. Michal Upchurch

    Everything you say makes sense but I know of 3 “personal style” blogs that are very successful. and have been for many years. 🙂
    I guess there are “Pros and Cons” to everything.

    Reply
  15. Jacky Auerbach

    I think that I’ve felt this a bit. Especially in recent blogging bits. But I think it has made me more appreciative and helped me enjoy blogging more. Blogging as a hobby rather than a business.

    doitfortheirony.blogspot.com

    Reply
  16. Zuma

    Very good article, Jennine! I’ve practiced law for 13 years when I told my family and friends that I want to blog. They asked me – what’s blog? I was ridiculed, and I was put down because “respectable attorney does not behave like that”. Like what?… Things are different now. I guess I love blogging so much, that I withstood the resistance, and my family and friends started actually respect me for fighting for what I want. They don’t roll their eyes when I take pics of food or even selfies! 🙂
    http://www.livingzbeautifulmix.com

    Reply
  17. Akaleistar

    I read the NYT article a few days ago and thought that is was very interesting, and I’m so happy to read your thoughts. I agree with all of your points, especially the part about an “interesting” life leaving very little time for blogging. It’s only when my life is “boring” that I have time for blogging, but of course, that is the time I am feeling most uninspired. Blogging requires discipline whether one blogs as a hobby or as a job, and I think it is often difficult to find a good life/blog balance. Through blogging, I have found a wonderful community and that is what keeps me blogging, but there are days I wonder what it would be like to not have Internet 🙂

    Reply
  18. Ruta

    I would like to make a point that ‘interesting life’ is a concept that is misunderstood by a lot of bloggers. I can’t count on my fingers how many instagram accounts have pictures of flower markets/ macaroons/ nail varnish bottles/ beaches. Yes, it looks pretty, but there is nothing authentic about the image or the idea behind it. Saturating the social media space just for the sake of posting hasn’t done any good, folks. Please think before you post…

    http://rutawithlove.blogspot.com

    Reply
  19. Bec

    I think this is why it’s important to have goals, a mission statement and a basic publishing schedule. I find with these in place it’s much easier to set guidelines around privacy etc. I’m a personal/parenting blogger and don’t share photos of my family at all. I also have strict personal rules on how much I share of both my life and my kids’ lives. It’s working so far.

    Reply
  20. Sephie Rojas

    This has got to be the best post IFB has published to date. So many truths in this that finally have been surfaced to the public. Especially about the top bloggers these days. Most of them used to be so authentic and real about their feelings towards products before they got to the top. So much so that their authenticity and realness towards these things are what attracted you to their blog in the first place. But as soon as they got to experience sponsors their authenticity started to dissolve. It’s annoying to read about a certain brand (who coincidentally sponsors them because of their massive following) just for them to “genuinely” say they love said brand so much. C’mon, no brand is THAT perfect that you won’t dislike at least one thing in their current collection. Even Chanel had some downs.

    http://justsephierojas.blogspot.com

    Reply
  21. Mowo

    woww great post, just what i needed, i think i agree with the dslr, i should really get one
    can anyone be nice and tell me how you promote your blog, please message me on this place, i would die to know how people manage to get readers and so on. I’m tired of those people who wants to follow me if I follow them, in my humble opinion that’s just not the way to go to get successful.
    I would love an honest opinion about my blog by successful bloggers, who has been successful and has loads of readers to give me an honest opinion and why I might not have a lot of readers 🙂
    I would appreciate it a lotttttt
    http://www.mowo.bloggersdelight.dk/

    Reply
  22. Rachel

    I LOVE this, especially “If your life is busy enough to be “Interesting” chances are, it’s also too busy to maintain a blog.” I used to follow so many other fashion blogs for inspiration, but recently found myself sorta hating on them. It’s nothing personal, but c’mon! They portray a jet set life, living on only fruit bowls, ice cream cones and guacamole toast, and wearing $10k outfits. I’m not a jealous person at all, but seriously.

    I have a total grassroots blog. I LOVE sharing my ideas and photography. People love my outfits and want me to post more, but I can only post a couple outfits a month. The reality is, I have a full time job, and anything more and I’d be breaking my own bank shopping for new clothes all the time.

    Oh, and I do eat guacamole toast, but homemade in my own kitchen, right now, in my sweatpants.

    -Rachel
    http://www.thewearwithal.com

    Reply
  23. Lesia

    In all honesty, I don’t see any of the above as negative things or obstacles. A lot of wonderful people create content from their own home, with that bowl of guacamole, and they’re making it awesome and really interesting. I think we should focus not on the limitations but on the opportunities we have! Even if you don’t have a huge closet, you can try new things with what you have. And depending on how you do it, it might be entertaining and as cool as anything!

    http://taleofthegreat.com

    Reply
  24. Eve

    Hi, I have actually recently decided to comment on a YouTube site that I liked, it’s about people blogging daily, going to theme parks. And I wrote a comment saying i love you guys. You may think I am paranoid but I think the bloggers read my comment and took it the wrong way. There blog changed and the female in the blog was wearing the same makeup and hair style that I had in my profile photo, and I found that they were commenting off hand to the camera in order to try to control the viewers, like, saying that something is dark, or we’re really tired when they are meaning they are tired of blogging, but they are changing from the attention then behaving as if reaching out to them in any way is a violation, I have realised these people are incredibly conceited and live inside this tiny false bubble, I apologise if this is of no interest but I am confused about the sincerity of people on a greater level. By watching them, you are letting them into your home, and I didn’t realise that they are in complete control, and not actually living humanly and honestly. Is this what a great deal of peoples blogs are underneath?

    Reply
  25. Louise

    Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but my personal blog is a replacement for the diary you’d keep on your bedside table (except I don’t write mean things about people 😛 ). I don’t really see it as a tool to gain money or popularity. Maybe somewhere along the line it’ll wiggle into a niche market.

    When I want to share an opinion on Facebook, I have to think carefully about the audience reading it. There may be topics that some friends aren’t interested in seeing. My blog is the place to go when I want to write about anything I please. I don’t consider myself a fantastic writer, but this gives me a chance to practice, and like I said, maybe find its way into a niche.

    Reply
  26. Delores

    great post blogging is hard work I just started several months ago. As far as new outfits you can switch up the items and do a recap on how to wear same skirt several ways. I resale many of my items on Ebay to make room and $$$ for new items. Another thing I do is take all my pics for blog on one day, outfits I am going to wear for the week I try to post at least 3 times a week because like you say people want more. Not only that when you are new you got to stay relevant. I use a tripod so I do not have to constantly bug people to take pics. So far its going okay hopefully I do not burnout
    Dee
    urbansoigne.blogspot.com

    Reply
  27. martyi

    When blogging becomes a business is like an advertising space, if you blog for other blogger or brands you are trying to get a job, IT is tour choice, but remember that a blogger should blog for people, not numbers, money, Like, share. In fact, as I’m not a blogger, I really find bloggers and their blogs too much similar each other, seriously do you think you are gonna make successo?

    Reply