It surprises me whenever I hear an authority in the fashion blogging community say things like,
“The bubble has burst.”
“Things have changed so much, and it just doesn't work anymore.”
“The fashion blogging community has died… four years ago I didn't think it would be like this, and I'm not sure what can be ahead.”
The tone in fashion blogging has greatly changed, and those who have been blogging for many years are feeling the pressure. Each week I read another blogger's confession: the depression and anxiety as a result of trying to juggle it all; feeling a pressure to whitewash their opinions, attitude, and outlook so that they're more appealing to readers and advertisers; an increased need to “keep up with the Joneses,” and the mounting fears of internet backlash.
It's easy for people to see blogging as this mystical, magical thing: free shoes, events, taking photos, and eating macarons. The fact is, it's far from it– but those are the only parts we show our readers. With so many bloggers speaking out about the hardships that have come alongside blogging full-time and maintaining lives, I've noticed a few areas that contribute to “breaking” the community. Understanding those problems and how they impact our own lives and sites can help prevent them from hurting us (and help strengthen the community as a whole).
Problems “Breaking” Fashion Blogging:
Silencing our voices & opinions to attract greater readership and build brand relationships.
This has been a double edged sword for many bloggers. On one hand, we receive backlash when we lose our voice or water it down to appeal to the greatest number of people. But, on the other hand, when we become more vulnerable we give our critics more ammunition and leverage against us. There's a fine balance between to be found, and unfortunately many of us are swinging the direction of losing our voice.
Unrealistic expectations — whether from what we can accomplish in each day to the ROI on a brand campaign.
Whether you think you should have thousands of views each day just for blogging, that you can manage a full-time job, a family, and full-time blogging with ease, or that you will magically convert each post into hundreds of sales… we've got to stop projecting that the blogger's life is easy. These goals are attainable, but not easily. Projecting the idea that these can be accomplished quickly and easily is unrealistic, and we need to stop projecting that image to our fellow bloggers and readers.
Over-saturation of the market.
Just like in housing, too many fashion bloggers has helped the “bubble burst.” This isn't to say there isn't room for everyone in fashion blogging– I believe that there is. But the field has become filled with too many bloggers who dress the same, share the same seasonal posts and runway reviews. It becomes difficult to tell one blogger from the next. You are an individual with unique ideas, observations, and style. Stop reading and emulating other fashion blogs– focus on what YOU love and what inspires you. Cultivate your own voice and find empowerment in it.
Pressure to keep up the “image.”
As a blogger who strives to keep financially fit, I always worry about the pressures fashion bloggers face to keep up with an image. For every budget or thrifty blogger, there is another who may be accumulating mountains of debt to constantly acquire new items. It's just blogging. You don't have to own the hot new “It” bag or 12 shades of the newest Chanel lipstick to be a legitimate fashion blogger or keep your community engaged. If you can afford it? Awesome. If you can't? Don't feel pressured to keep up.
A weakened community.
I speak a lot on IFB about how the community has changed over the years. Fashion blogging is more innovative, creative, and independent when the community on a whole is supportive of one another and strong. Instead of seeing other bloggers as tools to promote yourself, think of how you can promote them. Instead of seeing others a competition, believe they're your allies. When we see our fellow bloggers as a means to an end, it means that brands can see us this way. When we try to undercut one another, it means that brands can. The stronger we are, the stronger our sites become, and the stronger the community becomes.
Many of these qualities have created a vastly different community and blogging experience compared to blogging 2, 4, or 6 years ago. As the community and atmosphere of blogging changes (and so quickly), we may see more bloggers writing posts about how blogging has taken its toll on their health, emotions, and personal lives. Blogging is a wonderful outlet– for our creativity, to find community, and learn more about ourselves. But at the end of the day, we shouldn't sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the internet.
What are some of the issues you have seen, or felt, that make you feel that blogging is “broken”? What do you believe can help bloggers find a better relationship with blogging and their readers?