The Loss of the Relatable Blogger?

18.1.17

Blogging today is worlds apart from where it was when I first started reading them and writing my own.  And would it be something I'd feel as passionate about if I stumbled upon it now?  I'm not sure.

It's amazing that bloggers can carve out a career from what started off as a hobby.  And though I'm fully aware of the effort and dedication that goes into maintaining and creating regular, engaging content, we all have to admit that to an outsider some blogger's lives look incredibly glossy and trouble-free.

And let's talk about that gloss, shall we?  It's the crux of this post and for a long time I've felt that the high-fliers in the community are moving towards a luxury fuelled lifestyle which leads me to question whether blogs are still as relatable as they once were.  I mean, wasn't the appeal of blogging the fact that you felt you could actually be friends with these people?  That their YouTube videos were like sitting down with one of your girlfriends to catch up and chat about make up and shopping?  Who else remembers OOTDs shot solo on a tripod?  Whilst I'm all for technology and standards evolving (I love the quality of photography on most blogs today), I definitely question whether the hiring of photographers and videographers to produce magazine-esque shots and YouTube videos has taken away a little of blogging's charm.

This change towards luxury, high-end consumerism and slick lifestyles has somewhat inevitably left me questioning my place on the internet.  In many ways it seems we've moved from "relatable" to "aspirational", but surely the overwhelming majority of readers can't match what they're being trickle fed as the norm through social media?  So what's the appeal?  If we look back at the original lure of blogging being its accessibility, why are the aspirational bloggers the only ones appearing to succeed?  I'm counting visibility, engagement and opportunities as a measure of 'success' here (although I know there's much more to it than that) but from my own experience, interaction with readers is the main way in which I judge (dare I say it) the 'worth' of my blog and sometimes it feels like I just can't keep up.

I will never be an aspirational blogger.  I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't one day like to own a YSL handbag but I know the chances of that are extremely slim.  I also know there's a degree of autonomy here and I'm by no means bashing bloggers who showcase designer purchases...if I owned a beautiful designer piece it would definitely make an appearance somewhere on the internet!  The argument as to whether these influencers owe a duty of care to their younger audiences in terms of realistic expectations is not the one I'm putting forward here.

I'm posing the question of whether there's still room and opportunity for "relatable" bloggers to flourish within the community.


It's an undeniably exciting time for content creators as we see the big bloggers being offered opportunities no-one ever dreamed of if we look back a few years.  But I'd like to think there's still room for everyone, it's just about finding your niche and knowing your values.  There never was (and still isn't) any point in trying to keep up with the Joneses and emulate another blogger's style so I'd like to think that by recognising the differing (but all equally as valuable) structure within the community perhaps we can have a resurgence of the relatable blogger.  The one who showcases highstreet fashion and doesn't have the means to go on multiple holidays per year.  More power to ya if that's an option, but I'd like to see a bit more balance online.  And I'm not reducing a "luxury blogger" down to the purchases s/he makes and presuming that they have nothing of merit to say to the world but there's a strong case for the fact their voice has the largest platform by virtue of the appeal of these purchases, whilst others fall by the wayside.

I suppose an important thing to note is that for the bulk of aspirational bloggers we see, this is their career, and trips to amazing places with high end make up carried in designer handbags is (often) a perk of the job.  Which if you think about it, most of us get someway or another in our vocations, right?  It's not fair to expect bloggers not to take advantage of the opportunities and products handed their way as they get more exposure, but equally I'd like to see more of the bloggers who haven't reached these heights.

Blogging felt like much more of an even playing field back when I started (remember when everyone talked about Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment and Models Own nail varnish?) so the diverse representation of brands is a good thing.  But I think we're drifting away from it now....we've almost moved back to when the spotlight seems to shine on certain products, but with a vastly greater pricetag.

I'll sign off this stream of consciousness with the confession that I'm not even sure I've managed to convey what it is I set out to achieve in writing this.  All I know is that whilst I like looking at snapshots of these sleek lifestyles and seeing how far my favourite bloggers have come, that's not necessarily all I rely on the blogging community for.

I just hope that there's space for the ascertainable alongside the aspirational. 

29 comments

  1. I absolutely loved this post! It's so crazy how much has changed in the four years since I started blogging. I do love that it's such an exciting industry now but feel like those of us who don't blog full time and have other responsibilities tend to fall behind. xx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

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    1. Oh definitely, the opportunities some bloggers get are amazing! A bit scary that that level of luxury is the norm though. And you're right! I definitely feel I've fallen behind x

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  2. For me, I always want relatable. I think there have been changes but definitely feel that there are people out there who definitely want highstreet, affordable products - which is good, haha! Loved this post though x

    TINYTWISST.COM

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    1. Thanks Laura, it's good to know that there's still room for the highstreet niche! x

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  3. Such a good post. I do enjoy looking at the fancy handbags and beautiful posts from exotic locations sometimes, but it's not relatable or achieveable for me. The sad thing is that I think you're right about the more relatable bloggers not being able to reach the top without switching to blogging about all the aspirational and therefore unrelatable designer lifestyle stuff :(

    Gemma x | www.flutterandsparkle.com

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    1. I agree. I love looking at beautiful photography in picturesque locations but as this becomes more of the norm I feel like it almost pushes people into expecting that standard (and backdrop!) which then leaves me wondering where I fit. Especially as newer bloggers come along and try to match that, it feels inevitable that bloggers who don't have these opportunities are going to fall by the wayside.

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  4. This is the first post I've happened upon on your blog and I am 100% subscribing after reading. Wonderful think piece, Lorna. I do think blogging has changed a lot and the standards are even higher. I remember a time when it was fine to take outfit photos in your bedroom, to photograph the newest Models Own nail polish on your bedsheets, and have your blog still look like blog. I've stopped reading a lot of blogs that have transitioned into that magazine style look that seems to be all the rage. When they take on that shiny, sterile, all white look, I also think they lose a lot of the individuality and specialness that drew me to them in the first place.

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    1. Thank you Alyse, hopefully I can keep delivering posts you enjoy! Whilst I personally like the airier, less cluttered aesthetic a lot of blogs favour these days I know exactly what you mean with the ones that have transitioned even further into online magazines. It's almost a bit sad that blogs have become magazines - there's room for both online and long may it continue!

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  5. Wonderful post! I definitely agree with the shift in the blogsphere that you have articulated. In a way, the top bloggers have almost become interchangeable with each other. Everyone's perfectly curated life seems so bland after a while as they talk about the same things, go to the same places for the photos and honestly as a reader, I end up disengaging from them all.

    nat // dignifiable

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    1. I'm all for friendships in the blogging community but you're right that once bloggers start to spend so much time together, building a brand and receiving the same opportunities they do all start to lose individuality.

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  6. I was talking about this earlier with someone and I have to say I do miss the community spirit of 2010/11. People would share things and engage and it all felt way more lo-fi and accessible. Things change though and that's okay. I think I just miss having a little more of a support network within the community.

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    1. Change is always good and it's an exciting time for bloggers but I know what you mean. I wish the community was a bit more supportive of 'smaller' bloggers....sadly it seems true that we're in a time of who you know rather than what you know.

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  7. I identify a lot with this post - especially as I've just got back into blogging after a year with a different topic. I think my issue with the blogging community is the lack of growth tools for the lesser known/newer bloggers - Bloglovin' and Reward Style are quite exclusive with who they work with/feature and it's almost like you have to get your 'big break' in blogging. I can understand brands using well known bloggers as they pay for a large audience, but blogging platforms and resources should have growth opportunities - I follow fantastic content creators who in my opinion deserve more exposure.

    Me personally, I'm trying not to focus on the numbers and continue to enjoy blogging for what I produce :)

    www.cerisejocose.com

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    1. Oh yes, definitely! A few years ago I tried to sign up with Reward Style (I think), not as a way of making money but because I liked the way having images of clothes featured within the post looked. I was rejected due to my follower count and while I didn't lose any sleep over it, it was still frustrating!

      I'm with you on placing less emphasis on numbers; I lost my blogging mojo for a bit last year so am just enjoying feeling motivated again right now :)

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  8. Hi Lorna, I'm so happy I've come across your blog and this is a really interesting post! I agree with your points, I find YouTube has got very slick and glossy and instead of feeling inspired, I end up feeling a bit rubbish about myself, which isn't idea. Although saying that I want to be inspired but have to remember, someone else happiness is not necessarily the same as mine.

    I love the blogging community but I hope we don't loose ourselves along the way, fall into these cliques and still remain ourselves amongst all the designer handbags!

    Hanh | hanhabelle


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    1. That's really good to remember - happiness (and reality!) is different for everyone. I just wish it were easier to keep this in mind! Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Love this post so much! My favourite thing about blogging is reading peoples comments and other people's blogs, I do agree that it is getting very polished and some blogs are hard to relate to. Thank you for sharing this, I really enjoyed your 'stream of consciousness' post :)

    Rachael xx.
    theteacozykitchen.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you Rachel! I was a bit nervous to publish this post but the response I've got from everyone so far is that it's something we're all feeling. Perhaps this means we can work together for change? I hope so!

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  10. Completely agree! I wrote something similar about how I used to turn to blogs rather than magazines because they were more realistic rather than aspirational, but now most of the massive bloggers just look like glossy magazines again.

    http://thestonesinsidemyshoes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/i-want-to-read-your-diary-how-i-miss.html

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    1. I've just read your post, and I agree! Some of these glossy blogs are probably much more accurately described as magazines

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  11. This is the first post I've read from your blog Lorna and I'm hooked!
    I love the honesty and all your points that you make are everything that I've had whirling around in my head for over a year especially around the luxury fuelled lifestyles and how the younger audiences are handling this. My generation had magazines using stick thin models which made me as a reader extremely body conscious however I sit here now and wonder, what is happening with the younger generation...what on earth must they be thinking with all this "gloss"; all they are seeing are lifestyles which aren't realistic for so many...no wonder why anxiety is becoming a big problem.
    I don't mind the pretty photos but I don't appreciate the unrealistic lifestyles that are currently being portrayed all over the web and social media.
    As one of the earlier commenters said; that a number of the big bloggers are so interchangeable these days and I totally agree. It would be lovely to see (and much needed) new, fresh bloggers get a chance to explore destinations with their unique style of writing however I don't think this will happen any time soon unfortunately...there are too many clicks in this blogging / PR world and numbers still count (even when they haven't been obtained through organic ways!).
    This is possible one of the best posts I've read on the net for months so thank you!
    xx

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    1. Thank you so much Kelly Michelle!

      Growing up I remember being completely unaware of the brands and designers celebrities were buying. And anything I did recognise I was well aware that it wasn't something I could ever hope to buy and to be honest it wouldn't even cross my mind. And now a Gucci bag still isn't something that's in my price range, but it doesn't stop me wasting time investigating and dreaming about owning one! I firmly believe it's up to the watchers and readers of these blogs/channels to assess their situation and decide what to spend money on, but I do think the line between celebrities and 'normal' people has been blurred through blogging. Which is the scary part! If younger audiences are seeing people they view as friends with such fantastic opportunities it's only natural that their expectations may align with this.

      Thanks again for commenting, I hope this reply makes sense!

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    2. Hi Lorna,
      We all waste time looking at aspirational items that we probably aren't ever going to own (sometimes we get lucky and we do get a chance to own them after scrimping and saving!)...I would love a new pair of shoes but we are saving for carpet instead (real life)...but I still scroll through various websites giving myself RSI.
      I would just love bloggers / vloggers to look at their audience base and consider more relatable content.
      I much preferred the good old days of blogging aka 2012-13 when it all just felt overall more honest, relatable and realistic.
      Cheers Kelly

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  12. I could not agree more, the whole world has changed, and whilst there is nothing wrong with aspiration, I do sometimes feel like it breeds this pressure to live an instagram worthy life that is just not feasable when you have a mortgage to pay and a 9-5 you are committed to.

    I love your blog and I really love that you have acknowledged this and personally, I would always prefer to read a relatable blog x

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    1. I agree Lucy! Sometimes I feel like the only way to make it as a blogger is to go full time....juggling other commitments doesn't seem possible.

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  13. Fantastic post and glad to stumble on your blog, which (I will read more imminently) I expect is totally relatable... thank goodness! There's so much out there which isn't even realistic or affordable or believable now and that I find very misleading

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    1. Thank you Anna! I think I've been guilty in the past of writing in a style I think people want to read, but overall I'll always try to write in a tone that's true to me. I'm feeling really inspired to blog at the moment and I never publish anything I wouldn't want to read myself. I hope you enjoy what you find here!

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  14. This post made me find your blog and I'm so glad it did :) Such true words that I hadn't properly thought about but couldn't agree more. Forever the relatable blogger. Love AP xo

    Andrea's Passions

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  15. I've been having a lot of the same thoughts as you recently! I also feel like the visibility and success of some of the more well known bloggers has resulted in a swathe of new bloggers mimicking their style in the hope to have freebies sent their way. When I started blogging (5 years ago!) all-expenses paid holidays weren't an option and the bloggers making a living out of it were few and far between. I feel like people went in with different intentions - to share their art, to make friends, to have somewhere to write. Those who start a blog to make money from it often end up sanitizing their writing to make it "pr friendly".

    There's another side of me that thinks having these lovely and democratic blogs giving everyone a voice was an idea that came too early. We weren't ready for it - we've been socialised so that we can't help but prefer the glossy images and "aspirational" purchases. Because that is where we click, that has become the norm in blogging.

    Jessthetics xx

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