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.