This morning I was watching Allana Davison on Youtube and I was feeling so un-inspired. Not because of the video, on the contrary in fact. I really enjoy her content, I think she’s smart and truly honest. I was feeling uninspired because though my blog is only 4 months old, I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few weeks now, because I seem to have lost a battle against myself. Allana addressed a topic that resonated with me, and I just had an “Aha Moment” I’d like to share with you. Let me explain.
Truth of the matter is, when I created Le Beauty Journal’s Instagram account, I sort of lost myself. Quite quickly.
In her video, Allana was saying how she’s considering posting more thought-out vlogs, especially when it comes to travels, work on a more cinematic aspect. But for more chatty videos, she explained how she misses the days on Youtube where it’d be more casual and simple. She said and I quote, “I don’t think it’s realistic to be entirely cinematic and have a freaking film for every single Youtube video that you post. (…) That’s not the type of content I like to watch. I so miss the days on Youtube where everyone just sat on the floor and chatted and put makeup on their face. It wasn’t this constant battle of clickbait…” Now I’m not on Youtube, but I think what she says here is easily applicable to Social Media in general in my opinion. When hearing that I thought, “Shit, I’ve been playing that game, and I’m losing myself in it!”.
When I started this blog, I really wanted it to be a place where I feature makeup and skincare items and beauty stories that inspire me in a #prettyreal way. Meaning to illustrate my articles, I’d take pictures that would be realistic. If the tone of Le Beauty Journal was going to be honest and authentic, so had to be the pictures. I knew what and how I wanted to write, and this haven’t changed since I started. I also knew that the pictures would be a reflection of the content.
I thought I should use props like candles and vases and flowers and coffee mugs to make the overall shot look more beautiful.
So I told myself, “If my bronzer looks grubby, who cares, it’s real life. If there’s a stain on the side of my lipstick, who cares, it’s real life. If my shirt’s not ironed and there’s a socket plug behind me on that selfie, who cares, it’s real life.” But after only a few weeks of blogging, I felt like I had to up my game and take better pictures. I’ve had a personal account on Instagram for years now, and I’ve always loved shots that look real. Not too edited, spontaneous, raw. Just to be clear, I’m not criticizing people putting out amazingly shot and perfectly edited pictures. I understand it, it takes skills, passion and work, you do you! It’s just not my jam, it’s not the type of content I want to make or see on a day to day basis. Truth of the matter is, when I created @lebeautyjournal’s Instagram account, I sort of lost myself. Quite quickly. I soon decided to only post pictures that I’d taken with my reflex camera. I’d been seeing so many gorgeous, perfect pictures of beauty products, I started to worry mine weren’t professional enough.
I thought I should use props like candles and vases and flowers and coffee mugs to make the overall shot look more beautiful. I went to a stationary shop and bought big sheets of paper, in pink, blue, red and black to have a neat, clean, background. I’d carefully crease my bed cover so the product would look like it’d been placed there in an effortless way and it would look similar to the pictures I’d been seeing online, getting way more likes than mine. When a friend got me flowers I thought, “Perfect, I’m going to use it for Sunday’s blog post”. I think I just wanted to fit in and be part of the game. But what game?
I discovered when I launched my Instagram account that there are a LOT of beauty content related instagram account. I knew it had been a super trendy topic for years, and that the Beauty Industry was booming. In fact, that’s how my love for beauty became real: thanks to Youtube and Instagram, there was suddenly a new world to discover. Naturally, I’ve been following the biggest “influencers” for years and years. What I did not know is that there are thousands of people with small-ish beauty accounts on Instagram all trying to be creative and seen. I felt stupid to have thought that maybe I’d get people interested in my content. And I started to notice a pattern of actions that seem to work for some of these accounts. Comment (genuine please), like (same here but if you do it a lot, it’s better), host giveaways, tag and master social media interaction. I wanted in so I started to do the same.
I follow around 300 people on my personal account and almost 600 on my blog account. The difference between the two is that my blog’s account became a place where I’d follow beauty content creator to compare myself and keep up to date with beauty content out there, and basically try and get up there with all of them. I would like a picture to get a like in return. I’d post everyday because, well, you have to. I tried to comment on tons of pictures to get noticed. That’s how I started to loose myself.
Though before launching the blog, I had a pretty strong idea of what I would and would not do. I decided to launch my blog because I wanted to write in english about beauty because I’ve been SO into it for years, and not a lot of people around me care about this topic. I called it Le Beauty Journal because I’m french and I write in english. I thought the name was quite fitting because I knew I’d eventually start talking about style, books, films, podcasts, all the things that make life more beautiful. That was it. And it’s been lovely.
To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game.
Some of you readers are from Russia, Australia, England, France, the USA… it amazes me! But for you to see what I write, I have to exist on social media platforms otherwise my blog is like a dusty book sitting on a shelf that nobody even knows about. What’s ironic is that I knew all of that before I started blogging, because it’s been like this for years, and my favorite Content Creators online who are all pretty honest and real, share their struggle regarding this shift in digital content. Also, I used to work as a journalist, and a Marketing and Community Manager, so I was fully aware of the problematic.
That’s why I thought, I’ll keep my goal in mind, stay #prettyreal, and it’ll be fun and maybe a bit different and voilà! I decided I would grow my audience organically. No robots, just work and consistence, just me trying to do my thing. I did stick to that. The thing is, the space is so saturated that when you start, you might be putting out stuff that’s a bit different or doing the same stuff everyone’s doing, you’re pretty much invisible. To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game. At first I liked it because I could see more likes and comment and consequently, my goal here, more readers on the blog. BUT, I’d loose the followers the next day, get crappy, fake comments below my pictures, get 50 likes from the same person so I would notice her/him and follow back. Here’s the thing: I like pictures on my feed all the time to support the content I enjoy and actually see it since the algorithm has changed, but I rarely comment. That’s just me, I don’t feel the need to comment, if I do I really have to have something to say. But I started to try to comment more and it was so dull. I never knew what to say, I was forcing myself. I’d also get likes on WordPress from people who would simply like ALL the articles in one go. I’d type in a hashtag in WordPress and Instagram and check out posts and articles with themes I’d be interested in, but after a few pictures and articles, it’d just get boring to try and find content that you relate to just so you can leave a comment in the hope that someone’s going to see it and click on your name and read your blog.
Isn’t it depressing? At the time I thought, “in all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it.”
No one asked me to play the game this way of course. This weekend, I was at my mum’s house and my little brother told me my blog pictures were looking nicer and nicer. I said “aw thanks”, and thought “is it really what I want though? Shouldn’t my focus be elsewhere?”. Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling like I’ve been posting pictures just for the sake it. Just to get more likes, views, comments, clicks. I still want all those things because ultimately, my goal is for the blog to find its audience BUT do I want to participate in creating content that’s polished and quite far away from reality? Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it? There’s nothing new here. Everyone knows. But when you experience it, you still find it tough I think. That’s why I think I have my answer.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand why people do it. I did it myself. I’ve tried, I’ve seen what it does to me (makes me feel miserable), and I’m hoping I can find a solution that will make me a happy, true to myself, honest blogger that’s all. I will still use hashtags because it does help me to find new inspiration when I’m scrolling through Instagram, so maybe someone feeling a bit confused by all of that might find some kind of authenticity on my account and blog. I’ll still post pictures that I find beautiful because I’ve always loved taking pictures but I will not obsess over “non-instagramable” details and I’ll shot things the way I want to, I will still try and find topics that are interesting for you and for me. I’ll try my best.
On that note, I strongly recommend you follow Sali Hughes, Caroline Hirons, Ruth Crilly, Joanna Spicer, Leandra Medine, The Anna Edit, Lily Pebbles, and there are so many others out there putting out content I truly enjoy and am inspired by. I hope this piece makes sense. It’s spontaneous and not edited, ha! Let me know your thoughts on that, I’d be interested to hear more about what you think!
Have a lovely day,