The Irony Of Wanting People To Read Your Blog But Not Being Ready To Share Too Much

Today I don’t know what to write. I don’t because it’s difficult to understand what would really be interesting for readers in a time where we’re all being crushed by so much content, good or bad, just constantly, everywhere, at any time..

Do I want to tell you about my new favorite moisturizer because I’ve cleaned my bathroom cabinet just to take a pretty-ish picture of it? Do I want to tell you how I’ve been struggling with taking pictures for the blog because I don’t want to feature in those pictures that much? Do I want to complain about Social Media again and at the same time advertise for that blog post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for you to be able to find it and read it? Do I want to be someone you could easily identify to and at the same time want to keep my life super private? Do I want to tell you about how marvelous a blush is when I don’t want to show you my face? If I decide to not share too much of myself and focus on products, do I want to buy products just for the sake of reviewing them on the blog? Do I want to share a more personal column every week on here without getting too… personal?

Does the success of a blog depend on how much someone shares about their personal life?

I’ve been reading blogs for a decade but to be completely honest, I don’t read them anymore because I feel like they’re not as personal and authentic as they used to be. I believe I feel closer to the content creators who share bits of their life online but I am not ready to do that. Yet, I’d like more people to read this blog.

I probably like way more selfies than pictures of pretty flowers on Instagram because in a way it makes me feel weirdly connected to the person I’m following but also because, to be fair, it’s mainly the content I get on my feed. Does the success of a blog depend on how much someone shares about their personal life?

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This picture sums it all up.

I remember the first blog I discovered was Garance Doré. At the beginning she did not share pictures of her at all. She didn’t need to, I knew enough about her life because of how open she was in her articles. Then one day she posted a picture and I was so curious to see how she looked like. Then moved on because I was all about her stories and her writing, and this was way before Instagram got big so you weren’t witnessing everyone’s life from the inside like we are today.

Fast forward a few years and she was all over the blog. People were reading her, and following her extraordinary adventures probably because they felt like they knew her, how she looked like, who she was dating, what bag she had just bought, what journey she went through with her curly hair and in which city she lived. I emphasize on probably here for an obvious reason. Garance Doré is super talented, she’s an amazing story teller, illustrator, fashion icon, photographer but would have people cared so much if it wasn’t for the fact that they felt like they truly connected to her personality and personal life? I don’t have the answer but I feel like it played a massive part in the success of her blog. The blog is now called Atelier Doré, she has contributors, great content and it is more of an online magazine. I don’t read it anymore, because I don’t feel as close to the Atelier Doré Team and for some reason I can’t relate as much. What do I still read? Garance’s diary.

I don’t feel confortable putting “pretty” pictures of myself every other day on social media to get enough likes, talking about my personal life or sharing personal pictures so “followers” can feel like they know me to finally get an audience on social media so that people find my blog and maybe, maybe read the articles.

When I decided to open a blog, I said to my family and friends: “It’s going to be based on my experience with beauty, and style, and basically anything that inspires me and I’ve decided that there won’t be any pictures of myself.” Which, raised a few eyebrows for sure. And I tried, I really did because I really did not want to put my face out there. Also it was convenient for me to believe it would break the internet be a cool idea, maybe something a bit different. And honestly, quite quickly It felt a bit silly to talk about red lipstick without showing it on, and then about curly hair etc and also I could feel that new followers and new readers weren’t actually, deeply, connecting with my content. Which I completely understand. Who was I after all to tell everyone about my relationship with beauty, my favorite podcasts and so on? So I took a few selfies, got my little brother to take pictures of me, felt good about it for a hot minute… and then I had a big blogging crisis where basically I talked about choosing to grow an audience organically, take #prettyreal pictures and just try and do my own thing.

I did not realize at the time the subtitle of that also meant : I don’t feel confortable putting “pretty” pictures of myself every other day on social media to get enough likes, talking about my personal life or sharing personal pictures so “followers” can feel like they know me to finally get an audience on social media so that people find my blog and maybe, maybe read the articles. When I think about it it makes me laugh in a way because of how absurd it all feels. It’s like If I were to create a youtube channel without actually being featured on it, but still create content that inspires, questions, interests people and share my voice in a way, you know? Would I watch that though? Would you?

Now I’m in a place where I don’t feel like I want to share pictures of myself too often because I don’t really feel like it adds anything to my content. I want to write more personal stuff like the article about turning 30 but I also don’t want to share pictures of my partner or too much of where I live and I don’t feel like I want to talk on Insta Stories  when I wake up in the morning even though I really enjoy it when people do it on their feed.

(sigh)

Ah, the irony of wanting people to read your blog but not being ready to share too much!

I’m posting this long ramble because I’d like to know what YOU think. Why do you follow the people you follow? What makes you want to read a blog nowadays? Is my analysis completely wrong, do you relate a little, a lot? What makes you interested in someone’s content?

If you’ve read the whole thing, congrats and thank you! K, bye.

Elsa

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Blogging On A Budget And The Tyranny Of New Releases

The other day I was telling someone  “I don’t know what to write about on Friday. I want it to be a beauty-related post but it’s not that easy to write because I’ve already told the readers about my all time favorite products and my budget doesn’t really allow me to get new stuff constantly“. That’s where I thought, here’s a post idea!

I buy the products I use myself and to be honest, I’ve been really into fashion recently, so my pocket money goes into dresses, jeans, and I’ve been trying for ages to find sandals that actually are comfortable and look good, not an easy task let me tell you! So there’s nothing new for me at the moment, makeup or skincare wise. And guess what? It’s fine. Especially because, I have a few articles all about what I use and love, and maybe you haven’t read them yet…

Buy new stuff turns into new discovery, turns into research online, turns into “oh I did not know that product, oh what’s the brands, oh it sounds like it’s going to change my life”, turns into well, buy new stuff.

Ha! Also, truly, it’s fine because why would we always have to get new stuff you know? I have a friend who’s as fund of makeup and skincare as I am, and we text and talk about it a lot. It’s great, it’s like when I was a kid, playing, it’s SO MUCH fun to get to share this passion. We both get really excited about new releases, new trends, makeup items, skincare discoveries. But I think it’s fair to say how aware we both are of how much of a “vicious circle of consumption” it can be.

That’s how it works for me : Buy new stuff turns into new discovery, turns into research online, turns into “oh I did not know that product, oh what’s the brands, oh it sounds like it’s going to change my life“, turns into well, buy new stuff. That’s one of the reasons why I loved skincare more than makeup when I first started to get into the beauty world. So many products feel like they’re going to make you bloom into a new version of yourself.

I remember back in December, having a couple of weeks where I felt quite down, and all I could think about was buying skincare. (…) I kept ordering stuff that I couldn’t wait to try, but hey, breaking news, I was still depressed, with a little less money in my bank account.

A version with a glow, healthy looking skin, fuller brows, plumped lips, smooth legs and bright under-eyes. I still deeply believe that skincare does actually change the way your skin looks and feels because there’s so many amazing products out there. Still, when you find a routine that works for you, that you sometimes switch up a little but mainly stick to, what’s left to talk about, when in the meantime, the beauty industry releases new products almost every single day? Honestly, I’ve completely screwed up my skin at some point because I was trying everything under the sun so I’m done doing that. Here’s the thing as well, I’m into this new trend thing, that you might have heard about… saving money!

I remember back in December, having a couple of weeks where I felt quite depressed, and all I could think about was buying skincare. I guess in a way I wanted to take care of myself, not just on the outside though. The action of applying skincare products really relaxes me and comforts me. That’s when my skin freaked out in a major way. I kept ordering stuff that I couldn’t wait to try, but hey, breaking news, I was still depressed, with a little less money in my bank account. Sometimes I buy a serum, I research it a lot, take the time to think about whether or not I’m going to buy it and I get really excited about the product, the idea of using it, the action of using it, and usually, I love the result. But when feeling down, it simply doesn’t do the trick. Regarding makeup, it’s a game I LOVE to play, but I simply can’t spend more of what I’m able to on it, and I have to stay wise, you know? Also, I’m quite low-key with makeup. I don’t wear tons, and for example, one eyeshadow palette is all I need. However, blush? It gives me life and I could buy a new one every week.

I just thought I’d share my view on this here because maybe you’re feeling the same or maybe you think this is old news, either way I’d like to know your point on view!So, let’s review the situation here : I don’t need anything at the moment skincare and makeup wise, because I’m all set, got a nice routine at the moment , AND, because I only buy stuff when I finish a product.

Regarding skincare, the last thing I bought was the Clinique Take The Day Off balm because it’s great, doesn’t irritate my skin, it’s basically a safe purchase that I “needed” because I have just finished my Oh My Cream Cleansing Balm. My last makeup purchase is from Glossier, I got the Haze Cloud Paint Blush thanks to a friend who brought it back for me from the US, but I don’t have my hands on it yet. The other stuff I got from Glossier? Well, old favorites. A Milky Jelly Cleanser, Boy Brow in Brown, the Glossier You solid perfume which will be a new discovery, and Cloud Paint in Puff that I already own but have almost finished.

I have a few skincare discoveries in the making but I haven’t been testing them for long enough to tell you about it. Though I do mention what I’m using at the moment on my Insta Stories if you fancy watching that! Do let me know your thoughts on this topic and let’s start a conversation, shall we?

In all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it. 

I’m 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. Let me explain.

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’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.

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.

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Not clean brushes
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Spontaneous Iphone picture

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?

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 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.

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Dirty Lipsticks
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Broken blusher

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.

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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?“.

Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it?

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 SpicerLeandra MedineThe 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,

Elsa