This is going to be a bit of a different post - so if you're not a blogger yourself, or actively involved in the beauty blogging community, the following might not be of any interest. But for those in a similar conundrum: the blogging blahs have settled, and in my experience if I don't air out whatever is currently bothering me, there may be here for good. So here are some random observations about the state of the beauty blogging union, and my place in all of this.
When I started this blog back in 2009, blogosphere was very much a different beast altogether. Reading blogs was still a relatively niche past-time, being a blogger was very alternative - or simply weird for non-blogging people. Blogs seemed more personal, and intimate, and the community was tight but open to newcomers. That's why it was so enticing to be a part of it; I wanted a space to let the creative juices flow and show my point of view, and I wanted likeminded friends to discuss all things beauty. To a lot of you, it might still be the case - but I feel like something HAS changed.
In 2014, many of those beauty blogs are now competitive buisnesses. Sure, businesses with a strong focus on writing, product photography and social media presence - but so are women's magazines. It's all about the New! Just Released! Limited Edition!, PR samples, press events. Churning out swatches and a review the minute you lay your eyes on a product, because it's all about who can be the fastest, who has the freshest trend. Posts at different blogs featuring a newly released product come all at the same time like a huge wave, and it's really rather interesting (dare I say, annoying?) to see five subsequent Instagram photos from different bloggers featuring the exact same eyeshadow palette that has just landed on their doorsteps. The more posts and YouTube videos about the same product, the more hype around the product, the more people are frantically trying to purchase, now now now, before it's gone.
Now, for a necessary disclaimer: I absolutely do not begrudge successful bloggers' success, or the fact that they have been able to make a career out of something they love. I also understand that what beauty blogs focus on are essentially commercial products, and so brand relationships form and have to be maintained. But - it IS walking a thin line between being truthful to yourself and fearing a cold shoulder from a big company, and no amount of disclaimers is going to change it. Some pull it off with more aplomb than the others, and that's were my readership preferences lay - but that's something you absolutely have to judge by yourself.
What I'm trying to say is that the beauty blogosphere is not what it used to be, and I don't regard is as something pejorative - call it progress or necessary evil, it just is what it is. My feeling though is that in the new blogging landscape, there's a certain paradigm choice to be made: are you going with your own flow, or are you going with the crowd? What's your focus? New collections, swatches and lightning fast reviews, or staying true to your unique perspective, true time-tested favorites, less popular products that really work and deserve a mention? I'm going to be quite blunt: the latter approach is not going to generate as many page views, or give you as many readers - you know, what most people would call blogging success. But is carving your own niche worth it for YOU?
It is worth it for me. I'm not a big player - there, I said it. What I get from beauty blogging are not free samples of the newest products, invitations to press events, external motivation in the form of readers and page ranks; although I'm not saying that I don't appreciate the rare brand outreach, or am not overjoyed over gaining new followers or seeing some nice stats for the month (thank you!!!). The reason I have been blogging for so long and do not intend to quit (come on, I'd be like abandoning my own baby!) is that I get a tremendous satisfaction from the very process of creating, from post ideas, through product photography, to actual writing - about something I love and feel passionate about. And still, the sense of community: so many wonderful readers, friends on and offline. You really are my tribe.
Practically, it means that you won't see many newest product releases, reviews and swatches here on Rocaille Writes. That might be a disappointment to some of you - and I understand. But from what my gut is telling me (and from what I can gather from your very enthusiastic response to the Anti Make-up Phase post), a lot of you are not here for it. What you will see on Rocaille Writes are products I'm truly enthusiastic about, be it old or new, from small or big brands, product comparisons so you don't need to spend your hard earned cash on everything that gets the hype, my own interpretations of current trends, thoughts on the blogging process, quality over quantity of posts, my struggles, experiments, randomness; whatever is on my mind as a writer. If I'm not going to sit with the popular girls because of that - so be it.
And yes, observing the current state of the beauty blogosphere can sometimes be quite depressing, and frustrating, and blogging blahs-inducing; but we shall withstand the storms and persevere. And maybe try not to look at those stats too often, and not compare myself - in the end, I can only be me, but I strive to be the best me that I can. Love you, my unique, fearless, no-bullshit readers. Friends.