Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I Continue Beauty Blogging As A Hobby

I have noticed in the past few months that a lot of my favorite blogger friends decided to say goodbye to their beauty blogs. Some of them have concluded it just wasn't fun anymore, some preferred to devote their finite free time to other pursuits, some are still writing but have changed their focus from make-up and skincare. I, too have been wondering whether it's worthwhile to keep on trucking, given how sporadic my posting is now with baby Julian on board. I figured maybe I'll share my reflections about beauty blogging as a hobby in this day and age, mostly because I'd love to hear your thoughts too. So here goes.

There's a vast difference these days between professional (as in, earning revenue: be it from ads, affiliate links or sponsored posts) and personal blogs. Obviously there's a lot of grey area - many personal blogs do make a little bit of money on the side as a bonus perk to a beloved hobby, and before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, I personally have absolutely no problem in that and have myself earned a little from writing a couple sponsored posts in the past. To me it boils down to this - are you actively motivated to blog because you're counting on that revenue to pay or contribute to your bills? If so, in my mind you are indeed a professional blogger. And you may try to convince me otherwise, but I strongly believe that most professional bloggers are going to blog differently from someone who does it just for fun. I'm not saying your blogging job can't also be a passion - I belive it is for most professional bloggers - but you're not going to write in the same way when you need the money to buy your groceries versus when you're doing it just to enjoy. It has nothing to do with honesty, disclosure etc.; it's just a matter of perspective.

If you were to ask me for advice on starting a beauty blog today, I would tell you not to do it. Or I guess, scratch that, I'd ask you a question in return - what are your expectations? What are you hoping to gain from beauty blogging? Do you want exposure, an audience, growth, free products or sponsorship deals? Then probably YouTube would be a better bet, albeit bear in mind that it's going to be VERY difficult as the beauty guru market is oversaturated as it is. Do you just want to start and see how it goes, hoping to get noticed? You'll probably end up deeply disappointed. Or lastly, do you enjoy pouring words onto the (web)page, and would like to meet like-minded beauty enthusiasts? Then yes, please, go for it. I truly think this is the only reason any of us blogging hobbists are still here today.

With one caveat though. I may be wrong, but compared to when I first started Rocaille Writes, I do see much less of a community in the beauty blogosphere these days. Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, SO MANY of us have already left the scene. I've also noticed a significant decline in commenting, and I'd be the first to blame - these days I just don't have the time to leave comments. We also don't do tags or collabs anymore. And it may be just me, but we stopped having these lengthy conversations on Twitter; I'm in fact seriously considering deleting my Twitter app, and I hardly ever check it from my desktop. The only social media outlet that still remains is Instagram, and I love our little community there, but at the same time I don't think Instagram can replace beauty blogs entirely, even now with the option of uploading multiple photos. Because while Instagram can provide all the visual content, I still think beauty blogs are primarily verbal, and it's always the writer's voice that drives me to certain blogs and not the others.

As for still feeling passionate about beauty 8 years after I clicked 'Publish' on my first post, yes, I continue to enjoy trying out and experimenting with new products. However, I often feel very ambivalent about reviewing certain brands or products. The main reason is that I don't want to be a 'beauty influencer': that is, I don't want to influence you to shop for products you don't need. I would like to think that maybe if you're already contemplating a well thought-out purchase, then my review of a product can help you make an informed decision, but I am aware that oftentimes, sharing my favorite products will entice you to spend unnecessarily in some way, and it is a form of promoting the consumerist mindset.

Secondly, the number of products I would like to share with you seems to be growing smaller and smaller. Mostly because I'm purchasing a lot less than I used to, and secondly because I'm feeling quite burnt out on reviewing PR samples (which I receive very rarely anyway). It often has nothing to do with the actual products sent for review and everything with the communication between myself and the PR company. I don't even want to say how many times my emails have gone unanswered, packages with samples ended up never being sent, how many times I was dropped by a brand for no reason - except maybe actually sharing my honest opinion, and a positive one at that? In many instances, my relationship with the PR has made me avoid a certain brand, regardless of the quality of the products. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you know?

At the end of the day though, Rocaille Writes is here to stay. Primarily because for me, beauty blogging is therapeutic, and without it, I'm just a stay-at home sleep-deprived mom with stacks of dirty dishes and mounds of unwashed laundry. Hmm, maybe that came out wrong: I'm happy to be one. But I want and I need this one small creative thing for myself that is keeping a beauty blog, and I refuse to let it go. Like I said in the past in this post, Rocaille Writes may not be about reviewing the latest limited edition collection in a snap, but I have so much more than that to say. If only the days were longer, you guys!


  1. I enjoyed your insight, and incidentally I too feel the same. There is a marked difference in approach to a hobby as a job, and a hobby as a hobby. I still pursue mine as a hobby on the side, to fuel my interest in the beauty scene. In my case, that has helped me stay on longer n the scene than I ever thought I would. I'm sad to see many blogging friends hang up their laptops, as it were, but I'm glad I've made those friends. These days, it's a lot harder to make blogging friends, for I perceive a sense of competition. I do still hang out on twitter, for that is my primary news source. But I find that as the community changes, so do the readers, whether they grow up and along with you, or they too fall out of love with the subject matter. New readers, in the age of instagram would prefer to like a post vs comment. I am sad to see the death of comments, but it does encourage me whenever I get one! Glad you're sticking around Monika :)

  2. Great post. I've also noticed the deterioration in the beauty community - it seem more clique based than ever, and if you aren't part of one of those cliques you don't get your content noticed. I'm glad you're continuing to blog, because I really enjoy your posts (and we have similar colouring so your swatches are accurate for me!).

  3. I'm so glad you're still here Monika! I agree with everything you've written here - I was also feeling burnt out just juggling work and blogging and that's without a baby! I have also resurrected my blog as a hobby for like-minded people. I'm not aspiring to be an influencer, I just want to write and share my views for whoever cares to read a beauty consumer's opinion rather than advertising the next new release. Don't worry about the comment thing either! xoxo

  4. I have exactly the same feelings about my blog: it's always been a hobby, and I've taken active steps to keep it a hobby. I don't WANT relationships with brands, or PR samples, or anything else that makes blogging feel like a job. (Not that I've been offered much along those lines!) Like you, I feel uneasy about my role in promoting consumerism, and so I don't focus exclusively on reviewing shiny new things. I also try to model critical consumption and provide my reasons, good or bad, behind each purchase.

    The beauty blogging community has really diminished in the last few years, and that's been kind of depressing. There used to be a lot more blogs focused on aesthetics and techniques and overall looks, instead of an endless succession of swatches of hot new products. I really appreciate your continued presence on the internet and I'm glad your blog is here to stay for now!

  5. I'm glad that your blog stays! I couldn't have put it better myself. I read commercialized and private blogs, but I've trashed and unfollowed a lot of them since they were hyping everything they received and tested. Well, I just blog for fun. Sometimes I receive some products, but I also refuse tests of stuff I don't like. Moving my blog to a private one was the best decision I ever made. We discuss a lot of topics and products with 5-20 peoples. It's more a sort of a group than a public hyping of products and things.

  6. I have to say, I come back to this blog time and again (and even more since you've had a baby - I'm a mom too and I love seeing how you incorporate beauty/skincare into your busy life!) because of the writing. I love your photos, of course, but to me, it's not about the products you're discussing as much as it is about the thought and care that you put into your writing. I enjoy hearing your thoughts about whatever you're using or finishing, and I especially loved your Project Pan updates and your empties posts. I'm glad that you're here to stay, although I can imagine how tough it would be to remain committed after having a baby. Thanks for always sharing your honest thoughts and for fostering a welcoming space for all.

  7. Hey Monika! This post was great for me to read because I have been soul-searching a bit in regards to my own blog which I started last July. I'm also a mommy- I love being a mom but it leaves me feeling distracted and not as consistent of a blogger! I definitely love makeup but like you I do not buy as much these days at all- I love trying out new stuff but it's when I feel the need. For me blogging seems to be a community /creative outlet- my weekly "schedule" seems to have fallen by the wayside! I guess I share what I want to share, whether a review or not and kinda leave it at that! But this was great to read and very relatable!
    XX, Jen

  8. I am glad you are here to satay, and I have no qualms with your lighter blogging schedule. I think I stoped blogging in part because even though I was firmly in the hobby blogger category, I felt I had to post as frequently as professional bloggers.

    I also found it difficult given I am somewhat minimalist, and I didn't particularly want to promote needless shopping on my blog by doing 'monthly favorites'. Not to mention, my favorites change so rarely, they would have been redundant. I also found that my desire to write long thorough reviews was not always what people were looking for. (I erred on the side of novellas in review length).

    I think the combination of feeling like my blogging was not likely to benefit anyone (since no one would want to read through a whole review of mine) and the posting frequency I felt like I had to maintain (because while I wasn't looking for tons of readers, a couple would be nice) it made the process less enjoyable. Admittedly though, the only reason I have not returned to blogging is I like the writing, hate the picture taking, and I don't think I would not feel a personal pressure to post more often.

    As an aside, I think you have in my non-expert opinion crafted an interesting niche. While I do appreciate your reviews, I in general just enjoy your writing style and blog. Which does give you some staying power should your interest change down the line.

  9. Thank you for this post, Monika!

    I have to say that reading it made me both sad and so glad. I am so glad that your blog is active and that you feel inspired and want to keep it going. I know I do, but I'm sure there are many readers happy to read what you write and think and it's not always about the very latest whatever LE release doohickey is out now that they want to read about.

    With the blogosphere so different than a few years back, having an authentic and personal voice as yours out here is a gift *really*!

    The sad part is that blogs like yours is so rare these days. Many of our blogger friends have stopped and though I totally understand why they would, I still feel sad that they did.

    In a similar way they number of blogs are shrinking, so are readers. I think there's a shrinking audience for people wanting to read long-form makeup blogs! It's much easier (and sometimes even pleasurable) to watch a YT video or <3 a photo on Instagram. i comment a lot less on other blogs and I receive a lot less comments, too. I figure at some point, I will stop too, but I'm encouraged by your example to keep on until I have nothing more to say.