Sunday night on Twitter (9 Eastern/8 Central), there's a little gathering called #blogchat, and the participants tend to be people who want to get the maximum value from the time they spend researching and writing. And then, for contrast, there is yours truly, speaking for the hardy few of us who do this because we can't imagine not doing it. I occasionally have useful information to pass on, but other times I keep discreetly silent. A properly focused blog, say the experts, shouldn't need more than a few categories, maybe ten or twenty tags. (This is WordPress parlance: other platforms may vary.) I, of course, would never claim to be properly focused, and I have, um, 57 categories. You don't want to know how many tags I have.

None of this, of course, is news to you. But I do enjoy reading how more normal people do this blog thing. Lucky me, Lorna Burford, a major UK fashion blogger in her middle thirties — Raindrops of Sapphire is her home base — this week has seen fit to deal with some of the questions she gets. "Why not," I thought, "compare notes?" One thing she wants you to know is that none of this stuff contributes to stuffing her closet:

Another annoyance that's a huge irritation to me is the fact that you only get to wear your clothes once or twice. This isn't because that's all they're worth and then they're disregarded, it's because as I mentioned above, each time you go out it's an opportunity to do your photo shoots and you can't wear the same items each time because you can't repeat them over and over, it's boring and your readers have seen it once already so they don't want to see another set of photos of the same look. Especially if you bought some statement pieces (like my Chloe Susanna boots), those can generally only be worn once or twice. It does annoy me a lot as it means some of the designer pieces I've saved up for are not being worn much and it also ends up dictating what I buy because I have to see if it's suitable for my blog or not. So much thought and clothing sacrifice goes into personal style blogging on a professional level. It would be nice to get more time to wear them without having to take photos.

This is one advantage I enjoy: I don't spend a whole lot on keeping this place going. And I'm not too proud to harp on a single subject. Where we're in parallel ruts, though, is in dealing with a brain that's working 24/7:

You have to be constantly alert, checking everything that's new in, everything thatís trending, and keeping up with all of the social media interaction, as well as the blog interaction. This crosses over into the night, into the weekends, and even into your holiday as well because social media is an everyday thing. Even when I try to sleep, sometimes my mind is racing with thoughts and ideas of blog posts, photos, outfit combinations etc and it's impossible to switch off from it because your brain is trained to think in certain ways and that's usually always centered around your blog and the brand you've built up. Trying to find the right balance between your personal life and your blog is tricky, it needs a lot of work.

There are few things more annoying to me than coming up with a brilliant idea, and then forgetting it before I start gathering notes and data. This is not to say that a lot of my ideas have the potential of being brilliant, but I do have my moments.

Always out there, waiting, is The Competition. I don't feel it as keenly as Lorna does:

I sometimes forget to look at how far I have come and what I have built up and instead wonder why mine is not the next Song of Style or Blonde Salad etc. It's always a competition and if you want to succeed in this industry, you have to try and stay ahead of the game and try and be better than everyone else so you can rank well. Since you live in a world of comparison, you often feel like a failure and your stress levels run really high because it's a constant rat race just to be seen and just to stay afloat. It does put your emotional side on high alert most days and that's taxing on your body. Your financial income is completely dependent on you and how well your blog is ranking in comparison to everyone else. You're also at the hands of search engines too, and that's stressful if they change their algorithms.

I've never looked at Song of Style, but I did drop in on Blonde Salad a couple of times, mostly because Vanity Fair once ran a photo of proprietor Chiara Ferragni apparently wearing nothing but shoes. I need hardly point out that I have no such photos of Lorna. (I have one such of me, but you don't want to see that, and anyway it was taken about 75 pounds ago.)

The realm of social reach, however, is something I don't even pretend to comprehend:

I was talking with a friend of mine who works in PR and outreach and he knows just how important a blogger's statistics are, however he doesn't like the fact that it's only about numbers and the quality of a blogger's work gets overlooked. I feel the same way. Someone like myself who has a social reach of almost 100k in total but has a high quality blog in terms of how much content text is written (and written well for SEO purposes), with great photos, can get looked over and cast aside because someone else who might have a social reach of 200k, but doesn't write much content or put a huge effort into their blog posts, gets the opportunity instead. It really does boil down to your numbers. It's always about the follower amount and how many hits you have more than it is about the passion, dedication, creation and quality you put into your blog posts. That also contributes to the stress, the low self esteem and not being able to switch off. It's not like this for every brand, but the majority of them it is, they don't want to know you until you are deemed "popular enough".

I can report that 2.9 million people have visited this site since it opened, one-third of my life ago, and that eight to ten thousand more arrive each month. And Twitter tells me that I average about 150,000 "impressions" a month, presumably spread unevenly across my 30 or so tweets each day. I have never even looked at my Facebook "reach," and I don't do Pinterest or Instagram. The @LornaRaindrops account has 34,000 followers, 25 for each one of mine. Not that I'd want to give up any of mine.

I do, however, have one claim to bragging rights over her:

You can't just randomly say you're gonna take a break and book your holiday in unfortunately as you will lose money and if you leave your blog dormant for a long while, you can lose followers too. That's one of the side effects that gets me the most because you never feel like you can take a proper break.

"Dormant" is just barely in my vocabulary. The last day I had no new content (gawd, I hate that word) was the twenty-second of June.

The twenty-second of June, A.D. 2000. Seventeen years ago and then some.

The Vent

  9 August 2017

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