3 Surprising Facts About Fashion Blogging
If you’ve been paying attention to my other posts on fashion blogging (and I hope you have, because I’ll be setting a quiz at the end of the year…), you probably know a lot more about full-time fashion blogging than you really wanted to by now.
You know that it’s a job, just like any other – a fun job, sure, and one which lets you look at photos of dresses on the internet all day, but a job, nevertheless. You know that taking outfit photos in public is really freaking awkward, and that some people will think you’re stupid, just because you have pretty shoes. You know EVERYTHING, basically: my work here is done!
Or maybe not, actually. There are a few other aspects of full-time fashion blogging that people tend not to talk about so much, and which you might not be prepared for. Here are three things I really didn’t expect when I started fashion blogging…
It makes you feel ugly…
I think most people think that fashion/beauty bloggers are just hopeless narcissists who are so in love with their own reflections that they need to plaster photos of themselves all over the internet, but actually, when I first started taking photos of myself for the blog (in the form of outfit photos or close-ups of makeup), I went through a pretty bad crisis of confidence, during which I became convinced I was the most hideous person on earth, and had to be talked out of covering all the mirrors in the house. No, I’m not joking. (Well, OK, I AM joking about the mirrors. But only sort of…)
The fact is, the camera lies. It’s a big fat liar, in fact. I don’t mean to imply by that that I ACTUALLY look like Cara Delevigne, and it’s just the lying ol’ camera that makes me look like ME, obviously. I WISH. No, what I mean is that the camera captures things the naked eye doesn’t. That’s particularly true of the make-up-shots, where you’re forced to look at extreme close-ups of your own face (close-ups which reveal the kind of detail that someone would have to literally be all up in your face to have even a chance of noticing), but it’s also true of outfit photos, where the camera captures a fraction of a second, and freezes it in time, in a way that the naked eye just wouldn’t interpret it.
Because of this, I’ve seen photos of myself in which I have at least five chins, and photos where I could easily pass for 6 months pregnant. I’ve seen photos where I look 20 years older, and photos where my legs appear to be on backwards, and I’m pulling the kind of face that would give you nightmares for a week. I’ve seen more of these photos than I care to remember, and in the same way that I can get 100 nice comments, but will only believe the one nasty one, those terrible, unflattering photos are somehow easier to accept than the occasional good shots (which I dismiss as being a lucky shot, or a good angle).
At first, I found this so disheartening that it made me want to give up altogether and also to buy the entire contents of Sephora, because I felt SO BAD about what I was seeing in those photos. Even now, I don’t do nearly as many beauty reviews as I’d like, because I feel like people are going to want to see what the product looks like on, but I can easily take 100 close-ups of my face and hate every single one of them, and not just in an “Yeah, I’m not going to put that on the blog,” way, but in a “what the hell is WRONG with me?” way. (Friday’s lipstick post, for instance, took three separate attempts, and didn’t include any close-ups because they all looked totally gross to me…)
It did get easier, and I’m honestly not sure why – I think I maybe just got used to it – but, in my case at least, seeing so many photos of myself definitely highlighted a lot of flaws I hadn’t previously been aware of, and sometimes it’s better NOT to know about things you can’t really change, isn’t it?
It turns you into a shopaholic
Every morning I start my day by pouring myself a cup of coffee, and then sitting down to scroll through dozens of retail websites, looking for products to feature on my various blogs. If I didn’t have those blogs to update, I wouldn’t look at all of those websites – or not EVERY day, anyway – and because of that, I wouldn’t see any of the dresses and shoes and cute little sweaters that I convince myself I MUST HAVE because OMGLOOKITSOCUTE.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a bit of a shopaholic, and I’ve always had to struggle with the feeling that I just CAN’T live without whatever my latest must-have item is, but whereas in the past I’d have just avoided looking at those sites (the same way I avoid having too much chocolate in the house, basically. If there’s NO chocolate in the house, I won’t really think about chocolate – but if I know it’s there, you better believe I’ll be eating it…), as a blogger, I can’t do that. (I know, tiny violins at the ready…) I manage to curb my shopping impulses MOST of the time (Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all thinking about the Topshop skirt…), but I can see how easy it would be to get into debt, purely by convincing yourself you must have that new whatever-it-is for a post.
It pushes you into a style rut
When I read sites about blogging, I seem to frequently see people criticise bloggers for always wearing the same kind of outfits over and over again, which makes me worry about my tendency to always wear 50s-style skirts and high heels, without much variety. Actually, though, I find that if I deviate from that style even slightly now, I’ll get vaguely disappointed-sounding comments from readers saying they “miss the skirts” or prefer my “usual style”. This will happen even with outfits which I think ARE very much my “usual style”, only trousers rather than a dress, say, or a colour other than green. It’s understandable that people follow bloggers because they’re interested in a very specific style aesthetic, and don’t get me wrong, for the most part I DO wear very similar stuff day in, day out, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that: it’s my style, and I enjoy wearing it.
Every so often, though, I get the urge to try something different – not radically different, but maybe something a bit more casual, a bit more contemporary, or you know, just not a green dress. Some readers will accept this, and understand that even someone who has quite a defined style will occasionally want to venture out of their comfort zone, but there will almost always be at least a couple who will comment in a way that will make me not want to repeat the “experiment” – or at least not to blog about it if I do!
In my case, outfit photos are only one part of my blog, so hopefully if my style does ever change, I won’t lose ALL my readers as a result of that. I do sometimes wonder what happens to bloggers who DO position themselves as exclusively “retro” bloggers, or “preppy” bloggers, or bloggers-who-only-wear-stuff-from-Anthropologie or whatever. What if one day they decide that look isn’t really “them” any more? It’s easy to say you should just wear/write about whatever you like, but it’s a fact that many blogs wouldn’t survive the mass-exodus of readers that a huge shift in content could lead to. I guess the hope is that your readers change with you, are replaced with ones who DO like the new style, or just like you enough to keep reading regardless of what you’re writing about, but… what if they don’t?
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Er, I’ve just realised it probably sounded like I was building up to providing an answer to that question, but I wasn’t. I don’t know the answer, I was just thinking out loud. Sorry. I’ve also just realised that this is another post that probably sounds excessively negative, and will make some of you think, “So why do you do it if it’s THAT bad?” so I just want to add the usual caveat to say that I don’t intend this to come across all, “Woe is me, my job is so haaaaard!”, because obviously there are so many good things about blogging that (for me) they totally outweigh the occasional negatives. I do, however, think the negatives are worth discussing too every now and then, if only to give a more realistic insight into full-time blogging than you tend to get from the likes of Instagram etc, so these are three things I didn’t expect to encounter when I started blogging, and which I don’t see a lot of people talking about. And on that note, I’d be really interested to hear from other bloggers on some of the unexpected things they’ve found to be true about blogging, whether good or bad!