Reading Navaz from Disney Roller Girl’s post last week looking back at her 10 years of blogging, really struck a chord with me. Like her we have been blogging for nearly 10 years and consider ourselves to be among the first generation of online influencers.
We started writing The Womens Room to create a positive voice for our generation, as we felt we were becoming invisible as we aged. Like Navaz we kept our identities secret as we weren’t sure if our employer – Trend forecasting company WGSN – would be ok about it. Which is ironic as blogs have since become the trend forecasters go to source of inspiration.
There was no such word as influencers when we started – just people writing about what they loved, as a way to share their thoughts and connect with a group of like minded people. We didn’t really think about money and were grateful for the constant stream of events/ goodie bags/freebies, but like all the other established blogs who have have stuck around for the last 10 years, we never ever wrote/write about anything we don’t believe in.
I love that there is a new generation of bloggers out there, as its empowering and liberating to be able create your own brand. But I also feel a little frustrated with the way things have moved on, as what was once an honest and authentic way to have a voice, has in some cases, become more mainstream than the actual mainstream.
We all stopped reading magazines because we felt the editorial was controlled by advertising revenue and that fashion and beauty editors couldn’t be honest about what they thought. The internet enabled peer to peer recommendations and blogs who offered alternative views. But like anything, once money and in some cases, big money, gets involved, the game changes.
The new generation of influencers with large followings on Twitter and Instagram are being offered vast amounts of money for simply posting an Instagram image. Often they don’t even have a blog, or write anything beyond 140 characters and their following is built almost entirely on the way they look. And while I understand why brands are engaging with this new way of marketing product, I wonder how blogging can maintain an alternative voice, in a world where new media is fast becoming the establishment.
Don’t get me wrong I have absolutely no problem with anyone making money from blogging, as done well, its bloody hard work and more than a full time job, but I’m just not sure I want to read a blog where almost every post is in collaboration with car/travel/eyewear/drinks company/watch brand – as surely thats just advertising in a different format.
What do you think?
I think like you do above concerning blogs and their content. I believe that blogs should come from the heart and only follow those blogs with whom I connect when I read or see their content. My own blog is always from the heart, without making it a ‘reality show’ or a private journal – which can be the present tendency in so many cases. I started out just talking photography and showing my own photos, but now I seem to have branched out a little and my blog entries have become a little wordier, but always with photographs as the most important element.
That’s why I read your blog. I no longer take magazines saturated with ads and advertorials that make you feel slightly shit about shape/wrinkles/grey hair. It’s something that comes with age and experience to not buy (literally) into the lie. I have bought on some of your recommendations over the years because I feel your opinions are authentic – and relevent to me.
Likewise. I have stopped reading some blogs that used to feel authentic and personal, but are now overt exercises in brand association, dominated by boring tales of freebie PR trips, dinners, promo events, blah blah. TWR avoids this very intelligently, I think. Obvs, you are networked into the worlds of style and beauty PR &c, but you set the agenda – not vice versa. Like Sarah, I’ve bought stuff recommended by you (AS Apothecary, White T-Shirt Company) – and loved it – feeling that I’ve heard about something interesting from a well-connected friend, not a PR flunkey. But I can see that it’s a delicate balancing act – and TWR must involved a huge amount of time and creativity, which is massively appreciated (:
Totally agree. When it comes to a blog with personality and integrity, TWR rules for me!
It depends. If I know quite clearly that what I am reading is paid for/ sponsored content (eg some of DRG’s posts are labelled as such), then I don’t really mind. I don’t enjoy reading too many of these type of posts and therefore don’t follow the bloggers who are (clearly) being paid. I’m sure it is fairly obvious when bloggers are shilling for a brand, though.And, having to smilingly report all those endless PR dinners/trips etc strikes me as a particularly soulless way of earning a living? For me, the best blogs are the smaller, quirkier ones with a distinct point of view. It also seems slightly off putting when every post is greeted with a torrent of slavish agreement in the comments- – some bloggers seem to inspire cultish devotion. TWR is def my favourite read every day. And, I’m very grateful you put in so much effort.
I gave up magazines years ago. I like Instagram for a quick browse and some of the photos are breathtaking, but a select few bloggers are my favourite way to spend time on the internet. I like the informed, well put together relevant blogs that seem to come from women over forty who have their own opinions and take the time to produce quality items that appeal to me. If it strikes a chord I will comment, if I get a response I am delighted. TWR gives me a sense of community and hope that I am not a lone voice in this fast moving world. I love that women have a voice in this way. I may have been led astray with some of your recommendations, but have been delighted to discover new niche brands. I am also able to report that I have been buying very little on the clothing front since the new year (so far…)
I follow very few blogs, but have loved yours as I do feel it is authentic and I never felt you were promoting anything but personal loves and discoveries. You have introduced me to new places, products, people of interest, and it is especially great as the perspective is from someone my age. It is so refreshing to me as I have worked in fashion for 35 years. Our voice is usually not the one being listened to. The fashion industry targets to much younger women and I find it so boring. I am totally jaded & don’t bother. I’ve seen every trend several times before. Keep up the great work. I love it.
I am always a little disappointed when my favorite bloggers succumb to Instagram, etc.. I get that people are busy but I really enjoy it when a blog awakes something inside me like a memory or a laugh. Lipstick and the like I can figure out on my own. A blog, to me, is a way to connect with people and share experiences, not purchases. Thanks for the forum.
Peggy, I have to agree that I am also disappointed when my favourite bloggers close down their lovely spaces and go to Instagram, which I am told gives “instant gratification” in the form of the number of followers one has and the increasing number of ‘likes’. I agree that a blog is a wonderful way to connect to people all over the world and I miss at least eight blogs, that have stopped, and the people who were nurturing and running them.
I think some bloggers have used the medium as a platform to leap into book publishing. Which is fair enough, it’s hard to get a book published. The bloggers/authors then nearly always abandon the blogs and move onto Instagram. As a blog reader I feel a bit used.
I agree with many of the comments so far. I do still get a monthly magazine on subscription because I love getting it through the post. What a treat I think as I sit down with a cuppa to enjoy a good read. Sadly it always disappoints. After browsing the contents and picking out a few articles to read I find that the lack of depth leaves me completely unsatisfied. There are usually plenty of lovely pictures but no depth in the writing. I’ve had this particular magazine off and on over the last decade and, to be honest, if you didn’t look at the date each month is like a rerun of the same month last year and the year before. I can imagine the editorial meetings must be a bit like the ones out of AdFab. I guess magazines are aiming to sell a lifestyle rather than inform. I understand that advertising is necessary to fund the magazines and I can ignore those but I would like the journalists to earn their keep and give me a bit more than a re-run of the last article featuring spring fashion or Christmas cooking or whatever. Actually most haven’t developed since my mum used to get Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman’s Realm. ‘Fifty ways with minced beef’ has just been replaced with ‘Interesting ways with organic yogurt’. I do subscribe to various blogs,some professionally and some for fun. I appreciate your desire to provide something for grown-ups. Often I read something, whether professionally based for me, or fun, and feel about a hundred and fifty years old as the blogger enthuses about something that I was doing, using, knew about years ago as if they had just invented it. It might have always been thus but the immediacy of the internet throws that into stark relief.
Like Sarah ( and others) I feel your opinions are truly held and mixed with experience and humour.
Your world view is positive and feminist unlike magazines that make me feel “slightly shit” too. You influence me in a way that Vogue used to do when I was a teenager, I trust your point of view. Magazines lost me with airbrushing.
My only regret is that your focus is largely urban. I cannot find a rural interest blog that is not twee.
It’s interesting how many posts I’m seeing expressing the same sentiment. I wonder if it’s generational! I just find those Instagrammers rather superficial, they don’t seem to be interested in anything else other than themselves. Apart from the products they’re selling. I don’t mind the odd #spon post, but most of the time they’re not believable. Your blog is consistently great. Always something new to discover or learn and with a defined point of view.
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments. I think if bloggers want to earn their living from blogging there are certain number of paid for content that they have to do, and while no-one minds that there still has to be a degree of integrity and authenticity. I love Instagram as a visual tool – but not for pushing product – we have subliminal (and not so subliminal) advertising in social media – I would like at least one platform which is just for fun and inspiration.
I totally agree on the format of magazines being thoroughly outdated. I have all but given up on them – apart form the odd design or lifestyle magazine – but even they feel a bit same after a while!
And if we ever come across a great rural Blog Sarah we will let you know
Might I suggest a rural blog for Sarah – Dovegreyreader Scribbles
I’m sure you’ll quickly see if it’s your kind of blog.
Ben Pentreath has a lovely blog – quite a lot of the content is rural.