A Blogging Community? It’s Been Dead for Years

 

 

Today’s blog post is one that I have had in my head for a while- and initially, I wanted it to focus purely on the health blogging ‘community'(which I’ll get to, later on in the post). However, given the recent Twitter frenzy over Cosmo’s post about fashion blogger Sarah Ashcroft- I felt it was only right to first address this topic in a more general sense and talk about why in my opinion, the concept of a blogging community is long gone.

Let’s go back to the beginning

 I started blogging way back in 2011. My blog was called ‘Pretastyle.blogspot.com (naturally)’- I had 300 followers on google’s blogger follower button and I thought I had.made.it. Back then, my photos were terrible but since there wasn’t that many of us blogging, it probably didn’t matter. To me, blogging was (and still is) life changing and I made a whole bunch of friends with only one thing in common: our blogs. Back then, blogging was such a rarity that being a member of the club alone made you instantly welcome and popular- I spent my weekends at different meet ups and taking photos (long before the days of claiming travel expenses and expecting a goodie bag). That’s what being in a community was, and is, all about- just spending time with people who get it, who get you.

2017

Yet, fast forward to 2017 and my blog, as you may have noticed, is the opposite. Gone are the mirror outfit selfies and in its place is recipes, nutrition guides, and advice articles. I am a blogger, yes, but most of my readers aren’t bloggers at all- finding me from Pinterest, Google search or my Instagram recipes. Therefore, while blogging is close to my heart, I have instead found myself watching the community from the outside for years now and slowly came to the realisation: there no longer is one.

Blogging as a Job

Why? Well firstly because blogging has become much more than a hobby, it’s become a job- and with a job, things change. People change. And that’s natural. I spent a year volunteering teaching before entering the profession and was convinced I’d be the inspiration, friendly teacher that even the naughty kids looked up to. Two minutes into the job, with responsibility and deadlines, that act was gone and I was handing out detentions left, right and center. And isn’t that just the same really? What has a new blogger excitedly sharing snaps of their outfit in their back garden got in common with someone whose just posted a luxury haul and has a brand breathing down their neck to ensure their engagement is as predicted? Nothing- and it’s naive to think otherwise.

We Need to Stop Using Community as an Excuse

I don’t know Sarah’s blog aka The Pommie Girl (and I mean that as no sly dig since I don’t really read any fashion blogs now as it’s just not a topic I am hugely interested in). There’s plenty of articles picking a part her comments but what I want to talk about here is the backlash- all of which centers around the concept of a blog ‘community’. Indeed cosmo themselves stated:  What made fellow bloggers, who are part of the same ‘community’ as Sarah, throw phrases around about being “up her own arse”, “an absolute idiot” and “arrogant and superior”? I for one don’t understand how an industry which prides itself on sisterhood, girl power and building each other up can justify calling Sarah’s opinions “pathetic and childish”

 While I can’t be the only one rolling my eyes at the concept of sisterhood (put 50 bloggers in a room with 30 goody bags and tell me where the bloody sisterhood is there!) The journalist’s thoughts were echoed in others tweets imploring this sense of support- both from Sarah and for those trading insults. Think of the community!’ they say, ‘we should be all supporting each other’.
 
But why?
 
Why should I support somebody, just because we both have a domain name or an Instagram account? And indeed, why should they support me? I didn’t expect all bloggers to support me when my book came out or I dealt with an operation- I didn’t turn to the blogging community, I turned to my friends, my family, my readers- some who may be bloggers themselves but that’s not the only thing that connected us.
 
Let’s take this one step further. Why should I like you? Just because we both have a WordPress account? It is not bitchy, or unprofessional, or unnecessary to state the obvious here, that simply as a law of averages: some bloggers are idiots.  But don’t worry, I am sure there are some bloggers who have met me or have read my stuff and think I am a bit of an idiot too. I can live with that.
 
Before, I face a backlash- I’m not saying there’s something about bloggers inherently that make them idiotic, just that there’s nothing that makes them automatically not one. What I’m saying is that I’ve worked as a teacher, I’ve worked as a civil servant and now I work as a blogger. And in all of these careers, I have met people who I click with instantly and go on to form strong friendships with, and I have met people who, for want of a better expression, ‘do my head in-‘ bloggers are no exception.
 
Just Because You’re A Blogger Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Disagree With You
 
That’s normal isn’t it?  We’ve grown too big, there are too many bloggers for us to be possibly a community where everyone agrees or gets along- that’s okay. So that’s why I really resent the suggestion that to call somebody out (and I’m talking about any bloggers here) out on their behavior is unsupportive and unblogger like. There are bloggers that are rude. There are bloggers that are arrogant. There are bloggers that use 27 affiliate links in each youtube video and pretend they don’t notice- yet for some reason, they’re untouchable for this because we’re a blogger and we’re supposed to have each other’s backs. Now, let me ask you this- if we truly are a ‘community’ that is all about finding opportunities and providing a workplace, then why shouldn’t we treat this as one?
 
In a workplace, if someone behaves poorly- they are made accountable for their actions (admittedly, not by Twitter disputes and rude language- there’s no need for that). If someone treats others badly or makes inappropriate comments- they take accountability; they’re given a warning and we move on. Yet, what happens in this ‘community’ is we make snide comments, go way over to the top and make death threats, accuse each other of being jealous (because of course, despite it being 2017, a woman who critiques another woman can only be jealous of them- because we’re just that one-dimensional) or we  ignore it all together because we’re supposed to have that blogger’s back. Neither of these is the right approach. 
 
But this will keep happening, and I doubt we’ll keep learning. Because we’re an industry where at the end of the day- numbers do matter (and rightly they should). And unfortunately, that naturally means that, often to our frustration, unlike other industries- some of the big bloggers will get chance after chance to redeem themselves. 
 
Where’s the diversity?
 
But let’s digress a second- my final reason why there is really no sense of community is because, despite our size, it’s really not as inclusive as you think. Despite the fact there is lots of us, we’re still seeing the same thing over and over again.  And that’s why I want to turn to the health community here- because it’s the one I have the most experience of and therefore can only talk of my experiences. My blog is a mix of nutrition, recipes, gut health and living with an illness. I’m really proud of its stats and its journey. However, there is still a tendency to see the same type of bloggers ‘making it big’ over and over again. I watched one health blogger meet (a yoga event in some beautiful London studio) on Instagram stories- and I kid you not, the 20 bloggers sitting on their mats were identical in every sense: blonde, wearing beautiful Lululemon outfits and with identical plummy accents. Now, I am never usually one to comment on this kind of thing- but within the health blog community at least, those from a wealthy background can often dominate, and their stories often start with ‘Well, x from Made in Chelsea is a family friend.’ It is a niche where money is an asset- after all, quinoa doesn’t come cheap.
 
The health community doesn’t seem that of an overly welcoming place if you have a chronic illness too- I mean you only have to look at the awards in the sector to show that. Chronic Illness is usually grouped with ‘free from’ and/or ‘fitness’ -which I personally find quite insulting. Now don’t get me wrong, I love free-from recipes and fitness- I often blog about them- but there are many people who are blogging about finding a diet to stop their IBS, dealing with surgery, battling fibro and there’s not really a place for them. Yet this what I absolutely love about health blogging because these chronicles are making a real difference to people’s lives (whether it’s learning about a must have supplement for energy or just knowing what you are going through is normal). It’s ironic because these audiences are often the most engaged- I won’t claim my readers ‘buy anything I tell them’ ala Sarah’s article, but I always receive messages saying ‘oh, I bought the bone broth you mentioned’ or ‘thanks for the recipe, I’ve made it and it’s really helped my energy’.  Yet, it has to be said, the only time illnesses are mentioned in relation to many health bloggers- is when they’ve cured themselves of one.
 
Could it be salvageable?
It’s ironic that I aim to end this article by talking about a community I’d like to see. Because almost 2000 words later, I’ve realised that I really miss it. And god knows, I’ve spend the last two hours writing a blog post about it, so I must still feel passionate about it. So, perhaps I am going to create some kind of community from this after all,  if I can call it that- perhaps I’ll think of a better word.
 
One of the ways I’ve made relationships with bloggers is creating a group of my own (I run the Pitching Motivation for Facebook group where we chat about turning our blogs into businesses) but I’ve also been thinking about ways that those of us blogging about wellness and their health– think meditation, tackling stomach pain, green smoothies for fatigue and everything in between- could come together. That there is a real number out there of those of us who feel a bit lost, or on the edges. Perhaps you blog about fitness, but you’re more walking to help your anxiety than wanting to get super fit. Perhaps you love sharing recipes, but recipes that boost your mood and help your gut, rather than just superfoods. Or perhaps you just like chatting about your life- with whatever illness you might be suffering from or barrier you are trying to overcome.
 
We’re not fashion bloggers. We’re not beauty bloggers. We’re not fitness bloggers, but we’re something. Perhaps not a community yet, but could we be a group, a collective? Interested? Then, let’s end this blog post by doing something positive. Can I ask you to leave your blog link in the comments below? Use this post to discover new bloggers, not because you have to, because you might find a connection, a friendship, a relationship that extends the fact you both blog. What I’d then like to is to use this list of blogs to create a group for wellness bloggers with a difference- what that means, for now, is yet undecided. I am one of these people who always have a million ideas in my head- and I’ve already thought of creating a meetup and had a chat with some brands who are keen to get involved. 
 
But then, I realised I’d be again trying to force another type of community that might not work. So for now, let me know if you are in- and I will be in touch. Not a wellness blogger? Well perhaps think of creating some kind of group of you’re own- whether it be travellers on a budget or vintage fashion. Because creating smaller groups of people is perhaps the only real way of creating a community again. A way that connects people who have lots of common, inspire each, but, if I’m being, honest, aren’t afraid to tell each other if actually, they’re being a bit of an idiot. Whose in?
 
 
Share:

19 Comments

  1. May 30, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    I started blogging in 2012 and have seen the shift too. Hard to say where blogging will be in another 5 years. Feel free to have a look around my site. http://www.ptmollie.com

  2. May 30, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    This rings really true for me. It’s way too big to be one community. In the same way we need to all find our own niche, it’s amazing to find a blogging community that encompasses that niche.
    I think what riled people up in those Cosmo articles was the attitude more than anything. I wouldn’t give anyone a pass for that attitude if they had something shared with me like red hair or a mascara obsession. Why would I because they are (or used to be) a blogger?

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:45 pm

      exactly!!!!!

  3. May 30, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I’m not part of the wellness community as a blogger, although I will admit I am an occasional reader, but I think creating a community around wellness bloggers is a great idea.

    I think the idea of a blogging community, as in one with all bloggers in, is outdated and foolish now. However, I love the blog communities I am a part of, ones that I have more in common with than just being bloggers. I have very little in common with Zoella (Does she still blog) or this fashion blogger, and I’ll be honest I don’t feel I HAVE to support them just because they’re a blogger, if I dont agree with what they are saying thats fine. We are not a sisterhood of every blogger, but of small niche groups.

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:44 pm

      agreed- yes i think she does still blog – although some people say her assistant does it!

  4. May 31, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Yes! I really love this. I was feeling the other day that the health/fitness/wellness community was just so enormous that it was difficult to feel part of a “community”. I’d love to get involved if you do set something up! 😀

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:43 pm

      thanks lovely x.

  5. May 31, 2017 / 9:07 am

    Firstly, great post – Secondly, I agree!
    I don’t expect everyone to like me, It’s just not possible! I accept I won’t ever be a glossy, picture-perfect blogger and I’m fine with that, I’m 32 and I don’t feel the need to fit that mould.
    I don’t tend to support ‘bigger’ young bloggers because I don’t have anything in common with them and I simply cannot connect with the content, it’s unrealistic to me.
    From a health point of view, I find it hugely concerning/worrying when unqualified folk start giving diet advice and because they have 100k Insta ‘Followers’ people buy that. Nope, I cannot and will not support that.
    In relation to ‘fashion’ bloggers, it’s also damaging when they grace Instagram with an outfit which costs ‘£3,500’ – I’m not saying ‘don’t have goals’ but I find it sad that so many goals are materialistic.
    I’ll be quiet now…
    Katie
    x
    http://www.cakevsscales.com

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:42 pm

      spot on- i’m 32 this month too! I always assume everyone’s younger than me- seems like the average blogger these days are 12. the majority of pics on instagram are not even remotely nutritionally balanced either!

  6. May 31, 2017 / 10:58 am

    It’s interesting to hear about your perception of health bloggers (when talking about a yoga event). I haven’t personally attended many events with health bloggers involved so I cannot comment on that but I do know that lots of them are quite young, in their early twenties (saw some pictures of various events) and that’s actually one reason why I don’t go to these events – I don’t know what I would have in common with these folks! I am over 30 and have lots of experience in my life and I am more mature (I believe!). That’s why I don’t really feel part of this younger health blogging community.
    http://www.behealthynow.co.uk

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      yes, i’m 32 this month :/- i think age plays a big part for definite!

  7. May 31, 2017 / 11:33 am

    I couldn’t agree more Jenna and I definitely think there is enough of us to create a community. The blogging world is huge now – with so many specialisms and messages trying to be conveyed. It can be overwhelming just going on Instagram for example and trying to decipher what bloggers are useful to you!
    Which is why it’s all the more relevant to have separate blogging communities and have all of us appreciate how and why which is unique. There is a room for us! It’s just about trying to find ways to be heard.
    The bloggers I follow are original, authentic and relatable – we need more of that. As a journalist in the mainstream media too, I have seen first hand how messages can be lost amongst the ‘big names’. There has got to be a shift coming soon and I think we can and WILL be part of it!
    Bryony x
    https://www.instagram.com/abellyfullofbryony/

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:40 pm

      there has to be doesn’t there? love your blog and your realness xxx

  8. Stephie
    May 31, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    I agree that the idea of having a community for bloggers is a lovely idea but I think it would have to be niche or segmented to work ideally. It is why on Facebook I set up the ostomy blog share as I felt it needed that bit of inclusion. I do toy with widening it up to the IBD community but ostomies arent IBD exclusive. I enjoy reading your blog, I feel there is information that can help everyone is some respect which is fantastic so keep it up

    My blog is about coming to terms with taking charge of my own health not just fir me but my family as they need me. Because of my circumstances I have been able to move forward with my blog and create my own categories. As well as the othef opportunities it has given me what with The IBD and Ostomy Support Show plus the paid blogs I do too. I love reading other blogs similar to mine as I have the possibility of learning something new.

    • Healthyglobetrotting
      May 31, 2017 / 1:39 pm

      thanks stephie- i think i struggle a bit because I find I don’t want to just blog about IBD as I can kind of get a bit down and feel like I am bit too obsessed with it if that makes sense? (since I still struggle with my relationship with the disease)

  9. May 31, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    I’m glad you ended on a positive note and I really like the idea of a wellness-with-a-difference community. I have been blogging since 2007 and have seen all sorts of changes in that time. I disagree with your point that blogging is now a job. Sure, it can be, but probably only for a small percentage of people. The rest of us still have a day job, albeit one that we gained because of the skills we learnt through blogging. And what I have found is that it’s tremendously freeing to going back to thinking of blogging as a hobby, and not trying to compete and be bigger or better than anybody else. Just do your own thing, and be proud of the uniqueness that you bring to the world. The right people, the people on your wavelength, will be attracted to that, and there’s your community.

    https://opposablethumbsblog.com

  10. Candace
    May 31, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    I started blogging in 2010 and 7 years later it’s amazing how things have changed. There are a lot of people blogging as they think
    They will get free things and earn money but when I started it was just for fun. I miss those days.

  11. May 31, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    Thank you so much for this ! I’m extremely new to blogging, (I published my first ever blog at the beginning of this month). I’m feeling quite insecure/ weird about it as I’m blogging about wellbeing and tackling personal problems holding me back – and I’ve never been this candid before (and all my family and friends have read it eeek).

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me 🙂

  12. June 1, 2017 / 12:17 am

    This is sad to hear– I just started blogging and would love to lean into a community.
    thegirlwithgutgrief.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge