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is there an influencer debate… or is it just me?
I’ve changed the title of this post a few times in the process of writing it but in the end, decided to stick with the whole influencer debate angle. Because it’s mostly me that’s having the debate. With me.
When I hear (or get called) the “i word”, I alternate between cringing and just shrugging my shoulders… because that’s why brand hire us isn’t it? To harness and utilise our creativity to help get their message/product/campaign out there. To influence.
Except only a very small portion of my content is sponsored by brands.
The thing is, back in the day, I didn’t start a blog to become an influencer. They didn’t exist in the form they do now. Like so many others I know, I grew into blogging but since turning it into a business, I guess I’ve become one. I’m a Micro-Influencer apparently. This is due to my numbers they tell me. Ah numbers – Insert eye roll emoji here – I thought I’d left those bad boys behind when I left Finance!
But back to the debate section of the title because I sense there is some debate to speak of. Much is being said about how social media (Instagram in particular), is portraying a plethora of perfect worlds, thereby topping up our inadequacy and self-doubt pots on a daily basis.
I’ve ordered Katherine Ormerod’s book this week – Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life – and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I’ll devour with interest her thoughts on the subject, because Oh My does she ever have a point. As one who knows exactly what goes into getting The Shot and just how much the picture can belie what’s going in her own head at the time, I do sometimes wonder what those who don’t understand the whole curation/staging thing must think.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m in a good place with it all 99% of the time.
I’m nearly 50, wear a dress size 12 – 14, am a micro-influencer and don’t live in London, which, when you add those things together (told you – numbers!), generally excludes me from working with many of The Big Hitter Brands who helped birth the cult of the influencer. I don’t agree with how that particular equation pans out but it’s typically true in lots of cases… and is possibly a whole other blog post in itself!
I live a busy and fulfilled family life that includes a long-suffering Instagram husband who regularly get short shrift from the females in his life, a demanding teen daughter (all teens are demanding) and a pretty Labrador with a penchant for eating all manner of disgusting things at any given opportunity.
So yes… I sure as sh*t know that The Gram doesn’t depict real life!
S T Y L E C R E D I T S : Sunglasses – RayBan Clubmaster c/o David Clulow | Cashmere Shawl in Classic Cappuccino – Lois Avery c/o | Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater – hush (old gift) : same in black for AW18 here | Bamboo Reusable Cup – Cuboo c/o | Nails – Essie in Wicked | Jeans – J.Crew | Push Lock Bag – Cambridge Satchel Company c/o | Watch – Cate & Nelson c/o | Shoes – Zara (old) : similar here
But at the same time, I both love it and can see it’s pitfalls if we don’t use it responsibly. Both as consumers and publishers. Sometimes it (occasionally along with blogging), makes me have The Thoughts.
Oh my – The Thoughts. If you can think of a particular blogging/Instagram/Influencer thought right now then you can bet your flat white on a marble tabletop that I’ve had it. So much so that I’m beginning to wish I could silence this season of self-interrogation once and for all.
I’ve always blogged and ‘Gram’d with a sense of conscience and I hope that that’s not something I really need to say. Except I really do feel the need to say it loud and clear at the moment. And in deciding to say it, I tried to think if there was one particular thing that set me off.
I can’t pinpoint the thing. Maybe it’s been brewing ever since I decided to slow things down a little at the beginning of this year. Maybe it was having a bit more time to think over the summer holiday and to observe the goings on in Influencer World a little more closely. Maybe it – scrap that – definitely, it comes from a place of self doubt. There’s that other 1% from up there ↑.
Maybe it’s from pitching some ideas and receiving a couple of No’s from brands. Nothing will induce that “Okay then… maybe I’m no longer considered relevant!” voice when someone tells you No Thanks… and you still have those business costs to meet every month.
For sure The Thoughts are linked to the fact that as influencers, we’re seen by and large as purveyors of the Buy This, Get That, Be More This culture. Are we nothing more than stylish pushers? Am I encouraging you to form a shopping habit when you really don’t want or need one?
Add to that the growing discomfort around fast fashion and an awareness of our consumerist footprint (both rightly so) at every step of the way and you’d probably agree that surely, style blogging in particular might be the proverbial bubble just waiting to burst? Gosh, it’s all doom & gloom around here today!
It’s not. Stick with me. It gets better…
When I started out, blogging was the main event and it was more than enough of a platform to get your voice out there or launch any manner of creative concept or business. With the subsequent explosion of social media and the boom of the need for immediacy, there are now so many more ways we can do this.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that pretty soon, it can all start to feel like noise. Too much noise.
Click this. Swipe Up for that. Visit my profile link and you’ll get straight to where I’m directing you.
I sure as hell do it. We all do it because, as more voices are added to the game, the noisier it gets. And when it gets noisier, the temptation is to get increasingly shouty to ensure that you’re still being heard.
I got into a thoughtful conversation about my doubtful musings here with some Instagram friends last week and it felt like a bit of a relief to get The Thoughts out there if I’m honest. And helpful to gauge other’s opinions on how they perceive the situation too. The irony that I used one of the most prolific social media platforms to add my thoughts into the “noise” is not lost on me by the way.
Maybe The Thoughts are in part about the current influencer debate but perhaps the larger element of questioning comes from me. After ten years in, it’s no surprise that I find myself in a place of self-interrogation. And rightly so as I definitely feel different about life in general at 49 than I did at 39.
I sat down with my wise (and extremely talented) friend Laura recently and told her how I was feeling. At first I found it difficult to articulate but as our conversation went on, I think the words “more heart needed”, “too much noise” and “self-worth” came up more than a few times from both of us.
How to solve it? I honestly have no clue. There is no one grand solution for me and my blog at this stage but there are smatterings of thoughts and ideas that I’m leaving to marinate to see what happens. We’ll see.
In the meantime, here are some things I know to be true and that will confirm where I stand…
When it comes to style and taste, age is a number but not one that’s part of my equation. Style is one of the most personal expressions you can have and having a passion for what you wear doesn’t make you shallow. Its makes you creative and brings along with it a defined sense of self.
I’ll only ever write about, link to and work with brands here, or on Instagram, that I love and would purchase from myself. And in most cases, I already purchase from them.
When it comes to products that I link to within my (non-sponsored) content, the majority of them will be affiliate links as this another way I can facilitate an income from blogging. Albeit a pretty small portion of income that’s drip fed over a LONG period of time.
I’ll tell you up front in posts if the content is sponsored or if it contains affiliate links. ASA best practice states that as bloggers we’re all supposed to let you know this before you engage with our content. Because…
… I’m not ashamed that I make money from affiliate links or occasional sponsored content here and on Instagram. I integrate them into the stories I tell or things that I share here on the blog and I think that after all these years, I’ve learnt to do this well. Does the affiliate product link to the Bella Freud jumper that I wore in the Autumn Happiness List post count as me influencing you? I guess it does. Nonetheless it forms part of the business side of the blog and is therefore not (and shouldn’t be) a dirty little secret. There’s additional info on my Disclosure page here if you’d like to know more.
I love, love. love neutrals, monochrome, cashmere and coffee! Not to be “trendy” or “current” – it’s simply the direction that my taste has followed and finally settled on over the years. Neutrals and monochrome are easy, no brainers when it comes to getting dressed, cashmere makes me happy when I wear it and coffee is a necessity once you become a parent. I believe every child should come with a free Nespresso machine. Seriously.
When I agree to accept a gift from a brand, it’s because I love it, am happy to share it with you & therefore, happy to declare it. If I receive an unsolicited gift that I don’t want or like and it’s of considerable value, I’ll ask the brand if they want me to return it. Otherwise it gets donated to friends or a charity shop.
I love a good wardrobe edit. This is not news! But I don’t bin the things that I no longer wear (and never have done). Any unwanted clothing, whether it’s been gifted or purchased, now gets passed on to various friends or donated to my local charity shop. I tried eBay a couple of times but honestly I don’t have the time that it takes and I got put off by a couple of dishonest users.
I no longer feel that every single outfit post has to contain all current, available-to-buy items. Now it’s more about the items I possess having longevity for my own wardrobe and me putting a few looks out there for you to take styling inspiration from if you wish. If an item isn’t current or has sold out, I try to include as near as possible alternatives when I can find them.
I’ve stopped attending blogging related events that don’t serve you or me. When I say “serve you” I mean – what will you get out of it other than seeing what I get up to via Instagram Stories? Can I find a way to turn it into relevant and interesting content later on? Is the event to do with a brand or venue I absolutely love and would happily recommend to you?
And when I say “serve me” I mean how much time will I need to take out of my work schedule to attend? Do I already have a working relationship with that brand? Am I going to end up financially out of pocket to essentially take a day out to promote another business? Because I’m a business too. And last but by no means least, does it clash with a more pressing family need at home.
Getting Back To My Why
To steer through these choppy waters I’m trying hard to remember my Why. Why did I start a blog?
Because I wanted to write.
Because I loved fashion.
Because I believe that sharing positivity, small joys and simple pleasures brings 360 degrees of happiness.
Because (and I didn’t know it at the time), I wanted to fulfil a creative void.
Because I live to feel inspired.
Where is the why at now?
I still love to write. If you’re still with me (thank you!), can you tell by the length of this post?!
I love style more than fashion – it lasts longer and never expires.
The small joy sharing thing keeps on going full circle. I find one and share it with you. You love it because it makes you happy and you share one back with me. I get happy. I look for more small joys to share… and around we go.
I enjoy seeing how creative I can be when it comes to composing images and telling stories.
Since building a small but perfectly formed following, I’ve come to know that if I discover a new brand or business, I can pretty much bet that lots of you will love it too. A couple of my favourite cases in point – hero and Lois Avery Cashmere.
I’ve come to appreciate and love the sense of community that comes with all of this. When you work at home by yourself for the most part, the fact that blogging and social media have brought some incredible women into my life who I now count among my friends is truly a bonus.
Because I live to feel inspired and love to inspire right back.
It’s as simple as that in essence and yet it all seems to have gotten so very complicated as time has gone on.
But then I guess doesn’t anything that’s worth sticking with?
I’m in it for the long haul (in case you hadn’t guessed!) and my ability to stay rests by and large with you. So I’d love to know what your thoughts are on any of the points raised here – do you see some things that you love or some that you’re really not okay with. Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and also, don’t forget to let me know if there’s any type of content you’d like to see more or less of here.
Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end! You deserve a medal… and a very large coffee!
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