This is one of those blog posts that I might end up regretting. So, please stop reading now if you’re an influencer and easily offended. The thing is I’m in a bit of a rut and suffering from what can only be described as “blogger fatigue”. And maybe part of the problem is that title and how I still describe myself. A blogger.
I first started blogging over ten years ago now. I had a full time job (that I hated as they treated me like dirt) and after being inspired reading loads of craft blogs (especially US ones) I realised that I needed to stop just reading about other people doing things. I was getting really annoyed that I didn’t ever achieve anything crafty and half of the problem was that I wasted all my time reading rather than doing. So I actually starting doing stuff myself. By writing down something like “I am going to make this” it meant that I felt a responsibility to actually do what I was telling people I was going to do. My productivity went through the roof and it was also wonderful to look back at what I had achieved in terms of knitting, sewing and later crochet.
Back ten years ago people blogged for themselves and their readers. There was no talk about SEO or Domain Authority. There was Facebook, but people didn’t really link their blogs to it. Instagram wasn’t even a thing on my radar. I’d never heard of a blogger working with a brand or a PR company. I blogged because it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to create content about the things going on in my life and I really enjoyed doing it.
Oh how things have changed!
Bloggers have now all become “influencers”. Mainstream media is full of stories about them and one (YouTuber Joe Sugg) even made the Strictly Come Dancing final. It’s not all favourable media coverage though. There are also plenty of stories about influencers demanding things from brands, and in some cases pretending that they are working with a brand as a way of seeming more important than they are. There are fresh rules about how we have to declare if we’re working with a brand, or if we feature something somewhere that comes from a brand that we have worked with in the past. It’s all a bit tedious, but I suppose necessary. Yet strangely there seem to be a load of “influencers” that don’t seem to think the rules apply to them. Interestingly they refer to themselves as influencers rather than bloggers…
And then there’s Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of time on Instagram looking at people’s feeds and admiring some of their pictures. To me though Instagram will always remain a way of people sharing pictures of what they’re up to. I like to think of it as instant snapshots of what is going on in their lives. A sneak peak. I use it as a way of telling people what I’m up to between blog posts.
The bit that does absolutely nothing for me though is curated feeds. You’re never going to find me carefully selecting pictures that have a certain colour palate so that they fit in with my Instagram mood board. I’m never going to be trying to dress my kids in specific outfits so they can fit in with a theme. It’s just not me. I can’t be bothered. Hell, some days I even wear jeans, t-shirt and a jumper that don’t really go together colour-wise. I probably do so because a) those clothes are clean, or nearly clean b) those clothes were warm and c) those clothes were to hand when I got dressed that morning.
The thing is I’m not cut out to be an influencer. I can’t even influence my children to eat vegetables on a regular basis, let alone take arty photographs to convince someone to buy something that I might not buy myself. My house is not instagram worthy. But over the years, partly through necessity, I’ve become someone who makes a living from blogging. I’ve been able to give my kids some amazing experiences through blogging and it also gave me enough of an income to pay for my divorce last year. It’s helped keep the roof over our heads and food on the table. So, why do I appear to be shooting the hand that feeds us?
I suppose what I’m doing is taking a bit of a stand about keeping things real. The other thing that I’ve done in the last ten years is have three kids. Now aged 8, 6 and just 16 weeks old I know that the main things they need in life are a loving home and good role models. Oh and plenty of chocolate in the case of the older two. Something they’ve definitely got from me.
What they don’t need in life is pressure to look perfect or behave in a certain way. They need to know that they can be themselves and that they should be proud to be individuals. I’m worried that things like perfectly curated instagram feeds puts pressure on them. I’m worried that it can also do the same to new mums. And dads. Being a parent can be a lonely business. Especially when it’s your first child. You feel under such pressure to do everything right. To be smiling, out of the house at various baby groups, buying all the right kit and living a Pinterest lifestyle where you’re constantly making healthy meals and organising educational craft activities for your little ones. Life isn’t picture perfect though. Pretty pictures are fine, and can be lovely to look at, but please don’t think that everyone lives their life like that.
My daughter loves books (especially Jaqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo ones), crafty activities, being in Brownies and Cubs, watching TV and Hatchimal Collectables. My son is obsessed with trains, croissants, anything space related (this week at least), watching Horrid Henry, audio books at bedtime and playing Crossy Road on his tablet. And winding his big sister up. Both of them enjoy riding their bikes and going and finding geocaches with me. Little Tube Stop Baby likes milk, cuddles and people who smile at her.
I love books, knitting and crochet, radio and podcasts, collecting Ladybird books and Blue Peter annuals, getting out in to the fresh air as much as possible, and of course my family. I’m also proud to be a WI member and a school governor. I’ve a geeky fascination with the London Underground and things more generally train related. I’m a sucker for a social history program on TV and I’ve normally got a cup of tea in my hand. As a family we love board games (especially vintage ones) and exploring the countryside.
These are the things I should be sharing here on my blog. These are the subjects I should be influencing people on. I want to stop focussing on material possessions.
I guess this waffling blog post has become my resignation letter from being an influencer. Or trying to be one as I’m not sure I really succeeded. I’m going back to being a blogger instead. Writing about the things I, and my family, love, and not worrying so much about what other people think. Yes I’m happy to keep reviewing things that my family use and enjoy. I’m happy to write about places that we visit as a family. I’m looking forward to having more time crafting and sharing my creations online. If a brand wants to work with me as a blogger then fine, but my days of reaching out are over. I’m not self-confident enough to do so. I can’t make promises to influence my readers about something. I’m off to find a different day job.
I just don’t have what it takes to be an influencer. And to prove it I’m not even going to bother finding an arty photo to accompany this blog post!