Being a beauty blogger is glamorous, isn’t it? You get sent all this free stuff, and if you are lucky, you will even get paid for the pleasure! All you have to do is take a few pretty pictures and write a few words right? How hard can that be?
I had dreamed of becoming a beauty blogger for years. I loved all things beauty, in particular skincare and the way it can not only help with how we look, but also how we feel. I also loved writing, the creativity of it, and the way it can make people smile. I knew I had the skill and the knowledge, I was just lacking the time. However, due to a series of unfortunate events, I found myself with that elusive commodity called time. I knew it was now or never. Therefore, almost one year ago to the day I launched Knackeredat40, and propelled myself into the world of a beauty blogger…….
Back then I was confident, self-assured. I had a purpose, a voice, and I knew what I wanted to say. However, fast forward almost a year and I was drowning in a mass of social media misconceptions. I was basing my worth on how many likes my latest Instagram post had accrued, second-guessing every single word I had written. My skin was no longer in good nick, it was practically screaming with product overuse, and worst of all, I no longer liked myself. This version of myself was so far removed from who I was a year ago.
I opened the Knackeredat40 Instagram account a couple of months after I started the blog. I discovered that having a social media presence would help draw traffic to the blog.
Yet it really isn’t as simple as that. You need to build a following, and that’s where it becomes a bit tricky. This is not something you can do quickly, it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience (I am not blessed with the latter).
There are all these politics, like for a like and follow for a follow, it is hard to keep up.
You engage on one person’s post in the hopes that they will then engage on yours. The next thing you know, you have lost hours of your day scrolling your feed, engaging on posts in the hopes that this engagement would be reciprocated.
You follow everyone in the hope that they will then follow you back.
I spent months adopting this approach, blindly engaging and following, until I realised that even though this is how you ‘can’ grow your account, it isn’t neccasarily how you ‘should’ grow your account.
If all my engagement was just a reciprocation, then how did I know if anyone actually enjoyed my content?
In addition, due to the amount of time I spent aimlessly scrolling my feed, my blog was becoming seriously neglected. Surely this defeats the purpose?
I realised that if I wanted to do this right, I needed to accept that it would take time.
However this was only the first hurdle of many that I would need to overcome …….
As a blogger/content creator/influencer, we need to keep track of our stats so that we can make sure we are providing the right content for our audience. In addition, when working with brands (more to come on this shortly) they will want to know about your engagement score, sales conversion rate, etc. The numbers are important.
Unfortunately, these numbers started to dictate everything for me. Not only how I felt about my content but also, how I felt about myself as a person.
If a post did well I would feel on top of the world, and this feeling became addictive. I wanted this feeling every time I posted, therefore losing sight of why I was posting in the first place.
It wasn’t like I sat down one day and thought “oh I am going to start creating content that will get better engagement”. Yet, somewhere along the way, subconsciously, I started to change my content slightly in the hopes that it would be well received. The drive behind why I was posting had shifted. My driving purpose was the numbers, and how I could continuously receive that high.
This is absolutely not the right approach to take for so many reasons, but ultimately, it was my own mental health that suffered. I forgot why I was here in the first place. I lost my purpose, completely consumed by the numbers.
How many times have you sat there and thought “how amazing would it be to get sent free stuff all the time”? I have definitely thought that. Who wouldn’t want to be sent free stuff?
The thing is, it’s not free stuff.
Whilst a brand cannot dictate whether you will create content for this ‘free stuff’, you can still feel pressure to do so. This content creation is not a two-minute job. You need to create the images, read reviews, spend time trialling and testing the product, researching the brand. This is a lot of work that you are basically doing for free. Believe me, when I say, it would be much easier to just go out and buy the product for yourself.
To begin with, I did exactly that. Due to the fact that my following was small, the PR opportunities were sparse, and I didn’t want to feel obligated to post about a product that I wouldn’t genuinely purchase myself.
However, what I realised is, people were almost wearing their PR like a badge of honor. If you were receiving PR then that must mean that you are doing well? So I started to accept it. Whilst I still turned down many (my main objective has always been to be authentic), I did start saying yes more often.
Once you post about a ‘gifted’ product you feel all this additional pressure for that post to do well. You want to impress the brand and if the post is well received, the brand is more likely to ‘work’ with you again.
In addition, I have only got one face. There is only so much skincare I can test at one time and I ended up with such a backlog that it all added to the stress and pressure.
Or paid collaborations. That’s the goal here right? To get paid for the content that you create. That’s your ticket to being a beauty blogger for a profession.
Unfortunately, brands do not often want to pay you for the privilege. They would much rather have you create this content for free. The market is saturated and there are so many other bloggers that would be more than happy to create shed loads of content for a free £20.00 moisturiser.
Again a sponsored post is worn as a badge of honor. A sponsored post means that you have made it! You have achieved the almost unachievable, and have turned this passion of yours into a career.
Unfortunately, if you do not manage to negotiate for the ellusive sponsered posts, you feel like you are failing. Yet another blow to your confidence and self-esteem.
I spent so long trying out different content styles, and ideas, all in the hope that it would attract brands and I myself would be able to wear that sponsored badge of honor, that I became further lost in the social media abyss.
Boy comparison really is the thief of joy. We know this, I know this, and yet, it is almost human instinct to compare yourself to others.
Whilst I have compared myself to others a few times over the years, the creative space of blogging, especially in the beauty industry, seems to amplify this comparison so much more.
At first I would lie to myself. Tell myself I needed to look to others for inspiration, and that is genuinely how it started. However, slowly, over time, that search for inspiration manifested into something different entirely.
I started to question everything I was producing. Picking it all apart with a negative, and critical eye. Why couldn’t I create images like that? Why couldn’t I produce more professional content? Why did I always have to make a joke about everything? Why couldn’t I do better, be better?
I started to spiral, lost in the numbers, in the comparison, in this desperate need to be successful, and started to question if this was actually the right path for me. Clearly, I am not cut out for this, I would tell myself. I tried, I thought. At least I tried.
Finding my way.
The strangest thing happened.
Once I let go, once I stopped chasing the paid collabs, once I stopped comparing myself to others, and finally let go of the numbers, I remembered why I was here in the first place.
The reason I created my Instagram account was to push traffic to my blog, the same blog that had been neglected. In addition, the reason I created this blog had nothing to do with ‘paid collabs’ or ‘sponsored content’, and everything to do with writing. Using my voice, helping people to feel good about themselves. How far had I fallen?
Obviously, I would be thrilled to gain an income through my blog, but the goal was always to do that through my writing, getting it published. Yet I had spent months battling for paid collaborations?
I stopped looking at my numbers with a negative and critical eye. I started using them for the purpose they were intended, to ascertain what content my followers enjoyed. I stopped criticising my writing style and accepted that my style was both unique and authentic.
I remembered what I was doing here in the first place. The relief I felt was intoxicating.
I really did lose my way for a while and for this I apologise. Whilst my content has always been honest, It hasn’t been authentic. I started trying to be something I am not, and I genuinely didn’t like that version of myself.
Those numbers, that follower count, are real people. They are what matters. I started to create content for these people and myself once again, and in doing so, I found my own voice.
The crazy thing is, once I realised just how far I had lost my way, I was offered several paid collaborations, and I said no. Why? Because it wasn’t the right fit, it wouldn’t be authentic. Success comes in many forms, for me success is producing content that people enjoy. Content that makes people smile.
As and when I feel ready, I may work on sponsored posts, but I will not longer chase it, and it does not define my success.
The point of this post is to hopefully help others who have struggled within the blogger space. To show that we have all been there, wrapped up in the numbers, and pulled along by the hype. It’s ok to make mistakes, so long as we learn from them.
In addition, put more of your focus on the positives. I have built some wonderful relationships over the last year with amazing and inspiring people. I have become part of a community that feels like home. I have a platform to share my opinions and ideas with other genuine and like minded people. I didn’t realise just how lucky I was.
If you ever struggle with anything mentioned in this post today, please reach out to me. I am certainly not an expert, but I do have a friendly ear and may be able to help.
Loved this post Natalie, it’s so true and resonates with me. I myself got myself a little lost in an insta black hole the other month and frankly it made my mental health suffer. I put too much pressure on myself, and for why? I am not someone who cares what people think of me in the real world but in insta world I seemed desperate for acceptance and would do anything to gain it. I am so glad I’ve now taken a step back, given my head a good shake, now posting what I want, when I want and… Read more »
So true Annie. I completely understand though. I too do not care what others think of me in real life but Instagram seems to be a whole different ball game! I wonder if it’s because we are showcasing our vulnerable side. My creative side is something personal to me and therefore I seem to be much more sensitive about how it is received. Its a difficult thing to navigate but we definitely need to not let it take over our ‘real lives’!xx
Brilliant read, thank you Natalie. Can so relate to this!
Thanks so much Mrs x
I truly enjoy your creative content, writing style which is indeed so authentic and honest! You’re definitely an inspiration to me and I’m sure to many, many others!
Thanks so much lovely!