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One, two, three… twelve different Instagram Stories of different bloggers sharing a gift they received from a makeup brand. Some blogs are larger than mine, others are smaller. Why didn’t I get the gift?
Uh oh, blogger envy.
If you blog, you likely know this feeling. Back when I started blogging, there really wasn’t such a thing. You did your thing, you maybe met a couple other bloggers but they were doing their own different things. No one was getting boxes full of lip products or trips to Tulum. We shared, we maybe brought in a few bucks from Google ads or Amazon affiliate links, but it wasn’t about swag.
But now with Snapchat, Instagram and Instagram Stories, and sponsored posts it’s impossible to connect with your fellow bloggers and not see those who are receiving freebies, going on sponsored trips, and suddenly being able to afford Louboutins and Louis Vuittons.
There’s a few reasons why they’re receiving and you’re not. And all of them should wash away any traces of blogger envy.
That Brand Isn’t For You
You’re a plus size blogger and everyone’s getting sweaters from Everlane. You’re a straight sized blogger and everyone seems to be heading to a fabulous destination with Catherine’s. You’re an over-40 blogger and everyone seems to be getting trendy lipsticks from Maybelline. You’re a college-aged blogger and everyone’s getting stuff from StriVectin. You’re a food blogger and everyone’s getting mascara. You’re a beauty blogger and everyone’s getting Blue Apron.
First of all, it isn’t everybody. And second of all, you’re not their demographic.
That’s not a bad thing. If you try to be everything, you fail. If you try to please everyone, you fail. Find your lane, your niche. Relish in it, network in it, hashtag the hell out of it. Be proud of your special-ness. And remember when you get some free swag, there’s likely someone in a completely different niche who is feeling FOMO because you got what they didn’t.
You Have Something Else Going On
I go through Snapchat and Instagram Stories and see bloggers in my neck of the woods attending events I wasn’t invited to. Why didn’t I get an invitation? Maybe it’s because 99% of the time when I actually DO get an invite, I have to decline. I have a full time job, a kid, a husband, a bunch of non-blogging friends. If I have to decide between a blogger event and dinner with my family and an episode of Fashion Police snuggled in bed with Karl, I usually choose the latter. Often times these events happen during work hours, or would require me racing from Maryland to DC in rush hour still in my office fashion to pant as I walk through the doors of a boutique/café/bar and drink tepid Korbel while realizing my shoes hurt, my hair fell, and I left my business cards at home. So yeah, I’ve set myself up to not be invited.
Maybe it’s a family, maybe it’s a day job, maybe it’s studying for an MBA, or dance classes, or coaching Little League. Whatever it is, it’s important, it’s what defines you and likely makes you so appealing to your readers, and is likely why you’re not at that boutique/café/bar with champagne in hand on a Tuesday evening.
You Define Your Success in a Different Way
Blogging for over a decade, I see how age will affect how one determines success. When I was 29, success was getting free stuff in the mail from brands I liked (and even brands I didn’t, who doesn’t love free stuff??). When I was in my 30s, success was being asked to host events, style events, be mentioned in articles on websites and print magazines. Now that I am in my 40s, success is being able to grow this business financially without sacrificing my ethics or losing my long-time readers.
I wasn’t wrong in my 20s, I wasn’t wrong in my 30s, and I don’t feel wrong now. Keep this in mind. If need be, write down what you see as success. Successful blogging can have so many different looks, can go in so many different directions. Wanting it all isn’t going to help you get it all. Smaller, more manageable goals will guide you towards actual success.
You’re Not an Individual
Who wants another something and something blog wearing a blanket scarf and laughing to herself as she strides purposefully into a wall while checking the time on her Daniel Wellington watch? No one. Not readers, and surely not brands.
Success doesn’t come from imitation. Success comes from providing something that isn’t already out there.
At first you may feel successful by imitating others. You’re gaining followers on Instagram, your photos have been pinned a few times, and maybe you got a Daniel Wellington watch. But success is fleeting when you bring nothing new to the table, and free lipsticks don’t pay the rent.
Whether it’s your style, your writing, your photography, your personality, or something else; it’s necessary to have something fresh to be successful.
And a little FYI… you can’t base a blogger’s success by her Instagram following or her free hotel stays. A lot of this is all smoke and mirrors. The blog with fewer than 10K Instagram followers may be bringing in five times the money of the blogger with 100K. A free hotel stay is often just that – a free night in a hotel room. The blogger with 25K Instagram followers may get the big box of swag but the blogger with 5K followers might be the one who got the series of paid blog posts from the same company. Stop comparing; you don’t even know if who you’re envious of has an enviable blogging business.
You Don’t Care About Your Readers
If all followers are to you are a boost in your Instagram numbers, you won’t last. If you think it’s more important to network with bloggers than with readers, you won’t last. If you’re more psyched to get a free box of haircare than to get an email from a reader thanking you for what you posted, you won’t last.
Brands only like you if you’re helping them sell more stuff. If you don’t have a real audience, the freebies will eventually dry up and the affiliate links will only bring in pennies. And readers are who will motivate you, inspire you, provide you with content ideas, attend your events, and recommend you to friends.
You Don’t Put in the Work
Ugh, that blogger just puts on clothes and prances around on a street while her boyfriend takes her pictures and she’s like a millionaire. It’s so UNFAIR!
I hate to break it to you, but that blogger does a hell of a lot more than prancing on a city street in a pair of Manolos. There’s so much behind the scenes that’s taking place for her to be so successful.
I believe in working smart, not hard. Over the years I have refined my methods for blogging to accomplish more with less time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t work a lot, and put in a LOT of effort. Monetized blogging is a business. Compare it to owning a restaurant or a boutique. When you own a business, you rarely take a vacation. Even if you go away for a week, you’re constantly emailing or texting with your manager, calling to check in, putting out fires. You may technically have a day off work, but that doesn’t mean half your mind (or more) is on the store or what is going on in the kitchen. You wake up in the middle of the night with amazing ideas or panic attacks that you forgot to lock the door, place that order, or turn off the grill. As soon as you think you have a lull and can sip your now-cold latte and scroll through Instagram you get a nasty Yelp review, a shoplifter steals your whole front table, or you get a leak in the ceiling.
Blogging is like that, except most of it takes place in the glow of a laptop screen. Prancing for the camera may be 75% of the work when you’re a new blogger or a non-monetized blogger. But when you turn it into a business and begin to get press, traffic, and opportunities those photo shoots are maybe 15% of your work. Contracts, emails, conference calls, networking, events, meetings, taxes, writing, editing, social media, marketing and promotion, business development, staff training and management, and much more. Just like running any other business, most of the hard work is behind the scenes and a successful business keeps it all behind the velvet curtain so it looks effortless and fun.
I’ve had dozens of bloggers email me asking for advice on how to grow their blog. I’ve had less than a handful follow up on it. Rarely do I get a thank you or a follow-up question, more often I have them joke that I do a lot of work or even that I wrote so much they don’t have time to read it.
If you don’t have time to read my email, you don’t have time to have a successful blog.
If you don’t have time to maintain more than two social media channels, you don’t have time to have a successful blog.
If you’re not taking the time to produce high quality content, edit your writing, edit your photos, learn new technology, you don’t have what it takes to have a successful blog.
And if you have the time to scroll through Snapchat and Instagram Stories while watching Scandal and consuming a few glasses of wine and feeling Blogger Envy, you DO have the time to have a successful blog but you’ve made a decision to use your time in a different manner.
Success doesn’t arrive just because you’re young or skinny or pretty or have an “Instagram Husband.” Success can come to anyone if they find their lane, do the work, and stop comparing themselves to others.
So how do you end blogger envy? Here's some tips…
Reduce your social media time. I wake up 30 minutes early each day to engage on social media and schedule content. I again do it for 15 minutes in the evening, and if I’m waiting for a coffee or an appointment I may do a bit more. I’ve turned off notifications, and even deleted some apps from my phone. I focus on business – posting, replying, retweeting, commenting, scheduling. You’ll be amazed how much more positive you feel about your station in life, as well as how much more time you have to work on your blog.
Quit the hate reads. Do you follow bloggers that you hate? Maybe they’re so annoying, or you can’t figure out why they’re so popular. Maybe you think they’re stupid, or unstylish, or mean, or lazy. Why are you wasting your precious time on them? Delete them from your Feedly, unsubscribe from their emails, delete them from Instagram and Snapchat. Negativity breeds negativity, and it eats away at creativity.
Network in your niche. Not all fashion bloggers are the same, and that’s a good thing. If you’re a budget blogger, networking with luxury bloggers may possibly increase your blogger envy and affect the direction of your content. Only attend beauty or travel events if this is a define niche that you regularly share on your blog. Getting to know fellow petite bloggers or plus size bloggers or midlife bloggers will help you connect with the brands and PR contacts that sell what you and your readers will buy. It will also provide an opportunity to cross-promote, do collaborations, and increase your followings.
Befriend bloggers. I don’t mean air kisses at an event and generic comments on their blogs. Get to know them as actual people. Talk to them on the phone, go out with them for coffee, have hidden DM convos on social media, have mile-long email threads, maybe create a secret Facebook group. Become real friends, not high school friends that will stab one another in the back over a boy or a brand.
If you are an original and befriend originals, there’s little true competition. And the combination of this and honesty means you can have real conversations about blogging. Discuss that difficult PR person, how to pitch to hotels, pageviews and pricing for sponsored posts. Not only can you get past the smoke and mirrors and really know how you fare with others, these real relationships will help you find your authentic voice and give you the confidence to be an original.
Get to know your readers. Ask them questions. Maybe do a reader survey (SurveyMonkey has basic options for free). Respond to comments. Consider branching out from Instagram to Twitter or Facebook (despite what the news says neither is dead). If you see an uptick in traffic for a certain post or day, don’t assume that’s what they want more of – ASK THEM. Take it from me, that traffic could be due to negative reasons or something completely random.
When you connect with your readers, not only will they feel valued, you will feel valued. It makes a huge difference when you know you’re not blogging to a vacuum. I consider many of my readers friends, and I think they feel the same about me. It’s an honor to have someone make a choice to regularly visit your blog. As we bloggers know, there’s a TON of blogs out there, readers have their pick. To choose yours, they deserve to be recognized, respected, and heard.
Get rid of the anger. That PR person never replies to your emails. You worked SO HARD on that post and not a single comment. You’re disgusted by other bloggers who are ignoring the political climate/talking too much about politics/supporting that brand/not spellchecking their posts. You busted your ass all year and ended up in the red.
I hear you. I’ve been there. But you know what? Harboring such anger and resentment doesn’t benefit you OR your blog. I’ve been that angry, spiteful, envious blogger and those periods of time were the least profitable, the times when I was raked over the coals the most on message boards, the times I received the least traffic and engagement, and the times I felt the most alone.
Blogging is a crazy profession that can really mess with your confidence, your psyche, and your wallet. Yoga, meditation, morning runs, boxing classes, a therapist… all of these are good ideas to stay sane and on track. Making real friends who “get” what you’re dealing with are also a must. Sometimes it’s good to share your feelings on your blog to let your readers know what’s going on, but regular venting can be a major turn-off.
When you’re unhappy, angry, and feeling frustrated it shows in how you dress, how you pose, how you write, how you engage on social media. Those real friends hopefully will be honest with you, and you’ll be honest with yourself and either get the support you need or decide if this is really the path for you. Because free lipstick not only won’t pay the bills, it also won’t heal the soul.
Define your purpose. WHY are you blogging? When new bloggers ask me for advice this is the first thing I ask them. And more often than I wish, they can’t explain it. They think it looks fun and it would be fun to get free stuff and they like to shop for clothes. Imagine if you were applying for a job as an editor at a fashion magazine and you offered that as your reasoning for applying. Think you’d get the job?
When you know why you are blogging, then you can define your goals and define your success. If your goal is to attend blogger events and get random free stuff in the mail, that’s cool but don’t ever expect your blog to grow. If you think you have an authentic voice, authentic style, unique photography, great writing skills, want to start another business and want to increase your following for it… those are legit goals and each one’s success is different.
Ask for help. Do all your pitch emails fall flat? Want to know how to get free hotels stays or big boxes of lipsticks? Ask those bloggers who do it, often they’re willing to provide some tips. Blogging can feel very lonely, but often it’s self-imposed isolation.
Ask for an honest critique. Send a blog post for a friend to review before posting. Ask another blogger their favorite thing about your blog and one thing you could change, add, or improve. If you want to go pro, consider hiring a virtual assistant, intern, or a company like ChloeDigital to help improve your blog and free up time to focus on content and engagement. If your photos suck, hire or barter with a photographer. Get out there and get real feedback. I know I’ve dwelled far too long on things I find majorly important that when I speak to others they never noticed.
Get out there, get connected, get honest, and I bet you’ll find you’re not that unusual, and also you’ll find not everyone received that gift from a makeup brand. Do you, live you, own you.
Find your north star. When I get jury duty I often take self-help books with me. Many moons ago before I was a blogger, I brought a book called Finding Your Own North Star. I don’t know if I finished the book, I don’t remember much of it except one exercise. I’m totally going off memory as I no longer own the book, so I apologize to Martha Beck if I’m remembering this wrong…
When you find yourself saying “everyone,” make a list of who everyone is. Everyone got that makeup gift? Go ahead and make a list of every single blogger who got it. Then think of how many blogs are out there, or even just the number of bloggers you follow. You’ll see it’s not only NOT everyone, but it’s not even a large percentage. This also is great for the, “Everyone has a pair of Gucci loafers” or “Everyone is going to NYFW” or “Everyone is on rewardStyle.” Heck, it’s great for non-blogging things too. It gives tangible, black and white in your face facts that bring you back to reality.
Blogging isn’t easy. But if it’s what you really want to do, you need to work on you before you work on networking. But you’re not alone – everyone isn’t getting that makeup gift, and everyone isn’t a mean girl. Be you, be a friend, and blogging as well as life is much easier.