Monday, June 21, 2010

Confessions of a Fashion/Design Blogger

Blogging has definitely become competitive and a rat-race. The number of bloggers, especially fashion bloggers born everyday is umpteen. The more I browse link from link, the more I come across talented/not-so-talented amateurs and some super-popular bloggers' blogs. It's always fascinating to see how some blogs have over a 1000 or 2000 followers. These numbers used to amaze me. Then there's a column of blog-awards. And another column of sponsors and advertisers. More and more widgets are coming up that tell you how many visitors your blog gets, or where your visitors come from or how many profile views your profile has had and etc. It was all very impressive to me initially. Not until before a few weeks was I so impressed by these numbers that I too wanted them all! I wanted my blog to get more and more followers and more and more comments and what not! I was doing a major mistake...of misunderstanding the numbers for quality.

Well, while numbers definitely do represent the reach of a blog, and popularity too, to a lot extent, I realized that the vice versa is not really true; i.e.; a blog that doesn't have many followers is NOT a bad one. I realized that a lot of bloggers earn followers by requesting other bloggers to follow them or something like that. For a certain time-period, I did it too. And now, I only feel ashamed that I did. It may not be wrong to get your blog out there, but to "ask" people to follow you is a little too much. I think the strategy should be just to visit a blog, comment what you feel and follow if you want and period. If they see your comment, visit you and follow you, that's appreciable. Hence, I decided to stop chasing for numbers. While I love my followers, I think the true "blogger-friends" are those who really "read" and comment genuinely.

Women are really critical beings and when they do nothing but just appreciate others' blogs, it seems too good to be true! I'm not being pessimistic. I'm just trying to say that it's very normal to not like some posts and some styles and that it's not compulsory to appreciate the blogger every-time, even if you actually made a face and popped your eyes out when you first saw the post. A genuine (not rude) comment should be made, if at all and that should not hurt the blogger. Sadly, the fashion blogging scene looks far from that and all I see are "Oh lovely post, honey!" (What does that say about the post at all? I know you did not read it) or "I like the scooter!" (What scooter? Oh that one in the corner of the photo which can be identified only via a magnifying glass? I know you didn't like my photo) and such. I understand it's hard to return compliments at times. Then what do you do? To lie just to return the favour is ridiculous. Just wait for another post from that blogger or go through some old ones and then comment if you like. Sigh but who goes through so much, right?

When I first started  blogging, it was all about rants and scribbles. It was all about words. And even today, I feel that a real post ought to have some words, little or more of relevant writing. Now I know this one doesn't much apply to fashion blogs and does not apply at all (mostly, if you want) to photography blogs but it's the fashion blogs we're talking about. So, it's not really a problem if you're posting your outfit and not writing much. That's legit and makes absolute sense. However, when you are just picking up pictures from somewhere and posting them flat on your blog, sorry but it's not telling me much about you and not making much sense either. Although, this blog characteristic doesn't hurt, it's always good to get some background on the pictures.

There are fashion bloggers all over the world and increasing. US, Europe and Australia seem to be from where most of the bloggers are but a happy change is a whole lot of smart bloggers coming up from India. Although these bloggers love playing with colours, they have their own eclectic mix of styles which incorporates the Indian ethnicity and Western geometry. The best part is that they don't have a million followers or a hundred publicity strategies and yet, they're earning the recognition they deserve via Indian press. Isn't that wonderful? I'm really happy that blogging is becoming has become a major trend in India too. 

While I have many more things to say, I will just stop right here for now and let you all ponder over these confessions for a while. I was seriously considering stopping blogging on French Leave and I still do get those moments when I think "Umm, why? This is all too superficial."; but talking to friends and well-wishers makes me reconsider. Knowing that I have many "non-following", "non-commenting" readers is definitely a boost. So, I will continue French Leave, but rather than getting stuck in the rut and not liking it, I'll call it a Lifestyle blog rather than a fashion/design blog. 

Do not misunderstand me for being too negative in my outlook. There is also a lot of positive side to each of these attributes that I talked about here. Probably I'll write up about that later sometime but till then, these confessions are what I have. 

19 comments:

Barry said...

Hey, lovely post my dear! j/k

Tamanna, I've always loved you (can I say that in context?) not only for the quality of your writing but for your honesty. I agree with pretty much everything you've stated here. Wow, where to start?

Fashion blogs are a different animal entirely. They definitely have their place, but I do agree with you about the comments. I suppose it's nice that people drop by and leave a quick something, maybe it's to show that they read it. But when someone says "Nice post" I always wonder what they liked about it. What impact did it have? Not everything will resonate with everyone, often I will wait until I read something that hits home with me.

The biggest thing I agree with here is that the number of followers doesn't always represent the quality of a blog. Generally I find that blogs with a massive amount of followers are very good, but I have found some fantastic blogs with very few. Recently I found one that featured terrific poetry which had only one or two followers after being up for months. Of course I signed on.

French Leave most definitely has a place and is a valid representation of who you are. You balance the more "superficial" with tremendous intellect here (you may remember how concerned I was that you may have stopped Inflorescence).

I've always thought your writing to be brilliant and insightful Tamanna. I hope you'll continue to express yourself through writing such as this, or your poetry (which always takes me to another place).

Hey, this really was a lovely post! ♥

Tanvi said...

I was definitely gonna do a post on something similar, but you beat me to it ... i am totally with you on the topic of people asking you to 'follow' their blogs. I have never done it ... and I refuse to! I follow the blogs I like. I do not want to feel obliged to follow anyone's blog. Plus my readers have grown over the last 6 months. While I have been blogging for 18 months.

But I have to agree, I try and see the positive in the posts. I always read the matter. If I don't have time ... I do not comment 'coz I can't type dishonest words and beat around the bush 'oh lovely this and that!' Damn you! Lovely nothing! :P

Babes since you have already covered mostly everything I wanted ... I might just send the traffic to your blog so that they can too read what I really wanted to say!

Hope you had fun in Houston! Sorry missed you call. I returned it but then you must have been occupied! Another time! ;o)

Tanvi said...

I was definitely gonna do a post on something similar, but you beat me to it ... i am totally with you on the topic of people asking you to 'follow' their blogs. I have never done it ... and I refuse to! I follow the blogs I like. I do not want to feel obliged to follow anyone's blog. Plus my readers have grown over the last 6 months. While I have been blogging for 18 months.

But I have to agree, I try and see the positive in the posts. I always read the matter. If I don't have time ... I do not comment 'coz I can't type dishonest words and beat around the bush 'oh lovely this and that!' Damn you! Lovely nothing! :P

Babes since you have already covered mostly everything I wanted ... I might just send the traffic to your blog so that they can too read what I really wanted to say!

Hope you had fun in Houston! Sorry missed you call. I returned it but then you must have been occupied! Another time! ;o)

Vintage Obsession said...

I could totally connect with what you wrote hun , some times the ridiculous comments i get , when i had posted a friends picture and stated clearly (2 para) that it was a friend there were comments which said oh you look so good ??@@##$$?? like seriously .yeah and the time to time i'm following you so care to follow me back question.Yes it does amaze me how sweet women are on the blogosphere . every time i wear something out of the box the comments i get on the road is starch contrast from that on the blog .But thats how it is

Cinderella said...

Now this blog speaks me mind. More so because I have been here since the five-six years or so.

I have started, and in the middle of somewhere gotten like 130-120 comments from readers, but I have never really been happy. While I have had the good luck to find really interested readers who like my writing, many have been the i-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kinds. At one point it all became so superficial a rat race that I quit for almost a year. But then, for the love of writing and the realization that I cannot give up doing what i love just cz of a few handful shallow hals. If I am genuine, I will have genuine ppl for company.

And I think thats the way its been. I do have readers who I know are unnecessarily saccharine just so they'd ensure you go to there pages. As irritating it is, I think one just needs to hold ones fort. Reading a blog or commenting should be a task, if you have liked a post words will tumble out from nowhere.

I am not a fashion blogger, neither does fashion interest me like it appeals to you guys, but I read posts when I spot somehting interesting and comment if I have really liked it. Its natural, and I donot do that in order to oblige y'all to grace Intelligensia.

I know where my blog stands, for some narcissist reason I believe it is beneath Intelligensia to such kinda thing. Maybe thats why post come bk, number has never been an issue.

And I just realized I have written a thesis just now. Bottom line, just be yourself hon. Thats all that will matter in the long run.

25BAR said...

'Blogging has definitely become competitive and a rat-race', it appears so. I find it particularly amusing to find posts that start with, 'I have very little time today, I'm busy because I have to do this at work, then this thereafter, and this at home'. It'll go on for a bit, and a bit more. And finally, 'Ok, now I got to run!'.

Candice said...

This is really interesting. I agree, i have to say i dont think i fully understood how many blogs and fashion blogs in particular there were out there! Another factor i have noticed through is they tend to only last a short period of time. there are many blogs that have posts for say 6 - 12 months, then a couple of "sorry i havent been blogging much lately" and then they never blog again! And it doesnt get deleted or anything. it just stays, hovering around.

There are also heaps with only a few posts a month which means even a years worth of blogging is not many entries. But i know what you mean, i have had a few blogs in the past (over a few years) and i was about the numbers as well for a while.
Anyway, good post :)
x

Naina said...

Wow what a great post. Thanks. I truly enjoyed reading it. I just started a blog recently and all of this is quite new to me. Sometimes I am disappointed that my good friends (non bloggers) have not signed up to follow and support me. But, I think you are right, many visit the blog and just don't comment and don't follow. I want to keep my focus on quality and keep writing about what interests me. Thanks again for your insight!

a(: said...

I completely agree with your thoughts about the influx of bloggers. I think there are a substantial number of people who are blogging for the 'wrong' reasons though they are entitled to their own opinions. Asking for followers seems slightly demeaning; that they do not have the confidence in themselves to know that if they are saying the right things, and having a personal voice, people will start reading and "following" their writings.

Great blog post; I loved it!

Diya said...

wow, I just read this but it totally speaks my mind! I ashamedly STILL somewhat care about the followers/numbers and most days don't want to post because what I'm wearing doesn't seem "spectacular" or whatever. I also some times compare myself to other bloggers and look at THEIR numbers and wonder "how did they do that? I want to do that? Unfair! I deserve it as well!" blah blah blah. Totally unnecessary if I love my blog? yes. That's where I'm at recently and have decided to comment back more on the people that have always genuinely commented (and demonstrated that they read my text) on my blog.


Also, I hate hate HATE those "nice post" or "cool shoes" or any comments under 5 words, basically. I've considered not posting them because I know they didn't care for or about my blog post. Some people have just posted their blog URL and NOTHING ELSE. really? I never publish those comments because I find them annoying.

-Diya

katthroatworld said...

i found your blog post through diya. so true that the number of followers a blog has means nothing.. there are blogs with little or no followers that are actually much better than the most popular ones. keep up the good work~ i love posts with quality content. ;)

- kat

HC! said...

i totally agree with everything that you have stated in this post. when i first started my blog, i was a person hungry for followers and comments to signify my blogs validity. now i realize that's total nonsense and that i would rather 10 followers who actually read my blog, than 100 who didn't. so i totally understand what you're saying.

Yasmeen Buttons said...

I see what you mean. I spend a lot of time looking for bloggers who are just starting out because they always seem more real. I usually spend a week or two following a blog before I decide to dump it or keep following.

But yea...One thing I don't like is the minuscule comments... Since I started I've been trying to leave substantive comments or nothing at all. But with the amount of blogs I'm following, it's hard to spend a lot of time on each one. I just recently dumped a handful of blogs that I don't really look forward to reading. Of course I'd love to have loyal readers...but I want them to be people that care and appreciate my style...otherwise they're just a number.

The one thing that bothers me is that people will ask you to check out their blog...and there's really nothing that great or impressive on there, at all. I think if you put your foot forward, you should put your best foot forward. I started my blog and I was in huge doubts about it because I don't have a good camera (yet!) but I made it anyway. I haven't been posting as often as I'd like but enough that people know who I am when I comment, I think. I really don't want to post daily if I have absolutely nothing to say. I feel like some people just do that anyway because they really want to be involved in this "community"...a personal style blog is best done utilizing good photography and effort (not cell phone pictures!)

This was a great post and I hope to hear more from you.

Yasmeen

Yasmeen Buttons said...

I just wrote a up a giant comment but it didn't post for some reason (frustration!)

Anyway, let me try to reassemble my thoughts again. I know what you mean. It's so competitive now. It's upsetting because I like to spend my time looking through smaller less known blogs...but they seem to be imitating the style of the bigger blogs. That's not what I want to see, you know? Everyone has different tastes and styles and should portray that however they want.

Of course it's nice to have followers/readers but I wouldn't want to have followers who don't really care about my posts...or are just following because they want a follow back. Where did the caring go?

When I first discovered fashion blogging, I always tried to write long comments or nothing at all because I'm sure the writer would appreciate some thoughts. But I'm following so many blogs it's getting difficult to spend a large amount of time on each one. So I had to unfollow a handful of them. It sucks but I guess I should only be following the blogs I look forward to reading. And so should everyone else.

One other thing I don't like (my other comment was more eloquent, sorry!) is when someone asks you to follow them and they don't really have anything interesting or insightful on their blog...just a bunch of awkward cell phone pictures. That sort of destroys the art of fashion blogging.

Anyway! I think I'm rambling. I enjoyed this post.

Yasmeen

Mae Lu said...

I've had this post up in my browser for a good two weeks, because I wanted to take time to read it once or twice and then comment on it. However, now that I've read it, all I can say is "bravo, you've said everything I've wanted to say about fashion blogs."

I honestly think there needs to be less said ABOUT the clothes we wear and why. We obviously like it, and that is why we wore it. Why waste time, content and visual space explaining an outfit and how much one loves it when it is obvious that one does by deeming it worthy enough to wear and photograph and post about? Take pride in your space and trust your readers' intelligence that they want something more than just "I like this outfit, and this is how I was feeling when I wore it." I want to live in my clothes and feel them rather than over analyze why I am wearing them.

That's the conundrum of style blogging that creates a stigma with other online forms of communication. People believe style bloggers have nothing going on upstairs because of the very reasons you wrote about. It's all so superficial with an added drive to hoard readers and followers, rather than worrying about what one is writing about. If your material is compelling and engaging and of quality, then quality readers and followers will come.

It's hard for me to strike that balance, when there is a stat counter right in my wordpress dashboard, but most of the time, I try not to care. I just care that I write and post about things that matter to me. Like I said, if people like what I wear, what I post and what I have to say, then they will return.

Thanks for writing this. It gave me a lot to think about in my own writing.

You can visit my writing and style blogs if you appreciate what I said here. www.maeko.org (personal)

style blog linked below

Poohkie said...

Hi Tamanna, this is one of the most honest posts that I've ever read. It really touched me and helped to realise that its okay to do what i feel like and not write just for the heck of it.

Adorable On Your Vanity said...

Tamanna I feel you. Beauty blogging is equally bad. I know bloggers who are insanely competitive and will do anything for free products - even write biased reviews.

BUT you don't quit blogging. I may not always comment on your posts, but I do read most of them and you are really talented at what you do.

Dusk said...

I missed a brilliant post. I swear i thought I had joined this blog.... I know I've read posts here before.

Nothing to add.... You have said it perfectly. you are surfing the zeitgeist. Thanks for this Tam. You'll find that more and more bloggers will be shutting their comments down.

I have shut my comments section citing my inability to respond but truthfully, I'm just going back to my original way of being. I started my blog without comments. I think Smrithi is the only one who will remember that... she actually found me and spread the word!! [thanks my Sassy!]

I understand why we want like need comments but I think now... the tide has changed...

...thanks also to everyone here... your honest comments....we all feel the same way..., many of you have commented on my blog and many of you are my favourite blogs!... I can safely say that we do sincerely appreciate each other yes?

Dusk said...

I missed a brilliant post. I swear i thought I had joined this blog.... I know I've read posts here before.

Nothing to add.... You have said it perfectly. you are surfing the zeitgeist. Thanks for this Tam. You'll find that more and more bloggers will be shutting their comments down.

I have shut my comments section citing my inability to respond but truthfully, I'm just going back to my original way of being. I started my blog without comments. I think Smrithi is the only one who will remember that... she actually found me and spread the word!! [thanks my Sassy!]

I understand why we want like need comments but I think now... the tide has changed...

...thanks also to everyone here... your honest comments....we all feel the same way..., many of you have commented on my blog and many of you are my favourite blogs!... I can safely say that we do sincerely appreciate each other yes?

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