Last week, I attended something I never thought I would. I attended a blogging workshop. There's a number of reasons why I never would have envisioned myself attending such an event. For one, I'm not keen on having a stranger tell me how to run my blog, my passion project, my little space. Usually they cost money to attend too, and I'm really not about paying a stranger money to tell me how to run my blog. But when I saw a fellow Glaswegian blogger tweet about the free 'Blogging With Success' workshop, I thought I'd try and go along and see if it'd change my mind about these types of events.
The event was held in the Gallery of Modern Art, one of my favourite spots in Glasgow (if you ever visit my beautiful city, you just have to pop along!) and somewhere that always leaves me feeling inspired to create. The event itself was a panel discussion amongst 5 Scottish bloggers from a variety of backgrounds - fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle. One of the main things that initially caught my attention about this event was it's title - 'Blogging With Success'. I thought it'd be interesting to hear the views of other local bloggers and to see how their interpretations of success vary. After all, blogging itself as well as the concept of success are both very personal and very subjective.
I started my blog as a bored university student, keen to share my passion for writing on my own terms. I did the odd bit of work for local magazines and websites, some voluntary, some paid, but I wanted to create a place where I could write about what genuinely inspired and interested me, on my own terms. If people read it, that was great but I never set out to be a 'blogger'. Not that I knew what a 'blogger' was then. It was 2011. The world 'blogger' was simply someone who has a blog, it didn't hold half the baggage or inferences it holds today. By that very vague initial aim of my blog, you could consider me a successful blogger. I set out to create a place where I could write about what interests me and what I'm passionate about and I'm still doing just that more than 6 years later. But by other measures of success, I don't know that I'd be considered successful in the blogging game. Although, that also poses the question, who gets to define if you are successful?
While I'd love to make a career from writing one day, I cannot stress enough that my dream is not to turn my blog itself into a career. I've said this for a good few years now, ironically probably since I started making any money from blogging. There's lot of things, some big, some small, that I consider successful moments for me off the back of my blog and you could probably put them into two very distinctive categories. Firstly there's hugely influential brands and companies like Lush, Debenhams, Boots and The Cambridge Satchel Company to name just a few, approaching me to collaborate with, sending me their products and valuing my feedback. Secondly, there's finding people online via blogging that I can discussing my mental health with, who I can share ideas with and who I know respect me enough to criticise me when I'm wrong as well as praise me when I'm right. There's the communities I've found online where I can openly discuss taboo topics. There's the courage I've found online to come out. There's the people who've direct messaged me for my advice or my thoughts or who've told me I've helped them or inspired them. Two categories, two stories of the same blog, but two very different measures of success.
Two things happened to me recently which I'd consider to be a sign of a successful blog. The first, I was invited to attend a press show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Not with the promise of a review, just 'we like your blog, here's some tickets to see our show before anyone else, enjoy!' I've been a lover of the arts, in particular, stand-up comedy and therefore a Edinburgh Fringe loyal for years, so this was a dream come true. The world's biggest arts festival want me to get involve. I remembering calling my girlfriend while she was on her travels and being the most excited ever, probably babbling a loads of inaudible nonsense. Then there's the second thing. A few weeks ago, Make-Up Revolution regrammed an Instgram photo of mine of one of their eyeshadow palettes and let me tell you, I lost my shit. A huge international beauty brand with over 850k followers deemed my photo, shot on my iPhone camera with my £13 Ikea duvet as the backdrop worthy. 53 people liked my original photo. 9152 people liked their regram of it. At that point, I felt so amazing. I felt recognised as a blogger. But why? When my goal for my blog is to share my writing and I haven't written about beauty in over a year? It was the allure of the numbers and the recognition for something that doesn't even reflect what my blog is about and yet, I still couldn't believe it and felt accomplished.
Both amazing things I am proud of and happy about off the back of my blog, but in very different ways. One is about passion and a genuine love, the other is about recognition, and yes, I admit, numbers. It seems almost ironic to me that a lot of the components of something as fluid and subjective as success relate back to numbers, something very rigid and objective. Whether that's the number of followers or likes or how much a brand pays you. It's about the numbers to a lot of us. That's what blogging has largely become. But when I'm old and grey (here comes the Miss World speech...) and boring my grandkids with tales of how I was once a successful blogger, even if only by my own measures of success), I doubt it'll be the numbers that I'll remember. I won't remember or care who regrammed me. It won't be about the recognition. It'll be the feelings I got from blogging, it'll be what I've achieved in my personal life through the confidence, opportunities and broadened horizons I found via blogging. So yeah, I might never win any fancy blogger awards or be the face of a campaign or even ever have my own hashtag, but who says I want to?Does that make me any less successful? I certainly don't think so.
How do you measure success in blogging? I'd love to know!