Sunday, 20 August 2017

Levelling Up In the Blogging Industry & Why No One Talks About Glass Ceilings



Despite my true adoration for the world of blogging, it does have it's hiccups. The majority of which get thrown around as concepts and notions on social media, particularly Twitter, and if you're a regular in the Blogosphere you'll be used to a fair few Twitter rants to boot. One you may remember may be the great bot scandal of 2k17 and you can read about my completely shitty experience with it right here. Other blogging cons are the lack of diversity, copy catting, the "blogger goals" aesthetic, not to mention some under-appreciation from the mainstream media on occasions.

However, there is one hell of a dirty, dark side of blogging that I never see anyone discussing. Maybe I'm out of the loop, or just not following the right bloggers - but no-one ever seems to address the glass ceiling situation in the influencer industry. It's real, and it's a serious issue. Blogging has become a multi-level game, where you really do need to unlock certain products, attributes, or aesthetics to level up in the industry.

LEVEL ONE

It's October 2015, and I've just started my blog. A month of beginners' blogging has equated to around ten blog posts, all with about 20 views (all of which are my mum and her middle-aged friends) and my photos are shot on an already outdated in iPhone 5. Grainy, pixelated images adorn the unprofessional layout of my ~ thekittyluxe.blogspot.com ~ domain.

I could totally see why no-one wants to read my blog. A simple snoop around the Blogosphere leads to the bloggers I aspire to be like, those with professional websites, sharp photography, and a real "branded" vibe to them. I was no White Teeth Teen (Lorde, 2013) in the blogger community, and I knew I had to invest and implement changes if I wanted people to read what I had to say. 

I was a broke student, but there were no excuses & I needed to get my blog off the ground. So I spent a month designing my own layout, coding it myself in html, and designed my own blog logo in the trial version of Photoshop. I heard from a few brand reps and other bloggers that you wont get as many collaborations and brands wont take you seriously, with a blogspot domain - so I spent around £10 on my very own .com domain, and then upgraded to the iPhone 6 on my next phone contact update for a better camera to take shots on.

Level One - Complete.



LEVEL TWO

A little time had passed and I noticed that my photos still weren't anything near the quality of posts on the #beautyblogger hashtag. I sat down in front of my laptop and watched video after video on YT, trying to learn how to better edit my photos. As a matter of urgency I went out to Ikea and bought a small white table for a fiver, a handful of blog props from Home Bargains, and did all of my flatlays on it pushed up against the biggest window in my studio apartment.

It must of been weeks of searching, watching, and practising before I saw any improvement in my posts - phew, it was eventually worth it. I remember thinking to myself, "Well this may not be #goals but it will have to do" and then instantly getting the blogging fear after turning up to events with my sad little iPhone 6 when everyone else had DSLRs draped around their necks. Nevertheless, my photos were getting great feedback, and I used it as confidence booster - it took bloody ages, but I had nailed photo editing.

Level Two - Complete.





LEVEL THREE

I had photo taking and editing all figured out, my blog had a legit logo and it's very own website domain - oh, and I had even learned how to use Google Adsense which I though was well fancy at the time - but something still wasn't right about my website. I really didn't know what was going wrong, I was getting a lot of non-returning traffic, my bounce rate was through the roof, and my following was slowing down (tbh it was depleting) and I had no idea what to do. 

I had defo been putting off the idea of investing in a blog layout for ages, but it was time to take the plunge. I was constantly debugging all sorts of issues with the one I had coded, and I never got it to look... profesh. I opted for a £50 Pipdig layout for Blogger - which was pretty expensive for a broke ass student, but anything to level up in the Blogging Game right?

Level 3 - Complete.






LEVEL FOUR

Level 4 is the hardest, and longest level - requiring the up most dedication to the blogging industry I started working on my whole "aesthetic" whether that be simple flaylay look, or my whole bedroom. Palms everywhere, fluffy pillows, geometric bed sheets, rose gold accessories - the blogger aesthetic is real. The more "blogger" I made my home, the more I could use it to shoot in. Lifestyle shots are all the rage right now, so having an instagrammable bed is a must-have. IG ready interior, check?

Every item I bought became an investment, but the thought before every purchase was "will this look good in photos" or "will this make my interior look more #goals on IG" which is really quite sad. Because I was living on peanuts during my degree, I had to look at things this way - investment, investment, investment. Turns out, investing in blogging props - whether they're actually practical or not - is a great way to grow your blog/IG. 

I also learned how to stand.... Weird - but practising those look-a-like candid poses will fair you well in outfit shots. I am no way near thin enough for real candids and if I get caught off-guard there are definitely way too many chins in one photo. I spent a while saving/pinning fab shots that I really liked, and thought would be flattering for my body type - and I've been practising them ever since.

Level 4 - Complete.



LEVEL FIVE

Okay guys, so this is currently me. Hi, I'm Level Five Holly aka The Kitty Luxe. I'm stuck in limbo somewhere between Lvl 4-5 - Currently hitting the biggest, thickest glass ceiling of them all and I can't get out.

I'm stuck here using an iPhone 7 as a crutch, and a laptop that currently doesn't type the letter "n". Seriously, in all my latest blog posts I've had to Copy & Paste the letter "n" into every word as my key just doesn't work. I'm a broke graduate and the blogging life isn't a comfortable one for me right now. It's getting less enjoyable with every post as it becomes more real with every word that I type - I'm well behind in the blogging game.

As much as I love reading blogs, I'm reading them less and less. Not out of jealousy, or spite, but because it brings on a real form of "Blogging Depression" that creeps up on me especially if I'm reading fashion blogs of beautiful, white, blonde, thin, toned, rich individuals - something that I'm not, and for the most part, will never be.

Weirdly enough, I have a strong feeling that being all of the above is so important in the influencer industry. The very large majority of bloggers I know is either white or thin or both. I can't actually name a "big" plus size, or even slightly chubs (like me) ethnic minority blogger apart from Grace Victory. I'm sure there are plenty of bloggers out there like me, who fall into the not-white, not-thin category but they just don't hit it big time. It does make me wonder why that is?

Truth is, if you're thin and white you have a much better chance at hitting it big time because you're the industry's #goals. If I scroll down my Explore page on Instagram, all the bloggers that come up are indeed thin and white, usually with glowing tans in candid bikini shots, short skirts, crop tops... you get the idea. It seems to me like one of the real glass ceilings in the industry is breaking through and becoming this generic #goals figure. If I lose 30lbs and have a tiny waist & thin legs, will I have a good enough body for people to follow me?






Talking about that cash - If you have money, you're Divergent (aka Tris) tap on the glass ceiling and it breaks - simple. Want the new Olympus Pen EPL-8? No problem, you got it. Perfectly blurring 75mm F1.8 lens to shoot outfit shots with for £600+, that's cool - no biggie. Tap the glass, and you're levelling up.

On the other hand, I'm still on the daily blogging grind. Hopelessly scratching at a glass ceiling that I can't break, longing to level up like everyone else. I'm not sure what to expect from Level 6, but I can imagine the levelling up will involve an Olympus PEN E-PL8, a Gucci belt, a Mulberry handbag, the losing of at least 20lbs, and a brand new blonde do'.

Want to support my blog? 

I'm up for TWO blogging awards this year:

#bloggersblogawards: http://bit.ly/2vLEjem

*I was gifted this experience, however all thoughts and opinions are my own*
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25 comments

  1. This post is EVERYTHING! I feel like I'm forever stuck because I'm a disabled blogger, I feel like I've hit the glass ceiling and unless I magically become abled, I'm never going to break through.

    Shona | www.shonalouise.com

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  2. Sadly I can relate. I feel like in order to grow my following I have to keep pushing tons of money into my blog as I have to buy props for the images I want to post, I have to have the latest makeup, latest fashion, latest everything. I am white and blonde, but definitely not thin, so I'm scared to post photos of my body as I feel like that will make me lose followers. Blogging has so many ups,but it definitely has downs too and one of them is the glass ceiling of unattainable perfection.

    Lots of love,
    Agnese | www.agnesehadebe.com

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  3. I totally connected with this!! I see it so much- blonde thin rich gals living in London with 50k followers and it's just not me. I rely heavily on my iPhone and my god I don't even have budget for props haha!

    I love your Instagram and your blog and dare I say it, I think you're goals already gal! Also kudos for a blog post filled with n's, this must have been annoying to write haha ! X

    Maria | www.lifewithmaria.co.uk

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  4. This post is literally EVERYTHING to me. I know exactly how you feel - I aspire to be the best blogger I can be and I'm literally only getting my feet off the ground. I work hard for it every day trying to boost my following, trying to up my picture game and sometimes it feels like I'm not doing a thing!

    But I have had growth, it may not be as much as Missy down the street but it's something and that's the one thing that keeps me going. I swear, I'm probably only on level 2 but for me it's progress. I loved this so much and keep trucking forward, us plus size queens have to show the world how powerful we really are! X

    Liz. http://efforlescence.com/

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  5. This post is relatable. To be honest, I don't follow blogs anymore because the owners a thin and blonde or whatever, I follow them because of who they are. It's so sad to see the lack of diversity in the blogging atmosphere. I'm not super thin or blonde or 100% white, and I'm latina, so I get it, there are not many like us that we can relate and it sucks. I,however, believe there are so many people like that out there which can relate to us since there are not like the usual blogger and that is the kind of audience we need to reach. I think it is our job as newer blogger to change the industry and make people understand not every blogger is the same.

    Love
    Pili
    To Read with Tea

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  6. This post is so well written. �� I have always wondered if I'll be ever able to make it big like people in the west being a brown girl from a country where brands don't even ship directly and in the name of investment I pay double the price to buy products for review. Blogging is a crazy passion for me.

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  7. Oh yes! Wonderful post! so relatable and not whiny. Wishing you the best of luck further in your blogging journey! :)
    Madara
    Lookforsmile.com

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  8. This was so interesting to read. I hope that diversity in blogging will continue to grow x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

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  9. I loved reading this post as it really addresses a few major issues in that blogging universe. Even though I feel that way aswell sometimes, I think it's important to blog mainly for yourself and to invest because you like the things you purchase and not only because they fit into Instagram, because elsewhise I think that it's easy to loose the interest or at least the fun in blogging and creating content.. That's at least what I try to tell to myself, hoping that diversity will grow more and more in the meantime:)

    Have a nice day!
    Valeria

    www.perfectblvck.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this so much! I feel like there is so much pressure to constantly improve and be #goals all of the time. I use my iPhone to take pictures too, but it really feels like there is a pressure to invest in a 'real' camera. This is a really great post, and you've written it so well!xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

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  11. This post is so honest and truthful that it really opens your eyes to the blogging community! Personally I think there's so many copycat bloggers that the only way to really stand out is to be different but be yourself 100% and not just another version of another blogger x

    Everything But The Kitchen

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  12. This post has literally hit the nail on the head. It's summed up how i'm feeling 100%, i'm definitely stuck at level 2/3 tbh, flatlays definitely aren't my thing haha!

    Sarah
    sazbomb.co.uk
    xxxx

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  13. I'm currently at the point where I'm thinking should I or should I not buy a domain name?! Right now blogging is a hobby which keeps me sane and I'm about to start a full time job...

    Your point about Grace Victory was so true, I cannot think of another blogger who even falls into that category. Just to let you know though, I think you look amazing, your blog is so well laid out, photos are perf and your content is so engaging. Forget #goals

    Hannah x
    https://hannahnotes.blogspot.co.uk/

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  14. As I was reading this post, my mind was going "yes, YES, Y E S!!!", and that really shouldn't be the case. I definitely agree with you in that this is something we should address more. I think people have scratched the surface in realising the semi-irony in the beautiful, edited marble flatlays (that I am guilty of replicating), but nobody has called it out for what it really is. Until now. Thank you for sharing this post, and thank you for being so brutally honest- THIS is what the blogosphere needs.

    Sara | www.saralouisa.co.uk

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  15. This was a really good read, can totally relate.

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  16. Oh babe I can relate to this so much. I feel like I'm currently drowning in the bloggosphere somewhere around level 4 and can't for the life of me level up. No matter how much money I spend (that I don't actually have) I never seem to get anywhere - I'm trying so hard with my outfits, posing, learning how to shoot better, learning more editing tricks for youtube and I just don't know what I have to do to 'make it' these days! Hopefully we'll get there in the end, I for one, adore your blog <3

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  17. You're posts are always amazing but I've definitely felt like I'm drowning at the moment, my following growth seems to have reached a dead end, brands aren't reaching out and despite splashing the cash on a new camera it's not made a lot of difference. I'm not a skinny person, so I have to work up a lot of confidence to shoot an outfit post (even though I love posting looks) and I feel like fashion brands are less likely to approach me as I'm not a typical white, skinny minnie which means it feels like writing fashion posts are kind of pointless towards leveling up as a blogger.
    Alicia x
    Aesthetic Obsessed

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  18. You have a great blog and lovely figure so don't think you're not going places because you are 😊I wish I could get to the top of the blogging industry but it's so hard to compete when you've got these top bloggers who've been there for years!
    Http://www.glitzandglamourmakeup.co.uk

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  19. This is a really interesting post, because I've never actually considered that there's a glass ceiling in blogging, nor that it's because of appearance. If that's truly the case, I'm definitely never going to make it big - I'm not tanned, toned or thin, and never will be! x www.aimeeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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  20. This is honestly so helpful. As a mental health blogger, I think the importance of quality photos that I take at this time are not as necessary since I'm not showcasing any products, so level two is a little less relevant for me. But hey, if anyone disagrees with me I'd love to know. All my blog's title photos are mine and I use royalty-free stock photos within posts. If better photos that I take myself would up my blogging game despite my niche I'd do it.

    Anyway! I love your breakdown of what you felt were your milestones in the blogosphere. It gives smaller bloggers (like me!) a view of what's coming, and what it takes to get there. I really appreciate your candidness as well about the struggles of not fitting the ideal "blogger mold." I hate when people sugar-coat their journeys as if any of it was truly easy. It doesn't give a good picture of what it really takes to make it in the industry. So from a newbie blogger, thank you.

    (P.S. Love the outfit you look adorable.)
    (P.P.S. Gonna go read your other blogging advice posts because I really enjoyed reading this.)

    - Shannon | www.goingwithhappy.com

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  21. Love this post and the best of us are chubs

    Www.fashionforlunch.net

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  22. Loved this post!! Everything you said is so true. It seems a lot easier to hit it big if you are model material with a big budget. While other bloggers are eating macaroons in Paris, I'm wondering if I can afford a meal deal from Tesco.

    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

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  23. It was only recently until I realised the impact of the lack of diversity in the blogging world. Being a blogger who is from an ethnic minority group is not easy at all. Some people tend to fray from those who don't look like them because they believe they cannot relate. A large part of the blogging industry is European females. The lack of opportunities is becoming more event as I personally sink more into blogging- it can sometimes result in those who are from an ethnic minority working 3x harder for the same opportunity as our European counterparts. Not to mention those that differ in sizes, sexuality and mobility. Another great post on an clearly problematic issue.

    simplyjessytee.blogspot.co.uk

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  24. I just read this post now as I was browsing Bloglovin and I liked the title.... I'm so glad I did because I really empathise with what you've written. I'm not white or skinny and I'm definitely not loaded... but also not a mainstream blogger because as you say it's impossible to be mainstream unless you fit a preconceived mould. I've actually tried to avoid all the going cliches; I have a nice camera (hand me down from my Dad!) but I've never used a white background or a marble background or any of that. I'm not drawn to that stuff as a person and it would feel weird for me to appropriate that on my blog so I've just tried to forge my own path outside of the "traditional" blogging world. Huge appreciation and respect to you for sticking with blogging, investing in it and keeping an eye on the blogging world at large. x

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  25. Damn this is relatable. I think I got to level 3-4 and then started a brand new blog and zoomed down to level 1 again, I'm also moving house so it's not going to be instagramable for a while yet. I totally get where you're coming from though and I hope you smash through that ceiling soon.
    Ffi | The Essence Of Red

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