September 10, 2014

What happens when your blog isn’t in a “category”?

me

A favourite quote of mine is about handbags. Before you roll your eyes and think I’m about to go all pink-and-fluffy on you, the sentiment is actually rather anti-handbag. I will paraphrase the quote; it was something I heard Caitlin Moran say at one of her secret gigs in Crouch End. Essentially, she is against the idea of an “investment handbag” – it’s something you drop fag ash on, vom in to, leave shitty receipts in and always find a pack of chewing gum from five years ago. This “investment” will not be there to save you when your 85 years old. That handbag will not be sold for millions in exchange for a pension. This handbag will be wrinkled and sad-looking in 50 years time, glaring at you from the corner of the room, and you will frown at it bitterly, asking yourself why you parted with £800 on a shitty piece of pleather.

Screw handbags. Get a fabric tote. (See above in my strategically placed picture).

But, seriously now, let’s for a second talk about a real “investment”. That investment is you. This isn’t me about to launch into thousands of words about “personal branding” (although you know I’d love nothing more than to do that) but it’s more about the basics of investing you. You, you, you. The one thing in this life that actually IS an investment.

Number 1) Look after yourself. Seriously. Go the doctor every now and again. Tell your boss you’re going to get yourself looked at, and look him/her square in the eye. Even if you both know that your getting *down there* looked at. Do it.

Number 2) Don’t be a dick, offline or online. No really. Don’t be one. Being a dick will come back to haunt you and no matter how much you think “being a bitchy twat in the office” will get you “further up the career ladder” that is bullshit. Be a kind human being. People remember how you make them feel. If you make people feel shitty, they will get you.

Number 3) Don’t post blurry photos. Ever. Especially not of yourself. And learn to CROP. Don’t ever upload a profile picture that’s badly cropped. Or one that is the tiniest thumbnail that doesn’t even expand. It’s rude. And you’ll look like a criminal. Only criminals are lazy with their cropping. I’m joking, but seriously.

So now we’ve cleared that up – I want to talk “box ticking” with you. Building any sort of presence or brand requires box-ticking right? WRONG.

I want to put an end to this hideous myth. Hardly anyone fits perfectly into a nice neat little box.

For so long I have been a fun-loving, grateful part of the “blogging community”. I really have. I’ve been to amazing events, met incredible people, build relationships I am proud of. But, there’s a catch, I’ve always felt a little bit on the outside, or should I say an “outsider”.

This is because I don’t tick a box. Are you a fashion blogger, they ask? (I can’t afford it). Are you a beauty blogger, they suggest? (I own three pieces of make-up). Are you a restaurant reviewer, they enquire? (Sometimes, to be fair, but who doesn’t love food?). But I am none of these things. But at the same time I am also a small fraction of each of these things.

I am all things, whenever, wherever the wind may take me. The main thing, I write on this blog, because I LOVE this blog, and I love the people I meet through this blog. My passion is to write – anywhere, everywhere.

I remember my first ever “campaign” I did with Diesel in 2011 where they put mine and four other bloggers faces on the clothing tags as our selected pieces in the new Covent Garden store. My blog was quite new and there I was in a massive shop in London with my FACE on a tag. I love Diesel, I loved the initiative, and I was so happy to be involved. I am still good pals with one the girls there.

But I literally stuck out like a sore thumb. Most of the other bloggers there were proper fashion bloggers – they had a photographer, the most amazing statement shoes, the latest clothes, the crazy expensive camera, the poses, the lightening, the personality, the everything. I just had my iPhone and I hadn’t washed my hair in three days.

I stood in the corner and drank three cups of tea rather awkwardly as I watched the other amazing bloggers try on new outfits, they loved the clothes, the clothes loved them. I stroked a few pairs of jeans and trying to join in. I felt like a phony. What did I know about clothes? Why was I even here? (Two of those bloggers have now gone on to have proper partnerships with huge retailers. This was their thing).

But then I realised: I was there for a different reason. They had selected different bloggers, in order to have different points of view, and different opinions on the new collection. I had never branded myself a fashion blogger, and never would, and they knew that. They were looking for a lifestyle writer in their 20s to review the clothes, as someone who wasn’t actually that clued up on every move of the fashion industry. And it’s OK. It’s OK to realise when something isn’t your thing.

Experiences like this one have cropped up a fair bit, being often surrounded by beauty bloggers, fashion bloggers, vintage bloggers, craft bloggers. Huge blogging ‘categories’ have formed. Businesses will want to work with you if you fall into a category. Blog Awards fall into categories. There are some seriously amazing blogs out there that are incredibly niche and cater for a brilliant audience. But I will never tick one of those categorical boxes. Not entirely. And not everyone has to. You can’t be something you’re not. You just need to work out what it is you want it to say on your business card. The rest is up to you.

If you want to start a blog but don’t have a “thing”, who cares. Just do it anyway. Do it for you. And naturally you will navigate towards more focused interests, as I have with this blog – books, travel, feminism, books, films, culture.

But as I said in this old blog post, I guess I’m just trying to write, and not necessarily blog.

And the next time somebody asks you “what do you do” at a dinner party, your response should be “how long have you got?”

#noboxtickinghereplease

  • Wonderful post! I really love blogging/writing about anything and everything that comes into my head and that’s one reason why I really connect with your blog I think – the unexpected!

  • This is such a heartening post. My blog, like yours, doesn’t fit neatly into a pre-determined blogging ‘genre’. Sure, there are outfits, but there are also cafe reviews and trip reports, and all sorts of other bits and bobs… I do some recipes, I do all sorts of things. Anyway, it’s great to read a post by a successful, savvy individual with a similar outlook to me! Yay! Thanks for making me feel validated! 😉

    Owl Girl | A London lifestyle blog

  • Yess! I totally agree with this. I actually dread when someone asks the “What do you do?” question because honestly, these days, what do you say? I’m a freelance journalist/blogger/copywriter/social media manager. People get that or they don’t. Totally with you re: categorising yourself as a blogger as well. Opinion/personal reflections/fashion/lifestyle travel. That’s what kind of blogger I am. Now sod off.

  • I read this only yesterday since I have been consuming a lot of your work lately. This gave me a profound Aha. I had to send a tweet. Thank you is all I can say. This is a confirmation for me to be me. Have a fab day x

My Book

“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"

– The Debrief

“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic