I constantly see “what I’ve learned” blog posts popping up on my social media feeds; I read some of them, mainly from bloggers who I respect but also some that I’ve never heard of just to get a different perspective. One consistent point that people raise is that you will go into a slump at some point, you’ll question what you’re doing and wonder why you’re bothering with the linkies, the commenting, the staging, the reviews, the networking, and promotion, and getting very little in return. Their advice is always the same. Take a breath and remember why you started blogging in the first place; go back to basics and very much like Rocky going to Apollo Creed’s gym after losing to Mr T, or a similar simile for how Stella got her groove back, you need to find that spark or hunger that made you put finger to keyboard in the first place. Unfortunately I’m a miserable bastard and I’m in a really deep slump in the parent blogging world that I fear there is no getting out of. Here are five things, then, that I’ve learned since starting blogging 4 years ago:
People are just bastards!
You’ll meet lots of people while blogging and maintaining a presence on social media. I always see the observation that you’ll meet some lovely and supportive people, you’ll be welcomed into a tribe and be given empathy galore, and you’ll meet best friends that you’ll keep for life. Well that’s as maybe, but they’re a minority. I still haven’t been welcomed into a tribe, I’ve joined a few, but the minute I question someone in the group I get turned on and bullied out of it. I’ve come across far more bitchy, two faced, ruthlessly ambitious people that will stab you in the face if it means getting into the Tots 100 top ten. They’ll be openly nice to you on social media because they’re bidding for a collaboration with Sainsbury’s and negativity wouldn’t fit with their image, but in the murky world of closed FaceBook groups or private Twitter group messages, they’re slagging you off to anyone who’ll listen. And those sycophants will listen because the person doing the bitching has 15,000 Twitter followers so they must know what they’re doing, and they may give the newbie a step up to greatness; contradicting them might jeopardise that.
People jump on weird bandwagons!
Once you’ve established a presence on social media platforms, you’ll naturally migrate to a group of people you regularly interact with. It’s natural, you’ll feel reassured and comfortable that you’re talking with real people who may (probably not) read your blog. But I’ve noticed a shift in atmospherics in the parent blogging world. In a misguided interpretation of honesty, people are just being viciously mean. “I’m just calling out their bullshit” they’ll say, but in reality they’re just being cruel. There’s a time and place for being honest, and with it you can be polite and constructive in your criticism, but there’s a bandwagon currently that being a prick gets you followers, and more and more people are jumping on it. Their controversy attracts digital rubberneckers and demonstrates a successful technique for increasing stats. Some really nice people who were respectful, empathetic, and polite have somehow turned into intolerant wankers overnight, and still have the audacity to criticise others for lacking empathy and not being courteous. They demonstrate absolutely no respect, yet demand it in its fullest. “They’re mean, I’m just being honest” “They’re ruthless, I’m just ambitious” the hypocrisy is growing and it makes for really uncomfortable reading. Jumping in on a tweet between 2 other people and simply saying “You’re a cunt!” may be the truth, that person may very well be a cunt, but why did you feel the need to call them out on it, in that way? To draw attention to yourself and make you stand out. Well done you.
Every product and service is a good one!
If you’re lucky, you may get the opportunity to review some products or services. I understand the desire to keep brands and PR agencies happy, but at what price? You’ve just spent a week of your time playing with a product or using a service; you’ve painstakingly staged and edited immaculate photographs; you’ve maybe even spent a lot of your own money in travel and expenses attending an event, and all for a “free” product. You’ve not been paid because you don’t feel you’re quite “there” yet to demand a fee, and you don’t want to ask in case you scare the PR rep off and never get an opportunity again, but no product is entirely flawless. I rarely read a review that has any form of negativity in it, and I immediately distrust them. Even if you have 9 good points, there’s bound to be at least one bad point, nothing is perfect. I grow tired of these reviews because they’re not real, if I’m going to buy the product I want to know the reality of how you found it, not how you’ve negotiated with the PR for a line to take, and it completely undermines the rest of your blog’s credibility.
People will follow you and not show you the slightest bit of interest and those that do will unfollow you on a whim!
You’ll gather followers, maybe quickly, maybe slowly, but you’ll gather them, then suddenly some of them start unfollowing you. It’s normal, people follow and unfollow all the time in some strange game of stats roulette. Because stats are the gospel and perceived measure of success in the parent blogging world, you’ll see people playing follow/unfollow games in a bid to break certain milestones. Someone will brag about having 50k followers, but look closely and they’ll be following 50k people too. Chances are they’ve played the follow/unfollow game where they follow 2k people if 50 people follow back, they unfollow the 1950 that didn’t follow back and follow another 2k and repeat as necessary. It’s a very effective technique, but tremendously scrupulous, which is why some agencies are actually starting to look at interaction stats and follower/following ratios rather than just raw follower stats. You’ll also be unfollowed by people you once thought were friends, but the bottom line is they’re either playing a game, or have grown tired of your feed and decided to unfollow. That’s their prerogative, but they’ll do it without telling you or raising it with you, you and I just need to develop a much thicker skin because people lack basic courtesy.
Your blog will never be good enough!
You’ll get your blog exactly how you like it, then you’ll read someone else’s and think yours is shit. You’ll constantly tinker, meddle, and keep adding new plugins until all that’s left is a cartoon header and pop ups for social media following links. No-one will be able to read your post because those pop ups will obscure the view of your writing, but you leave them in because someone with 100k followers and a brand ambassadorship with Mamas and Papas has told you it worked for them. You’ll constantly question yourself and the style of your blog, you’ll switch themes daily, and you’ll kick yourself because you’ve chosen one that doesn’t place a featured image on the mobile format or a swipe bar at the top. No matter how much someone tells you to be your own person, find your own style, you’ll not do it because you’re ambitious, and jealous of those bloggers that are constantly in the Top 10 charts, winning awards, getting the best collaborations and demanding £500 a blog post. And they’ve done it within 6 months of starting out. If you’re insecure, anxious, or even the slightest bit self-deprecating, parent blogging isn’t for you.
It’s for these reasons that I think I’m done with parent blogging, no, I don’t think, I am done with it. I’ve cancelled my Twitter account so many times previously because I’ve thrown a childish strop over something that’s happened on social media, but I genuinely think I don’t have the self confidence, skin, or ruthlessness to survive in this world. I keep coming back for the minority of people that have stuck by me, and I thank each and every one of you, but for fear of being labelled as the boy who cried wolf, I will definitely be cancelling my Life_of_Tont social media accounts in October and not starting them back up again. I’m done with all the negativity, bitchiness, and two-faced side taking. That’s why I’m going to be putting more of my time into my fitness blog and focussing on its social media outlets.
Disclaimer: Some smart arse will probably scour social media to point out something that highlights me as a hypocrite and of being guilty of the above. I’ve always tried to be impartial, empathetic, and respectful, and I apologise if I’ve fallen short of this.