On Instagram and other social media, it is so easy to scroll through and wonder why people's lives look so perfect, compared to the shambles that is our own.
Perfect pictures on Instagram might make you think I swan around all day looking sharp, being photographed by my own personal photographer or something. In reality, life is a constant grind right now.
I am writing this blog post, still at work at 6pm, after having gone to bed last night around 2:30am (WHY did I think it would be a good idea to re-organise my blog post categories after work when I had a new post going up the next day). Last night, I struggled through with a bottle of Syrah for company and Burger Wisconsin - which I ate hurriedly - and then sat in bed clicking very slow links repetitively for 6 hours (I do all my website maintenance myself and am a wee bit obsessive). It was a bit of a mare.
I am tired today. Miserable and groggy in fact. But I know I did the best job I did for my own blog, which YOU GUYS get so much enjoyment from. It might all have seemed effortless. But behind the scenes, folks like me are BUSTING ASS to make content around a full time job. 99% of the time, I freaking love it.
But like everyone I look at other people and wish I had the luxuries they did - more income from blogging: more time, better equipment. The list is endless. It is times like these I need to remember that that person, the full-time blogger working for Chanel, could be crying into their Mac Book because they lost a weeks worth of work. You just never know.
So in the interest of transparency, I will share with you what I DO KNOW about THE TRUTH of 'effortless' blogging and Instagram/YouTube (I've had a few people email me recently wanting to talk about this but will all the plates in the air I haven't been able to meet everyone, so I hope this will help if you are interested):
1. It takes a TON of hard work to make things look effortless
"Why are we convinced everyone else's lives is perfect?"
Why are we convinced everyone else's lives is perfect? I too used to stare at people's social media profiles and look at how beautiful their lives seemed. Today I still obsessively follow people on Instagram, particular people from the UK but for a different reason - I admire the work that they put into their content to make it look effortless: like Lily Pebbles, Carrie from Wish Wish Wish, Lucy from Shiny Thoughts and Anna from The Anna Edit (and don't get me started on Poppy Deyes! I literally check her blog a 100 times a week). I also admire Lydia Elise Millen on YouTube who makes flawless videos and Kristabel from 'I want you to know'.
"These girls are no different to the piano player who makes it look so easy to pick up an instrument and play"
But the secret no one really talks much about in the media? These girls are no different to the piano player who makes it look so easy to pick up an instrument and play. We all know that, having tried to do that ourselves, it take YEARS of training and lessons to master playing music. Some have been at this for 9 years solid. How long were you in your last job? I bet it wasn't 9 years, with say, 6 of them unpaid altogether!
Similarly, I know how much hard work it takes for these people to produce amazing content online. In many cases, it is ACTUALLY their JOB now, which is awesome. These girls are editors, film makers, photographers, publicists, PR and writers all rolled into one. They aren't sitting around all day, taking selfies. They're too damn busy making everyone else look good! So don't compare yourself because actually, you get to go to bed with a pizza at 7:30pm while they might be standing around at an event they are bored out of their BRAIN at knowing they'll go home and have to edit 500 photos for tomorrow and put up a video on YouTube.
2. Do it for the right reasons
I wrote a piece for Vice.com earlier this year which deals with a personal experience and talks more about the downside of social media. Because I don't want to repeat myself, you can just read that. However, I can speak from personal experience and say it is very hard to switch off from blogging and social media - it can be negative. You always have your phone in your hand. It can command your attention at any time. You are constantly at risk of getting RSI in your thumb. So what should you do?
I think that it's very important to surround yourself with supportive people who understand your obsession. People better get used to you talking about blogging/content creating 24/7 (that's how you weed out your real friends). Yes, your family will roll their eyes every time you tell them about the latest win because they've heard the last 20 - but you can forgive them (or offer to take them as your plus one to a restaurant opening to show them how cool you are).
It is also very important to know where the real joy lies for you in this whole milarky. For me, it comes from connections I make with interesting like minded people I interview, 'blogging friends', and writing. For example, I love to get lost in a piece of work or a written blog post just like this one. I can only do ONE thing when I am writing and that it to write. I can't listen to YouTube. I can't check my phone. I get into flow and THAT's when I'm at my most happy. Creative writing has always given me this gift, since I was around 7 or 8 and worked out I had a talent for it. That feeling is the most precious thing this blog offers me, not followers or hits (although I just have had my busiest month growth wise - hurrah!). THIS is the effortless bit.
"I love to get lost in a piece of work...I can only do ONE thing when I am writing and that it to write...I get into flow and THAT's when I'm at my most happy"
It's been said many times before, but if you are in blogging or YouTube or Influencing to make money or get free lipstick, you're in it for all the wrong reasons. I completely agree. If you don't, you'll be unable to stick with it over 3, 5, 10 years (which is the realistic amount of time it takes to gather an audience).
3. Remember the internet is not real life
If I had to put on a full face of makeup every time I left the house, I'd go out of my tree. I don't look perfect 95% of the time. I am a messy eater and leave toothpaste on my top ALL THE TIME. My house is a tip ATM and I have eaten non stop carbs all week (YAY! #nocleaneats).
"If I had to put on a full face of makeup every time I left the house, I'd go out of my tree...I am a messy eater and leave toothpaste on my top ALL THE TIME"
The Takeaway? Work hard to develop and maintain an image and a personal brand, as long as you realise that is literally all it is - a brand. NEVER EVER EVER try to change YOU because that's what makes you special. My brand is me - just on a good day. But, for example, I suck at minimalism and I couldn't make my Instagram grid a perfect spacious minimal one like Let Liv portrays. That's just NOT ME.
To become and stay a blogger (or any creative), you have to be 50% comfortable in your own skin. The other 50% is the drive to better yourself and achieve your creative dreams, no matter how crazy they may be. My crazy dream? I want 100,000 subscribers to The Residents one day. So what? Nuts? Yes! But I'd have thought visiting Thailand would have been a pie in the sky! Yet it happened! You never know what's around the corner - you just need to be ready to meet it when it happens and hit the ground running.
"So remember to take everything with a grain of salt and focus on the positives - the people you'll meet, the opportunities you make and the chance to live a life of creativity and daring"
Hopefully, this post will have helped you understand a bit more what it is like to be blogging and why what you see isn't always reality. Sometimes content is as produced as a shoot for Vogue! So remember to take everything with a grain of salt and focus on the positives - the people you'll meet, the opportunities you make and the chance to live a life of creativity and daring. Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars !