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How not to be a useless blogger

An ancient post by Helga Weber about the uselessness of lifestyle bloggers — and, really, lots of people on the internet and offline who think all bloggers do is perpetuate their family drama and share listicles on useless things (like how to spend your Saturday morning sans cartoons) — grinds my gears.

For years, not just recently, lifestyle bloggers have racked up a bad reputation because…why, exactly? Maybe it’s because of all the useless, click-bait-y posts created just because it’s what basic bitches will share — or maybe it’s because, as with pack animals, many of us have refrained from taking up space by posting anything potentially controversial because we didn’t want to stir the pot too much.

Which, ironically, is what sets one blogger apart from the other. I’m keen to recognize a post from Man Repeller or Dooce or Hey Georgie more quickly than I am a post by someone who’s using the same child theme — in different colors — as another blogger, who may keep me up to date on what the supposedly trendy nail colors are (so I can gauge how closely doing my own thing will match with what other people might be doing), but seldom displays bias towards the LGBTQ+ community so I don’t know where she stands (re: if she’d ever actually accept me beyond the minimum required to keep me as a reader).

Is it because the majority of lifestyle bloggers lean female? Because women are conditioned to be fearful of rocking the boat — to be verbal enough to conform with social protocols, but not so loud that we make the people — men — around us uncomfortable? Conflict is not abnormal.

I’m allowed to be angry, to express myself, to take up space. I’m not harming anyone, including myself, or destroying property — although Ashley Marin taught me the cathartic activity that is throwing (thus breaking) plates, and some days I feel like doing just that.

One of the things I’m really angry about right now: Lifestyle bloggers are still useless, while we are literally living through a pandemic that will be in history books.

We’re lifestyle bloggers. Of course we’re going to talk about ourselves.

I empathize with the feelings of limbo, but I also find myself opening my dashboard and just scheduling out the posts, after perfecting them, from my Pending post category, because I don’t want to post something super useless right now. Like, I am making changes in my life and a lot is happening, but I have life updates for that. I follow people like @aspireorganizing on TikTok, who is useful AF in a short amount of time, and then look at my blog post ideas and wonder what the point of some of them is — in that moment — because most of them were useless.

Letterboard saying "FUCK COVID-19" behind a row of makeup brushes

I was going to share my beauty faves this year, a lot, like every quarter or something, but now I can’t wear lipstick without it getting all over my face because face masks, and eyeliner is no match for retail + seasonal allergies + virus guidelines preventing you from touching your eyes.

Now is the best time, ever, to be blogging because loads of people are online, but I’m actually really tired of writing about how to start a blog because I feel like a lot of it is just old news when all everyone searching for that is looking for is how to set up a blog for the cheapest amount possible because they don’t actually want to commit to blogging. Sure, you can register a domain for cheap and host it for free-99, but are you going to take the small investment seriously or just let it fade away? Like, if you haven’t started a blog by now, maybe you’re more interested in the idea of starting a blog and not actually committing to it. Because there’s always something (lies).

I propose we stop just knowing better and start doing better.

What this means:

  1. Promise yourself right now that you’re going to start being a better blogger than you were yesterday. Your competition is yourself, not all the other bloggers out there. We have the power to move the world. Why do we spend so much time fighting each other instead of recognizing our strength?
  2. Stop rehashing what you read on someone else’s blog into your own words and look within your own life for something to post about. Finding your bra size, for example. There is legit a pandemic happening right now, and do you know how many people know not their clothing size for certain items — or how to find clothes that might fit them? Seriously. I work at a big box retailer, apparel department, and people can’t try on clothes. Brainstorm solutions and get posting.
  3. Public school doesn’t teach life skills. You know what does teach life skills? The internet. Drop the hacking and teach me how to use a drill without being scared of the thing. Or how to keep echeveria succulents alive.
  4. Don’t be useless.

Tips to be more useful

  1. Don’t half-ass it. Helps no one. Be detailed. Be proud of what you’re putting out there, because it will be someone’s first impression of you & your website.
  2. Source your posts — facts, science, studies, proof, everything you can think of — but be unique/original enough that your #1 source on your blog is YOU.
  3. Format posts with headers, ordered/unordered lists, mixed media, etc.
  4. Consider where you find the things most useful to you — Pinterest? Facebook? TikTok? Why are they useful? How have they made your life better/easier? What are things you do in your life that may be obvious to you, but could enhance someone else’s life?

As a lifestyle blogger, you are essentially selling your lifestyle to someone else. The three main reasons people read blogs are as followed:

  1. Inspiration – to be inspired to do something
  2. Education – to learn something
  3. Relatability – we want to know people like us exist

Useful ideas

  • How to find your ____ size
  • Life skills
  • How to sanitize your menstrual cup without burning it
  • Bad ideas to avoid
  • How to keep plants alive as if you have your life together
  • Why you shouldn’t [insert popular thing here, like purging your book collection in the name of tidying up]
  • How & why you should outsource life admin tasks
  • How to make your car smell better
  • How to keep your car clean
  • [How do you use ____ for something other than its typical/suggested/etc. use?] (great for product reviews)
  • How not to be a uselesss lesbian with zero chill & talk to women
Two cloth pantyliners wrapped around a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade Black Cherry
You’re a lifestyle blogger. Let your real self fly. It’s how you find people that say OMG YOU DO THAT, TOO??

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4 Responses

Author’s gravatar

I loved this so much! Thank you for keeping it real. I’ve yet to find more lifestyle bloggers like us who don’t write the same boring sort of stuff. It’s kind of disappointing, actually, because I’ve realised it is what advertisers look for and what people just click on. I’ve been working with an advertiser recently and they give me full control over the content suggestions they give me, but I pretty much keep the links but write my own content. Because the stuff they give me as a suggestion is so incredibly far from my writing style (you might have noticed a couple of the posts). It’s on-topic but the style is just blech, repetitive, listicle, clickbaity territory.

It is so important for me to share my viewpoints and my experiences. You mentioned relatability – that is probably the single biggest reason I keep writing for my blog and write the way I do. I am not a cookie cutter person; I will not settle for cookie-cutter, shallow, flat blog posts. I want my blog posts to be rich in expertise of my own experiences. I want them to tell parts of the story of a real person. I’ve done this for years (and you have too), and it’s thoroughly possible. I just won’t settle for less than that, which is why after all these years I still fight for it and argue that it’s more authentic than the plethora of lifestyle bloggers with regurgitated content these days.

Reply »
Author’s gravatar

I agree. I feel like the unique blogger is a dying breed.

Or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places? 😐

Reply »
Author’s gravatar

OH YES! I agree with all that you have mentioned. I am slowly transitioning from a book blogger to lifestyle, during this pandemic time, and while I agree there are a lot of repetitive, click baity content out there, there are lots of good ones too.

Giving out the best and in depth content is what differentiates I guess.

Reply »
Author’s gravatar

I think giving out the best isn’t as important as dishing out your best, because each differ for everyone, but the latter challenges you to constantly question whether this is best you have in you or if you’re settling just to get content out — putting quantity over quality. In-depth content is definitely important if you want SEO juice and more eyes on your blog and posts. The in-depth content that is not verbose, and helpful all around, is what warrants more shares and keeps people returning in the long run.

You become known as the person who goes above and beyond for their readers, rather than the one who requires an email every time you’re just about to reach second or third base. It’s part of your brand.

Also part of your brand, lifestyle blogger or not, is you and what makes you unique and memorable.

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