“So, what previous work experience can you bring to the role?” she asks, leaning back in her plush, white-leather version of a spinny chair, a woman at ease in her Gucci co-ord, eyebrows raised in a perfectly groomed, questioning arch. “Well, I’ve interned for a couple magazines, written for a few publications and I curate my own blog.” The arch in her eyebrows drops to a disapproving downward curl in the lips, as if she’s just taken a bite of a Greggs’ sausage roll instead of the usual Pret delicacy she’s used to- God forbid. “A blog, you say? How… original.”
Now, this scenario is, luckily, one I haven’t yet had to face, but it’s a constant nightmarish vision my wee brain likes to conjure up whenever I go to hit ‘publish’ on a blog post, type out yet another ‘bloggy’ Insta caption or decide to admit to someone else that, yes, I do have a blog. Although creating this blog is something I am (quietly) proud of, something that is arguably one of my biggest passions and is a format that many people turn from a pastime into a career, I still very much have my doubts about this whole blogging business. These doubts don’t come from my own thoughts on my little slice of the internet, they come from those around me, in society. When you think of ‘blogging’, what comes to mind? If it’s anything like the negative perception I’ve heard from some around me, it’s probably ‘a poorly written, internet diary’. Such a belittling generalisation completely discounts the hours and hours of planning posts, sourcing mood boards for inspiration, picking locations to shoot photographs, taking said photographs, drafting and redrafting posts, picking a blogging schedule, sticking to it, promoting your blog on social media platforms and keeping up a rapport and relationship with brands that want to get in touch. And as much as this website is my number one passion, it’s 110% terrifying to know that some people will have you placed in the ‘shitty blogger’ box before they’ve even taken a second to read your portfolio, understand your work ethic or even look at you for the person you are.
As you may know, I’d spent a few years prior to setting up this blog trialling (and erroring) a few different websites, posting blog posts here and there and never getting Madeleine Mae off the ground. Before I got into the swing of things this last year, I’d never read someone else’s blog. I didn’t really comprehend the mass of bloggers out there. When lil ol’ me was in Year 11, I was suddenly hit with the soul-crushing reality of the fact that ‘one day, kid, you’re going to have to grow up’. A Level options had to be considered, university was looming over me like the monster of adulthood, and it really was crunch time in deciding what subjects made me tick. Obsessed with writing, creatively or academically, since as young as nine, I knew a creative path was for me. I also loved performing: playing instruments, singing and acting made me a truly happy bunny. Therefore, the idea of a space, online, where I could write about anything I wanted to write about, get those creative juices flowing and experiment with different ways to be creative sounded like the perfect idea. And since A Levels and university came along and rinsed me of any academic enjoyment, this blog became an outlet to remind myself that, yes, you do love writing and no, not all writing makes you want to hurl your laptop at a wall.
So, the main reasons I started, and continue, to run this blog are because I find it hugely enjoyable, and because it’s a mini portfolio for me, who I am and what I’m (hopefully) good at. Once I got to university and realised I want to follow some form of a journalistic route for a career, it spurred me on more than ever to get this blog up and running. We’re continually told that just a good degree will not stand you out from the crowd, and the words ‘work experience’ are drummed into us enough flipping times to make us terrified that if we don’t get at least 15 internships, we’ll enter the world of funemployment forever.
And this leads me on to where my problemos with being boxed as ‘yet another blogger’ lie. Some people somehow think ‘less’ of you if you have a blog. I distinctly remember the words a lecturer at a university open day said to me when I told her I have a blog, amongst over work experience. She turned to me and literally said “oh, what we do on this Journalism course is very different from writing a blog. Anyone can write a blog. A newspaper or magazine uses facts and research to compile together articles.” Those words stuck and were a massive deciding factor when I declined my unconditional offer from the university. I wasn’t some wannabe blogger with stars in my eyes. I was a 17-year-old, living in a little village in the Midlands, trying her best to achieve whatever journalistic work experience was possible outside of the big LDN. And my determination and work ethic were lost on that woman that day. Some people tend to pigeonhole bloggers as ‘lesser’, ‘uneducated’ and, yet again, here comes the idea of a blog being a ‘poorly written internet diary.’ And it is so, so untrue.
This blog showcases a style of writing. One style of writing. I do not submit my academic essays in the style of a blog post; I don’t write an article for a national publication in the style of a blog post. This also isn’t to say that a blog-style is any lesser than that written elsewhere, because blogging has its own distinct style to suit the internet world. Snappy, colloquial and light-hearted, people want to read blogs because they offer an easy-reading alternative to a densely investigative piece in a newspaper, or a traditionally literature-heavy course text. Blogging keeps up with the social media generation.
This isn’t to say that bloggers are wonderful, and should be popped on a golden pedestal as internet authors of their time. The ‘blogging community’, for want of a better phrase, often doesn’t help the stigma surrounding blogs. It’s incredibly disheartening for me to log onto Twitter, find myself in the mass of wannabe bloggers, and read so many posts that are, sadly, wrought with grammatical errors and are literal copies of many generic blog posts gone before. It’s amazing that the internet allows a space for anyone to try out blogging for themselves and to post anything that strikes them as worthy to be written about, but as an English student who’s an irritating perfectionist, I want my blog to be representative of original, authentic and hopefully well-written work. My blog is not an online diary, I don’t want to write blog posts that are 200 words long and have 20 photos to make up for the lack of content – I want to really work my wee bum off to create engaging content that’s written with care and precision.
As a young adult desperately trying to carve out the right path to follow, I think this blog has become my place to find what works for me. I’m able to showcase a certain writing style, write about things I’m incredibly passionate about and curate my own little space on the internet for potential employers to get a gage of what I’m like as a person. Anything else that comes along with this, is great. But I’m not a ‘wannabe blogger’, I don’t do it because I’m dying to become ‘an influencer’ *voms* and I’m not a one trick pony. No one should be made to feel as if they must hide their blog, or delete their website to become worthy in someone’s eyes. Having a blog should not, and does not, define me.