I’ve been blogging for more than 5 years now, and I consider myself somewhat successful. I really don’t know what the terms of ‘success’ are in the blogging world. Is it the number of followers you have, the engagement with your readers, the number of brands you’ve worked with, the newspaper articles and magazine features, the money you make? Really no idea! In an industry where there are hundreds of others doing the same exact thing as you – creating images, videos, putting up content that is so similar – how do you differentiate yourself and measure success?
Everybody is doing reviews of the same products, putting together outfits, lookbooks and styling videos. Everybody on instagram has a perfectly curated feed of fashion, travel and lifestyle posts. A lot of them are invited to the same events, same brand collaborations.
So in the midst of all this – what is success? How do you decide that YOU are a successful blogger? Now all the things I mentioned above (followers, brand collabs, magazine features) are external sources of validation. It’s other people telling you and the world that yes, here is a blogger that’s successful. Is that what we measure ourselves against? Validation from external sources? Are you an influencer or a ‘successful Influencer’ only when others decide it? Is that the yardstick used to measure success?
It’s still a new industry. Every instagrammer/blogger is technically running their own small business. Which means there is no ‘set business standard’. Everybody is making up rules according to what works for them and what suits their needs. So in such a crazy chaotic market, who decides the terms of success?
For a long time now, I’ve decided that for myself. Years back, when I first started blogging, I had these little goals that I would use as my yardstick for measuring my success. The first time a newspaper caught wind of my blog and featured me, that was one feather in my success cap. The first time a brand agreed to my payment terms, I thought that was one step closer to success. The first time a reader recognised me outside of my blog, being financially independent thanks to my blog, more press features, more collaborations with dream brands etc. etc. Soon that became normal. That lifestyle, that routine, became an everyday thing. Did that mean I was successful or stagnant? Was there more to do in this industry?
And the big question, if not blogging then what? Where do I see myself 5 years from now?
I still have momentary panic attacks about my work. Is this whole influencer marketing thing going to last? With literally no barrier to entry, almost everyone with an instagram profile considers themselves an influencer. PR agencies with no moral or ethical compass are always on the lookout for bloggers/influecners that would work for free or on barter. The focus of such agencies is only to make money from brands, and send back reports that are basically excel sheets filled with false insights. They don’t really care about ROI for the brand or whether the chosen influencers are a right fit. There are always bloggers willing to do the same thing that you refused to do, for free or for barter, just to get free goodies or access to those events that they can later glamorize and publish on their profiles. Of course it’s an individual’s choice, their prerogative to run their blog as they see fit, but a lot of times it affects the others in the industry. Especially when there are certain people who are ready to work for free. Just having access to good photographers, branded clothes, a curated feed and posting consistently is not enough to stand out. Everybody has access to that!
So considering all this, is this whole influencer marketing thing going to last? It’s the big question that’s been asked time and again in the past few years. Various people predicting that the end is near, and some others saying that the end is near only to those not focussed on creating good content. Content is king they say. And good content will always find a way to win in the end. Should we just go with the flow and see where this industry takes us?